Symposium #159: Toward an Anthropological Understanding of Masculinities, Maleness, and Violence

This past March Wenner-Gren found itself in familiar surroundings at the Tivoli Pálacio de Seteais in Sintra for the 159th Symposium “Toward an Anthropological Understanding of Masculinities, Maleness, and Violence”, organized by Matthew Gutmann (Brown University), Robin Nelson (Santa Clara University), and Agustín Fuentes (University of Notre Dame). Be on the lookout for a future issue of Current Anthropology for this meeting’s papers, available to all 100% Open-Access.

From Left: Agustín Fuentes, Godfrey Maringira, Fátima Pinto, Robin Nelson, Hannah Marshall, Rick Bribiescas, Mark Ropelewski, Bob Pease, Sally Merry, Matt Gutmann, Maria Amelia Viteri, Ricky Smith, Tiffiny Tung, Sealing Cheng, Brian Ferguson, Danilyn Rutherford, Lise Eliot, Mark Padilla, Laurie Obbink

ORGANIZERS’ STATEMENT

“Toward an Anthropological Understanding of Masculinities, Maleness, and Violence”

Matthew Gutmann (Brown University)

Robin Nelson (Santa Clara University)

Agustín Fuentes (University of Notre Dame)

No one is surprised that most murderers are men. What gets ignored too often is that most men are not murderers. However, the entanglement between maleness, masculinity, and violence is neither straightforward nor uniform. For several decades, cultural anthropologists have studied and analyzed masculinities and gender-based violence of all sorts. These range from intimate partner violence, rape and other forms of sexual abuse, racialized violence, and armed conflict. Simultaneously, biological anthropologists have examined the relationships of evolutionary processes, genomics, and endocrinology between maleness and violence.  Yet rarely if ever do these two currents in contemporary anthropological scholarship meet, except perhaps in effortless dismissal of the more intemperate claims of others.

In humans, imagination, perceptions, and ideology matter as much as bone, muscle, and Y chromosomes. Both perceptual and material feedback loops channel violence into physiological changes in bodies and reshape ideologies. Yet outside and inside the academy there is widespread confidence in biological explanations that draw a direct link between maleness and violence. What we seek here is a more nuanced approach that recognizes previous engagements but gives weight to imagination, perceptions, histories, and embodiment in masculinity and violence.  A central purpose of this symposium is for scholars from diverse branches of anthropology and allied fields to engage in dialogue, to not talk past each other, to sincerely seek better toolkits to address issues of violence, masculinity, maleness within our academic and public discussions, communications, and debates.

Donald Trump’s boasts of sexual assault, the counter-wave of women’s protests against male predatory entitlement and impunity, and the challenge to men to cease their complicity have become pivotal on every newscast featuring sexual harassment and assaults. Our own field of anthropology has become a central locale for uncovering, engaging and dealing with male privilege, bias and coercive violence.  The topic of violence is obviously expansive. For this symposium, we want to focus discussion on physical and psychological violence associated with maleness and masculinities from coercion to warfare. These topics should remain a focus of our attention for years to come, and anthropologists should have more authority to speak to the fundamental questions: Is this just the way men are if they think they can get away with it?  Is male violence “natural”?  In examining beliefs about men’s aggressive natures rooted in some imagined prehistory, an accurate understanding of biology in integration with a broader anthropology has never been more important.  We think that diverse anthropological theory must be brought to bear on this subject if we are to develop more complete, effective and usable (in policy, education, and public debate) analyses of maleness, masculinities, and violence.

In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries the spate of learned reports on aggression might make one think that there is a causal link between maleness and violence.  Selfish genes, demonic males, the spread of agriculture, personal vengeance, and politics by other means have all been ideas promoted to explain the innate violent connection between maleness and power.  But is any of it true?

The eminent Cambridge neuroscientist Joe Herbert, writing in 2015, tells us, “As well as the imprint of biological inheritance, we see the tendrils of testosterone all over war, gangs, and fanaticism,” and, “There’s a very simple reason why most financial traders are young(ish) men.  The nature of trading incorporates all the features for which young males are biologically adapted.”  Do the on-average differences between male and female physiologies form the underlying basis for violence?  Perhaps not, but if they do indicate something, what can we learn from them?

This conference will gather some of the leading researchers on maleness, masculinities, and violence in anthropology to engage each other in constructive dialogue on these issues.  If anthropology is to mean anything as an integrative discipline, it must be able to advance our understanding by bringing the subfields into the direct exchange of ideas on pressing social challenges like gender-based violence.

We are not looking to repeat past assessments of this topic.  Nor are we looking to remain segregated by different vantage points, ideologies and methodologies.  We seek to disregard traditional boundaries and ask all who participate in this conference to come prepared to absorb a full range of ideas, to attempt to identify and facilitate connectivities across approaches.

 

NYAS Lecture 4/29: Torture Trees: Police Violence from Chicago to the War on Terror

On April 29th the New York Academy of Sciences lecture series returns when Dr. Laurence Ralph,  John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences in the Departments of Anthropology and African and African American Studies at Harvard University, will present “Torture Trees: Police Violence from Chicago to the War on Terror”. Dr. Aimee Cox, Associate Professor in the departments of African American Studies and Anthropology at Yale University 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.

The history of police torture that I will discuss in this talk begins with 125 Black men in Chicago who were suffocated and shocked at Area Two police precinct. The story ends, however, in a much different place—with the torture of terrorism suspects abroad. Many of these torture survivors were eventually exonerated. Some received multi-million dollar payouts as recompense for their torture and confinement. But their exoneration should not reaffirm our faith in the law—quite the contrary.  In this talk I will challenge my audience not to think of the innocent person as the quintessential torture victim. Rather, think about a person who committed a heinous crime. Imagine that person being bagged and suffocated and beaten within an inch of his life. Ask yourself: Can I see enough humanity in him to understand why it is just as wrong to torture him, as it is to torture an innocent man?

About the Speakers:

Laurence Ralph is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences in the Departments of Anthropology and African and African American Studies at Harvard University.  He is the author of Renegade Dreams: Living Through Injury in Gangland Chicago which received the C. Wright Mills Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP) in 2015.  His scholarly work explores how the historical circumstances of police abuse, mass incarceration, and the drug trade naturalize disease, disability, and premature death for urban residents, who are often seen as expendable. Theoretically, his research resides at the nexus of critical medical and political anthropology, African American studies, and the emerging scholarship on disability. He combines these literatures to show how violence and injury play a central role in the daily lives of black urbanites. Laurence Ralph explored these diverse themes through articles published in many journals, including Anthropological TheoryDisability Studies Quarterly, Transition, and Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power.

Aimee Cox is Associate Professor in the departments of African American Studies and Anthropology at Yale University. Her research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of Anthropology, Black Studies, and Performance Studies. Cox’s first monograph, Shapeshifters: Black Girls and the Choreography of Citizenship (Duke 2015), won a 2016 Victor Turner Book Prize in Ethnographic Writing and Honorable Mention from the 2016 Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize, given by the National Women’s Studies Association. She is the editor of the forthcoming volume, Gender: Space (MacMillan). Her next ethnographic project, Living Past Slow Death, explores the creative strategies individuals and communities enact to reclaim Black life in the urban United States. Cox is the recipient of the 2017-18 Virginia C. Gildersleeve Professorship awarded by Barnard College.  Cox is also a former professional dancer. She danced on scholarship with the Dance Theatre of Harlem and toured extensively with Ailey II.

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

Engaged Anthropology Grant: R. Elliott Oakley

Figure 1: Young men dance into a kitchen, playing flutes, whooping, and rubbing the openings of turtle shells to make noise and wake up the village.

While a doctoral student at the University of Edinburgh, Elliott Oakley received a Dissertation Fieldwork Grant in 2015 to aid research on “Counting Fingers, Quantifying Forests: Numbers, Translation and Guyanese Eco-Politics,” supervised by Dr. Casey High. Three years later Dr. Oakley received an Engaged Anthropology Grant to aid engaged activities on “Supporting Waiwai ‘Cultural Preservation’ in the Context of Conservation.”

The Waiwai Village Museum began as a community initiative to generate income for residents of Masakenyarï, an indigenous community in southern Guyana. Part of a protected area partnership, the Kanashen Community-Owned Conservation Area, the Museum was envisioned as a way to showcase Waiwai culture and sell handicrafts to visitors. My dissertation research (2015-2017) demonstrated how community ideas of the protected area frame conservation as a process of building connections, more to international NGOS, the Guyanese government, or other outsiders than to the plants and animals that make up a lived Amazonian environment. As tourists failed to arrive with any real consistency, over the course of my fieldwork many people in Masakenyarï began to doubt the Museum’s potential to provide greater access to money. But interest in a formal space for local histories, language resources, cultural materials, and Waiwai crafts endured.

Figure 2: Formally handing over my PhD to Toshao Paul Chekema.

While writing my doctoral thesis in Edinburgh, I was fortunate to visit collections in Glasgow and London containing materials from southern Guyana, most obtained in the mid twentieth century during colonial rule of British Guiana. I sent pictures of the exhibitions – ‘Life in the Rainforest’ in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum and the ‘American encounters’ section of the London’s Horniman Museum – to Waiwai friends in Guyana over Facebook. During fieldwork I had promised to adapt my research materials into resources that could be part of the Village Museum in Masakenyarï. But, in part prompted by the images of these UK museums, I learned that the Village Museum stood empty. My discussions with community leaders and elders led to an Engaged Anthropology Grant with three aims: sharing doctoral research findings with participants in Masakenyarï; working with the community on alternative visions to re-establish the Waiwai Village Museum; and filming Waiwai Christmas celebrations, connected to traditional kesemanitopo or Shodewika festivals, to contribute to the establishment of a community-operated digital archive of cultural practices and related research outputs.

Before returning to Guyana, I visited Glasgow Museums to consult their Waiwai collections with curators Patricia Allan and Ed Johnson. The widow of the Scottish colonial official Gordon Lethem, Governor of British Guiana for part of the 1940s, donated assorted objects and photographs from southern Guyana to Glasgow Museums. Many of the objects – and most of the black-and-white images – have not been digitized, and I was lucky to view them and take reference photographs to share with people in Masakenyarï.

Figure 3: Residents gather in the roundhouse to view and discuss Lethem’s photographs, archival newspapers, and research posters.

Arranging the two-month trip to Guyana to start in December 2018 allowed sharing research findings and discussing the Village Museum to coincide with Christmas celebrations, which people often referred to as the most significant cultural event to document to communicate their identity. Though people gather daily between Christmas and New Year’s to eat and dance, enacting this joyous sociality took clear precedence over my rather mundane suggestion to talk about my research. The main conclusion I sought to communicate was how building connections with outside peoples and places is fundamental to enacting the Waiwai ewto, the village or ‘place-where-people-live’. The December festivities were a firm reminder that these desires for exteriority are valuable insofar as they enable states of happiness and contentment, associated with village interiority and embodied most forcefully and deliberately at Christmas.

I felt the full weight of this insight when, while filming hunters returning to the village on December 23rd, the dugout canoe I was traveling in capsized. Gone, it seemed, was any chance of achieving the third project aim, with the camera equipment drying out in a bucket of rice. Immediately aware of my possible grief and frustration, several of the hunters passed arrows and portions of meat from their own hands to mine so I could walk with them into the village. Their generosity turned me from a position of observer to that of participant in a powerful way.

Figure 4: Janet Yaymochi reviews footage from an interview about traditional dancing, kwachi practices, and Christmas celebrations.

Upon checking four days later the camera worked as normal, much to our collective relief, and I was able to collaborate filming parts of the dancing and festivities. The focus shifted to ‘kwachi’, in which young men gather and walk from household to household waking up the women who will prepare food for the day’s communal meals.

Eventually, I was able to present my research at a village meeting on New Year’s Day. I said my formal thanks, discussed the research findings, presented village copies of the PhD and distributed printed summaries for each household. I donated an external hard drive, with photographs and videos from my doctoral research, Waiwai language materials, digital copies of anthropology publications focused on Waiwai people, and artefact images from museum collections in the UK, to start a ‘digital archive’ based in the village and operated by the community.

Then, the event shifted towards collaborative small-group discussions based around the assorted printed materials, which ranged from Lethem’s 1940s photographs to Guyanese newspaper archives from the 1970s to posters summarizing my doctoral research. It was a pleasure for me to move around the roundhouse listening as older generations recognized their kin or described the context of the images to their children and grandchildren.

After celebrations closed down after New Year’s Day, the village shifted from the continual daily gatherings to the much quieter rhythms of household life in an Amazonian community. With time to rest and to visit, I focused on discussing museum plans, translating a chapter summary of my PhD into the Waiwai language, and tying up filming by speaking with senior women about the significance of kwachi.

People in Masakenyarï discussed how museum artefacts and images collected decades before might offer a pathway forward for their heritage goals. Rather than rely on tourists arriving in person, their museum vision – like the conservation processes I documented during doctoral fieldwork – is to build connections through enduring outside interests in Amazonian objects, peoples, and places. We composed a letter to Glasgow Museums to take the next step in that effort.

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.

Sign up

 

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.

Sign up

 

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.

NYAS Lecture 2/25: The Pensioner’s Dilemma: Generations, Class, and Inequality in Southern Europe

The New York Academy of Sciences lecture series continues on February 25th when Susana Narotzky, Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Barcelona, Spain, will present, “The Pensioner’s Dilemma: Generations, Class, and Inequality in Southern Europe.” Jane Schneider, Professor Emeritus, C.U.N.Y Graduate Center will act as discussant. The lecture 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.

The current crisis in Europe creates new practices and understandings of inter-generational dependencies reaching beyond the intimacy of the home to the reproduction of society as a whole. This talk addresses how older and younger men and women have seen their expectations of stability and wellbeing shattered. In a social context that promotes the entrepreneurial self, autonomy is increasingly difficult to attain and inter-generational forms of care overlap with conflict and resentment.

Neoliberal policy and media discourse present the elderly as a privileged group dispossessing the younger generation from its future. In contrast, my research demonstrates that exchanges of funds, labor, resources, and knowledge between generations within and across households contribute to complex solidarities. Class rather than age is the marker of social differentiation. Important mobilizations in support of public pension systems in Europe challenge a discourse where social security rights are increasingly represented as a form of privilege rather than as a means by which a state more equitably distributes resources.

About the Speakers:

Susana Narotzky is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Barcelona, Spain and a Fellow of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam. She studied at the University of Barcelona and at the New School for Social Research in New York and obtained an M.A. degree in 1984 and a Ph.D. in 1989. In 2011 she was awarded the ICREA-Academia five year Fellowship by the Institut Català de Recerca I Estudis Avançats, Generalitat de Catalunya to support her research. She has served as scientific coordinator of the project “Models and their Effects on Development paths” (MEDEA) (2009-2012) 7th FP, and since 1998 is the head of the Study Group on Reciprocity (GER) at the University of Barcelona. Her main research focus has been on the anthropology of work, with particular attention to unregulated production and care practices within and across generations. The recent global crisis has led her to investigate the articulation between folk models of the economy that inform practices at the micro-sociological level, and expert models of the economy that frame policy, corporative and institutional behavior. Her work is inspired by theories of critical political economy, moral economies, and feminist economics. 

Jane Schneider is Professor Emeritus from C.U.N.Y. Graduate center (2005), where she had been Professor of Anthropology since 1985.  Professor Schneider became an anthropologist after earning a degree in Political Theory from the University of Michigan and continued to straddle the two with her theoretical work and her fieldwork. After an early interest in textiles and in the world-system approach that led to seminal publications, she moved into a career of research on and in Sicily and to a fruitful partnership with Peter Schneider, which culminated in numerous publications, including, Reversible Destiny: Mafia, Antimafia, and the Struggle in Palermo (2003). Currently, Jane Schneider is working on “contraband capitalism”–how this “mode of production” gained momentum from the U.S. “war on drugs,” and how it transformed criminal organizations around the world, with special attention to the Sicilian Mafia.

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