Category Archives: anthropology

Edwin Segal’s review of ‘Celebrating Transgression’ from American Anthropologist 2007, Vol 109(1):202-1

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 16.16.10Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 16.16.29

Anthropology and the War Machine, winning.

It seems very wrong to classify this ‘jobs.ac.uk’ post under ‘social care':

Anthropologist
Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) – Behavioural and Cultural Systems Team
Location: Fareham, Portsmouth
Salary: £23,500 to £33,500
Hours: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Placed on: 13th June 2014
Closes: 18th July 2014
Job Ref: 1415972
Dstl is responsible for designing, developing and applying the very latest in science and technology for the benefit of UK defence and security, across government. We work with the best people with the best ideas around the world – from very small companies to world-class universities, huge defence companies and sometimes other nations. Together we develop battle-winning technologies, based on deep and widespread research, to support UK military operations, now and in the future.

This is a genuinely involving, unusual and rewarding anthropology role – it’s an opportunity to apply your expertise to inform the way the UK responds to security and defence threats.

You will be joining the Behavioural and Cultural Systems team within Dstl’s Strategic Analysis Group, a 50 strong group of specialists drawn from diverse backgrounds such as psychology, theology, war studies and law. Anthropology is an important element in the mix, as the UK’s ability to tackle future challenges depends on in-depth, accurate insight into populations and societies.

You will be supporting analysis at strategic and operational level, by drawing on a wide range of established and emergent human and social science theories. Your analysis, assessment and advice will be crucial to aiding our understanding of individuals, groups and organisational systems – relating to a wide range of social and cultural issues confronting Her Majesty’s Government. Ultimately, your contribution can help shape and influence government policy and UK Armed Forces operations.

It’s essential that you have an Honours degree in Anthropology or a related subject, and membership of a relevant professional body.

You need a proven record of using a variety of structured social science analysis / research methods to support decision making, together with practical experience of applying Anthropological principles in problem-sets.

You will be a customer-focused researcher who works well both independently and collaboratively.

An understanding of UK defence and security environments or experience of analysis on counter-insurgency or counter-terrorism is an advantage.

Dstl is responsible for designing, developing and applying the very latest in science and technology for the benefit of UK defence and security, across the government. We work with the best people with the best ideas around the world – from very small companies to world-class universities, huge defence companies … even other nations. Together we develop battle-winning technologies, based on deep and widespread research, to support UK military operations, now and in the future.

In return for playing your part in the UK’s defence and security, we offer extensive benefits that include everything from a pension and generous leave, to excellent learning and development opportunities – all in addition to a competitive salary. Our sites are equipped with gyms and restaurants. But it’s not just your working environment that we’ve thought about. Your home life is important too, which is why we offer childcare vouchers, a flexible work-life balance and even discounts on everything from bus tickets to the cost of a new bicycle. In short, we’ve done our best to ensure that our rewards reflect your talents.

To find out more about this role and the work of Dstl, please go to Civil Service Jobs https://jobsstatic.civilservice.gov.uk/csjobs.html/ and search for the vacancy reference 1415972. Follow the instructions to apply.

Due to the reserved nature of this role, it is only open to UK Nationals who have lived in this country for more than five years. All posts require standard Security Clearance (SC).

Closing date: 18 July 2014.

The Rumour of Calcutta

Really pleased that The Rumour of Calcutta is available again, and now with those soft buttery covers that I’d wanted when it was first published way back in 1996.

20140613-094035-34835009.jpg

Ritual Drama – Dramatic Ritual: Anthropology, Theatre and Performance Practices (Berlin)

A 900 euro summer course in Berlin on theatre and Performance ritual with formed CCS prof Klaus Peter Koepping. Might be of interest to people.

Ritual Drama – Dramatic Ritual: Anthropology, Theatre and Performance Practices

wie versprochen: hier der Link zu Ihrem Kurs: More here. [this is the winter schedule, but the course is to be repeated in summer]

Deadline for application is June 16 2013

Write to: klaus.peter.koepping[at]urz.uni-heidelberg.de

Course schedule
Unit 1 Introduction: Overview of course content, grading, attendance, paper presentation, museum visit and final exam.

Frames: Theatre, Ritual and Everyday Action

Key Question: How do rituals frame our lives?

1. What is an “altar”, what a “stage”? The framing of space and time, the personnel, actor-audience relationships; performance in every-day interaction and as aesthetic events (feast, play, theatre, ritual), with excerpts from Pina Bausch’s “Kontakthof”, older and young amateurs rehearsing “the meeting of gender”.
2. a) Can rituals exist without society/or society without rituals? (excerpts from the film “Dogtooth” by Rachel Tsarangi; see also 4.3). 2.b) Can rituals be abolished by decree? (Point of reference will be the recent German court ruling against infant circumcision).
3. Do new Global Festive Events (Socker Cup, Love Parades and Carneval of Cultures) lead to new regional, national or global identities and community feelings? Example: When Tourist Routes replace Pilgrimages (excerpts from documentary by Dennis O’Rourke, “Cannibal Tours”; see also 6.3).

Unit 2 Social Components: The Creation of Collective Identity

Key Question: Which functions can ritual play for communal life and how are cultural “rules “ (or conventions) imprinted” in bodies?

1.The social functions of ritual as process and performance. Showing of an ethnological documentary (“Waiting for Harry” from Aboriginal Australia), incorporating everyday life into a ritual frame.
2.The three stages of the “ritual process”, including the notion of “liminality” as necessary component. The discussion will turn to the power of ritual to renew communal life and foster solidarity (excerpts from Japanese Butoh Performances expressing the state of humans as intertwining the natural and the cultural).
3. Comparison of initiations into groups of gender or social class (new educational methods of using rituals for crime prevention among youth or to strengthen gender-identities; film clips from “Wilderness School” in the US and the TV docu-play “The strictest parents of the world”. The notion of painful bodily inscriptions of “rules” (excerpts from performances by Orlan and Yoko Ono).

Unit 3 Rituals of History, Memory and Trauma

Key Question: How do we negotiate collective (and personal) identity in performing the past?

1. The creation of historical memory through new ritual forms (Foundation Days, Independence Day Parades, Memory Parks or Architecture). Photo section on various ritual venues: Christian Church Architecture and Shinto Shrines.
2. Bodily inscribing collective identity as well as memories and traumata (excerpts of a performance by Marina Abramovic).

3.Visit to Berlin Holocaust Memorial with observation of ritual space and visitors (see Unit 5 date for hand-in of paper on this as midterm-exam).

Unit 4 Rituals of Sacrifice and their Performative Re-creation

Key Question: What means authenticity in ritual and theatre?

1. The exemplary character of sacrificial rites as gift-exchange between humanity and the non-human realm.
2.The three sacrificial orders in ancient Greek mythic narrative, in ritual events and staged tragedies: the citizen’s rituals, the Dionysian rituals and the Pythagorean forms (excerpts from Schechner’s “Dionysos 69”). Sacrifice as compulsory excess and wasteful consumption like a “potlatch”.
3. Excerpts from “Sacre du Printemps” (“Rites of Spring” by Stravinsky) in the original Russian version and the version of Pina Bausch (see also 1.2 and 2.1).

Unit 5 As Midterm Exam: Hand-in of a short paper on the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

Rituals and Public Displays of Power

Key Question: How does power use multi –sensorial means to achieve an a-(e-)ffective impact on the public?

1. Power and aesthetics at the court of Louis XIV; comparison to Balinese court-theatre (film excerpts on the ritual of the French court). The affective side of performative acts with emphasis on the sensual experience of music .
2.Discussion on the conjunction of ritual and theatre: the power of performance in modern political rituals (the creation of global icons such as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X or Che Guevara, among others).
3. Question: Can rituals ever fail? (Excerpts from a film on the public suicide by the Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima).

Unit 6 Rituals of Subversion of Power: Ritual and Theatrical Figures of the Comic and the Marginal

Key Question: Can ritual or theatrical performances bring about concrete social change?
1. Discussion on braking taboos in “sacred” ritual and in modern theatrical productions (excerpts from musicals like “Hair” or “Jesus Christ Superstar”).
2. The subversion of normal reality and of status positions of power through ritual clowns(“tricksters”)/fools/jesters and other figures of “comedy”. Examples from North American Myths, African rituals, Classical Greek comedies, Italian cinema and Japanese folk rituals as forms of “ritual rebellion”.
3. The performance by Coco Fusco (“Couple in the Cage”) as paradigm for performing encounters with “Otherness”(see also 1.3).

Unit 7 Full-day excursion to Berlin “sites of ritual”
Unit 8 Final Exam

Raminder Kaur’s “Atomic Mumbai: Living with the Radiance of a Thousand Suns” in The New Cross Review of Books.

Screen shot 2013-03-02 at 00.17.20My review of Raminder Kaur’s new book Atomic Mumbai

The Authority of Style – Social Analysis No 21, 1987

a text from 25 years ago – my first published piece on anthropology, metaphor, writing, fakery, rhetoric and circularity, and a bit about Morocco, names, and Rabinow.

Screen shot 2012-12-02 at 10.20.28

Authority of Style

Advices for response.

I am honoured you’ve asked me to comment, but really, it is up to you to work out your own style for public engagement – polemic, polote, polite but sly, ruthless criticism of everything that exists, and any other number of performative routines.

Whatever the case, late night advice may need a spoonful of salt if you really want it to be taken seriously…

Anyway, I reckon that maybe there are several different ways to tackle this.
Probably good is to say something like:
What I found most interesting about x’s presentation is the way they have reworked concepts of xx to show that x = b.
this gives you a chance to reorder what they have done so as to talk about what you want to talk about, but while still seeming to summarize their key points.
Then say something like:
Of course some people might disagree for the following reasons – a, b and c…list them, in detail…  which basically allows you to smash their case, without seeming to have taken sides (good skill to develop I suppose, but sometimes a bit mealy-mouthed when outright hostility is more honest – ah well). Actually, no, that is mean. What you should endeavor to do is to pick apart the argument and material, then stick it back together and return it to the speaker as a reinvigorated project. Saying something like, the implications here are x, y an z – and this was alwyas implicit in x’s presentation.
Then you should leave the audience in no doubt how the something not discussed, or implications not drawn, or assumptions made are, in fact, they key issue at stake – ie, what you are interested in, not what was ostensibly the topic, and it is this which should be the focus of the subsequent discussion.
Then you should come back to the speaker and compliment them for raising such pressing issues, and hope that the discussion of these, as you have set them out, is fruitful.
Or you could just talk generally on what you found interesting. That can meander, but so long as you have a planned start and a distinct end – rather than wittering on more speckled hen warbling than decisive conclusion – and make sure you end. Don’t end with an empty phrase. Just say, …and I think I’ll stop there.
If there are no questions, you then pull out your most popular assertion and ask that as first question,
Sometimes people are too smashed to talk much and it will feel like a damp squib. But when it works, and people feel able to raise questions and join in, well then, viva criticism self-criticism.
good luck

Alpa Shah talk at LSE 17.5.2012

The Malinowski Memorial Lecture this year is by Goldsmiths own Alpa Shah.

Title: ‘The Muck of the Past': Revolution, Social Transformation and the Maoists in India

Date: Thursday 17 May 2012, 6.00-7.00pm

Venue: Old Theatre, LSE

The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception.

Dr Alpa Shah teaches anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is the author of ‘In the Shadows of the State: Indigenous Politics, Environmentalism and Insurgency in Jharkhand, India’ and co-editor of ‘Windows into a Revolution: Ethnographies of Maoism in India and Nepal.’

For more information please see:

http://www2.lse.ac.uk/anthropology/events/events.aspx

Avatar Trinkets

For those of you who like your anthropologists in cryo, in an incubator (online ethnography anyone), or fighting off the mining industry – as already oft-mentioned on this blog (more links below), this little cherub should set you off with oohs and ahhs. As soon as you look closely at the picture though, it will be ahhhg and owwww. Very strange (thanks Rachel).

The description, by Sean O’neal, is stunningly good: not only is Avatar sex fucked up – ‘having magical ponytail-sex’ – but now the baby is too, as he points out its head-turning facility that will accompany you through those forlorn sleepless incubator nights.

I’d add that I guess the avatar technology could be adopted here too as it solves the problem of birth defects – just keep the kid in an incubator for life, and play with the avatar. In a rainforest enhanced with fairy lights, since no rainforest was rainforest enough.. etc etc..

There is still much to be said on that movie, but I dunno if saying nothing isn’t better.

No mention of Krisna’s baby blue either.
.
We should pay tribute to the film’s consultant anthropologist Nancy Lutkehaus for her expertise. Deserved and oscar, even as a ‘curator’. This from her own pen:

Cameron is like a collector of fine art who sees himself as a connoisseur, and my function was less that of a dealer who brings rare objects to the collector, but rather that of a curator whose expertise provides the imprimatur of authenticity.

The lush primal world of Pandora and the exotic culture of the Na’vi revealed in the film include many of the basic elements of what used to be called “primitive” societies — animism, a coming-of-age ceremony and test of manhood, a religion based on a supreme (maternal) tree spirit. It is truly a 21st-century elegy to a lost world — as well as Cameron’s warning to our own.

Nancy Lutkehaus is professor of anthropology, gender studies and political science, and chair-elect for the Department of Anthropology at USC College.

.
Bougainville material:

Red Tape discussion on Culture for RCA design students

Red Tape #2 Local/ Global from deshna mehta on Vimeo.

my bit is from 20:10 mins to 41:00, then the discussion. The Red Tape site is here: http://redtape.rca.ac.uk/2012_02.html All thanks to Deshna Mehta and the fine people that make up the Red Tape gang.

Taussig 27.1.12

Michael Taussig 27.1.2012

Excelente Zona Social

Anthropologist Michael Taussig talks about the relationship between writing, culture and time.

image

“I began began doing fieldwork in 1969. I have returned every year” says Mick Taussig. His writing has spanned a wide range of issues ranging from the commercialization of peasant agriculture to a study of exciting substance loaded with seduction and evil, gold and cocaine, in a montage-ethnography of the Pacific Coast of Colombia. His most recent book ‘I Swear I Saw This’ (University of Chicago Press, 2011) records reflections on the fieldwork notebooks he kept through forty years of travels in Colombia. Taussig considers the fieldwork notebook as a type of modernist literature and the place where writers and other creators first work out the imaginative logic of discovery.


Event Information

http://www.gold.ac.uk/calendar/?id=5053

Location: LG02, New Academic Building
Cost: Free – all are welcome, no booking required
Website: Part of the Real Time Research project
Department: Sociology
Time: 27 January 2012, 18:00 – 19:30

White Charity

Critique of photogenic poverty catching on – check out this film from Germany:

http://www.whitecharity.de/index_files/Page518.htm

White Charity

Blackness & whiteness on charity ad posters

Billboards of charitable organisations such as ‘Brot für die Welt’, ‘Welthungerhilfe’, ‘Kindernothilfe’ or ‘Care’ are omnipresent in streets, on squares, in train and metro stations in Germany.

They have a large impact on how Black and whiteidentities in Germany are constructed. The documentary analyses the charity aid posters from a postcolonial perspective.

‘white charity’ presents different perspectives: based on the charity ad posters, representatives of charities and scientists discuss about development cooperation, colonial fantasies, racism and power structures.

‘white charity’ is an exemplary analysis of racism in images which has relevance far beyond the horizon of development. It supports a sharper analysis of images in commercials, print and TV.

A film by Carolin Philipp and Timo Kiesel

With:

PD Dr. Aram Ziai, political scientist, Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschung, Bonn
Danuta Sacher, former head of the department of politics and campaigns, Brot für die Welt
Dr. Grada Kilomba, psychoanalysist and author, Humboldt Universität, Berlin
Prof. em. Dr. Klaus-Peter Köpping, anthropologist, Universität Heidelberg
Peggy Piesche, literary scholar and cultural scientist, Hamilton College New York
Philipp Khabo Köpsell, poet and spoken word artist, Berlin
Sascha Decker, press spokesman, Kindernothilfe

Technical details:

duration: 48 minutes

picture: 16:9

 

New Taussig

http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/I/bo11637787.html

Anthropologies of Tourism

Issue 2

Anthropologies of Tourism
April 2011
Tourists at Cobá, Quintana Roo, Mexico 2008 – Photo by Ryan Anderson

From the 6th floor of New Arts to here.

Dr Peter Phipps, Prof Klaus Peter Koepping and I, in some sort of three amigos mode, discuss the good ol days of trouble-making at the University of Melbourne.

Great Wild Life Documentary from UfSO http://universityforstrategicoptimism.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/the-free-free-market-market-3/

Methods and Ethnography

OK, asked for references twice in two days on the same thing, so started thinking what I might reread if I was going to think about methods and ethnography now:

Mitchell Duneier, “Sidewalk” – a thoughtful study of magazine vendors in New York. A bit too worthy and street, but some good stuff on doubt.

James Agee and Walker Evans; “Let us now praise famous men” – if you have not read it, get this first. Simply great. (Try to get the Violette edition, hard back, not the penguin classics ed – though that has an essay by Goldsmiths own Blake Morrison).

Michel Serres; “The Troubadour of Knowledge” – Serres is unique, thinks through parables, does not refernce, says he does not repeat. Makes stuff up, each line a gem. Dunno what its like in French!

Claude Levi-Strauss; “Tristes Tropiques” – speaking of the French – died at 101 last year. This is the classic. Then read part 2 of Derrida’s “Of Grammatology”.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak; “Death of A Discipline” – between the lines of a lament for the cold war area experts who have become extinct, a plea for deep language learning that is more than just grammar.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak; ‘Righting Wrongs’ from “Other Asias”.

Avital Ronell; “The Test Drive” – Ronell is perhaps the only living American currently possessed by genius, besides Gore Vidal, and she wears great hats.

Michel Foucault; “The Archeology of Knowledge” and “The Order of Things” – never to be forgotten.

Mao Zedong; ‘Report from Hunan’ in “Selected Writings Volume One”. Mao does fieldwork!

Michael Taussig; “My Cocaine Museum” – a latter day arcades for the war torn, drug crazed, exploited and exploiting realm that is now.

Klaus Peter Koepping; “Shattering Frames” – his collected essays on anthropology, a great teacher.

Rao/Hutnyk eds; “Celebrating Transgression” – essays in honour of Klaus Peter Koepping, with my mad musings on William Burroughs included.

Wolff, Kurt; “Surrender and Catch” – not well enough known but worth a look – was Prof at Brandies from 1959 – 1992.

More to come.

Avatar and Bougainville??

Avatar and Bougainville: A Parallel History? « Tubuans.

http://www.criticaltimes.com.au/news/international/avatars-secret-history-lesson-on-our-doorstep/

http://www.face21cn.cn/renleixue/anthropology/article-Avatar-pop-culture-anthropology-ethic.html

http://savageminds.org/2009/12/24/avatar/

http://itsgettinghotinhere.org/2010/02/23/james-cameron-the-oscars-and-the-real-life-avatar/

requiem for ethnography

In the past I have called for a moratorium, but today wanted to list the things I thought were still useful, interesting or important in anthropology and ethnography now, even if contradictory:

- a refusal to simply sit alone and panic at the complexity of the world – often trinketising, but can be more (contextualisation, attention to commodification, critique)

- an anti-racist sentiment that has morphed at last into a recognition that rhetoric and reflexive angst is not enough (and the question of what would it would mean to win is on the agenda)

- a more or less well-intentioned tendency towards political and social intervention, or at least an ethic of this (often wrong, but in any case at least not dead)

- recognition of the co-constitution of self and other, near and far, metropole and colonial, empire and transition. Multi-site ethnography (transnational flows, North South, South South, Centre-Borders, In betweens.)

- project of going to have a look for yourself, to get involved as a means of understanding, constituent power of the knowledge industry may have its problems but not resigned to withdrawal and mere speculation (spectacle)

- critique of institutionalised context of knowledge production, of disciplinary formations, of the commercialization of knowledge, of the teaching factory

- ideology critique, suspicion of appearances, recognition that appearances are also all we have to go on. Representation issues not just in the claim for visibility mode, but a politics of making visible, mainstraeaming, as step one of something that goes further, demands more.

- collaborative work – ahh, collaboration has its tainted history, but nevertheless, some degree of co-production

- attention to all possible aspects of human life, and a growing awareness that this quite possibly facilitates real subsumption

- widest possible interest, Open principle, even when habits of thought and contextual (political, historical, personal) constraints block this.

Of course there are limits and more failings than successes. The scandals of anthropology are legion. But the project for trying to think through our circumstances and find ways to name what is going on around us is still a worthwhile pursuit – a reason to be alive and productive, even in the most desperate of conditions (global chaos – it can be explained, and is – as Mao said, an opportunity – ‘Everything under heaven is chaos: the situation is excellent’).

Of course there is also no reason to take yourself too seriously all the time. Theory is hard, but not without fun. Gawd, save us from the dire and dull philosophers

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,738 other followers

%d bloggers like this: