Current Anthropology is looking for a new Editor

Current Anthropology coverThe Wenner-Gren Foundation in partnership with the University of Chicago Press is seeking applications for the position of Editor of Current Anthropology. The new Editor will begin to receive submissions on September 1, 2018 and take full responsibility for the journal on January 1, 2019. The Editor’s term is six years from January 1, 2019, with a possibility of renewal for an addition partial or complete term.

The Foundation and Press are open to the possibility of alternative editorship arrangements such as co-Editors and/or the use of an active editorial board to handle manuscripts. The applicant should clearly outline her/his ideas for the editorship in their letter of intent and if a co-editorship is proposed the application should come jointly from both potential editors.

Applications are welcome from professional academic anthropologists anywhere in the world and specializing in any of the four anthropological sub-disciplines. Applications should include a complete curriculum vitae, names and contact details of three academic references and a letter of interest. The letter of interest should discuss the applicant’s vision for Current Anthropology, her/his qualifications and experience relevant to the position of Editor of anthropology’s highest profile broad-based journal, and proposed editorial arrangements for managing the journal.

Further information can be found here.

Applications, or suggestions for possible candidates, should be sent via e-mail to the Chair of the CA Editor Search Committee (CAeditor_search@wennergren.org), or by regular mail addressed to the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, 470 Park Avenue South, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10016, USA. Applications must be received by December 31, 2017.

NYAS @ WGF 2/26: Passions for Interests: Water and Rural Political Belonging in America

Join us at the Wenner-Gren Foundation on February 26th at 5:45 PM for another great installment of the New York Academy of Sciences lecture series. Jessica Cattelino, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies, associate director of the Center for the Study Women, University of California, Los Angeles, will be presenting, “Passions for Interests: Water and Rural Political Belonging in America”. Paige West, Claire Tow Professor of Anthropology at Barnard College and Columbia University, will act as discussant.

Please note: the lecture begins at 6:30 PM, and while the event is free to attend pre-registration is required for entry into the building.

Event Registration:  If you will be registering for an event for the first time, the New York Academy of Sciences will ask you first to set up a user account with them. Registration is free and does not require divulging personal or financial information.

You can also register by phone, 212-298-8640 or 212-298-8600.  Early Registration is strongly recommended since seating is limited. 

The world faces a water crisis, with the United Nations predicting a 40% global water deficit by 2030. Recent water struggles in the United States, from Standing Rock to Flint to California’s droughts, exemplify a broader cultural politics whereby group s come to understand and assess one another through their relations to water. In the Florida Everglades, the world’s largest ecosystem restoration project is underway and has as its policy goal “getting the water right.” There, as across America, political analysis focus on so-called stakeholders and interest groups (such as agriculture and environment). Such passion for interests—as, purportedly, the forces that unite and explain political collectivities—stunts understandings about political belonging in rural America.

This presentation brings together two twenty-first-century examples of everyday politics in a mostly-drained rural region of the Florida Everglades: the headline-grabbing proposed buyout of a major sugar corporation by the State of Florida for purposes of Everglades restoration; and a major Seminole Tribe of Florida water conservation project. The economist A.O. Hirschman, in his influential book The Passions and the Interests (1977), explained how early proponents of capitalism struggled to reconcile the relationship of passions to interests. The political anthropology of interests presented in this lecture highlights their production and (in)commensuration in relation to water and capitalism. The goal is to think through and, hopefully, beyond the passion for “interests” in scholarly and popular understandings of American political life.

 

About the Speakers:

Jessica Cattelino’s research focuses on economy, nature, indigeneity, and settler colonialism. Her book, High Stakes: Florida Seminole Gaming and Sovereignty (Duke University Press, 2008) won the Delmos Jones and Jagna Sharff  Memorial Book Prize from the Society for the Anthropology of North America.  Her current book project addresses Everglades restoration and theorizes the co-production of nature and indigeneity in settler societies like the United States.  She speaks to the current concerns about environmental degradation and indigenous people’s roles in sparking struggles against the pollution of water sources and the destruction of precious resources such as the Everglades. Cattelino’s current research is funded by the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the Howard Foundation.

Paige West’s scholarly interest is the relationship between societies and their environments. She has written about the intersections between indigenous epistemic practices and conservation science, the linkages between environmental conservation and international development, the material and symbolic ways in which the natural world is understood and produced, the aesthetics and poetics of human social relations with nature, and the creation of commodities and practices of consumption.  Recent books include Dispossession and The Environment: Rhetoric and Inequality in Papua New Guinea (2016), From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive: The World of Coffee from Papua New Guinea (2012) (2013 runner up for the Julian Steward Award from the American Anthropological Association) and, co-edited with James G. Carrier, Virtualism, Governance, and Practice: Vision and Execution in Environmental Conservation (2009). Dr. West is a past president of the Anthropology and Environment Section of the American Anthropological Association, past chair of the Association of Social Anthropology in Oceania, and past chair of the Department of Anthropology at Barnard College. She is founder and co-editor of the journal Environment and Society: Advances in Research.  In 2017 / 2018 she is a distinguished national speaker for Phi Beta Kappa.  Dr. West is a co-founder of the PNG Institute of Biological Research in Papua New Guineans. She is the volunteer anthropologist for the PNG NGO Ailan Awareness (AA), a marine-focused organization that works with communities in New Ireland and New Hanover to facilitate the conservation of their traditions, languages, and natural resources.

Buffet Dinner at 5:45 pm ($20 contribution for dinner guests / free for students).

Lecture begins at 6:30 pm and are free and open to the public.

Pre-registration is required for entry into the building.

All talks in this series take place at the Wenner-Gren Foundation Building, 470 Park Avenue South, 8th Floor, New York (at 32nd Street).

NYAS @ WGF 1/29: Will Humans Survive our Assault on the Earth? A Message from Madagascar

Join us at the Wenner-Gren Foundation on January 29th at 5:45 as we kick off the first New York Academy of Sciences lecture of the year. Patricia Wright, Distinguished Professor, Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University will be presenting, “Will Humans Survive our Assault on the Earth? A Message from Madagascar”. Joel E. Cohen, Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of Populations and Director of the Laboratory of Laboratory of Populations at the Rockefeller University and Columbia University will act as discussant.

Please note: the lecture begins at 6:30 PM, and while the event is free to attend pre-registration is required for entry into the building.

Event Registration:  If you will be registering for an event for the first time, the New York Academy of Sciences will ask you first to set up a user account with them. Registration is free and does not require divulging personal or financial information.

You can also register by phone, 212-298-8640 or 212-298-8600.  Early Registration is strongly recommended since seating is limited.

Anthropologists are well aware that there are wars in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, areas where humans have existed the longest. But rarely do we suggest that the roots of these conflicts are competition for natural resources, ie, fighting for access to farming and grazing land and access to water. Madagascar has been populated by humans for only a few thousand years, yet a shocking portion of its natural resources has been destroyed. Today it is the 6th poorest country on Earth. This grinding human poverty, where 70% of the population is malnourished, is partially caused by destruction of natural resources by fires since human arrival. I will discuss the current political and economic situation in Madagascar and offer two possible predictions for Madagascar of the future. These predictions could apply globally.

About the Speakers:

Patricia Wright is best known for her extensive study of social and family interactions of wild lemurs in Madagascar. She is Distinguished Professor, Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University, where she also established the Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments. Wright  contributed to the establishment of the Ranomafana National Park in Madagascar, a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Books include For the Love of Lemurs: My Life in the Wilds of Madagascar (2014) and High Moon Over the Amazon: My Quest to Understand the Monkeys of the Night (2013).  She was the first woman to receive the Indianapolis Prize for Animal Conservation (2014), and is the recipient of three medals of honor from the Malagasy Government (Knight, Officer, Commander) for her work in Madagascar. She has won numerous awards and fellowships including being made a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow (1989). Her research is highlighted in the National Geographic Magazine, by the BBC Natural History Unit, in Natural History magazine, in several films and TV series, and in the IMAX film, Island of Lemurs: Madagascar (2014).

Joel E. Cohen is the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of Populations and Director of the Laboratory of Laboratory of Populations at the Rockefeller University and Columbia University. At Columbia University, Cohen holds appointments as Professor of Populations in the Earth Institute, and as Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, in Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, and in the Department of International and Public Affairs. His research deals with the demography, ecology, epidemiology and social organization of human and non-human populations and with mathematical concepts useful in these fields. Books include Casual Groups of Monkeys and Men (1966), Food Webs and Niche Space (1971), Forecasting Product Liability Claims: Epidemiology and Modeling in the Manville Asbestos Case (2005), and International Perspectives on the Goals of Universal Basic and Secondary Education (with Martin Malin, 2010). Cohen received the Golden Goose Award at the Library of Congress (2015), and has been a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation (1981-82) and of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (1981-86).

Buffet Dinner at 5:45 pm ($20 contribution for dinner guests / free for students).

Lecture begins at 6:30 pm and are free and open to the public.

Pre-registration is required for entry into the building.

All talks in this series take place at the Wenner-Gren Foundation Building, 470 Park Avenue South, 8th Floor, New York (at 32nd Street).

 

Engaged Anthropology Grant: Kelsey Dancause

Image 1 - Central Market, Port Vila, Efate. In 2015 and 2016, we collected data on psychosocial health among women in both rural and urban areas. The central market in Port Vila, the urban capital, was an important data collection site. Image source: Collaborator Mian Li, Binghamton University.

In 2015 Dr. Kelsey Dancause received a Post-Ph.D. Research Grant to aid research on “Effects of Prenatal Psychosocial Stress on Birth Outcomes in Developing Countries: Filling the Knowledge Gap Using Validated Surveys in Vanuatu”. In 2017 Dr. Dancause received an Engaged Anthropology Grant to aid engaged activities on “Promoting Local Research Capacity Through Psychosocial Health Research Training and Knowledge Translation”.

In 2015, we began the “Healthy Mothers, Healthy Communities” study of maternal psychosocial stress during pregnancy in Vanuatu, a lower-middle income country in the South Pacific. The archipelago had recently been hit by a Category 5 cyclone, which destroyed many villages and affected large numbers of the population. Based on studies showing links between prenatal stress due to natural disasters and infant health outcomes, we adapted questionnaires commonly used to assess post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, in order to assess distress due to the cyclone among pregnant women and women of reproductive age in Vanuatu. In 2016, we followed up on this study to assess daily stress, depression, and anxiety among similar samples. Our diverse sample included women from hospitals, clinics, and markets in both rural and urban areas (Images 1 and 2).

Image 2 - Umej village, Aneityum. In 2015 and 2016, we collected data on psychosocial health among women in both rural and urban areas. Collaborator Dr. Alysa Pomer (Yale University) collected data on Aneityum, an island with around 900 people. Image source: Amanda Roome and Elisabeth Standard, Binghamton University.

This is a unique study that allows us to assess the role of psychosocial stress in risk of adverse birth outcomes such as low birthweight and prematurity that remain elevated in many low- and middle-income countries, and to begin to tease apart differences between acute distress and chronic stress, anxiety, and depression. Our analyses to date have helped us to characterize mental health patterns in Vanuatu. We observed that distress following the cyclone was very high, and that high distress among pregnant women in the sample predicted smaller weight among their infants at birth: controlling for confounding variables, distress explained 8.5% of variance in birthweight (p=0.012), and was an even more important predictor of birthweight than maternal dietary characteristics.

Equally importantly, our experience has highlighted that psychosocial health is an increasing priority, both among health professionals and community members. Thus, in 2017, we worked to adapt our assessment tools for broader use by local health professionals, and by other researchers working in Vanuatu.

Image 3 - Collaborators Amanda Roome, Kathryn Olszowy, and Elisabeth Standard. Our work in 2017 included both local and international collaborators. Dr. Kathryn Olszowy (Cleveland State University) collected data on stress among adult men and women, with assistance from graduate students Amanda Roome and Elisabeth Standard (Binghamton University). Image source: Amanda Roome and Elisabeth Standard.

From June-August 2017, we worked in Port Vila, Vanuatu to re-evaluate and refine our psychosocial health assessment measures. We met with nurses, physicians, and professionals at the Ministry of Health. We presented results of our 2015 and 2016 studies, highlighting the importance of maternal mental health in Vanuatu and the need for more detailed surveillance. We reviewed and revised our assessment tool with these key collaborators. We also updated our database in collaboration with midwives from Vila Central Hospital, and shared the full dataset with key health professionals. This provides a baseline dataset for comparison to future studies that incorporate our assessment tool.

Image 4 - Mele village, Efate. We visited villages to follow up with 100 women who completed the questionnaire in 2015 and 2016. Team members Giavana Buffa (Ross University Medical School) and Jake Rafferty visited villages all around the island of Efate. Image source: Kelsey Dancause.

We also followed up with 100 women who completed the questionnaires in 2016 (Image 3). We re-administered the same questionnaires, which allows us to assess consistency of responses over time. We also discussed women’s perceptions of the questionnaires and their suggestions. We met women in their communities, which allowed us to include chiefs and other community leaders in discussions. Finally, we administered the assessment tool among men and among older women in the same communities, allowing us for the first time to begin to assess its applicability among samples beyond women of reproductive age (Image 4). Together, these evaluations help us to refine the assessment tool, for broader use by local health professionals.

Image 5 - People complete the distress questionnaire on the island of Ambae. In October 2017, the entire population of Ambae was evacuated due to threat of a volcano eruption. In December 2017, Amanda Roome and collaborator Dr. Chim Chan used our questionnaire to assess psychosocial health among people in the evacuated communities. Image source: Amanda Roome, Binghamton University.

Recently, the entire population of one island in Vanuatu – more than 12,000 people – was evacuated because of risk of a volcano eruption. Given the increased focus on mental health in Vanuatu, a mental health team was on hand to help provide services to the displaced communities. We worked with local collaborators to collect data in the displaced communities using our assessment tool (Image 5). These studies will allow us assess the efficacy of the intervention programs, and the short and long-term effects of stress due to displacement in these communities. This could provide important insights to guide the development of similar services in other low- and middle-income countries. We are also currently adapting our assessment tools for use not only by local health professionals, but by community volunteers who could help to increase mental health surveillance resources, and also provide a first contact for people seeking mental health services. Where resources are limited, such community-focused efforts might provide a sustainable means of increasing mental health services and ultimately improving health and well-being.

Meet Our Wadsworth International Fellows: Dmitri Prieto Samsonov

Dmitri Prieto Samsonov received his undergraduate degree from the University of Havana. Thanks to the Wadsworth International Fellowship he will continue his training with a PhD in anthropology at University College London, supervised by Dr. Martin Holbraad. Read the previous four entries in the series.

My research interests are focused on the political anthropology of radical social transformations, particularly in Eurasia and the Caribbean. As a person of Cuban-Russian ancestry, I have experienced the long-term, trans-oceanic effects of the Cuban revolution, the Soviet revolution, and Perestroika. I am particularly interested in how emancipatory revolutions produce unintended dynamics of social asymmetry (including class inequality) and structures of hierarchy, authoritarianism and domination. In my MSc dissertation (LSE, 2008) and a subsequent book about the socio-legal aspects of the anti-slavery revolution in Haiti (1791-1826), I coined the term “transdomination” for this sort of social process.  I also auto-ethnographically investigated the (post)-Soviet diaspora in Cuba, a complex group of barely perceptible ethnicities, which emerged as an outcome of revolutionary policies and transatlantic migratory fluxes during the period of geopolitical alliance between Cuba and the USSR.

My current research topic is the ethnography of transdomination in post-insurrectional and post-Soviet Cuba (from1959 to the present). It encompasses the intersection of three areas of anthropological interest, the: (1) anthropology of revolutions, (2) anthropology of freedom, and (3) anthropology of historical consciousness. Additionally, issues related to geopolitics, 20th-century ideological and strategic models of State socialism, and the modern capitalist world-system are relevant for analyzing post-1959 Cuba.

Such a proposal requires carrying out massive fieldwork –which is exactly the sort of inquiry that ethnographic approaches make possible — and conceptualizing an innovative theoretical framework. I will need to collect ethnographic evidence pertinent for interpreting the complex social reality of present-day Cuba, and to put the resulting accounts in dialogue with life histories narrated by the witnesses and protagonists of the post-1959 revolutionary project. Anthropology is the academic discipline that makes such an integrative approach possible. I chose the University College London (UCL) because its Anthropology Department is deeply engaged with the ontological turn in the research of contemporary revolutions, which conceptualizes their social and cultural dynamics as radical cosmological changes. This kind of theoretical and investigative framework will be crucial for formulating an accurate scientific narrative of the process of transdomination in Cuba.UCL also has a tradition of expertise in both Latin-American and Eastern-European studies, which is an interesting combination for problematizing the issues of State socialism in contemporary Cuba.

My previous research has focused on social asymmetries and ethnography of the habitat in Old Havana and the Guanahacabibes peninsula (Cuba), history of the Cuban anthropology, work cultures of the Cuban emergent economic agents, history of the Cuban legal-constitutional identity, and administrative corruption in Cuba. I earned a Masters in Law, Anthropology and Society with Distinction at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and obtained a Graduate Diploma in Biological Anthropology from the University of Havana. My first degrees are a BSc in Biochemistry and an LLB at the same university. I am currently a member of the Research Workgroup “Anti-Capitalismos & Sociabilidades Emergentes” affiliated with the Latin-American Council for Social Sciences (CLACSO) and one of the coordinators of its Cuban chapter. I worked as an ethnographer at the Instituto Cubano de Antropologia, as a Constitutional Law specialist at the Centre for Law Research of the Cuban Ministry of Justice, and as a molecular biologist at the Centro de Ingenieria Genetica y Biotecnologia in Havana. I lectured in Social Theory, Anthropology, Constitutional Law, History of Cuba and History of Philosophy (inter alia) at the Santa Cruz del Norte Community College of the Universidad Agraria de La Habana.I am deeply committed to the future of Cuba and the development of the anthropological sciences in my homeland. After the completion of my degree, I expect to return and work towards opening new fields of study for Socio-Cultural Anthropology, and to strengthen transdisciplinary research.

 

Engaged Anthropology Grant: Marissa Mika

Staying Alive exhibition poster, designed by Rumanzi Canon. Image courtesy of Andrea Stultiens.

While a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania Marissa Mika received a Dissertation Fieldwork Grant in 2012 to aid research on “Experimental Infrastructures: Building Cancer Research in Uganda from 1950 to the Present,” supervised by Dr. Steven Feierman.” In 2017 Dr. Mika was able to follow up on her fieldwork research when she received an Engaged Anthropology Grant to aid engaged activities on “Staying Alive in Photographs at the Uganda Cancer Institute”.

In August 2017, the Uganda Cancer Institute celebrated its 50th anniversary in Kampala. Since 2010, I have worked at this site as a historian and ethnographer. My work explores the past and present of the Institute to examine how scientific research shapes biomedical care on the African continent. I focus on how experiments create and shape cultures of care that take on a political and social life of their own, well after the experiments themselves have ended. I argue that there is a fundamental dynamism to experimental sites such as the Uganda Cancer Institute. Collaborations ebb and flow according to scientific interests. Political violence forces physicians and families to flee into exile. Epidemics such as HIV transform dedicated research wards into late stage palliative care triage centers.

The Lymphoma Treatment Center, 2012. Image courtesy of Andrea Stultiens.

I started working at the Institute at a time of profound infrastructural transformation. Since the mid 2000s, political negotiations to fund better cancer services for aging Ugandans and new American interests in studying the relationship between infectious diseases and cancers in east Africa remade the Institute. Through political lobbying, vision, and USAID grants, two new cancer care facilities were built at the UCI.

These latest transformations are both creative and destructive. Drug procurement patterns, records keeping systems that have not been seriously updated since the 1960s, and ward rounds are all components of infrastructures for care that are being radically reformulated by Ugandan oncologists, nurses, laboratory, and social workers. The new UCI-Fred Hutch Cancer Centre, stands on the demolition site of the Institute’s original Lymphoma Treatment Center from the 1960s. It both ushers in a new era of research on the synergy between infectious diseases in cancer, and violently tears down over 45 years of carefully honed cancer care practices.

For the entire year I worked at the UCI, I knew the Lymphoma Treatment Center was going to be torn down to make way for a new cancer treatment center. My Wenner Gren Dissertation Fieldwork grant made it possible to trace how this experimental infrastructure was being remade in real time across multiple geographies and places. The Wenner Gren Engaged Anthropology Grant made it possible to share, publicize, and exhibit these profound transformations documented through a long-term collaborative photography project and book made with artist and researcher Andrea Stultiens. Staying Alive showcases photographs which capture continuities be they extraordinary bodily states, the physical dynamism of this experimental field, the everyday lives of patients, or the empathetic care which medical staff and families bring to the wards on a daily basis.

The New Uganda Cancer Institute, 2017. Image courtesy of Andrea Stultiens.

The book and exhibition creates a visual and historical conversation between two sets of photographs from the materials and moments that make up the Institute in the late 1960s and 2012. The first is from the personal archives of John Ziegler, the founding director of the Uganda Cancer Institute in the 1960s. These materials document major and minor events and images from around the Institute in the 1960s and early 1970s. There are snapshots of political visitors touring the wards, wildlife encountered on up country “patient safaris,” laboratory and ward facilities. The contemporary photographs are made by Andrea Stultiens. The intention was to make a series of portraits of patients, as well as a photographic portrait of the Institute as a whole through its spaces—wards, laboratories, hallways, kitchens, parking lots—and the people using them. As Stultiens says, “The images are both responses to the photographs from John Ziegler’s collection and alternative representations. People are photographed as individuals who happen to be patients or caretakers or Institute staff. Spaces are captured without anecdote or event as motivation for the production of the picture. Taken as a whole, these historical and contemporary images complement each other, and make it possible to question each other’s existence and the ethical implications of looking ‘through’ them to people and places in remote or near pasts.”

Professor Charles Olweny, Dr. Jackson Orem, and Marissa Mika at the Staying Alive book launch. Image courtesy of Andrea Stultiens.

We collaborated with the Institute to amplify the history of this hospital in Uganda during its Golden Jubilee celebrations. These events engaged with a diverse range of audiences, including the Ugandan media, government officials, medical community, and wider Ugandan public. Events included the following: the UCI@50 press conference, Radio One’s Saturday morning health awareness, the Staying Alive exhibition opening at AfriArt Gallery, interviews for the UCI’s documentary, organizing and a Health Education Journalists Network Science Café on UCI’s contributions to oncological research and care in east Africa, a series of blogposts on the HIPUganda website, shared by bi-weekly newspaper The Observer, and the keynote lecture at the fiftieth Anniversary Gala Dinner for diplomats, scientific experts, and UCI staff.

The images and words in Staying Alive open up a space for conversation about continuity and change in ways that a scholarly monograph cannot. The exhibition created a space for critical institutional reflexivity about transformations in mortar and concrete, research and care. The publication and distribution of these materials in accessible photo book form also served as a vital component of research results dissementation that was timely and accessible for an audience beyond elite academic seminars or oncology conferences.

You can read more about Staying Alive and the exhibition in the series of blog posts at History in Progress Uganda:

Staying Alive – Blog Post 1

Staying Alive – Blog Post 2 

Staying Alive – Blog Post 3

Staying Alive – Blog Post 4

Staying Alive – Blog Post 5

Staying Alive – Blog Post 6

Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship: Lucas Bessire

As we round out the year Wenner-Gren is pleased to present an abstract and trailer for Dr. Lucas Bessire who received a Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship to aid filmmaking on The Ayoreo Video Project.

 

ayoreo_trailer_FINAL from Lucas Bessire on Vimeo.

The Ayoreo Video Project

Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship

The Ayoreo Video Project is an experiment in visual anthropology and political advocacy through collaborative video-making with Ayoreo-speaking people. Developed over two years in collaboration with Totobiegosode-Ayoreo leadership and the organization Video Nas Aldeias, the project taught Ayoreo to make their own videos. It began with a video workshop in a remote village, which trained a select group of fourteen Ayoreo from five villages, three different Ayoreo tribes and both sides of the Bolivia/Paraguay border in the basics of digital filmmaking. The project assisted Ayoreo filmmakers as they conceived, shot and eventually edited videos on the topics and themes of their choice. The result is a set of four feature length films, meant as stand-alone parts of a quartet, which substantively revise previous filmic imagery of Ayoreo.  These include the first three Ayoreo-made videos and an ethnographic documentary about the process. Together, the films allow Ayoreo to tell their own stories about themselves, to speak back to impoverished representations of their humanity, and to facilitate cross-cultural dialogue in a context of violent dispossession. At the same time, the films open new directions for future reflection, research and advocacy.  They are:

Farewell to Savage.  2017. 70 minutes.  Directed by Lucas Bessire, with the Ayoreo Video Project.

Yiquijmapiedie / Our Ways. 2017. 52 minutes.  Directed by Chagabi Etacore.

Ore Enominone / Visions.  2017. 92 minutes. Directed by Ajesua Etacore, Daijnidi Picanerai, Chamia Chiqueno and Erui Etacore.

Ujirei / Regeneration. 2017. 55 minutes.  Directed by Mateo Sobode Chiqueno

To learn more about Dr. Bessire’s project we invite you to read his article in the November issue of Visual Anthropology Review.

Wenner-Gren at AAA 2017: Schedule of Events

This week the 116th annual AAA meeting will kick off in Washington, DC. If you are planning to attend we’d love to see you at the following events:

How to Write for the Public
Thursday, November 30th, 10:30am – 12:30pm, Marriot Park Tower 8217
The Editors of SAPIENS will provide useful tips on writing a compelling pitch and structuring an essay for a newspaper or magazine.

How to Write a Grant Proposal
Friday December 1st, 10:30am – 12:30pm, Marriot Park Tower 8217 (same room as above!)
Representatives from Wenner-Gren and the National Science Foundation offer useful suggestions and answer questions.  All are welcome.

The Wenner-Gren Reception
Friday, December 1st, 7:45pm – 9pm,  Omni Empire Ballroom
Always a lively party – please come meet our staff and chat with your fellow grantees!  We’ll have light snacks, an open bar, and a special slideshow from our archives.

Meet the Editors of Current Anthropology
Thursday November 30th and Friday December 1st, 9am – 11 am, Booth 214 in the Exhibition Hall, University of Chicago Press
Mark Aldenderfer and Lisa McKamy will be available to answer questions and talk about the journal.

Also feel free to drop by to see us at the Wenner-Gren Booth (#219) in the Exhibition Hall.  The editors of SAPIENS will be available as well. The Hall is open
Thursday and Friday, 9am – 5pm, and Saturday 9am – 4pm.

There’s no need to RSVP or to reply to this message. We hope to see you soon!

Meet Our 2017 Wadsworth International Fellows: James Munene

James Munene received his undergraduate degree from Keyatta University. Thanks to the Wadsworth International Fellowship he will continue his training with a PhD in archaeology at the University of Michigan, supervised by Dr. Brian Stewart. Read the previous three entries in the series.

I was born and brought up in the eastern slopes of Mt. Kenya, Kenya, where I attended both primary and secondary school. I later joined Kenyatta University for a degree program in History and Kiswahili. This is where I met and fell in love with archaeology. I was surprised to learn that although archaeological research in East Africa has been going on for many decades now, there are just a handful of East Africans who have taken it up as a profession. Thousands of research papers have been published on diverse topics over the years but, it is a pity that so few of them have been published by or in collaboration with East Africans.  These few Kenyan archaeologists are responsible for teaching at several universities simultaneously leaving them little time to carry out research. I chose to enter the field with a goal to bring about change.

After my undergraduate degree, I enrolled for a master’s degree in archaeology at Kenyatta University and used my time as a student to gather experience in archaeological field and laboratory methods by working in different research projects in Kenya and South Africa. I am particularly interested in lithic technology, subsistence patterns, environmental reconstruction and comparative studies of Later Stone Age sites. I have worked with collections from various sites in East Africa and Southern Africa. My master’s thesis was a comparative study of two Later Stone Age sites, one in Magadi Basin and another in Lake Turkana Basin. I am especially interested in comparative studies, lithic technology, environmental reconstruction and subsistence systems. I also have a great passion for heritage management.

My decision to seek training at the University of Michigan was a reflection on my experience as a master’s student in Kenya. I was fortunate to meet a number of archaeology students from different parts of the world over the last few years and learn about their experiences in Graduate School. I was inspired to seek admission in schools with well-established archaeology departments that would give me the kind of training I needed to build a professional career and help promote future generations of African archaeologists. I am grateful that the University of Michigan offered me this chance.

Over the past five years, I have tried to get as much archaeological experience as possible to prepare myself for a career in archaeology. I attended field schools in both Kenya and South Africa, worked with various graduate students doing various projects in Kenya as well as participating in laboratory analysis. I have also worked in heritage management projects and on top of working on my Ph.D. in archaeology, I am enrolled in a Graduate Certificate Program in Museum Studies.

I am constantly thinking about ways of marketing anthropology in general and archaeology in particular as a discipline to East African students to increase scholarship and knowledge about the past. I am always looking for opportunities to inspire and motivate African students and encourage established and upcoming Africanist archaeologists to help in the training of African students. I would like to see more Africans become engaged in anthropological research as professionals.

Engaged Anthropology Grant: Adriana Carolina Borda Nino

Initial discussion

While a doctoral student at the University of St. Andrews Adriana Carolina Borda Nino received a Dissertation Fieldwork Grant in 2011 to aid research on ”When Does Incest Matter’: Ethnic, Class & Gender Discourses & Experiences About Incest among Female Patients in a Psychiatric Hospital in Bolivia,” supervised by Dr. Tristan Platt. In 2016 Dr. Borda Nino received an Engaged Anthropology Grant to aid engaged activities on “Healing Trajectories: Engaging Andean Indigenous Healers’ in the Promotion of Women’s Rights”.

The workshop took place in the city of Sucre, Bolivia. Thirteen traditional healers from the Chuquisaca, Potosi, and Cochabamba regions took part in the workshop. Nine men and four women between jampiris, médicos naturistas, and midwives attended the event. Most of them were over forty years of age, but also some young participants who are learning Andean traditional healing practices in order to become healers themselves participated. Thus, perspectives from experienced healers were matched by the eagerness of young apprentices who will be the future’s healing practitioners and masters. Finally, the event had the logistic support and was enriched by the participation of members of staff of PRODECO, a Bolivian NGO that has worked for more than twenty years of experience in promoting Andean medicine practices from a gender, intercultural, rights, and generational perspective.

Representative of the Qhara Qhara nation sharing his experience

Topics covered during the workshop included: definitions of incestuous sexual violence within rural communities in Bolivia and in relation to current national and international legislation; trajectories of indigenous and peasant women who have survived incestuous sexual violence, from their communities of origin to the National Psychiatric;  the psychiatric hospital as a place of in-between-life-and-death confinement for women, thus fulfilling Quechua and Aymara ideas on soul condemnation for women who have been involved in incestuous practices; the relevance of traditional healers in the definition of trajectories of violence against women within their communities; finally, we had a discussion with participants on different forms of approaching incestuous sexual violence from an Andean medicine point of view in the region.

Group discussion

The event included the participation of the eighty-year-old healer Mama Gloria, a highly regarded practitioner of Quechua medicine from Ecuador (much respected amongst Latin American traditional healers), who has a women’s rights approach to healing practices in relation to violence against women. It was suggested by all traditional healers that it is very relevant to include diverse approaches to the particular contexts where they apply their knowledge, considering local circumstances, amongst them: forms of community organization, role of traditional healers within the communities, closeness to cities, relation to judicial and allopathic medical authorities, etc. In this sense, the advice given by Mama Gloria on how to heal the effects that sexual violence might have on women and how to protect them both through healing practices and through working with judicial authorities, was very well received by the jampiris, médicos naturistas, and midwives, who took note of Mama Gloria’s advice as well as that given by their co-participants. They expressed their intention to apply what they learned at their communities. Finally, and as a result of the initiative of one of the four and oldest female healers, time was devoted to discussing the ethical protocols that should be followed by any traditional medicine practitioner when approaching a case of intrafamiliar sexual violence against women and in general any case of sexual violence against women.

Andean medicine exhibition

During this event, the research results were disseminated and discussed (day I). In 2013 the Law No. 459 of December 19 2013, on Ancestral Traditional Bolivian Medicine, was passed. This law elevated the status of traditional medicine to that of Western medicine within Bolivia’s health system. Along with this recognition, the law seeks to regulate the practice and articulation of Bolivian ancestral traditional medicine within the national health system, as well as healers’ organizations, and the rights and responsibilities of service users. Traditional medicine practitioners, as stated by the workshop participants, are allowed and some are paid a salary to work at local hospitals. This is a process that is slowly developing. For instance, within the region of Chuquisaca only approximately ten healers receive a salary for working at local hospitals. The state, though, grants a higher number of healers a sum of money to get the ingredients to prepare medicaments to sell. However, the work of traditional healers at psychiatric hospitals is still forbidden, as is their intervention in cases of sexual violence attended within local hospitals. All the diagnosis gathered during the research were confirmed by the workshop participants, as well as the trajectories followed by women who are expelled from their communities after surviving events of sexual violence.

Farewell and final words by participants

The applicability of the research results and the conclusions of the exchange that was possible during the workshop’s first day amongst the participants, were discussed during the second day. In 2013 a new law on violence against women was issued in the country. It states that all health authorities are responsible for protecting and securing the well-being of women who have experienced any form of violence. This poses a great challenge to traditional medicine practitioners, for they are not only entitled (as they are part of the health system, though not yet in equal conditions) but also made responsible to intervene in these cases. The workshop participants expressed their concern that judicial authorities should intervene first before they can approach a case, for they would be afraid of breaking the law by becoming involved. There is no guidance on how exactly it is expected that traditional medicine practitioners should intervene according to this law. Also, it was expressed by the participants that there is still a long way to go before the participation of traditional medicine practitioners within mental health settings is permitted. Still, they stated that there is a boundary between the cases in which only psychiatrists should intervene, i.e. what they called traumado or a traumatized person, and those that can be healed by them, i.e. susto, agarrado por tierra, and other ailments that occur as a consequence of events of sexual violence on survivors. In this way, traditional medicine practitioners recognized the importance of both Western and Andean traditional medicine in promoting the well-being of women who have experienced sexual violence.

At the end of the workshop a session was held with participation of traditional medicine practitioners as well as representatives of several non-governmental organisations in charge of promoting women’s rights to discuss the research results (governmental authorities were invited but did not attend the session). As during the first part of the workshop, all the findings presented were ratified by the participants. New facts unknown by them, especially on the treatment of women within the psychiatric setting, were received with surprise but were deemed plausible, given the lack of involvement of both NGO’s and healers in this type of setting. This session served to introduce Andean healers with representatives of these organisations, and it is hoped that future work might be done to develop a dialogue between these two sectors in order to promote collaboration for the protection of the rights of women who have experienced incestuous sexual [and other forms of] violence.

A final addition to the event was a small fair organised by PRODECO to promote the work of the Andean medicine practitioners at the workshop venue, which was opened for the general public. During this fair several diagnosis, healing sessions, and medicine sales took place.

NYAS @ WGF 11/13: Are Racism, Violence, and Inequality Part of “Human Nature”? Why Understanding Human Evolution Matters

Dr. Agustin Fuentes

Join us at the Wenner-Gren Foundation on November 13th at 5:45 PM for another great installment of the New York Academy of Sciences lecture series. Agustin Fuentes, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame will be presenting, “Are Racism, Violence, and Inequality Part of ‘Human Nature’? Why Understanding Human Evolution Matters”. Susan Anton, Professor, Dept. of Anthropology, New York University will act as discussant.

Please note: the lecture begins at 6:30 PM, and while the event is free to attend pre-registration is required for entry into the building.

Event Registration:  If you will be registering for an event for the first time, the New York Academy of Sciences will ask you first to set up a user account with them. Registration is free and does not require divulging personal or financial information.

You can also register by phone, 212-298-8640 or 212-298-8600.  Early Registration is strongly recommended since seating is limited. 

Many popular accounts of human evolution do a great job of conveying interpretations and perspectives which are entertaining, but often wrong. Such accounts offer incomplete, and at times toxic, portrayals of human biology and evolution that can be used to promulgate and perpetuate racist, misogynistic, and ill-informed views of “human nature.” We are left with perceptions and policies of what is “natural” in contemporary society that damage our capacity to challenge inequity, discrimination, and bias.

Human evolution is ongoing and human populations continue to grow in size and complexity. Getting a handle on “the human” in the Anthropocene is no easy matter and getting the science of human evolution right is important. It turns out that meaning, imagination, and hope are as central to the human story as are bones, genes, and ecologies. Neither selfish aggression nor peaceful altruism dominates human behavior as a whole. We are a species distinguished by our extraordinary capacity for creative cooperation, our simultaneously extreme biological diversity and homogeneity, and our ability to imagine possibilities and to make them material reality.

In the 21st century significant shifts in our understanding of evolutionary biology and theory and of genetics, plus radical expansions in the archeological and fossil records, have led to increasing collaboration across multiple fields of inquiry. Collaboration and expansion of knowledge are altering our capacities to investigate and to understand our history and our future(s). This lecture offers a glimpse, via specific examples, of our past and present to illustrate why, and how, the science of human evolution—far from being dead or outdated–is relevant today

Buffet Dinner at 5:45 pm ($20 contribution for dinner guests / free for students).
Lecture begins at 6:30 pm and are free and open to the public.

Pre-registration is required for entry into the building.