In Memoriam: Dr. Sydel Silverman

It is with great sorrow that we wish to announce the passing of one of the Wenner-Gren Foundation’s greatest leaders and closest friends.  Sydel Silverman was the president of Wenner-Gren from 1987 to 1999.  She guided the Foundation through a critical phase in its history.  She preserved the small grants program, which provides a crucial source of support for doctoral students and post-doctoral researchers.  She held symposia that set new directions for the field.  She was instrumental in expanding the international community of anthropologists, fostering the creation new professional associations and new conversations that cut across countries and traditions of work.  We still strive to live by the values she cherished and to pursue the priorities she set.   She will be sorely missed.

Read Sydel Silverman’s obituary.

The European Association of Social Anthropologists also published a lovely tribute to Dr. Silverman.

Announcing Wenner-Gren Foundation/SAPIENS Online Workshops in Writing for the Public

Date: April 11, 2019

Time: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm MDT

Class: How to Write an Essay for the Public

Instructor: Amanda Mascarelli

Cost: Free (class size limited to 99)

Location: Zoom (we will send out sign-in instructions approximately one week before workshop)

Learn how to pitch and write a successful essay for SAPIENS and other popular magazines. In this class, you will explore a framework to approach popular writing and an understanding of the publication process. Essay writing is a craft that must be cultivated, so please join the class to sharpen your skills and learn about how you can engage a broad public audience to make your research matter.

Sign up

 

Date: May 15 and May 22, 2019

Time: 10:00 am – 11:00 am MDT (each class)

Class: A Masterclass in How (and Why) to Write an Opinion Column

Instructor: Nicola Jones

Cost: Free (class size limited to 10)

Location: Zoom (we will send out sign-in instructions approximately one week before workshop)

An opinion piece can be one of the most powerful ways to get your work and its implications across to policy-makers, journalists, and the general public. Learn how to do it from a master: Nicola Jones, an editor at SAPIENS. A one hour crash course on how to write an opinion column, also known as an op-ed, will cover the typical structure and components of such a piece, along with writing tips to help you be as compelling and clear as possible, illustrated with examples. The first group class will be followed by a one-week homework period, during which the instructor will be available for quick e-mail feedback on your progress, and a second one-hour group session to share your work and lessons learned. Participants should emerge with the first draft of an opinion piece that they may wish to submit for consideration for publication in SAPIENS or elsewhere.

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Date: October 23, 2019

Time: 1–3 p.m. MDT

Class: Public Writing for Undergraduates

Instructor: Christine Weeber

Cost: Free (class size limited to 99)

Location: Zoom (we will send out sign-in instructions approximately one week before workshop)

Targeted at undergraduate students, this course involves a collaboration with professors teaching an anthropology course. The professor will prime students for the workshop by working through two SAPIENS pieces as examples and introducing the idea of what it means to write for the public. As part of this exercise, the students pair off and map out the journalistic elements as shown (or not, in some cases) in the examples. Then, the students will join the Zoom workshop where an editor will explore the writing process and provide concrete tools for students to improve their writing. The workshop concludes with a brief generative writing exercise with the students to brainstorm ledes (the opening lines) for an article.

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Date: December 4, 2019

Time: 11:00 am – 1:00 pm MDT

Class: Essay Writing

Instructor: Daisy Yuhas

Cost: Free (class size limited to 10)

Location: Zoom (we will send out sign-in instructions approximately one week before workshop)

Learn how to pitch and write a successful essay for SAPIENS and other popular magazines. Before the class you will brainstorm a list of 1-3 essay ideas and send them in advance to the instructor, as well as prep by reading two essays in advance. The class then begins with a discussion of where ideas come from and how to think of matching a piece of writing to a particular outlet. Next, the class will review the two assigned scientist-written essays and learn about the key components that make them successful (or not so much). Through these exercises students will learn about how to start a story, where the thesis, how narrative or anecdotal material is woven in, how background and history fits in, how sources are incorporated, strategies for organization, and more.

Sign up

NYAS Lecture 3/25: Where Has “Japanese Women’s Language” Gone?

On March 25th the New York Academy of Sciences lecture series returns when Dr. Miyako Inoue, Associate Professor at Stanford University, will present “Where Has ‘Japanese Women’s Language’ Gone? Language and New Forms of Gender Inequality in Post-bubble Japanese Society.” Dr. Jillian Cavanaugh, Professor and Department Chair of Anthropology and Archaeology at Brooklyn College will act as discussant. The event will be held at 5:45 PM at the Roosevelt House, 47-49 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065.

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. Early registration is strongly recommended, since seating is limited. For the buffet supper, registration is also required.

In this lecture, I will focus on what is called “women’s language” in Japanese, an ideology of a set of speech forms associated with femaleness and its accompanied cultural meanings of womanhood, and will discuss how its modality of reproducing gender inequality has been shifting in post-bubble Japanese society.  During the bubble economy of the mid 1980s through early 1990s, the discourse of women’s language proliferated with public passion, the effect of which was simultaneously to discipline women as mothers, wives, daughters, and laborers, and at the same time to incentivize and to seduce them with the promise of upward mobility and of aestheticized self-making.   In the post-bubble economy, however, public discourse on women’s language  has lost steam in the media.  This does not mean that somehow the reign of the indexicality of language and its ability to mark distinction has been diminishing, or that the population of women—in a demographic sense—who speak “women’s language” has been “decreasing.” Nor is it to be taken as any indication that sexism has eased.  Rather, I will discuss how the modality of power to govern the articulation between language and gender has been shifting in the post-bubble Japanese political and economic context.  Taking a cue from Gilles Deleuze’s notion of control societies, I will ask what has happened to “women’s language” as the society shifts from disciplinary society (Foucault) to control society (Deleuze).  In control society, language re-emerges as a robust site in which, and means by which, gender inequality is performed and reproduced.  We then need to forge a new mode of critique that undermines and disrupts this new mode of linguistic sexism.

About the Speakers:

Miyako Inoue is an Associate Professor At Stanford University where she teaches linguistic anthropology and the anthropology of Japan. Her interest in women’s language dates back to her first book, titled, Vicarious Language: the Political Economy of Gender and Speech in Japan (University of California Press), where she offers a genealogy of women’s language showing its critical linkage to Japan’s national and capitalist modernity. Professor Inoue is currently working on a social history of “verbatim” in Japanese.  She traces the historical development of the Japanese shorthand technique used in the Diet for its proceedings since the late 19th century, and of the stenographic typewriter introduced to the Japanese court for the trial record after WWII, drawing the connections between such technologies and liberal governance. Professor Inoue’s research interest span multiple areas, including linguistic anthropology, sociolinguistics, semiotics, and linguistic modernity.

Jillian Cavanaugh is Professor and Department Chair of Anthropology and Archaeology at Brooklyn College, and Professor in the Anthropology Program at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is a linguistic and cultural anthropologist whose geographical area is northern Italy. She has done extensive field work in Bergamo, Italy, on language shift, language ideology, gender, accent, materiality, food production, and social transformation. She is interested in the ways in which people use the symbolic and material resources at their disposal to live meaningful lives. Her list of publications includes “The Blacksmith’s Feet: Embodied Entextualization in Northern Italian Vernacular Poetry,” in 2017 and “Documenting Subjects: Performativity and Audit Culture in Food Production in Northern Italy,” in 2016.

All talks in this series take place at Roosevelt House, 47-49 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065. A dinner and wine reception will precede the talk: Buffet dinner at 5:45 PM. ($20 contribution for dinner guests/free for students).  Lectures begin at 6:30 PM and are free and open to the public, but registration is required

Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship: Jennifer Heuson

Wenner-Gren is proud to present the following blog post and trailer from Jennifer Heuson who in 2016 received a Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship to aid filming on Sounding Western: Aural Sovereignty in a Sacred Land.

Sounding Western: Aural Sovereignty in a Sacred Land

Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship

This is a film about listening, hearing and, ultimately, about not being heard. It is about what happens when an entire people are protected as silence makers for others. It is about what it sounds, looks and feels like to be colonized by frontier myth. For centuries, the Black Hills of western South Dakota have been held sacred to Lakota peoples. Today, the Hills are at the heart of a billion-dollar industry that uses Lakota presence to create frontier experiences for tourists. This film tells the story of Lakota attempts to negotiate and resist cultural and spiritual appropriation through sounds, noises and even silence.

Sounding Western focuses on three Lakota stories. Paul Summers/LaRoche is Lower Brulé Lakota and founder of the contemporary Native American rock band Brulé. With his daughter Nicole on flute and son Shane on drums, Paul uses keyboards, Lakota-inspired vocals and oral storytelling to share his personal tale of adoption, heritage recovery and reconciliation. Mary Bordeaux is Sigancu Lakota; she is former curator at Crazy Horse Memorial and founder of the Native art collective Racing Magpie. Mary uses visual art and advocacy to make noise and resist the silent, spirituality central to tourist appropriations of Lakota identity in the Black Hills. Nicole LaRoche, along with her father Paul and brother Shane, performs in Brulé, negotiating her roles as an award-winning Native female performer, daughter, and mother with her conflicting hope and skepticism for the future of Native empowerment through music.

Sounding Western is based on field research conducted in South Dakota’s Black Hills from 2008–2014 and supported by a Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grant and dissertation writing funds through the Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fund. Over the course of visiting and living in South Dakota, I conducted dozens of interviews, collected hundreds of field observations – including sound recordings and mappings and local folklore related to aurality – and completed historical research that collectively enabled me to make a case for the consistent role of aural colonization in contemporary regional tourism. In my resulting dissertation “Sounding Western: Frontier Aurality, Tourism and Heritage Production in South Dakota’s Black Hills,” I argue that “aural sovereignty” is a crucial new framing for understanding how contemporary tourism impacts Indigenous communities. I feel very fortunate to have received a Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship for 2017–2018 to explore visual modalities for telling this aural tale.

Over the course of the fellowship year, I reconnected with subjects from my research and reimagined the film’s aesthetic approach based on collaborative conversations with Mary Bordeaux and Paul and Nicole LaRoche. I created a new film treatment that approaches the 20-minute film as a triptych. The film opens with a sequence of audio archival recordings, moving into three distinct Lakota approaches to tourism and life, and closes with a super-8mm montage overlaid with sound designed from key field recordings. The fellowship year enabled me to work through nearly 200 of my field recordings to select and edit those most essential to my argument. I also conducted archival sound research for the film’s opening and created a super-8mm montage for its closing sequence. I made trips to the Black Hills to film three portraits using a Canon Mark III DLSR camera; these visits allowed me to learn a new workflow and camera, but also provided wonderful opportunities to reevaluate my work and local relationships.

In 2017 and 2018, I shared raw excerpts from the film and edited field recordings at two public workshops on sound ethnography at UnionDocs Center for Documentary Art in Brooklyn. I also shared sounds from the film and discussed its core methods and arguments at a public presentation on Stone Tape Theories at UnionDocs in 2016. And, I have begun work on an audiobook version of the dissertation, which I hope will provide the research in form more accessible to local communities in South Dakota. During the last week of October 2018, I returned to the Black Hills to complete final interviews. I will return again in late spring 2019 to share rough cuts with my collaborators and others in the tourist production communities of the Black Hills. I expect to complete the final cut of the film for application to film festivals in the summer of 2019.

Engaged Anthropology Grant: Andrew Hernann

While a doctoral student at City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, Andrew Hernann received a Dissertation Fieldwork Grant in 2012 to aid research on “Ethics on the Margins: Religious Transformation in a Labor Regime in Timbuktu, Mali,” supervised by Dr. Gary Wilder. Then in 2016 Dr. Hernann received an Engaged Anthropology Grant to aid engaged activities on “Narrating Crisis: Collaborative Storytelling in Post-Crisis Timbuktu.”

Through my Engaged Anthropology Grant, I was able to intensify and decenter my collaborative research among northern Malians by organizing the production and exchange of local narratives of occupation, displacement and military intervention. In 2012, northern Mali was occupied by ethnic Tuareg nationalists and allied religious extremists. As this cohort of armed militants attempted to occupy more central and southern regions of the country, the French and UN armies intervened, pushing the fighters north into the desert. Officially “liberated” in 2013, northern Mali – especially the city of Timbuktu – has remained dangerous and in crisis. Indeed, there remains the ongoing threat of terrorist attacks, as well as the foreboding nature of a foreign military presence. While many Timbuktians have returned to northern Mali, many have also chosen to remain displaced, particularly in Bamako, the Malian capital. Furthermore, some subtle and not-so-subtle tensions remain among differing ethnic groups and between rural and urban Malians.

Such conditions foster the development of unofficial narratives among those experiencing displacement and occupation, particularly as residents continue to feel misrepresented by foreign organizations that seem reluctant to substantially engage with local communities. However, and as has been my experience working with residents of northern Mali, such conditions also foster a level of secrecy that somewhat limit the exchange of such narratives. Storytelling, nevertheless, retains empowering and reconciliatory effects, especially during times of crisis. Therefore, while in Mali during summer 2018, my interlocutors and I organized two storytelling workshops during which participants developed and shared their experiences of the northern Malian crisis with one another. The participants were of diverse socioeconomic, ethnic, racial, gender and professional backgrounds, including students, teachers, religious experts, humanitarian workers, UN contract employees, tourist guides, journalists and community activists.

I offered my experience facilitating collaborative storytelling during these workshops. However, given the importance of incorporating local and culturally relevant values, I emphasized a more collaborative approach, empowering my interlocutors to organize and facilitate these workshops as they best saw fit. Therefore, while occurring over multiple days, the workshops took on a seemingly more “informal” element relative to those more common in the USA. They were less structured than I had originally anticipated, with more down time spent chatting over tea and meals. Nevertheless, participants were able to successfully share their experiences and analyses of the ongoing Malian crisis and organically develop and re/produce authentic, culturally resonant products. Unfortunately, due to ongoing security concerns and the (then) upcoming presidential elections, a shadow of secrecy clouded the workshops. In order to facilitate the safe production of crisis narratives among participants, the group decided not to permit photography/video/audio recording, the use of full names or a written version of their stories. However, most expressed feeling able and eager to reproduce the storytelling workshop format that we developed in increasingly local settings throughout Bamako and northern Mali as a way of distributing stories and facilitating the catharsis that such storytelling often produces. Furthermore, our hope is to publish both a manual of how to conduct similar workshops and a written version of the stories developed this summer – stories which many of my interlocutors jokingly stated were more authentic and analytically useful than anything that an outsider would be able to produce – when they collectively sense that the need for secrecy has abated.