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Horniman Day

October 25 2013 @ 12:00 am

The Royal Anthropological Institute is pleased to invite you to the Horniman Day held at the Horniman Museum.  This will include papers by six former Horniman scholars about their fieldwork experience and the 2013 Curl Lecture by Dr Liana Chua, who was also a Horniman award holder in 2004.

11am – 1pm – Welcome and three papers
1pm – 2pm – Buffet lunch
2pm – 4pm – Three papers
4.30pm – 6pm – Curl Lecture
6pm – 7pm – Reception

Curl Lecture by Dr Liana Chua, Brunel University

Troubled landscapes, troubling anthropology: Co-presence, necessity and the making of ethnographic knowledge

Abstract: If ‘co-presence is a condition of [anthropological] inquiry’ (Fabian), what sort of knowledge does it produce? This lecture explores this question by thinking through an ethnography of a ‘troubled landscape’ in Malaysian Borneo: a lush, hilly region that has been the site of an official dam construction and resettlement project since the late-2000s. As the area is progressively transformed in preparation for inundation, the inhabitants of four affected villages in its upper reaches have responded to the prospect and experience of displacement in various ways: through cooperation, resistance, paralysis and dispersal. This lecture will examine the methodological and epistemological challenges that this liminal, conflicted space poses to anthropology, particularly in relation to the recent ‘ontological turn’. In the process, it calls for renewed attention to the centrality – and predicaments – of co-presence, in its fullest experiential sense, as a linchpin of anthropological knowledge.

Additional speakers:

Melissa Parker (1984) Brunel University – title ‘Biosocial Anthropology and Neglected Tropical Diseases’

Abstract: Large amounts of funding are being allocated to the control of neglected tropical diseases.  Strategies primarily rely on the mass distribution of drugs to adults and children living in endemic areas. The approach is presented as morally appropriate, technically effective and context-free. Drawing on research undertaken in Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania, this paper discusses ways in which normative ideas about global health programmes are used to set aside social and biological evidence. It highlights the challenges of developing a biosocial approach and ‘speaking truth to power’ in a context where disease control programmes are primarily funded by international organisations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, and the UK DfID.

Penny Dransart (1985) University of Wales Trinity St David – title ‘Pastoralists in a frontier land: Isluga llama herders in the Chilean nation state’

Abstract: The Province of Tarapaca, in northern Chile, but formerly in Peru, has figured prominently as a frontier between Chile, Peru and Bolivia. Its economy was largely based on the extraction of resources (guano, nitrates and copper) and it has diversified to include fishmeal production, retail activity through a free-trade zone, tourism and the illegal trafficking of drugs and contraband. The contribution made by bilingual Aymara-Spanish speaking herders of llamas, alpacas and sheep to the economy is often overlooked, although members of these communities, on the frontiers of a frontier, are sometimes perceived on a national level to contribute to the black economy. Based on fieldwork initially begun in the mid 1980s, this paper examines the persistence of pastoralism despite such a negative stereotype. Rather than seeing llama herding as a sign of backwardness and an indicator of economic underdevelopment, this paper examines the social constitution in time and space of a pastoral way of life and it also addresses how Isluga people articulate their presence in the social life of Chile’s northernmost regions.

Kriti Kapila (1999) King’s College London – title ‘The difficulties in putting Meghla on the map: Notes on a shifting field’

Abstract: My doctoral fieldwork took me to a then remote village in the Western Himalaya, which I called Meghla in my thesis and beyond. I have been going to Meghla regularly since, even though no longer to do any fieldwork as such. Much has changed in the village. For one, it is no longer remote. The last fifteen years have seen roads, mobile phones, and connectivity of all kinds link bombard the village with a noisy traffic in people, ideas, images, capital. Most of these changes are in keeping with the wider changes Indian society has witnessed in the last fifteen years. But for me, Meghla has also changed in another way, in the kinds of things I see that were invisible to me when I first arrived in 1999, be these descent lines, exchange relations, old feuds and new aspirations, while other aspects of Meghla to me are no longer noticeable. In my presentation, I try to understand the shifting nature of the field – and the place of the first intensive period of fieldwork.

Sarah Byrne (2004) Horniman Museum – title ‘Reflections from the Field. Community Archaeology on Uneapa Island, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea’

Abstract: Uneapa Island is home to tens of thousands of humanly modified volcanic stone features. Sites range from single modified stones to large-scale complexes of andesite stone ‘seats’ and ‘tables’, mortars, cooking places, grinding stones, and elaborately carved boulders. The complex relationship between the different stone features and sites are not the only fragments of the past needing deciphering and interpretation; equally fascinating and integral are the voices, opinions, ideas, and knowledge of the people who continue to live in and amongst these monuments.  In this paper I reflect on 7 months research on Uneapa (2004-2005) and the ‘community of practice’ (Wenger 1998) created during the fieldwork. Somewhat different to anthropology, archaeological fieldwork demands direct bodily engagement from its participants – new kinds of movement through landscapes and interaction with materials and places outside of any normal routine. I will discuss how the local community were involved in field-walking, surveying, mapping, excavation, and typology-building. How the ‘sets of relations’ that subsequently emerged from these activities ultimately transformed and guided the both the theoretical and methodological approach taken in the project. I will also explore the tensions created between such different forms of ‘knowing’- the interplay between ‘knowledge as object’ and ‘embedded knowledge’ and the ramifications this has for current debates within community archaeology.

Alanna Cant (2007) University of Oslo – title ‘Ethnographic problems and artisanal solutions: fieldwork with artisans, objects and aesthetics in Oaxaca, Mexico’

Abstract: In this presentation, I discuss my fieldwork experiences in the Mexican woodcarving village of San Martín Tilcajete, Oaxaca. When I arrived in 2008, my intention was to study the ways that the woodcarvings “as objects” mediate the social relations between artisans and the tourists, guides and art collectors on whom their livelihoods depend. However, my early attempts at participant observation in workshops proved problematic and seemed unlikely to allow insight into my theoretical questions. I present two scenes from my fieldwork, one which illustrates the methodological problem I found myself in, and one that shows how the artisans’ own immediate interests in the aesthetic issues that are involved in their work led me to a solution. I conclude by showing how my new attention to aesthetics allowed me to rethink my key questions and provided a new theoretical focus for my work.

Bryn Trevelyan James (2010) University of Manchester – title ‘The Healer’s Tools: Exploring the Materiality of Healing in Accra, Ghana’

Abstract: Medico-religious activities in West Africa have been subject to limited archaeogical investigation (Insoll 2011:145), in part because existing anthropological literature often “completely ignores the empirical or material dimension of African medical therapy” (Morris 2011:247). Responding to this gap in the literature, in 2010 the Horniman Fund provided a grant to research the materiality and practice of healers living in Madina, a migrant district of Accra, Ghana. As an archaeologist by training, an aim of encounters with contemporary practitioners was to broaden interpretive perspectives on potential residues of medicinal activities in the past. Reflections on two seasons of fieldwork experiences (2010/11) examine how development of a flexible research methodology accessed such practices, centring on the materiality of healing substances, spaces, and performances. Illustrated by case studies, this paper argues – in line with broader recent trends (e.g. Shankland 2013) – for the value of rapprochement of archaeological approaches in production of anthropological understandings.

Tickets to the event include a buffet lunch and reception after the Curl Lecture.  The price is £10.00 for RAI Fellows and Members and £15.00 for others.

Tickets can be booked at https://hornimanday.eventbrite.co.uk/. 


October 25 2013
12:00 am
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