Gustavo Lins Ribeiro to Receive 2021 Franz Boas Award for Exemplary Service to Anthropology

Wenner-Gren is proud to share the news that the American Anthropological Association has selected Dr. Gustavo Lins Ribeiro as this year’s recipient of the Franz Boas Award for Exemplary Service to AnthropologyGustavo Lins Ribeiro was the founder in 2004 and first chair of the World Council of Anthropological Associations (WCAA). He currently lives in Mexico where he is a full professor at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana and a Level 3 National Researcher of the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT). He is professor emeritus of the University of Brasilia, where he worked from 1988 to 2014, and an Honorary Member of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences. Dr. Lins Ribeiro also received a Wenner-Gren Wadsworth Fellowship in the 1980s and was a member of the Foundation’s Advisory Council in the 1990s.

As stated on the AAA website:

This honor is given to “members whose careers demonstrate extraordinary achievements that have well served the anthropological profession.”

Dr. Lins Ribeiro’s scholarship, research, and service have demonstrated an outstanding application of anthropological knowledge toward improving the human condition throughout his expansive career. His areas of research encompass issues of transnationalism, international migrations, and changing trends in computer-mediated communicative practices. A prolific scholar, he has contributed extensively to AAA publications in Portuguese, Spanish, and English. To date, Dr. Lins Ribeiro has authored or edited more than twenty-seven books. He has published over 130 articles in numerous journals including American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Annual Review of Anthropology, Critique of Anthropology, Current Anthropology, and Journal des Anthropologues.

Dr. Lins Ribeiro previously served as co-chair of the former Commission on World Anthropologies and the Committee on World Anthropologies for the AAA. He served as President of the Associação Brasileira de Antropologia (Brazilian Association of Anthropology) in 2003 and helped to establish the World Council of Anthropological Associations (WCAA) in 2004.

Webinar June 24th and 25th: Patchwork Ethnography

On Thursday, June 24th, and Friday, June 25th, at 9:30 AM Central Time (U.S. and Canada), be sure to check out the Patchwork Ethnography webinar. For more information about this webinar click here.

To register for this event click here.

Patchwork ethnography seeks to bring blackboxed and delegitimized ethnographic practices out of the closet. Working against the masculinist and ableist assumptions that undergird fieldwork, patchwork ethnography recognizes that researchers — particularly women, BIPOC, queer, trans, and disabed folx — have always constructed their ethnographic work through patchwork, whether due to personal obligations, issues of accessibility, or the neoliberal, precarious academic labor market. In this virtual conference, we seek to understand patchwork ethnography as the product of what feminist anthropologists have described as “intersecting responsibilities” in relation to the structural constraints of racism, sexism, and classism that researchers are entangled in and which shape our choices.

Patchwork ethnography acknowledges the multiple subject positions, positionalities, and complexities of researchers. Rather than imagining the researcher as a sovereign subject, patchwork ethnography allows us to think honestly about the vulnerabilities of researchers, and how we may produce anthropological knowledge that pushes against demands of mastery and control. The goal of this two-day conference is to generate a collective conversation about patchwork ethnography as theory, method, and/or as an advocacy tool for funding agencies.

This webinar is part of the Webinars on the Future of Anthropological Research initiative, supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.

Program Committee: Gökçe Günel, Saiba Varma, Chika Watanabe, Alexia Arani and Katie Ulrich.

While Wenner-Gren is proud to be providing a platform for this event, the views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Foundation.

Seeking Participants for a New Coalition for Archaeological Synthesis Initiative

Request for Information

The Creation and Division of Wealth and the Long-term Consequences of
Inequality: Views from Archaeology

Precis: The Coalition for Archaeological Synthesis (CfAS) seeks applications from researchers in archaeology and allied disciplines who are interested in participating in a collaborative synthetic research project on social inequality. This NSF-funded effort (recommended for funding in May 2021) will advance synthetic understandings of relationships between inequality and other dimensions of human social dynamics as they are revealed by the archaeological record. The project will be pursued by a working group of 10 researchers who have expertise in the study of social inequality and who have and are willing to share data and expertise pertinent to the topic for areas in which we seek coverage (see Research Areas and Data Types Sought, below). The working group, led by Tim Kohler and Amy Bogaard, will expand and develop the approach presented in Kohler et al. (2017) and Kohler and Smith (2018). A more complete summary of the research strategy may be found in the Project Summary from the successful NSF Grant application attached at the end of this RFI.

Deadline for receipt of letters of interest: July 23, 2021

Participants to be selected: 5 (who will join five others already selected: Shadreck Chirikure, Tim Kerig, Scott Ortman, Bogaard, and Kohler)

Contact: Questions concerning this Request for Information should be sent to Scott Ortman,
Director, Center for Collaborative Synthesis in Archaeology (CCSA), at


Established in 2017, the Coalition for Archaeological Synthesis advances synthetic research using the working group model pioneered by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS). Although new to archaeology, the NCEAS model of research has been a powerful driver for advancing interdisciplinary scientific research in other fields (Carpenter et al. 2009; Hackett et al. 2008). The rationale behind and the vision of the Coalition is articulated in two papers (Altschul et al. 2017, 2018) available on the CfAS website ( As the project is intended to put into practice the collaborative research model laid out in those papers, RFI applicants are strongly encouraged to consult them.

Letters of interest submitted in response to this Request for Information will be used by CfAS to identify working group participants for a working group effort extending from the fall 2021 into the fall of 2024, with in-person meetings in Oxford, UK tentatively scheduled for November 2021 and in Boulder Colorado in fall 2022. Travel, lodging, and related meeting costs of the participants selected for the workshop will be paid through an NSF award to CU-Boulder’s CCSA.

A research stipend of $6500 will be provided to each participant to assist in data compilation and cleaning. No additional field or laboratory work will be funded.

Research Areas and Data Types Sought

In selecting researchers, we will prioritize expertise and access to existing data from areas such as Japan, South Asia, South America, and Eastern North America that have been lightly represented in prior work, and from areas able to present a continuous, long and well dated sequence of data. Regions that have been relatively well represented in earlier work on this topic (including the US Southwest and Mesoamerica) will be a lower priority, unless they can offer long and well-dated sequences not previously analyzed from the perspectives we are advancing. Participating researchers must have (or be able to develop) systematic data on house size and, ideally, household storage capacities for their area. It is important for chronology to be well controlled. The existence of high-quality contextual data for the sites, including reliable site and regional population estimates, well excavated assemblages of artifacts, well understood subsistence regimes, and data related to changing levels of violence is advantageous. A longer list of data to be tabulated will be developed at the initial meeting; we do not want to completely prejudge the sorts of data that researchers will advance from their specific areas as relevant to studying relative wealth and degree of prosperity and well being.

Application Submission, Evaluation, and Award

Application Submission:
Applications to participate in this working group must be submitted electronically to, by July 23 at 5PM MST (GMT-7). Letters of Interest shall be submitted in a single PDF or Microsoft Word document using an 11 point or larger font size, with pages having 1” margins.

Who May Submit Applications:
Letters of Interest can be submitted by any researcher with experience and having the rights
to existing data, including house-size data, relevant to social inequality. All researchers regardless of nationality are eligible; we are committed to diversity and professional development and strongly encourage participation by junior and historically underrepresented researchers, heritage management professionals as well as academics, and by individuals from developing countries and indigenous communities. Ability to engage in scholarly discussions in English (orally and in writing) is required. By the end of the project, source and synthesized data products must be made available, open access, through a recognized digital repository. Those submitting applications must commit to make available, open access, those portions of their data that end up being employed by the working group, and to attend an initial meeting of the Working Group in Oxford tentatively scheduled for November 19-21, 2021.

Application Sections
Each application must consist of a 2-page letter of interest and a 2-page curriculum vitae.

Letter of Interest. A 2-page letter of interest demonstrates the applicant’s relevant experience, describes their interest and past engagement in the study of inequality and explains how they would contribute to the working group efforts. The applicant will outline the data set(s) that they would contribute to the working group. Willingness and ability to engage in collaborative, interdisciplinary research and to integrate diverse data sources should be emphasized.

Curriculum Vitae. A 2-page summary curriculum vitae is required. No other information (such as hyperlinks to outside material) will be considered. The US National Science Foundation’s biosketch format is preferred but not required.

Review and Selection Process
Applications meeting the requirements set out above will be evaluated by a CfAS Review Committee that will evaluate applications on the extent to which they convey convincing arguments for making a contribution to this collaborative research effort. In addition to obtaining the desired areal and temporal coverage in archaeological data, the Review
Committee will be charged with ensuring that the working-group membership as a whole has
substantial diversity along as many dimensions as possible, including gender, professional status, nationality, and intellectual orientation. The Review Committee will recommend the five individuals to participate in the working group. Final decisions on working-group membership will rest with PIs Kohler and Bogaard. Participant selections are expected within 4 weeks of the application deadline.

Award Information
The award will pay directly for the lodging, and meals during the working group meetings. In
addition, it will provide each participant with a research stipend of $6500 to aid in data compilation and cleaning. If required, it will also cover visa fees and provide letters of invitation. Participants, including international participants, will be reimbursed for reasonable travel expenses. This would include, for example, transportation to and from the origin airport, advance-purchase coach airfare, transportation from the destination airport to the conference facility, and meal expenses (at a standard US General Services Administration rate) during travel. If reimbursement represents a problem, it may be possible to arrange for an advance or for purchase of plane tickets directly.

Effect of Submitting a Letter of Interest
By submitting an application in response to this RFI, the applicant acknowledges that applications may be submitted by other applicants and that CfAS is under no legal obligation to select an applicant’s letter of interest. Applicants submitting RFI responses further acknowledge that CfAS’ decision as to whom to grant an award is final, binding and non-appealable.

References Cited

Altschul, Jeffrey H., Keith W. Kintigh, Terry H. Klein, William H. Doelle, Kelley A. Hays-Gilpin,
Sarah A. Herr, Timothy A. Kohler, Barbara J. Mills, Lindsay M. Montgomery, Margaret C. Nelson,
Scott G. Ortman, John N. Parker, Matthew A. Peeples, and Jeremy A. Sabloff.

2017. Opinion: Fostering synthesis in archaeology to advance science and benefit society. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
114(42):10999–11002. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1715950114.
2018 Fostering Collaborative Synthetic Research in Archaeology. Advances in Archaeological
Practice 6(1):19–29. DOI:10.1017/aap.2017.31.

Carpenter, Stephen R., E. Virginia Armbrust, Peter W. Arzberger, F. Stuart Chapin, James J. Elser,
Edward J. Hackett, Anthony R. Ives, Peter M. Kareiva, Mathew A. Leibold, Per Lundberg, Marc
Mangel, Nirav Merchant, William W. Murdoch, Margaret A. Palmer, Debra P. C. Peters, Steward T.
A. Pickett, Kathleen K. Smith, Diana H. Wall, and Ann S. Zimmerman
2009. Accelerate Synthesis in Ecology and Environmental Sciences. Bioscience 59(8):699–701.

Hackett, Edward J., John N. Parker, David Conz, Diana Rhoten, and Andrew Parker
2008. Ecology Transformed: The National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis and
the Changing Patterns of Ecological Research. Scientific Collaboration on the Internet.

Kohler, Timothy A., and Michael E. Smith (editors)
2018. Ten Thousand Years of Inequality: The Archaeology of Wealth Differences. University of
Arizona Press, Tucson.

Kohler, Timothy A., Michael E. Smith, Amy Bogaard, Gary M. Feinman, Christian E. Peterson,
Alleen Betzenhauser, Matthew Pailes, Elizabeth C. Stone, Anna Marie Prentiss, Timothy J.
Dennehy, Laura J. Ellyson, Linda M. Nicholas, Ronald K. Faulseit, Amy Styring, Jade Whitlam,
Mattia Fochesato, Thomas A. Foor, and Samuel Bowles
2017. Greater post-Neolithic wealth disparities in Eurasia than in North America and
Mesoamerica. Nature 551(7682):619–622. DOI:10.1038/nature24646

Project Summary, “The Creation and Division of Wealth and the Long-term Consequences of
Inequality: Views from Archaeology”

We propose to advance systematic understandings of the long-term causes and consequences of wealth inequality using a working-group approach that is unusual for archaeology. We have three main objectives. First, we will complement existing information on wealth inequality with data from regions not yet synthesized to provide a more complete description of the processes of wealth differentiation. Comparing these will then allow us to sharpen explanatory models for the rise of wealth inequality. Second, we will develop detailed high-temporal-resolution trajectories of wealth inequality in especially well understood regions to describe its dynamic relationships with political organization, violence, population size, and other key contextual variables. Where possible we will also systematize information on wealth creation, since a given degree of wealth differentiation might be experienced quite differently in a context of general prosperity than in situations of widespread poverty. Third, we will examine the degree of correlation of our main measure of wealth differentials in prehistory—house-size distributions—with household wealth and income in contemporary societies where we can control for potentially confounding factors such as local variation in prices and incomes. When archaeological proxies for key social processes can be shown to reflect the same processes in contemporary societies, it increases the value of archaeological data and interpretations for people today. The project is organized by the Coalition for Archaeological Synthesis (CfAS) and 5 administered by the University of Colorado Center for Collaborative Synthesis in Archaeology. The project adapts the collaborative, working-group research model pioneered by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis to the distinctive nature of archaeology. Thus, this proposal has an unusual dual nature: we argue for a particular model of research, as well as for a particular research effort.

Intellectual Merit

The project will test the validity and limitations of house-size distributions as proxies for income or wealth inequality by investigating relationships among these factors in contemporary societies. We will provide a more complete global picture of broad patterns in wealth inequality beginning in the Neolithic that expands on previous syntheses and supports deeper comparative analysis into its evolution. The project will develop finer-grained time series for societies having detailed archaeological evidence, supporting analyses into the dynamics of inequality through time within societies, and its direct and indirect social, economic, and cultural effects.

Broader Impacts

Archaeology’s unique ability to examine social processes over the long term will further public understanding and debate about social inequalities today—a fraught topic regularly occupying the front pages of our daily newspapers. The project will develop and examine a unique approach to synthesis via working groups, developed specifically for our discipline, which we predict will support greater participation by women, underrepresented minorities, and cultural resource management professionals, who are often excluded from research though they command substantial amounts of primary data. The large corpus of well documented data on inequality we produce will be deposited in tDAR, enhancing infrastructure for research and education. A popular volume on the prehistory of wealth inequality—informed by this project, but not funded by it—will complement CfAS webpages and professional publications to reach a wide variety of audiences.


Announcing the Wenner-Gren Fellowship in Anthropology and Black Experiences

Wenner-Gren Fellowship in Anthropology and Black Experiences

In partnership with the School for Advanced Research (SAR), the Wenner-Gren Foundation is sponsoring one nine-month residential fellowship open to PhD-holding anthropologists of all ranks.

This fellowship aims to expand the anthropological conversation and build capacity in anthropology by amplifying perspectives previously under-represented in the discipline.

We are eager to support individuals whose research draws on Black studies, critical race studies, diasporic Africana studies, the vernacular insights of communities of color, and other sources of inspiration growing out of global Black experiences to advance new lines of scholarship in any of anthropology’s subfields.  We hope to attract applicants working in a diverse range of sites, including but not limited to Black communities.

Applicants should show how this support will enable them to succeed at a critical juncture in their career and alter their trajectory in the field. Applicants must be US citizens or permanent residents.

The successful applicant will join a cohort of scholars at SAR in Santa Fe, New Mexico. SAR especially welcomes applicants willing to spend the fellowship term on our residential campus in Santa Fe, but the program is also willing to consider applications from those who can only participate through a combination of remote gatherings and an in-person residency of several weeks.

Fellows receive a stipend of $50,000. Resident scholars also receive low-cost housing and free office space at the SAR campus. Fellows who opt not to relocate receive a travel subsidy covering the cost of short-term in-person residency at the SAR campus.

The deadline for applications is November 1, 2021, for a fellowship starting in September 2022. For more information, please contact

Learn more about the fellowship.

Find out how to apply.

HealthXCross Postdoctoral Position, 3 Years (12 Months, Renewable)

Deadline for application: 28 June 2021.
Starting of the position: 1st October 2021.
Host institution: Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy


We are pleased to announce a postdoctoral position available on the project, HealthXCross “Remaking Health in a Microbial Planet by Crossing Space, Time, Species and Epistemic Cultures”, funded by the European Research Council (ERC), 2021-2026 (Starting grant):

HealthXCross is an ethnographic study of transnational and interdisciplinary open-data platforms that compare and aggregate microbial data across time, space, species and disciplines. These platforms aggregate – through advanced AI technology – microbial data with other kinds of data (medical, environmental, social etc…) to intervene in both environmental and human health. HealthXCross main objective is to analyse how health comes to be reconfigured through these platforms.

We look for a postdoctoral researcher who will focus on one selected platform with a One Health approach in partnership with an important technological hub for the aggregation of data, She/he will analyse, within the ‘One/planetary health’ theoretical debate, the interplay between ‘data governance’ of open-data and ‘data epistemology’. ‘Data epistemology’ refers to the biopolitics of knowledge at play in One/planetary health, an approach that aims at blurring the boundaries between disciplines and between humans and non-humans. Themes to be analysed by the researcher: politics and practices of open-data; interdisciplinary and data science; biopolitics of One/planetary health at the interface between human and non-human health.

What a postdoc with the HealthXCross team offers:

  • to be part of a collaborative, ambitious, friendly and caring team
  • opportunity to make research on a timely and relevant topic with an applied potential
  • a gross salary of EUR 26 050/year (approx. EUR 1 900/month after taxes)
  • funding for fieldwork and conference travel

What we expect from the postdoctoral research fellow:

  • a PhD in Socio-cultural Anthropology, or Philosophy, Sociology (or cognate disciplines), and ethnographic and theoretical expertise in social studies of data; medical/environmental anthropology; One/planetary health
  • To be able to work independently – in dialogue with the PI and the team – and demonstrated capacity to produce results (present papers at international conferences, publish articles in high quality journals, and contribute to public communication (website, social media)
  • Ethnographic experience, also in interdisciplinary teams. A collaborative attitude is required because the aim of the project is to produce useful knowledge both for the community under study and for the scholarly community at large
  • Very good command of English, both written and spoken

If you wish to have more information or discuss your ideas on how to contribute to the project, do not hesitate to contact the PI of the project Roberta Raffaetà ( prior to submitting the application.

Survey of Wenner-Gren Applicants and Grantees

Have you applied for a Wenner-Gren grant in the past five years?  If so, we’d love to have your input.  We’ve distributed a survey that asks about you, your history with Wenner-Gren, and your willingness to help us reach a broader community of scholars.  Your input will help us do a better job of advancing anthropological research, addressing the precarity of anthropology and anthropologists, and fostering an inclusive vision of the field.  Thanks in advance for your help!

Engaged Anthropology Grant: Peter Little

FIGURE 1: Ibrahim Interviewing Abrahim in Agbogbloshie, an e-waste worker from Savelugu.

In 2016 Dr. Peter Little received a Post-Ph.D. Research grant to aid research on, “An Ethnographic Political Ecology of Electronic Waste Recycling and Risk Mitigation in Accra, Ghana”. Then in 2020 Dr. Little received an Engaged Anthropology Grant to aid engaged activities on, “Virtual Ethnographic Interpretations of E-Waste Work in Ghana in Uncertain COVID-19 Times.”

This engaged anthropology project stemmed from work carried out during a previous post-PhD research grant (“An Ethnographic Political Ecology of Electronic Waste Recycling and Risk Mitigation in Accra, Ghana”). During the grant period (January 2021-March 2021) I was able to accomplish most of the goals set out in my original proposal. First, I was able to engage in virtual ethnographic interpretation exercises with selected members of the village of Savelugu in Ghana’s Northern Region to learn how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the lives of Ghana’s e-waste workers. I hired two community researchers to conduct follow-up  interviews with community members to get a sense for how the COVID-19 pandemic was impacting their lives, and some of these interviews, as depicted in Figures 1 and 2, were video recorded. The community researchers also photo-documented recent COVID-19 public messaging and handwashing infrastructure at Agbogbloshie (see Figures 3, 4, and 5). Throughout the grant period, I maintained contact with my community research partners via WhatsApp and Facebook.

FIGURE 2: Ibrahim interviewing Savelugu businesswomen.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, I had assumed that many e-waste workers from Savelugu would seek alternative work, but according to interviews conducted by the community researchers, that was not the case. As the price of copper climbed (now around $4 USD a pound), the e-waste recycling sector experienced a boom as a result of a rise in demand in the global scrap metal supply chain.







Another goal of the grant was to collaborate remotely with members of Savelugu to translate key research findings from previous ethnographic fieldwork into Dagbani, the local language. I hired a community researcher whose task was to translate e-waste environmental health narratives. This is important because all the literature on e-waste in Ghana is currently in English and so having it translated into Dagbani would surely help village elders better understand the risks and challenges these e-waste workers face. In February 2021, my research collaborators helped translate collected interview data. For the first time, members of the Savelugu community were able to see e-waste narratives translated into Dagbani (see Figure 6).

Figure 6


“Pain in here [points to ribs and heart]. The   stomach hurt. Chop [food], small small.”


“My chest hurts. Hard to sleep. Eyes be hurt, be  burning.”


“Sometimes my body burns. The copper smoke disturbs me. At night I wake up 2 or 3 times because of heat. My son Martin also sick. He got malaria. He is disturbed by the smoke and is stuffed up all the time.”


“My body is no good. Fire work is hard work for here.”


“The fire and smoke disturbs me. The chest hurts. I not go to Korle Bu [Hospital] for check up.”


“No good breathing. Plus my stomach hurt from small chop. Nobody come to help us with health. They test only the senior scrap workers here.”


“The smoke hurts my lungs. It disturb my lungs.”


“The smoke disturbs me. The fire heat hurt. The fire makes the head hot. I went to Korle Bu one month ago to check my health. No blood test.

Nobody comes here to test you.”


“I have trouble sleeping. Chest hurts. The heat bother me. I have medicine for chest pain. The water is hot (water used to cool down hot copper) and hurts the skin. It get in my eyes and burn.”


“My chest burn. I take medicine for cough. I also get cut and burned.”


“Kpɛ ka bɛrim bɛ. Puli maa bɛra. Dim bela bela”


“N nyoɣu n bɛra. N bɛ tooi gbɛhira. N nina n kumda ka zabira”



“saha sheŋa n ningbuna ku dirila boɣum. Kuriti maa Nyohi maa bobrima mi. Yuŋ kam buyi bɛi Buta ka tulim ŋo nɛri ma. N dapal Matinu gba ka alaafɛ. Malaria n gbaa gi o. Nyohi maa bobri o pam ka che ka fɛwufɛwu mali o saha sheli kam.”


“N ningbuna be niŋ ma nyaɣsim. Buɣum tuma mali wahala”.


“ ti bi vuhiri vɛyelinga. Ka bindira maa gba bɛri n puuni. Ashibti tun’tumdiba bi kaari ti. Ti kpambi maa kɔ ka bi yuuna.”

“Nyohi maa bɛrila n nyoɣu ni. Di bobrila n nyoɣu”.

“Nyohi maa bobri ma mi. Tulim maa nyori mi. ka buɣum maa che ka zugu biira. Goli so ŋɔn kpi la ni n daa cheŋ Korle Bu ni n ti lihi n daa alaafɛ zuɣu. n daa bi voogi n ʒɛm.


“Ashibti tun’tumdiba bi kanna  n ti kaari ya”.


“n bi tooi gbehira. Nyo’moɣli. Tulum maa bobri ma mi. n mali nyoɣu ni tim. Kom maa tuli mi (ko’sheli din maari kur’tula)



Finally, a goal of this engaged anthropology grant was to develop a photo exhibit in the primary school in Savelugu to help teach village youth about the life experiences and risks faced by Ghana’s e-waste workers. This is still an ongoing project and the exhibit will hopefully be up in a local school in Savelugu by the end of the summer. Thus far, I have worked with my community collaborators to select a series of photographs from the project to be used for this photo exhibit. These photographs have been re-sized and printed on foam board and were shipped to Savelugu in early May 2021. See some of the selected photographs in Figures 7, 8, and 9.


Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship: Diana Szanto

We’re excited and proud to share the trailer and blog post from Diana Szanto who received a Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship to aid filming Manish.


Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship

From 2008 to 2016 I studied development in Sierra Leone, from a particular angle: that of disability. Originally focusing on the role of NGOs, my attention progressively shifted toward local civil society. I got interested in self-organized disabled communities. My encounters in this world led me to a group of disabled musicians to whom I became attached by long lasting ties of friendship. As I was drafting my thesis, I thought it best to keep my personal life out of my ethnography. Retrospectively, it was a bad idea, but nervous doctoral students do not always make judicious decisions. Luckily, I also realized that my time spent in the company of my friends was probably the most precious part of my learning process. Silencing this experience seemed to be too much of a loss and so I came to the idea of transforming it into something more accessible than an anthropology book. I started to use two complementary methodologies: collecting field notes for a book, supposedly for an academic audience and footages destined to become a film for a larger audience. At the end, I abandoned the assumption of artificial boundaries separating imaginary audiences, but the two types of material yielded indeed two different results: a book and a film. The book (Politicising Polio in Sierra Leone) came out at the end of 2019.  The film became a collective project, but for years, it stubbornly refused to materialize.

As I am not trained in visual anthropology, I needed help in filming. I asked a friend, an accomplished French documentarist, to join me in the field.  He recruited a small but heteroclite crew, which came to visit me in Sierra Leone in 2009, 2010 and 2011. We collected more than 30 hours of footages. Shootings took place almost exclusively following the haphazard daily movements of our protagonists. Plans, if they existed at all, had to be frequently changed. For long, it remained a mystery even for us what kind of film this material can make, if only because our protagonists also frequently changed their minds about what they wanted to see represented. Several crises – of hermeneutical and personal nature – discouraged us from getting the job done.

By 2017, we had definitely gave up ever finishing the film. Then suddenly we changed our minds. That year our main protagonist died. His death put an end to a long hesitation and gave us a new impetus to leave a visual trace of his life. In agreement with the rest of the group in Sierra Leone, we decided to dedicate the film to the homage of our lost friend. What was a strong but materially baseless intention, became a realistic possibility thanks to the Wenner-Gren Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship.

We started to work in the beginning of 2019. Based on a first selection accomplished collectively, I wrote the scenario. I wanted to create a multilayered film that speaks at the same time about Manish, our hero, his micro universe with its broader global entanglements, as well as about the emotional vulnerabilities of doing fieldwork in violent terrains. We worked on realizing this plan for a year. Our team is not only diverse, but also geographically dispersed. I am based in Hungary, the first cameraman, director and editor, Denis Ramos, and his assistant, second cameraman, Ferdinando Formisano, live in France and our most important consultants, the film’s surviving main characters are in Sierra Leone. We had to find a way to overcome the distance. I travelled to France three times, the rest of the time we exchanged draft versions, ideas and opinions online.  Final postproduction was done in a studio in Hungary in the summer of 2020.

The film, Manish, is a 75 minute-length documentary. It tells the story of a polio-disabled boy, who escapes the war, finds refuge, friends and hope in Freetown, remakes his life several times but does not live long enough to see his dreams realized. The film does more than rehearsing the events. It excavates and makes visible the social roots of suffering. In a counter-movement, it also attempts to understand the nature of collective happiness and the political potential inherent in hope.

We intended to embed a singular story in its local and global historical context, in order to show its universal implications. We strived for a delicate balance between allowing Manish to inhabit the front of the stage while showing enough of the back stage to produce a nuanced and multilayered contextualization.  The multiplicity of the layers complicated the story telling. We understood that it was impossible to follow the chronology without some additional information.  After some hesitation, I assumed finally the position of the narrator. In this way, my own fieldwork, the process of navigating complicated human relations, has implicitly become part of the film.

When we finished the postproduction, we thought that the biggest part of the work was behind us. We slowly realized that what was in front us was equally huge: we have to make the film live.  Our two most obvious options are festivals for recognition and VOD for wide coverage. We started to work on the first option. For a while we were hoping that festivals would start open offline but in December 2020 we gave up waiting and started to register for online screenings.  For most of them, we are still waiting for the response.  VOD marketing can start only after the festival season. In the meanwhile, we are communicating about the film on its webpage ( With the site, I wanted to pay a tribute to ethnographic filmmaking. Therefore, I imagined a double function for it. On the one hand, it presents the film, on the other, it gives more information on the ethnography that grounded it with the intention to render it “teachable”.  Under the menu item “Teaching tools” the internaute will find four short edited video sequences. They illustrate 4 important themes discussed by the film and developed more in details in the book: 1, Being disabled in the South, 2, Contemporary forms of violence, 3, Expulsions, 4, Resistances. Instead of referring directly to the film’s story, the sequences introduce the viewer into the deeper intricacies of its social, political and historic background. These snapshots, although localized, are meant to nourish an analysis of current global processes, affecting in one way or another, beyond the disabled communities of Freetown, probably all of us.

This section is dedicated to teachers, activists or amateurs of self-education who want to know more about the topic. Each video is accompanied by a short text, explaining the scenes and proposing a theoretical frame for their interpretation. The texts are completed by a list of suggested questions for class discussions, a glossary explaining the concepts, as well as by a short bibliography. The four texts together provide a good enough summary of the book’s arguments and make these available for those who do not necessarily have time to read hundreds of pages.

The webpage is also a place for fundraising. A Donation button invites the visitors to contribute to a Fund established in Freetown to financially help the disabled communities to which Manish belonged. It is managed by a local NGO, One Family People, created by the protagonists of the film. 10% of all income realized by the documentary will go to the people who participated in its realization.

We had to postpone the public premiere in Sierra Leone because the crew refused to travel in the heights of the pandemic. According to a cautious new plan, maybe we can visit “Salone” in June. In Sierra Leone, disability activists will not have to wait until the film is released officially. One Family People has access to it and can screen it on demand.

Public Statement by the Network of Anthropology Programs in Colombia

Public Statement by the network of Anthropology Programs in Colombia (Note 1)

Since April 28th thousands of Colombian citizens are protesting in many parts of the
country. In both rural and urban areas, the young and old, men and women have taken
to the streets – whether individually or collectively, as associations and organizations –
to demonstrate peacefully in discontent with the country’s situation. Exercising their
constitutional right to protest, workers, members of the LGBTQIA+ community,
peasants, afro-descendants, students, indigenous peoples and a myriad of social groups
are clamoring for the National Government to listen to their demands.

This movement has been met with disproportionate violence on the part of the Armed
Forces, from the use of lethal and so-called “non-lethal” weapons against protesters to
abusive force against both the State’s own Human Rights institutions and those of
international organizations including the UN mission. (Note 2).  In just one week, such violations
and attacks on the physical, emotional and mental integrity of Colombian citizens have
resulted in deaths, wounds and atrocities committed by the Armed Forces (Police, Riot
Police -ESMAD[Note 3] – and Army). While the exact number of victims (both fatal and nonfatal)
of the public powers’ violent and unrestrained use of force remains unknown,
preliminary evidence and information bear witness to the situation’s gravity and
magnitude. (Note 4).

As Colombian citizens and academics we call for dialogue and condemn all forms of
violence. We remain persuaded that no form of violence should be used, much less
when the demands are that fundamental rights are guaranteed. We invite those
participating in the marches to continue protesting through peaceful forms of expression
and we especially demand that the National Government cease the use of force against
democratic protests.

Neither militarized street action, military occupation of residential areas nor the use of
force against citizens, the stigmatizing of protests or any other form of violence is
admissible under the democratic rule of law. Democracy depends on the legitimacy of
its institutions and cannot survive unless individual and collective freedom and Human
Rights are granted by government. The unrestrained use of physical violence on the part
of public powers seriously undermines the legitimacy of the State.

Ample and expressive processes of social mobilization, such as those which gained
momentum in 2019 and those currently underway in our country constitute a legitimate
form of protest that should be addressed through dialogue. An open and effective dialogue that recognizes their legitimacy and is committed to opening up democratic
solutions. Dialogue is much needed to solve the conflicts undermining the peace
agreements, to prevent returning to glyphosate as a means of burning down coca
plantations with its damaging effects on all other plants and forms of life, and to stop
attacks on the leaders of social movements.

We demand that the National Government cease its military response to social
discontent, grant the demilitarization of cities, refrain from stigmatizing protesters and
does not turn to the state of siege as a means of re-establishing public order, (Note 4). We also
demand that inquiries are made into allegations of assassination, disappearance,
arbitrary detentions and sexual violence and that in Human Rights and International
Humanitarian Law are preserved in all circumstances. We require for clear and effective
channels to be opened up with protesters and social organizations.

As academics and university students we occupy spaces for the construction of
knowledge, reflection and critical analysis; for this very reason it is fundamental that we
raise our voice in the face of the unrestrained violence we witness on the streets. We
express our solidarity to all the relatives of people assassinated, disappeared or attacked
in the protests. Democracy is deliberative and grants the right to dissent, so we will
continue to contribute with public debates based on building the change that our country

May 4th 2021 14h30


Colombian Society of Anthropology-ACANT
Department of Anthropology University of Andes
Department of Anthropology University of Antioquia
Anthropology Program of the University of Caldas
Department of Anthropology of the University of the Cauca
Anthropology Program of the University of Externado
Archaeology Program of the University of Externado
Anthropology Program of the Icesi University
Department of Anthropology of the Javeriana University, Bogotá
Department of Anthropology of the National University
Anthropology Program of the University of Rosario
Anthropology Program of the University of Santander


Pronunciamiento de la RED de Programas de Antropología en Colombia

Desde el pasado 28 de abril, miles de ciudadanos y ciudadanas colombianos se han manifestado en diferentes lugares del país. Tanto en áreas rurales como en centros urbanos, jóvenes y adultos, mujeres y hombres –de manera individual o desde asociaciones, colectivos u organizaciones– han salido a las calles para demostrar con un sinnúmero de expresiones pacíficas su descontento ante la situación del país. En este ejercicio del derecho constitucional a la protesta, obreros, sectores de la comunidad LGBTIQIA+, campesinos, afrodescendientes, estudiantes, indígenas y otros tantos segmentos de la sociedad, han reclamado al Gobierno Nacional que sus demandas sean escuchadas.

Como respuesta a estas movilizaciones sociales, se han recibido tratos desmedidos por parte de la Fuerza Pública, que van desde el uso de armas letales y “no letales” en contra de los ciudadanos marchantes (y no marchantes), hasta abusos en contra de organismos de Derechos Humanos tanto del propio Estado, como de organizaciones internacionales como es el caso de la misión de la ONU. (Note 2). Luego de siete días, el saldo de estas violaciones, abusos y atentados en contra de la integridad física, emocional y mental de los ciudadanos se ha traducido en muertes, heridas y otros hechos cometidos por la Fuerza Pública (Policía, ESMAD [Note 3]y Ejército). Se desconoce aún el número de víctimas (mortales y no mortales) a causa del uso violento y desmedido por parte de la Fuerza Pública; no obstante, las evidencias y la información preliminar, se convierten en testimonios de su gravedad y magnitud. (Note 4).

Como ciudadanos y como académicos, convocamos al diálogo y condenamos todas las formas de violencia. Reiteramos nuestra convicción en que ninguna forma de violencia debería ser ejercida y mucho menos allí donde se reclame la vigencia de derechos. Invitamos a quienes participan de las marchas a mantener siempre las vías pacíficas de expresión, pero, sobre todo, exigimos al Gobierno Nacional el cese en el uso de la fuerza en contra de las manifestaciones ciudadanas.

Ni la militarización de las calles, ni la ocupación militar de áreas residenciales, ni el uso de la fuerza contra los ciudadanos, ni la estigmatización de la protesta, ni ninguna forma de uso de la fuerza en contra de la población civil son admisibles en un Estado de Derecho. La democracia depende de la legitimidad de sus instituciones y solo pervive en tanto las libertades y los Derechos Humanos sean garantizados por los gobiernos. El uso desmedido de violencia física por parte de la Fuerza Pública en contra de las manifestaciones ciudadanas socava la legitimidad del Estado.

Los amplios y crecientes procesos de movilización social, que tuvieron un punto álgido en noviembre de 2019, y aquellos vividos en el país en los últimos días constituyen una forma legítima de protesta, que debe ser atendida mediante el diálogo. Un diálogo abierto y efectivo, que reconozca la legitimidad de la protesta y abra mecanismos para la solución democrática de los conflictos sociales acrecentados por el desmonte de los acuerdos de paz, el retorno del glifosato y el ataque a los líderes sociales, entre otros.

Exigimos al Gobierno Nacional el cese de la respuesta militar al descontento social, la desmilitarización de las ciudades, la no estigmatización de los manifestantes, y la no declaración de estado de excepción bajo la premisa de la restauración del orden público.3 Exigimos, además, que se realicen las respectivas investigaciones en los casos denunciados de asesinatos, desapariciones, detenciones arbitrarias, violencias sexuales y, en todo caso, el estricto respeto por los Derechos Humanos y el Derecho Internacional Humanitario. Así mismo, invitamos a que se creen los canales claros y efectivos para el diálogo amplio y participativo con los manifestantes y las organizaciones sociales.

La academia y las universidades somos espacios de construcción de conocimientos, de reflexión y análisis crítico; por esta razón es imperativo levantar nuestra voz ante la violencia desmedida que estamos viendo en las calles. Nuestra solidaridad con todas las familias de personas que han sido asesinadas, desaparecidas y agredidas en medio de la protesta. La democracia es deliberación y derecho al disentimiento, por eso seguiremos contribuyendo con los debates públicos y argumentados en función de la construcción de los cambios que nuestro país necesita.

4 de mayo de 2021, 2:30 pm


Asociación Colombiana de Antropología – ACANT
Departamento de Antropología Universidad de los Andes
Departamento de Antropología Universidad de Antioquia
Programa de Antropología de la Universidad de Caldas
Departamento de Antropología Universidad del Cauca
Programa de Antropología de la Universidad del Externado
Programa de Arqueología de la Universidad del Externado
Programa de Antropología de la Universidad Icesi
Departamento de Antropología Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá
Programa de Antropología de la Universidad de Magdalena
Departamento de Antropología Universidad Nacional
Programa de Antropología de la Universidad del Rosario
Programa de Antropología de la Universidad de Santander
Programa de Antropología de la Universidad Surcolombiana


Pronunciamento da RED de Programa de Antropologia na Colômbia (Note 1)

Desde o último 28 de abril, milhares de cidadãs e cidadãos colombianos estão se manifestando em diferentes lugares do país. Tanto em áreas rurais como em centros urbanos, jovens e adultos, mulheres e homens – de maneira individual ou associativa, coletiva ou organizacional – saíram às ruas para demostrar de forma pacífica seu descontentamento com a situação do país. Ao exercer seu direito constitucional ao protesto, trabalhadores, setores da comunidade LGBTQIA+, camponeses, afrodescendentes, estudantes, indígenas e outros tantos grupos da sociedade, exigem que o Governo Nacional escute suas demandas.

A resposta a estas mobilizações tem sido uma violência desmedida por parte da Forças Nacionais, desde o uso de armas letais e “não-letais” contra manifestantes (e não-manifestantes) até abusos cometidos contra órgãos de Direitos Humanos do próprio estado e de organizações internacionais, como é o caso da missão da ONU5. (Note 2). Em sete dias, o saldo de tais violações, abusos e atentados contra a integridade física, emocional e mental dos cidadãos pode ser visto em mortes, ferimentos e outras atrocidades cometidas pelas Forças Nacionais (Polícia, ESMAD[Note 3] e Exército). Ainda é desconhecido o número de vítimas (fatais e não-fatais) das ações violentas e desmedidas do Poder Público; não obstante, evidências e informações preliminares se transformaram em testemunhos da gravidade e magnitude da situação. (Note 4).

Como cidadãos colombianos e acadêmicos, chamamos para o diálogo e condenamos todas as formas de violência. Reiteramos a nossa convicção de que nenhuma forma de violência deveria ser usada, muito menos quando se exige que direitos sejam garantidos. Convidamos aos que participam das marcham que continuem protestando por meio de formas pacíficas de expressão e, sobretudo, exigimos que o Governo Nacional cesse o uso da força contra manifestações democráticas.

Nem a militarização das ruas, a ocupação militar de áreas residenciais, o uso de força contra cidadãos, a estigmatização de protestos, nem qualquer outra forma de uso da violência contra a população civil é admissível em um Estado de Direito. A democracia depende da legitimidade de suas instituições e apenas pode sobreviver quando as liberdades (de expressão, individuais e coletivas) e os Direitos Humanos são garantidos pelos governos. O uso desmedido de violência física por parte do Poder Público contra manifestações civis prejudica a legitimidade do Estado.

Processos de mobilização social amplos e expoentes, que tiveram seu auge em novembro de 2019 e aqueles vividos no país nos últimos dias, configuram-se como uma forma legítima de protesto que deve ser atendida por meio do diálogo. Um diálogo aberto e efetivo que reconheça sua legitimidade e se comprometa a abrir canais de soluções democráticas daqueles conflitos sociais aumentado ao desmonte de acordos de paz, o retorno do glifosato e o ataque a lideranças de movimentos sociais, dentre outros.

Exigimos que o Governo Nacional cesse a resposta militar ao descontentamento social, garanta a desmilitarização das cidades, não produza a estigmatização dos manifestantes e não declare estado de exceção sob a premissa de que irá restaurar a ordem pública7. Exigimos, ainda, que sejam investigadas as denúncias de assassinatos, desaparecimentos, detenções arbitrárias, violências sexuais e que se respeitem, em todos os casos, os Direitos Humanos e os Direito Humanitário Internacional. Pedimos também que sejam criados canais claros e efetivos de diálogo amplo e participativo, compostos por manifestantes e organizações sociais.

Enquanto acadêmicos e universitários, ocupamos espaços de construção de conhecimentos, reflexão e análise crítica; por esta razão, é fundamental que levantemos a nossa voz diante da violência desmedida que estamos vendo nas ruas. Expressamos a nossa solidariedade a todas as famílias das pessoas assassinadas, desaparecidas e agredidas nos protestos. A democracia é deliberativa e garante o direito a discordâncias, por isso seguiremos contribuindo com debates públicos que sejam baseados na construção das mudanças que nosso país necessita.

4 de maio de 2020, 14h30


Asociación Colombiana de Antropología – ACANT
Departamento de Antropología Universidad de Andes
Departamento de Antropología Universidad de Antioquia
Programa de Antropología de la Universidad de Caldas
Departamento de Antropología Universidad del Cauca
Programa de Antropología de la Universidad del Externado
Programa de Arqueología de la Universidad del Externado
Programa de Antropología de la Universidad Icesi
Departamento de Antropología Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá
Departamento de Antropología Universidad Nacional
Programa de Antropología de la Universidad de Magdalena
Programa de Antropología de la Universidad del Rosario
Programa de Antropología de la Universidad de Santander

Note 1: Thanks to Pedro Fermin for providing this English translation and to Maira Vale for the Portuguese translation.

Note 2:

See also

Note 3: The riot control squad ESMAD constitutes a separate branch of the Colombian National Police.

Note 4:

Save the Date! June 1st: Proposal Writing for the Wenner-Gren Foundation: Introducing the Engaged Research Grant Program

The events of 2020 have forced anthropologists to reckon with their discipline’s history and the nature of the relationships they forge through their research. They are finding themselves asking themselves hard questions about the ethical implications of the work they do.

The best way to advance knowledge in anthropology is to draw on new sources of insight. The best way to ensure anthropological research has an impact is to make sure projects are meaningful for everyone involved. By supporting projects that are collaborative from the get-go, the Wenner-Gren Foundation hopes to demonstrate the value of this new approach to research for the field more generally.

Join the Foundation’s president, Danilyn Rutherford, for a discussion of the Engaged Research Grant program. Danilyn will describe the program’s objectives, go over the criteria of evaluation, and offer tips on writing a winning proposal. There will be lots of time for questions.

This workshop will have CART captioning.

Tuesday, June 1 from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM (Eastern). Click here to register for this event.

Tuesday, June 1 from 9:00-10:30 PM (Eastern). Click here to register for this event.