Horniman Day

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Royal Anthropological Institute
Horniman Day
25 October 2013

Dear Fellows and Delegates,

Welcome to the Horniman Day!

This is the first such event that we have held to mark the work of the Horniman Committee of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Yet, as the principal means that the RAI has had to support the work of anthropologists in the field, it has had an enormous influence. You will be able to see from our web-site (www.therai.org.uk) that the list of grantees is long and distinguished. It is a great pleasure to be able to welcome just some of these persons here today, so as we may hear more of their research.

The RAI is equally pleased to rekindle a link with the Horniman Museum that was once, not so long ago, intimate. The RAI decided early in its history not to accumulate museum collections, and our understanding of our relationship between our two institutions in the past is that Fellows, having returned from the field, would often donate objects to the Horniman Museum. We are delighted that we can be here again, and indeed that through the kind auspices of Dr Robert Storrie, Keeper of Anthropology here at the Museum, we have begun once again a joint collection initiative.

I should like to say a few words about the work of the Committee. It is administered with wonderful efficiency by Mrs Amanda Vinson at the RAI. Mrs Vinson, and its Honorary Secretary, Mrs Rosie Gosling, work together with the Trustees to sift carefully all applications and select those which look most promising. After an interview, the winners are allocated a mentor from the Trustees. In this way, there is often a very close and creative relationship between a person at the outset of their career, and a more experienced colleague in post. It is perhaps, to this close engagement that we owe much of its success. Indeed, though the sums that we are able to give are not as large as we would like, we believe that through this close knowledge of each project that we support, we are able to target just were we allocate our funds most effectively.

The committee has been, in recent times, wonderfully chaired by Professor Deborah Swallow, whose charm and skill served to give it a creative zest that can surely never be surpassed. In recent years, we should add too, that the Sutasoma Trust has generously supplemented the amounts that we can give, and we acknowledge, with great gratitude their assistance.

The RAI keeps careful records of the Horniman Trust. I thank our archivist, Mrs Sarah Walpole, for the splendid paper she has written on some of the past winners, from which I have learnt a great deal.

It only remains for me to wish all those attending a most pleasant and interesting day. To those who may be considering whether to apply, please do so!

Professor Clive Gamble
Chair, Horniman Committee
President, Royal Anthropological Institute

From the Archives: Trials and Tribulations of Horniman Scholars
Sarah Walpole – Archivist and Photo Curator, Royal Anthropological Institute

Some time ago I archived the papers relating to the Emslie Horniman Anthropological Scholarship Fund from which awards have been granted to students since 1945; and the papers told a fascinating series of short stories. There is a wealth of anthropological information collected by the various students in the course of their studies, but the archive also gives an insight into some of the struggles they overcame in quest of this material, which may be of interest to this Conference.

The first three awards were all granted to women, Mary Danielli, Eva Meyerowitz and Irawati Karvé, in 1945.

Mrs Danielli had to reassure the Ministry of War Transport that she was strong enough to undertake her journey to Madagascar, and obtain permission of the French. She duly packed her kit and set off with prodigious quantities of DDT.  She was detained by difficulties with transportation, and had a lengthy stay in Durban with Prof. E.E. Evans-Pritchard’s sister, Joyce Stanley.  Once in Tanarive, she became a source of concern to two missionaries, Jeffrey and Anne Lawn, who wrote to the RAI expressing their readiness to put her up until the present flooded conditions made it possible for her to travel. They pointed out that this was despite the bad relationship that existed between anthropologists and missionaries generally, and suggested that in future students should be sent out better prepared. The President, Prof. H.J. Fleure, responded tartly that Mrs Danielli had been chosen because she could take care of herself. Eventually a letter of apology for the Lawn’s letter came from Frederick J. Tritton of the Friends Service Council, explaining that they were in need of a break!

Mrs Karvé was involved in the collection of anthropometrical data in India, and desperately needed a calculating machine. Dr Jack C. Trevor arranged for a second-hand Monroe to be sent to her from Cambridge University, but it seems to have spent most of its time in an Indian Customs House. It was dispatched in Aug. 1946, and at the end of Mar. 1947 we hear that it has been in customs for two months, and still they are waiting for some paper-work to be settled. Once her studentship had finished, and the machine was to be sent back, it was again held up over an export-permit. She had a statistician to help her in the field, but when he went to visit the famine districts she could not continue, added to which her brother died. She begs the Trustees to forgive her any delay with her reports.

Mrs Meyerowitz was described in her medical certificate as ‘skinny but tough’ – nevertheless, when Prof. H.J. Braunholtz saw her in Africa, he reported that she was not looking fit and was under a lot of strain.  

In fact the possibility of contracting an illness in the field was so strong that student Colin M. Turnbull, writing in 1959, recommends a check-up for all Horniman students in the Hospital for Tropical Diseases where he has spent some time recovering.  Sylvia Moore’s difficulties in 1967 included suffering from malaria and food-poisoning, but perhaps the most serious accident occurred soon afterwards to Marianne Cardale who broke her ankle and spine in Colombia.  Two students had physical difficulties before their researches started, Henry Daanaa, a blind student, and Amy Porter, who obtained her grant to help pay the huge bills for her asthma medicines.

Sometimes, it was not a student’s own illness, but that of a relative which hampered their researches. In 1948 Barbara Ward felt unable to leave her dangerously ill father to return to Africa as intended. John Blacking’s work was delayed in 1962 because one of his children was suffering from leukemia. Fortunately he reported later that his daughter was in remission.  John Lavers had to delay his passage to Nigeria because of the illness of his father in 1965.

Occasionally, an unfortunate student suffered from a whole host of disasters.  Take, for instance, the case of Henry Powell, who set out to study in the Trobriands at the end of 1949. First of all his passage to Australia was delayed as the ship he was to sail on was declared a plague ship. Once in Sydney, a shipping strike prevented him from leaving for a considerable time. He then heard that his father had terminal cancer and he himself fell ill. The expenses of his trip were much higher than anticipated – the Institute eventually sent him a cheque for an extra £35. The climate did not suit him, and he did not find the individuals he was studying likeable, although ‘some of the dusky maidens were not too bad to contemplate – if one keeps to windward’. He sounds thoroughly depressed, as he writes to Miss Stallman, the Secretary at the Institute, that he hopes London won’t have been atom-bombed before he gets home. After another shipping strike he returned to Bude. His brother then died.

David Maybury-Lewis was held up for four months as Customs in Brazil refused to allow his equipment into the country. He experienced great difficulties in arranging transport to the village he had come to study, only to find, when he eventually arrived, that the natives had abandoned it. His small son then almost died, and his wife had to take him to Sao Paulo. This made it difficult for him, as she had been best at establishing good relations with the tribes. Later he reported that the baby was better, and the family all together, however, he was not sure that he would be able to visit the village he had hoped to as a messenger from there had just arrived wounded by arrows and telling of deaths from illness.

John Williams planned to leave for the Aeolian Islands in 1965, but was delayed by the serious illness of his father. A couple of months later a serious fire broke out in his home, and the housekeeper handed in her notice. He had to arrange for the deferment of his grant, as these domestic disasters left him too little time for fieldwork.

In 1968 Donald Tayler reported that the tribe he was studying in Colombia were not friendly to him, and then his typewriter was stolen. Later the matter was complicated by the arrival of another student who ‘invaded’ the same tribe, making the situation too delicate to continue.

David Lumsden no doubt liked the people he met in Ghana, but he said his appearance inspired terror in small children! Peter Morton-Williams reported at the beginning of 1950, that he had made several contacts where he was studying in Nigeria, including a man whose wife lead women’s riots.  However, when he later moved to a village in the bush the residents were very suspicious of him.

Perhaps Eva Mackey was lucky in only having her thesis contaminated with a hazardous chemical during shipping to Canada in 1995.

Sometimes, the students’ difficulties owed less to difficulties in the field, than to misunderstandings with the Trustees.  In Elinor MacHatton’s case she seems to have been unaware of the strife she was causing back at the Institute.  After carefully arranging for her money to be available so she could buy her equipment while the winter sales were still on, she left for the Sudan in 1951, and effectively disappeared as far as the Trustees were concerned. Since no report had been received from her they threatened to penalize her by cancelling her grant. Her supervisor, Prof. E.E. Evans-Pritchard, assured them that although Miss MacHatton was not a good correspondent, he had had excellent reports of her.  The situation escalated to such an extent that Prof. Evans-Pritchard resigned since his word as her supervisor was not considered satisfactory. The President, J.P. Mills, assured him that no criticism of him was intended. He replied that he had received reports from Miss MacHatton, and expected that she thought this enough without formal letters to the Trustees; at the same time he wrote to her informing her that the Trustees required a report. J.P. Mills had her grant reinstated. She apologized and said that she had been too busy to write a formal report, but that she was pleased with her work.

Andrew Baring also went to the Sudan, in 1965, and got into similar trouble. Perhaps the post there is particularly bad.  Dr Godfrey Lienhardt was most concerned that he had heard nothing from him and told the Hon. Secretary, Anthony Christie, that he would get Prof. Evans-Pritchard to ‘ginger him up’ if nothing was heard soon. Meanwhile Mr Baring wrote despairing letters wondering why he had had no replies to any of his reports and why nothing was being done about his money. Dr Lienhardt was still writing that he considered him a mystery, and would have to apply sanctions. Fortunately Peter Worsley wrote to Mr Christie that he had seen him doing good work, and asked for funds on his behalf. In May Mr Baring wrote to Godfrey Lienhardt that he had fallen off his scooter and suffered broken bones; he was now ill with complications. He wrote to Mr Christie the following month that he had not been remiss in sending reports of his work and was distressed by his treatment. He listed all the letters he sent and received, and complained to the Post Office. But Godfrey Lienhardt and Anthony Christie seemed to still think that he needed to ‘redeem himself’ by writing a further report, and debated whether they should continue to support him.

In 1957 Prof. Max Gluckman urged the Trustees to accept Jitendra Singh’s application, even though it was submitted after the closing date, and he required the maximum possible grant for his studies in Afghanistan. Mr Singh found that the area he wished to study was ‘restricted for entry’. He asked the Hon. Secretary, Dr Marion Smith, for a certificate declaring his status as a Horniman student, as he had encountered snobbery because of being an Indian. It was not until May 1959 that two months permission was granted him to tour the area. His letters and reports are full of charm, and he regaled Miss Joan Edwards, the Secretary, with tales of how he had to organize a cocktail party. He found that Great Britain was the least loved country in Afghanistan, and he was worried that people would take him for a spy. He suffered financially, and found travelling and settling into the village difficult. Prof. Gluckman became worried by his delays in Kabul and urged him to abandon Afghanistan in favour of Northern India. He considered him too inexperienced to deal with the political difficulties. But Mr Singh was determined to stay, and against all advice, prepared to endure a harsh winter in Andarab. Dr Smith wrote to Prof. Gluckman supporting Mr Singh. Prof. Gluckman hoped to get him appointed as a Research Assistant to help solve his financial difficulties; he wrote to Mr Singh that a condition of the job would be to leave Afghanistan as he was concerned for his safety and professional future. Nevertheless, Mr Singh wrote to Dr Smith that he had disobeyed Prof. Gluckman. He said the situation was not as bad as the Professor thought, and that he had accumulated much valuable material. He felt unable to accept the job in the circumstances, but later was persuaded to do so. However his appointment was cancelled and he was left in dire financial straits. There was no more money for him and Dr Smith could only advise him to leave. Prof. Gluckman had recommended him to Prof. Barnes in Australia and with much regret at not returning to England, he accepted a Research Scholarship at the Australian National University, Canberra. Prof. Gluckman later admitted to Mr Singh that he had not meant to be critical and would probably have acted in the same way. Some of his letters never reached him because of a mailbag robbery near Romford. After all his difficulties, Mr Singh felt sorry to leave Andarab. His relationship with his neighbours had improved, he had finally bought the horse which meant so much to his status there, and he participated in a lively game of Snatch-the-goat. He concluded that England had taught him to be a foreigner, and Andarab an infidel.

Mr Singh was not the only student to be concerned about being taken as a spy in his chosen country.  David Brooks found it difficult to travel in Iran without an escort of Secret Police, he was even anxious about taking a job to supplement his income while there in case this aroused their suspicions.  Jeffrey Evans’ fieldwork in Pakistan was interrupted by political troubles; he changed his area of research to Afghanistan.  Jonathan Musgrave in Jerusalem thought it ridiculous that his study of the hands of Neanderthal Man should be affected by modern politics.  Richard Rudgley, in 1994, was so inconvenienced by the Chinese authorities reading all his reports that he decided to study native Canadians instead.  In 1997 Jerome Lewis was caught in civil war in the Congo, and was forced to abandon fieldnotes in Brazzaville.

Sometimes the letters contain exchanges debating the merits of various pieces of equipment for field use. In 1961 Alison Redmayne researched into buying a Landrover for her travels in Tanganyika. She was able to report that it never let her down. In 1966 John Lavers reported from Africa that his motor-scooter had not been a success, he wished to borrow a Landrover. In 1967 Roger Gomm bought a second-hand Landrover for his travels in Kenya, Mr Christie was most interested to know why he had decided against a Mini-Moke. He also gave Andrew Strathern advice on type-writers, a Beaucourt was finally chosen.

In spite of all difficulties, the majority of students obviously worked extremely hard to produce reports on their various findings.  There are only two in the records who came in for criticism, I will not name them.  Prof. Meyer Fortes considered that one was ‘trying it on’ in respect of his grant; the other did no written work, he did promise to do better, but was getting married. His referee regretted that a student of his should ‘have made such a bad showing.’

The material in this archive is not evenly spread, there is much more information on some individuals than others, and in certain places no papers are held. If you received a Horniman grant, especially in the 1970’s, and have any papers relating to that time, we would be interested in seeing them.

Royal Anthropological Institute
Horniman Day
25 October 2013

11.00     Welcome

David Shankland – Director, Royal Anthropological Institute
Clive Gamble – Chair, Horniman Committee & President, RAI
Rosie Gosling – Honorary Secretary, Horniman Committee
Finbarr Whooley – Director, Curatorial and Public Engagement Horniman Museum

11.30    Melissa Parker (1984) Brunel University
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.

12.00    Penny Dransart (1985) University of Wales Trinity St David
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.

12.30    Kriti Kapila (1999) King’s College London
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.

13.00 – 14.00 Buffet Lunch in the Conservatory

14.00    Sarah Byrne (2004) Horniman Museum
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.

14.30    Alanna Cant (2007) University of Oslo
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.

15.00    Bryn Trevelyan James (2010) University of Manchester
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.

16.00    Coffee and tea

16.30    2013 Curl Lecture – 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.

18.00 – 19.00 Drinks reception in the Gallery Square