Archive for Conferences & Symposia

Upcoming December-January Conferences

We bring you another slate of Wenner-Gren sponsored conferences to round out 2012 and bring us into the new year.

9th European Society for Oceanists: “The Power of the Pacific: Values, Materials, Images”

December 5-8, 2012

Bergen, Norway

“In this 9th conference of the European Society for Oceanists (ESfO) attention will be paid to how the Pacific region still presents itself as viable in the contemporary world, despite early predictions of ‘vanishing cultures’, ‘loss of value’ or ‘disappearing worlds’.  ‘The Power of the Pacific’ is meant to lead the participants to present analyses of how that viability is possible. Inter-island relations, subsistence agriculture, fishing, hunting and gathering, village based social, political and religious structures are all still key for evaluating the power of the Pacific, and we still need analyses of how these structures are managed and maintained. A crucial issue is how the peoples of the Pacific are handling, in the region’s own multiple ways, challenges posed by resource scarcity, population growth, urbanization, climate change, pressures from international corporations and development agencies, and new politics of state control and foreign intervention.”

 

Society for Historical Archaeology: “Globalization, Immigration, Trasformation”

January 9-12, 2013

Leicester, United Kingdom

“The Society for Historical Archaeology is the world’s foremost scholarly organization for historical archaology, with a membership that reports on research from across the globe. As historical archaeologists our focus is particularly on the archaeology of the modern world, and on the transformations brought about by colonialism and capitalism. Drawing upon the broader anthropological literature, we have adopted the theme “Globalization, Immigration, Transformation’ for the 2013 meeting. Our aims with the meeting are to emphasize global connections in the study of historical archaeology, past and present, and to include scholars who would not ordinarily attend the meetings in order to explore these issues.”

 

7th World Archaeological Conference (WAC-7)

January 14-18, 2013

The Dead Sea, Kingdom of Jordan

“The World Archaeological Congress (WAC) is the only representative, fully international organization of practicing archaeologists committed to an inclusive, multivocal interpretation of the human past. WAC encourages open dialogue among all people concerned about the past, including scholars from under-represented parts of the world, First Nations people, and descendent communities whose pasts are told by archaeogists. The WAC-7 conference offers discussion of new archaeological research as well as archaeological policy, practice and politics.”

Upcoming October Conferences

Another look at Wenner-Gren’s upcoming slate of conferences. For the month of October, we are sponsoring only a single conference, but it looks to be a good one!

 

Norms in the Margins and Margins of the Norm: The Social Construction of Illegality

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

October 25-27, 2012

Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium

The aim of this conference is to share theoretical and ethnographic knowledge on informal and illegal activities through the lens of social and political norms underlying shadow spheres of negotiation between legal and illegal actors. In particular the conference will focus on the political construction of criminality by States and supra- and international agencies on the one hand, with the social and geographic organization of crime and the development of criminal habitus, as well as everyday practices and poetic “heroizing” in informal and illegal circles, on the other hand. The above considerations suggest various potential tracks for analysis. How do State and supra-national criminalization activities construct landscapes of illegality? How are the legal and illegal sides of global capitalism’s underground economies intertwined? What are the ethical justifications given for the legal and illegal constructions? How are norms inhabited, legitimized and challenged in the marginal spheres of today’s illegal and criminal worlds? How are the legality and legitimacy of the illegality-producing societal spheres maintained and perpetuated? Another area of inquiry would bear on our practice as researchers. How can researchers circulate in the spaces created by penal policies, between the analysis of state-led coercive processes and the observation of criminal trajectories? What ethical, political and epistemological issues are raised by investigation of the illegal and criminal spheres? Faced with objects of this sort, what positions and reflexive policies can research advance?

For more on this conference, visit its page on the Royal Museum for Central Africa’s website.

Upcoming September Conferences

As we roll into the beginning of Autumn here in the northern hemisphere, we look forward to two Wenner-Gren-sponsored conferences in Europe.

 

Issues of Legitimacy: Entrepreneurial Culture, Corporate Responsibility and Urban Development

September 10-14, 2012

Naples, Italy

This conference will bring together a large field of anthropologists based in various countries and specializing in a wide range of ethnographic settings. Joining them will be an assortment of professionals in the fields of law, jurisprudence and economics to address issues of high contemporary intellectual relevance and of burning public concern raised by today’s increasingly competitive global economic scenario.

Urban areas are a dominant form of associated life that encapsulate the socioeconomic impact of increasingly significant international regulations and flows of capital and people. Governance have generally failed to constructively meet the challenges posed by the complexities and implications of this worldwide phenomenon. Anthropological analysis has identified entrepreneurial cultures rooted in the morality and ramifications of a ‘strong continuous interactions’ between the material and the non-material. Delegates will reflect on the significance, ramifications and impact on the broader society of such an empirical sine qua non. The role that individual and collective entrepreneurialism, and the attendant culture and social impact, have to play in such a scenario is too often frustrated by selective policies and the law. Eschewing confusion between individuality and individualism, anthropologists have demonstrated hoe this both encourages exclusion and widens the gap between governance and the govern across the world. The conference will reflect on the distinction between individual action and individualistic goals and on issues of legitimacy and responsibility in socioeconomic action and the management of political decision-making.

 

14th International Conference Of The European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists

September 18-21

Dublin, Ireland

The European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists (EurASEAA) brings together scholars working in Southeast Asian archaeology, anthropology, art history and philology. The EurASEAA conference is by definition international, uniting groups of people who do not otherwise normally meet, but who share a common interest in Southeast Asian heritage. The conference facilitates communication between different disciplines, addressing shared issues in anthropological debate and brings together the international community of research scholars to discuss, report, plan and promote new research. In 2012 the conference will run from the 18th-21st of September, hosted by University College Dublin, School of Archaeology. This is the first time EurASEAA has been held in Ireland, providing exciting opportunities for new engagement and collaborations in international heritage research and teaching. 2012 is also the year that Dublin is European City of Science; EurASEAA14 will be a ‘partner conference’ in this celebration, enabling involvement in a nationwide promotion of heritage and science studies. Video from the conference will be presented online, allowing public, student and academic participation nationally and internationally.

 

Reality and Myth: A Symposium on Axel Wenner-Gren

Our President, Dr. Leslie Aiello, guest blogs on the recent symposium held in Sweden examining the life, career and politics of Foundation founder Axel Wenner-Gren.

One of the highlights of the summer for the Foundation was the two-day symposium on “Reality and Myth: A Symposium on Axel Wenner-Gren.” This meeting was co-sponsored by the Swedish Wenner-Gren Foundations and ourselves and was held May 30-31, 2012 at the Wenner-Gren Center in Stockholm, Sweden. The Chair (Seth Masters) and Vice Chair (John Immerwahr) of our Board of Trustees and a number of Foundation staff attended.

Axel Wenner-Gren is an enigma because in the 1930s he was one of the wealthiest men in the world, but has now slipped largely into obscurity.  His surviving legacy is his philanthropic achievements through the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research and the Swedish Wenner-Gren Foundations that specialize in scientific research and international scientific exchange. The main purpose of the meeting was to understand more about his life and career.

The two-day symposium grew out of the research into the politics of Axel Wenner-Gren by Ilja Luciak (Professor of Political Science at Virginia Tech University)  who was jointly funded by both foundations. The symposium also provided the welcome opportunity for the Swedish and New York Foundations, which have been largely independent throughout their existences, to make contact and discuss common areas of interest.

Seth J. Masters, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, with Sydel Silverman, President Emerita

The symposium itself covered all aspects of Axel Wenner-Gren’s life and was divided into four sessions. The first session on the economic dimension of his life covered his career at Electrolux where he made his fortune in vacuum cleaners and refrigerators as well as his later economic ventures in Latin America and Canada. The second session on the political dimension surveyed his political ambitions and activities in Europe and the Bahamas leading up to and during World War II. It also covered the relationship between Sweden and Nazi Germany during the war years. The third session on the social dimension focused primarily on the histories of the New York and Swedish Foundations but also included an interesting presentation on the legacy of the Wenner-Gren scientific expedition to Peru in 1939-1940, which discovered many of the important archaeological sites along the Inca trail and lead to the founding of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cuzco. The concluding session on the social dimension provided the opportunity to hear from some of the surviving Wenner-Gren family and others who knew him personally about life during the height of his influence in Sweden and in the following years in the Bahamas and Mexico.

You can also listen to Sydel Silverman, a past Wenner-Gren President, talk about the story of New York’s Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.

Download “The History of the Wenner-Gren Foundation, New York” now.

Download the official conference booklet featuring an extensive introduction on the life of Wenner-Gren by Dr. Luciak.

To learn even more about Wenner-Gren and the larger history of the Foundation, visit our History page.

Upcoming August Conferences

This upcoming August will be a busy month for the Wenner-Gren Foundation’s conference program, with two conferences taking place on two continents. Find out more below!

 

Africa, Anthropology and the Millennium Development Goals

August 13-14, 2012

Nairobi, Kenya

This meeting of the Pan-African Anthropological Association will turn an anthropological eye towards the so-called Millennium Development Goals, sets of development benchmarks set by the United Nations in 2000 with the aim of addressing widespread problems of extreme poverty, education, and social inequality in all 193 member nations, with a special focus on Africa and the developing world. Nearly a decade and a half later, it has become apparent that the intended goals of the MDG’s have not be achieved in Africa, and in fact the continent has backslid in key areas such as infant mortality and HIV prevention rates in sub-Saharan states. Whereas the MDG targets are clear, there are underlying forces which drive human behavior and which, if not taken into account, have the potential to derail the achievement of these goals. The conference will thus seek to examine how anthropology and anthropologists can address the cultural factors affecting the attainment of MDG targets and how they have so far engaged other disciplines and policy makers to provide solutions.

 

18th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists

August 29 – September 1, 2012

Hensinki, Finland

The EAA’s annual conference aims to bring together archaeologists from all parts of Europe, the United States and other parts of the world to exchange ideas, develop partnerships, and to stimulate academic debate in a variety of archaeological fields, and to coordinate and enhance the management of cultural resources and the development of the archaeological profession, especially in the new democracies of Eastern Europe. These goals are acheived by dividing the conference into three major thematic blocks: Managing the Archaeological Record & Cultural Heritage; Archaeology of Today: Theortetical and Methodological Perspectives; and Archaeology & Material Culture: Interpreting the Archeological Record. The information shared at the conference will be reflected in future installments of the EAA’s publications, European Journal of Archaeology and The European Archaeologist.

 

Wenner-Gren Symposia: Alternative Pathways to Complexity

Häringe Castle as viewed from pool

As summer approaches, we are pleased to report that another Wenner-Gren symposium went off beautifully. Wenner-Gren Symposium #145 on “Alternative Pathways to Complexity:  Evolutionary Trajectories in the Middle Paleolithic and Middle Stone Age,” was held from June 1-8, 2012, at Häringe Slott, near Stockholm, Sweden.  Organizers of the conference were Erella Hovers (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and Steven Kuhn (University of Arizona).  The venue was of historic significance, as Häringe Castle is the former country estate of Axel Wenner-Gren, the Foundation’s benefactor.

A more detailed report on the results of the conference and a list of those who participated will be posted in the coming weeks.

Group photo, Alternative Pathways to Complexity: Evolutionary Trajectories in the Middle Paleolithic and Middle Stone Age

Upcoming June-July Conferences

Through our programs, the Wenner-Gren Foundation provides funding for a wide variety of conferences and workshops that advance innovative research and address contentious debates within the field of anthropology. Below are information on three upcoming Wenner-Gren sponsored conferences, taking place in the months of June and July.

 

 

 

2012 Meeting of The Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA)

June 20-23, 2012

The Archaeology Centre

Victoria College, The University of Toronto

The biennial conference of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists (SAfA) is the primary international venue for Africanist archaeology and meets alternately in Europe and North America. The conference covers the full range of topics in African archaeology from research on human origins through to the archaeology of colonial contact.  The 2012 meeting, to be held from June 20-23 on the campus of Victorica College at the University of Toronto, will be the first time the University of Toronto will host the SAfA meetings. The conference is supported by the Archaeology Centre at the University of Toronto and the Royal Ontario Museum and will be held on the campus of Victoria College. The theme of the 2012 biennial meeting of SAfA is “Exploring Diversity, Discovering Connections”. The archaeological record of the African continent is characterized by diversity. It is the goal of the meetings to bring scholars together who work across this vast continent to delineate the scale of this diversity as well as to explore underlying connections. To highlight this theme we are organizing a plenary session with participants in the Harvard Kalahari Project in which we they will be looking back at this project and how it succeeded in integrating disciplinary approaches.

 

 

Anthropology in the World

June 8-10, 2012

The Royal Anthropological Institute

British Museum, Clore Centre

Anthropology is taught and practiced mainly within universities, and there are many excellent disciplinary histories which document the way that this has come about. However, its great importance outside academia in a whole host of areas of public life is less well charted. The aim of this conference is to redress this balance by examining systematically the various spheres where anthropology may be influential, including (but not confined to); medicine, human rights, gender, development, law, media (especially the visual media), tourism and heritage. This conference is international in scope, but has particular resonance in the UK, and indeed in Europe more widely, where there is a significant move toward channelling government funding away from arts and social sciences exclusively toward the hard sciences. We would argue that this is short-sighted and simplistic, but that the best way we can demonstrate the importance of the subject is to create the most public forum in which to demonstrate and discuss anthropology’s significance outside academia.

 

 

EASA (European Association of Social Anthropologists) 2012: Uncertainty and Disquiet

July 10-13, 2012

University of Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense

Anxiety is a fundamental characteristic of human nature. All living entities have biological devices that enable them to face danger (escape, aggression, concealment). This is often studied by the social sciences under the heading of ‘stress’. Human beings, however, differentiate themselves from other species through their reflexivity, which introduces an uncertainty that cannot be reduced to the consequences of their perception. The aim of such an EASA biennial conference is to gather various perspectives and understandings which are developed within the anthropological project. The conference will allow for both an intra-disciplinary appraisal of what anthropology lends to other disciplines (hypothesis, methods, perspectives), and for a critique of the constant reshaping of a profession caught between philosophical ambitions and technical expertise. The call for an anthropology of uncertainty and disquiet seems to meet this requirement to bring together anthropologists working on cognition and the biological foundations of the human, anthropologists developing phenomenological approaches to what living a life means and how it is performed, and anthropologists devoted to the endless task of making sense of the contemporary and the complexities of the social world.

Wenner-Gren and the “Closet Chickens”

In its ongoing commitment to the advancement of anthropology, the Wenner-Gren Foundation works to foster connections between researchers around the world through sponsorship of a wide range of conferences, workshops and events. Occasionally these projects take on a life of their own and expand greatly even after the original event has expired. One such offshoot project is known to its members as the “Closet Chickens”, an informal digital exchange between archaeologists interested in Native American participation in the discipline. Recently we reached out to the Network’s principle figures, Dr. Joe E. Watkins of the University of Oklahoma and Dr. Deborah Nichols of Dartmouth College, to talk a little about the Network, how it got started, and what it does.

 

What is the Closet Chickens network and how did it come about? What was the importance of Wenner-Gren in its origins?

The nucleus of the “Closet Chickens” developed out of conference held at Dartmouth College in May 2001 titled “On the Threshold: Native American-Archaeologist Relations in the Twenty-first Century.” The conference, funded by the Wenner-Gren Anthropological Foundation and led by co-organizers Deborah Nichols and Joe Watkins, brought together a large number of archaeologists of Native American heritage in an attempt to evaluate the relationships not only between archaeologists and Native American communities, but also to look at the impact of the discipline on Native Americans who practiced archaeology. Continuing discussion of the issues raised at the conference on emails during the following led to the establishment of a nameless listserv aimed at expanding not only the discussion but also the parties involved in it.

The Closet Chickens are “birds of a feather” who do tend to flock together. Many of its members are American Indians who practice archaeology, but there are non-Indian archaeologists, too. In general it is an online support group that discusses various issues as they arise. Often comments relate to contemporary issues that impact the practice of archaeology by American Indians, but as often other threads of discussion relate to repatriation, ethics, decolonizing the discipline, Indigenous Archaeology, and many other issues. Many of the established archaeologists on the listserv are mentors to the professionally younger archaeologists who participate.

The listserv also serves as an email discussion forum where topics are often subjected to scrutiny. Occasionally discussions become heated, but more often than not such discussions end when the participants have seemingly discussed the issues to completion. It is a support system which has helped young archaeologists who often feel to be on the outside of a general archaeological trajectory.

 

Why is it important in the context of contemporary American archaeology?

We feel the Closet Chickens is important in terms of contemporary American archaeology in a couple of ways. First, it provides a semi-protected forum for archaeologists whose perspectives tend to mesh with Indigenous ideas concerning the colonialist practices of anthropology and archaeology and who work closely with tribes and First nations and tribal communities. This forum allows members to openly discuss ideas and issues that might be too sensitive for discussion in a truly “public” forum. It also permits younger archaeologists to speak candidly about issues they have or are encountering in their readings, study, and early careers and discuss strategies to address them.

Secondly, and somewhat importantly, the listserv allows for ease of mentoring between those who have been “in the business” for longer periods to help others who are in the early stages of their careers or education tenure. Professional advice, open reading of materials, sometimes controversial discussion on topics, and even internal disagreements help us understand not only what our own perspectives and viewpoints are, but also to understand how our ideas have grown and continue to grow. It sounds a bit corny, perhaps, but it also provides a protected space within which to relax.

 

What has it accomplished so far and where do you see it going in the next few years? Next decade? Etc.

Its primary focus is on continuing conversations about the impact of archaeology globally on the heritage of Indigenous populations. Archaeology, once known as the handmaiden of colonialism, is continually challenged by Indigenous people to become accountable to the cultural groups whose heritage is under scrutiny. The group allows a safe area for discussion outside of formal academic settings, where students can gamble with ideas and points and where established authors also can openly discuss ideas without fear of retribution or ridicule.

The group has expanded each year since its inception and we hope that, over the course of the next decade, a larger group of younger archaeologists who are attentive to Indigenous concepts of culture will be able to contribute to a more rounded practice of anthropology and archaeology. Members “nominate” others who they feel would contribute to the discussions on the listserv. We have non-Natives, Natives, Australians, Maori, and a generous mix of non-described individuals who contribute to the discussion in numerous ways. The group has had some in-depth discussions about individuals who were precluded from the “flock” after some intense and often heated deliberations. The more established archaeologists try to stay outside of discussions as much as possible (perhaps too much on occasion) as we generally believe the Closet Chickens is a place for younger people to test their wings, but we do chime in as necessary, especially to encourage debate and discussion.

Wenner-Gren March-April Conferences

We’re pleased to announce three new conferences that will be held this Spring!

The “International Conference on the Genetics of the Peoples of Africa and the Transatlantic African Diaspora” will be conducted by the Institute of African-American Research at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The conference aims to bring together scholars in order to conduct the first comprehensive assessment of genetic knowledge of African-descended groups on both sides of the Atlantic, with an emphasis on how such insights address contemporary health disparities.

March 19-20, Friday Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

 

The “European Human Behavior and Evolution Association {EHBEA)” is an annual conference aiming to create an international forum for theorists working on applying evolutionary theory to human behavior, with special emphasis placed on fostering collaboration between research regions (especially outside of Europe). This coming session at Durham University will be the fourth since the association’s founding in 2009 and will feature our own President, Dr. Leslie C. Aiello.

March 28-29, Durham University, UK

 

“Arts and Aesthetics in a Globalizing World” is a conference administered by the United Kingdom’s Association of Social Anthropologists in collaboration with New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University intended to explore the shifting relationship between art, aesthetics, and anthropology in their widest contemporary sense and experiences.

April 3-6, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

 

For more information on our conference and workshop grants, visit our Programs page.

Wenner-Gren Symposium: The Anthropology of Potentiality

A note on Wenner-Gren’s most recent symposium.

A Wenner-Gren Symposium on “The Anthropology of Potentiality,” was held from October 28-November 4, 2011, near Teresópolis, Brazil.  Organizers of the meeting were Karen-Sue Taussig (U. of Minnesota) and Klaus Hoeyer (U. of Copenhagen). Eighteen scholars from Denmark, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States explored how anthropology can develop our understandings of the medical practices where potentiality is articulated and how such articulations interact with moral notions of humanness. For a complete report on the symposium and a list of participants, please follow this link.