Watch Now: As the Statues Fall: A Conversation about Monuments and the Power of Memory

Photo by Keir Gravil

On Thursday, July 23rd, the Wenner-Gren Foundation and SAPIENS in collaboration with the Society of Black Archaeologists and the Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies, hosted “As the Statues Fall: A Conversation about Monuments and the Power of Memory”.

In the wake of global civil unrest following the brutal killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Tony McDade, Atatiana Jefferson, Aura Rosser, Elijah McClain, and countless others at the hands of police in the United States, Black Lives Matter protestors and their allies have critiqued the anti-Black racism imbued in the erection and maintenance of Confederate historical monuments.  The legacy of social movements seeking to remove Confederate statues is longstanding. However, unlike in previous moments, what began as the forced removal of Confederate statues during protests has rippled to the removal of colonialist, imperialist, and enslaver monuments all over the world.  In this webinar, scholars and artists share their insights on the power of monumentality and the work they are doing to reconfigure historical markers.

Featuring:

LaVaughn Belle, Visual Artist
Nicholas Galanin, Tlingit/Unangax Multi-Disciplinary Artist
Dell Upton, PhD, Professor and Chair of Art History, UCLA
Tsione Wolde-Michael, Curator, Smithsonian-NMAH
Moderated by Tiffany Cain, PhD, Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow in the Princeton Society of Fellows
CART captioning by Joshua Edwards

Conference Program Fellow

Conference Program Fellow
Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Inc.
New York, NY

The Wenner-Gren Foundation is a private operating foundation dedicated to the advancement of anthropology throughout the world.  Located in New York City, it is one of the major international funding sources for anthropological research and is actively engaged with the anthropological community through its grant, fellowship, conference, publication, and capacity building programs. We are committed to playing a leadership role in anthropology.  We help anthropologists advance anthropological knowledge, build sustainable careers, and amplify the impact of anthropology within the wider world. We are dedicated to broadening the conversation in anthropology to reflect the full diversity of the field.

The Foundation is committed to creating an inclusive work environment and seeks to recruit from a broad pool of talented candidates. We encourage candidates from diverse backgrounds to apply for this position. Addressing the precarity of anthropology and anthropologists is a key element of our mission.  We have designed this position in this spirit. Our aim is to hire a recent doctorate in anthropology who wishes to make service to the discipline an integral part of their career.


Fellowship Opportunity

The Conference Program Fellowship is a two-year paid fellowship. The Fellow will play a pivotal role in Wenner-Gren’s broad slate of academic gatherings.  As an integral member of a small, hardworking team, the Fellow coordinates the Conference and Workshop Program, which provides funding to organizers of small working sessions and major international meetings, and works with the President to plan and host Wenner-Gren’s Symposia and Seminars, which are designed to foster new conversations in anthropology and lead the discipline into new terrain.  In these times of crisis and transformation, the Fellow also participates in organizing and supporting webinars for the public and the broader community of anthropologists, an arena in which the Foundation has a commitment to playing a leadership role.  This position involves intensive interaction with the Foundation’s Advisory Council, which includes leading anthropologists from different subfields, regions, and traditions of scholarship.  The ideal candidate will have an advanced degree in anthropology, be intellectually curious, discerning, and strongly committed to inclusion and racial justice, and have an expansive vision of the discipline.  This individual will also be exceedingly well-organized and collegial, and have experience executing administrative tasks.  The Conference Program Fellow must be an excellent writer, have extraordinary interpersonal skills, and enjoy serving and collaborating with a diverse community of scholars and professionals.

Key Responsibilities

Oversee Conference and Workshop Grant Program:

  • Field inquiries.
  • Participate in application review process, collate results, and rank proposals.
  • Cooperate with President in final selection.
  • Communicate results with applicants.
  • Administer grants and evaluate final reports.
  • Update web information and application materials.
  • Participate in program evaluation and long-term planning.

Oversee Wenner-Gren Symposia:

  • Publicize program and field inquiries
  • Receive and circulate letters of intent with President and Advisory Council.
  • Collect, collate, and circulate feedback from Advisory Council.
  • Participate in discussion of proposed themes at Advisory Council meeting.
  • Cooperate with President in theme selection and the recruitment of organizers.
  • Research possible sites, cooperate with President in venue selection, and manage all communications with hotels and vendors.
  • Organize virtual and in person meetings with organizers. Participate in discussion of format, venue, and process for refining the theme and selecting participants and paper topics.
  • Manage communications with participants and organizers.
  • Manage travel arrangements for participants and organizers.
  • Collaborate with President and organizers to plan supplemental activities.
  • Join President in representing the Foundation at event. Document proceedings.  Serve as liaison for hotel management and vendors.  Take responsibility for all logistical arrangements and address any issues that arise.
  • Oversee preparation of Symposium papers for publication in Current Anthropology. Recruit reviewers and oversee review process.  Manage deadlines.  Coordinate with organizers, journal editors and staff.
  • Update web information.
  • Participate in program evaluation and long-term planning.

Oversee Wenner-Gren Seminars:

  • Publicize program and field inquiries.
  • Receive and circulate letters of intent with President and Advisory Council.
  • Collect, collate, and circulate feedback from Advisory Council.
  • Participate in discussion of proposed topics at Advisory Council meeting.
  • Cooperate with President in theme selection and recruitment of organizers.
  • Research possible sites, cooperate with President in venue selection, and manage all communications with hotels and vendors.
  • Research and brainstorm with President on possible formats.
  • Organize virtual and in person meetings with organizers. Participate in discussion of format, venue, and theme and help the group arrive at a process for developing a list of senior participants, a process for recruiting junior participants, and a description of the roles each participant will play.
  • Manage recruitment of junior participants.
  • Manage communications with participants and organizers.
  • Manage travel arrangements for participants and organizers.
  • Collaborate with President and organizers to plan supplemental activities.
  • Join President in representing the Foundation at event. Document proceedings.  Serve as liaison for hotel management and vendors.  Take responsibility for all logistical arrangements and address any issues that arise.
  • Coordinate follow-up.
  • Update web information.
  • Collaborate with President in program evaluation and long-term planning.


Qualifications and Experience

  • PhD or ABD in anthropology or closely aligned discipline.
  • Track record of service to anthropology.
  • Track record of success in fostering conversation in diverse groups.
  • Proven commitment to an inclusive vision of anthropology.
  • Experience in event planning and management.
  • Self-starter with a high degree of energy and careful attention to detail.
  • Highly flexible, creative problem solver, with a strong ability to multi-task.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Excellent social media skills.
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills.
  • High level of professionalism and demonstrated good judgement.
  • Superb organizational and time management skills.
  • Proficient or advanced skill in Microsoft Suite (Word, Excel, and Outlook).
  • Proficient skill or willingness to learn Salesforce and other event management tools.

 

Compensation

Salary is competitive.  The Foundation provides a generous benefits package, which includes 401(k) plan, health insurance, group term life and disability insurance, paid time off and flexible work arrangements.

 

How to Apply

Applications for the fellowship are being accepted online via Ziprecruiter.com, https://www.ziprecruiter.com/job/ad83eaaf.  You will be asked to upload your curriculum vitae or resume and a letter of interest. In the letter of interest, please comment on how your experience and professional aspirations are a good match for this fellowship.

Applications will be accepted until August 15, 2020.  Due to the expected high volume of applications for the fellowship, only those selected for an interview will be contacted.  The anticipated start date of the fellowship is on or before October 1, 2020.

Acknowledging the precarity faced by many early career anthropologists, the Foundation has designed the fellowship to meet the needs of scholars for whom relocation can be a hardship.  Fellows choose between telecommuting or working at the Foundation’s headquarters in New York City.   Please note that candidates must be authorized to work lawfully in the United States. Wenner-Gren does not provide visa sponsorship for employment.

As the Statues Fall: A Conversation about Monuments and the Power of Memory

Join us for “As the Statues Fall: A Conversation about Monuments and the Power of Memory,” a webinar hosted by the Wenner-Gren Foundation and SAPIENS in collaboration with the Society of Black Archaeologists and the Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies.

In the wake of global civil unrest following the brutal killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Tony McDade, Atatiana Jefferson, Aura Rosser, Elijah McClain, and countless others at the hands of police in the United States, Black Lives Matter protestors and their allies have critiqued the anti-Black racism imbued in the erection and maintenance of Confederate historical monuments.  The legacy of social movements seeking to remove Confederate statues is longstanding. However, unlike in previous moments, what began as the forced removal of Confederate statues during protests has rippled to the removal of colonialist, imperialist, and enslaver monuments all over the world.  In this webinar, scholars and artists share their insights on the power of monumentality and the work they are doing to reconfigure historical markers.

Featuring:

LaVaughn Belle, Visual Artist
Nicholas Galanin, Tlingit/Unangax Multi-Disciplinary Artist
Dell Upton, PhD, Professor and Chair of Art History, UCLA
Tsione Wolde-Michael, Curator, Smithsonian-NMAH
Moderated by Tiffany Cain, PhD, Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow in the Princeton Society of Fellows
CART captioning by Joshua Edwards

Register Now!

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_6OhfWig6SwWZTZsY4U1Y-Q

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Wenner-Gren Coronavirus Guidance

As a Foundation, we have an ethical obligation to ensure that the research we fund is not detrimental to the broader communities affected by our work. In light of the emergence and spread of COVID-19, we are asking our active grantees to suspend research activities involving face-to-face contact at this time.  This should not come as a surprise, as many countries have called for social distancing as a means of slowing the spread of the disease.

Please know that we are committed to working with our grantees on modifications to methodologies, budgets, and timelines to respond to their particular needs.  If you need to leave your field site and return home to ensure your safety, and the safety of your interlocutors, please feel free to do so and contact us afterwards.

Conference and Workshop grant recipients should modify their plans in light of the evolving situation.  No meetings should be held at this time.  We will work with grant recipients who wish to reschedule their event for a later date.

If you have any questions about an active grant or fellowship, please contact the Grant Administrator for your program directly.

If you have a question regarding a pending or future application please contact applications@wennergren.org.  Please note should your pending application be approved and a delay is needed, we will work with you at that time.

 

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.

Wenner-Gren at AAA 2018: Schedule of Events

It’s that time of the year again! The 117th annual AAA meeting is about kick off in San Jose, California. If you are planning to attend we’d love to see you at the following events:

Thursday, November 15, 2018

(3-0605) How to Write a Grant Proposal for the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the NSF, 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM, San Jose Convention Center,  MR 114

(3-1038) Out of the Ashes: International Solidarity and the Challenges for Rebuilding Anthropology at Brazil’s National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, 4:15 PM – 6 PM, San Jose Convention Center, Executive Ballroom 210 B

Friday, November 16, 2018

(4-0135) Journalism and Anthropology: An Encounter, 8 – 9:45 AM, San Jose Convention Center, LL 21 C

(4-1185) The Art Of Reviewing, 4:15 PM – 6 PM, San Jose Convention Center, Executive Ballroom 210F

Exhibit Hall Fun!

Meet the Editors of Current Anthropology, Thursday and Friday, November 15th and 16th, 10 AM – 12 PM,  University of Chicago Press Booth #408, San Jose Convention Center Exhibition Hall  Laurence Ralph and Lisa McKamy will be available, and possibly Mark Aldenderfer as well.

Also feel free to drop by to see us at the Wenner-Gren Booth (#211) in the Exhibition Hall. 

In Memoriam: Dr. Ira Berlin

It is with heavy heart that we share the news of the passing of Dr. Ira Berlin on June 5, 2018.  Ira was a beloved member of the Wenner-Gren Foundation Board of Trustees (2008-2018) and Distinguished University Professor in the Department of History at the University of Maryland.  He was a renowned historian revered for his groundbreaking scholarship on slavery and life during its aftermath.

His compassion and commitment to the Wenner-Gren Foundation was steadfast as was his belief in the potential of anthropology to make a difference in the world.  The Foundation is forever grateful for his many contributions and extraordinary friendship over the years, and extends condolences to his family on their loss.

Ira Berlin, transformative historian of slavery in America, dies at 77 – The Washington Post

Upcoming September-October Conferences

A look ahead to what Wenner-Gren is sponsoring in the coming months.

 

Eleventh Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies (CHAGS 11)

September 7-11, 2015

Vienna, Austria

With the landmark conference “Man the Hunter” in 1966, the study of hunter-gatherer societies became a major topic within the social and human sciences. Since then, some of the topics and concerns – egalitarianism, sharing, and mobility – remain central, while others – such as social and technological evolution – have seen better times. Thus, while scholarly trends change over time, the goal of the initial conference, to establish a unified field of hunter-gatherer studies, is still valid. The general question of CHAGS 11 therefore is how the results of the last 50 years and new research agendas can be utilized for the present and future. While many hunter-gatherers are forced to give up their ways of life and subsistence practices, they figure prominently in public discourses on ecological and ideological alternatives to industrial society. Thus, CHAGS 11 will attempt to attract a variety of stakeholders in these debates – indigenous representatives, NGOs, scholars, etc. Based on fieldwork and research from the full spectrum of hunter-gatherer ways of life and from all perspectives our disciplines have to offer, the goal of CHAGS 11 is to bring hunter-gatherer studies back to the center of the human and social sciences.

 

Modern Man in Northern Africa; Chronology, Behavior and Cultural Heritage

Late October, 2015

Rabat, Morocco

This conference will bring together researchers from Canada, France, Italy, Senegal and Morocco to discuss research concerning the history of modern humans in the Maghreb. Two main subjects will be discussed: chronology and behavior of modern humans since their appearance in the region around 130,000 years ago; and characterization of pigments and colorants using different non-invasive and portable methods in the frame of cultural heritage. The goals of the conference are to establish the state of research in Morocco and reinforce the dialogue between teams working in the country and in the wider world.

 

#NationalAnthropologyDay: The Best of Anthrotainment

For too long, anthropology-flavored entertainment has existed in the compound shadow of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford. The blunt truth of the matter is that when most people, professionals and lay alike, think of the discipline, their thoughts first turn to the pulpy relic-hunting rollicks of that iconic hero. With nothing against the terrifically entertaining Raiders of the Lost Ark and its sequels, Indiana Jones is, frankly, a terrible ambassador for anthropology, his degree more a passport to exotic locales than integral to his exploits.

In honor of #NationalAnthropologyDay, here are some entertainments that strike at the discipline from different angles, and might even have something interesting to say.

 

The Last Wave (1977)

Australian director Peter Weir is probably best known for his surreal takes on quotidian existence like The Truman Show and midnight-movie mainstay Picnic at Hanging Rock. He followed up the latter classic with psychological thriller The Last Wave (1977), one of the best films that actually brushes up against ethical and philosophical concerns in the practice of cultural anthropology. Centering on a public defender tasked with representing a group of Aboriginal men accused of murdering a compatriot, David Burton (Richard Chamberlain) finds himself increasingly fascinated with the mythology of the tribe to which his clients belong. He devises a strategy to cite the victim’s purported powerful belief in magic, and thereby fear of a recent curse, as the clandestine true cause of death, thus exonerating his kinsmen. As he delves deeper into the case, strange events begin to infest his life, and a greater apocalyptic secret is revealed.

 

David Burton is not an anthropologist; indeed, there is only a brief, one-scene appearance of an anthropologist in this film. Nevertheless, as he plots his defense and is drawn ever deeper into the supernatural mystery underlying the case, Chamberlain’s Burton comes to exemplify many of the perennial issues that fascinate the discipline. For all his reflexive advocacy on behalf of his clients, his attempts to really understand what went through their minds the night of the murder, how much does David Burton believe the argument underpinning his “ritual” defense? Is he, in the paraphrased words of an interlocutor, just another wealthy, guilty liberal, flailing for a symbolic act of cross-cultural understanding while secretly pitying the primitives? Furthermore, as the story’s supernatural elements begin to unfold, David’s White Savior complex becomes even more literal. I won’t spoil it for you, but suffice it to say you’ll find plenty of interesting to chew on while watching this one.

 

Altered States (1980)

In so many ways, Ken Russell’s 1980 body-horror thriller represents the quintessential anthropological fantasy. Adopted from a novel by legendary television writer Paddy Chayefsky, Altered States scoops out every corner of the disciplinary pop-memory by way of mid-20th century counterculture, weaving together new-age psychedelia, human evolution, and hair-brained academic inquiry with a mad-scientist panache that honors science fiction’s speculative roots.

 

While researching abnormal psychology, brilliant-but-troubled physiologist Dr. Eddie Jessup (William Hurt) commandeers a disused isolation tank in his institution’s basement to conduct experiments with an obscure hallucinogen sourced from rural Mexico. An increasingly untethered program of self-experimentation alerts Jessup to the secret correspondence unlocked by the drug’s combination with sensory deprivation – he begins to “devolve” – display the phenotype of an ancient human species. It appears as though racial memory is at the root of this bizarre mash-up of indigenous Mexican ritual and high-tech experimentation – and it could change the world, if it doesn’t destroy him first.

Altered States is made in the spirit of much of the greatest science fiction – the ecstasy of scientific pursuit, and its costs, exist at the center of the conflict. However, in the film’s selection of anthropologists and related experts as the occupiers of the intrepid-scientist archetype, it manages to subvert genre expectations in interesting ways. Despite its scientific protagonists, including Jessup’s physical anthropologist wife and frequent foil Emily (Blair Brown), Altered States’ vision of Cambridge, Massachusetts feels less like a deep-space craft or secret underground laboratory and more like an actual scholarly community. These career academics act like real career academics, sparring with colleagues over margaritas at happy hours and lit joints at house parties, name-dropping potential collaborators and relevant papers in rapid-fire banter, and tinkering around outside the watchful eyes of the IRB. Regardless of what you think of the film’s science-fiction elements, the sympathetic, slice-of-life depiction of anthropologists and allied academics is truly a rare find.

 

“Darmok” (Star Trek: The Next Generation) (1991)

Star Trek, as a media franchise, has enough examples of anthropology throughout its multi-series history to easily count as a single entry (and more) for the purposes of this list. From its origins as the Wagon Train to the Stars through its later incarnation as occupying imperial power, the colonial, anthropological eye has always been active in these sci-fi allegories of humans encountering the alien unknown. The Original Series’ Enterprise fielded a designated “A&A (archaeology & anthropology) officer” and the learned Jean-Luc Picard was well-known for his love of archaeology and decoding alien mythic systems.

 

But perhaps no single episode better encapsulates Trek’s abilities to creatively riff on the discipline than Star Trek: The Next Generation’s fifth-season episode “Darmok”, in which the crew is tasked with parsing an alien language previously thought unintelligible. Though handy 24th century translation technology allows vocabulary and syntax to pass unassailed, communication between the Enterprise and the Tamarians remains at loggerheads until the key revelation is made: the extraterrestrials lack a human-like sense of self, and make meaning exclusively through the metaphorical manipulation of their own mythology.

The mystery at the center of “Darmok” acts as both a trumped-up sci-fi illustration of how living languages can be pregnant with cultural meanings that escape mere syntax and grammar, but also evokes a sort of Levi-Straussian structuralism that outlines the thinking of the other as completely bounded (one might say hindered) by mythic frames. Regardless of the school of anthropological thought that the plot could be said to mimic, it’s delightful to watch the old sci-fi tradition of scientists solving a problem applied to aspects of culture and language.

 

Happy National Anthropology Day!