Upcoming August-September Conferences & Workshops

A list of late summer programs supported by WGF!

17th World Congress of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences

“Evolving Humanity, Emerging Worlds”

August 5-10, 2013

Manchester, United Kingdom

Our aim is a world congress that will be an intellectually memorable milestone in thie history of the IUAES and at the same time permit truly global participation by the world community of anthropologists. We aim to reflect on the state-of-the-art work across all the sub-fields and interdisciplinary interfaces of anthropology, and to foster expression of different regional and paradigmatic perspectives to promote constitutive debate and dialogue across the boundaries of sub-field specialization and nationality. We will encourage anthropologists applying their skills outside the academy to contribute, including workshops addressed to dialogue between practitioners and academics. By being both inclusive and integrative, the congress aims to contribute to the development of the IUAES, its specialist commissions, and world anthropology generally, and also to provide the basis for a range of landmark publications.


3rd International Congress of Amazonian Archaeology

September 8-14, 2013

Quito, Ecuador

The International Congress of Amazonian Archaeology or EIAA (Encuentro Internacional de Arqueología Amazoníca) is the only academic meeting on the ancient past of the largest tropical rainforest in the world. It brings together most of –if not all– the archaeologists working on this theme, but also other scientists of different fields (anthropologists, ecologists, historians, geographers, botanists, archaeobotanists, pedologists, etc.) concerned by Amazonia. Over the years, EIAA meetings have become the major venue for specialists of Amazonian precolonial past, where the current topics are discussed and the most recent data and results of current research are presented for this vast region. The 85 invited scholars are recognized authorities in the field. More than 300 participants are expected to attend this international Congress. The event will be organized in single sessions opened to the public during 6 days. There will be a keynote speech every morning followed by 3 symposia and another keynote speech at the end of the day. Parallel to the sessions, there will be scientific posters and two archaelogical exhibitions featuring research results from Ecuador’s Upper Amazon. Three books on the archaeology of the Ecuadorian Amazon will be presented during the Congress. Some of the papers will be published in a peer-review volume at the end of the Congress.


Paleobiology, Taxonomy, And Paleoecology Of Early Australopithecus: A Collaborative Approach To Synthesizing The Evidence (workshop)

September 20-21, 2013

Cleveland, Ohio, USA

The paleobiology, paleoecology, taxonomy and phylogenetic relationships of species known for the hominin genus Australopithecus have been subjects of great interest and research since the naming of the genus in 1925.  However, different paleoanthropologists have reached at different, sometimes contradicting, conclusions based on fossil specimens readily available for them to study. One of the major hurdles in the study of human origins and evolution is the fact that paleoanthropologists working on original fossil materials of early human ancestors rely entirely on the fossils that they recover from their own study area. This is a major problem in attempts to answer questions regarding early Australopithecus paleobiology, phylogeny, adaptation, habitat use and preferences. Inter- and Intra-regional comparisons are almost impossible. This is largely because paleoanthropologists don’t usually have access in a timely fashion to unpublished fossil materials collected by other researchers from other sites of similar age. As a result, they cannot effectively and comprehensively address the broader research questions mentioned above. It is arguable that most of the disagreements in interpretations of the fossil record are no doubt artefacts of the lack of common approach and collaboration toward tackling research questions. Thus, collaboration among paleoanthropologists would substantially improve knowledge of human origins and evolution and also help to standardize the methodology used in the discovery and interpretation of the fossil record. The main objective of the proposed symposium/workshop is to bring together many paleoanthropologists working at different African sites and create a consortium by which each participating project makes its fossil material available for the other project members on a timely manner and address the various outstanding research questions collectively. This symposium will definitely set new standards of collaboration in paleoanthropology.

Upcoming July Conferences

Biennial Meeting of the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA) “Thirty Years On: Reflections and Retrospections on Southern African Archaeology Since 1983

July 3-7, 2013

University of Botswana in Gaborone

The ASAPA biennial conference brings together professional archaeologists from the region and the world at large whose research interests are in southern African archaeology. The 2013 conference will be the second to be held in Botswana, the first being in 1983, and will provide an environment where scholars and students of archaeology can discuss research and share ideas. It is also an atmosphere whereby archaeologists, heritage managers and related fields from univeristies, museums, CRM practitioners can engage in meaningful dialogue on issues of academic, practice and policy development. The programme includes oral and poster presentations as well as round-table sessions.

At the time when the conference was first held in Botswana in 1983, archaeology was not taught as an independent subject in the University of Botswana and at a regional level most of the practitioners were from outside the continent whilst in South Africa there was political instability. This conference will thus give archaeologists who were present at the first conference a time to reflect, retrospect and share their experiences with the younger generations. It will also give those who were not present a chance to learn and share with the archaeology elders their new and old experiences and finally forge the way forward in terms of new research directions and challenges for archaeology in the 21st century.


X Reunión de Antropología del Mercosur (XRAM)

July 10-12, 2013

School of Philosophy and Humanities, National University of Cordoba, Argentina

This meeting aims at contributing to the development of Social Anthropology in South America’s Mercosur community. Every meeting of RAM has witnessed the increasing participation of anthropologists from the Americas – particularly the United States – and Europe. The challenge for the upcoming years is to widen international links to embrace Asia and Africa. RAM is, to conclude, a meeting of particular worldwide interest for the development, strengthening and legitimation of Social Anthropology in South America. It is, therefore, a major event for the discipline and the social sciences, lasting international impact. This means great commitment and positioning opportunities for international legitimacy for the academic units that organize the RAM.

The RAM does not specify a unique discussion area. It looks forward to give expression to the widest range of research topics and interests of anthropologists from the various academic units of the Southern Cone. This makes the RAM a conference that promotes the development of social anthropology in its most diverse and general dimensions. That is why the event is itself a sampler of topics and research areas representative in this region of the globe.


The Future Of Ethnographic Museums

July 19-21, 2013

Keble College and the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford

Ethnographic museums have a long and distinguished history but they have also been the subject of criticism and complaint, to the extent that in the post-colonial era they have undergone something of an identity crisis. In response many of them have been renamed, remodelled or even entirely replaced by spectacular new buildings in which their collections are now presented as examples of ‘World Art’. Perhaps as a result of these alterations, visitor numbers have begun to increase. But many questions remain unanswered about how ethnographic museums should communicate with the diverse audiences they seek to address, how they interact with the politics of the nations and communities in which they are located and the global context in which they increasingly operate via digital technologies. By assembling an international gathering of anthropologists and museum professionals this conference will be the first to tackle the question: What is the Future of Ethnographic Museums? Speakers include James Clifford, Ruth Phillips, Sharon Macdonald, Wayne Modest, Corinne Kratz, Kavita Singh, Annie Coombes and Nicholas Thomas. In addition to discussion and debate, the conference features a series of art and music events in the unique environment of the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.



Upcoming June Conferences & Workshops

June is just around the corner and with it comes two great new WGF-sponsored programs; one workshop and one conference. Let’s learn a bit more about them.


Linguistic and Material Intimacies of Mobile Phones

June 4-7, 2013

The National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C. (administered by the George Washington University Department of Anthropology)

This workshop builds on and integrates emerging but distinct literatures on the social, cultural, linguistic, and material aspects of mobile phones. We synthesize these approaches by focusing on three innovative and cross-cutting themes: 1) Inscription – How do mobile phones materialize and fix meanings using acoustic, visual and tactile resources? 2) Intimacy – How do mobile phones enable and challenge the boundaries of privacy, selfhood and personal desire as they connect us to ever wider social networks? 3) Fetishization – How does the materiality of mobile phones mediate and privilege certain aspects of a user’s devotion to their phone? This workshop will invite a collection of established and emerging scholars to Washington, DC in early June of 2013 for three days to present and discuss theoretically informed case studies that examine and challenge these themes. This workshop will not only produce a scholarly volume of essays, but will also provide the theoretical foundation for a planned exhibit on mobile phones at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.


Resilience and Vulnerability in Hunter-Gatherer Research (10th Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies)

June 25-28, 2013

University of Liverpool

The 10th Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies, CHaGS 10, provides a forum for the research results that have since emerged in a field which continues to be one of the few domains in anthropology where research across all four anthropological subdisciplines takes place. The main theme of the conference to be held in Liverpool, UK, is ‘Resilience and Vulnerability’ which is highly relevant to hunter-gatherer research but also more generally in a world struggling with economic, cultural and ecological turmoil. In its 20 panels, CHaGS 10 will seek to show what the world in general and hunter-gatherer research in particular might learn from some of the most resilient but also most vulnerable of societies past and present. The conference will include fresh empirical input on the current state of hunter-gatherer research in the context of resilience and vulnerability, and it will also provide room for discussions concerning methodological innovations for current and future research in this domain that has decreasing opportunities for conventional field research. There is no anthropological association, nor any other conference that would be in the position to fulfil this role and ChaGS 10 will provide the opportunity to create the institutional tools, in terms of an academic organization and in terms of a regular publication outlet, that ensure the continuity of hunter-gatherer research into the future.


To learn more about the Wenner-Gren Foundation and our Conference & Workshop Grant Program, please visit our Programs page. And check back for more upcoming conferences in the summer months!


WGF Symposium: The Anthropology of Christianity (AUDIO)

Symposium participants, Sintra

Last month, a group of anthropologists gathered at Tivoli Palácio de Seteais in Sintra, Portugal to convene the latest Wenner-Gren Foundation symposium, “The Anthropology of Christianity: Unity, Diversity, New Directions”. Since the 1950’s, the foundation has convened more than 140 of these meetings between small groups of invited scholars to foster intensive discussion and debate around key sites of contention within the field, using a rigorous format first developed at the Foundation’s original retreats in Austria. Beginning in 2010, symposia have resulted in special gold-colored supplementary editions of Current Anthropology, with 100% of content freely available as open access scholarship.

While the special issue for this particular symposium will be forthcoming, organizer Joel Robbins of the University of California – San Diego has prepared a statement to capture the thrust of the symposium and offer a glimpse of what to expect when the special issue rolls off the presses.

And in the meantime, listen to an interview with Dr. Robbins conducted by our president Leslie C. Aiello as part of the Annette B. Weiner lecture series at New York University.


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