What we’ve been writing: public anthropology from vic

Check out some recent work by my colleagues in the Cultural Anthropology programme

vicanthropology

It’s been a while since we’ve posted on vicanthropology, but everyone’s been busy elsewhere.  So I thought I’d give a round-up of some of the public writing and other projects we’ve been doing over the last few months (listed chronologically by date of publication):

Violent politics and the disintegration of democracy in CambodiaCaroline Bennett in The Conversation

‘Cambodian politics has always been a sphere of violence, but that since the 1993 UN-backed elections, it has happened under a veneer of liberal democracy….  Violence in politics is not new. The control of the people in Cambodia is not new. What is new is the increasing confidence of leaders, such as Hun Sen, to flex their political muscles openly and violently with complete confidence in their political impunity.’

Enough with the shame.  Let’s start celebrating fat bodies – Catherine Trundle in The Spinoff

‘Must we always see fat bodies as…

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Anthropology for Liberation readings

Next trimester I’m teaching a new course, Anthropology for Liberation. Here’s the course description:

How can anthropology advance human emancipation from racism, gender inequality, class disparities, and other forms of oppression? We will consider this question by examining anthropology’s colonial history from a decolonising perspective, rethinking key anthropological concepts and asking what an anthropology for liberation might look like in theory and practice.

A number of people have asked me for the list of readings, so here they are. The readings focus on decolonising anthropology and anthropological knowledge, and my lectures will complement this by discussing anthropology for liberation.

  1. Teaiwa, Teresia K. 1995. “Scholarship from a Lazy Native.” In Emma Greenwood, Klaus Nemann and Andrew Sartori (eds.), Work in Flux. Unviersity of Melbourne: Parkville, Victoria. Pages 58-72.
  2. Asad, Talal. 1973. “Introduction.” In Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter. Ithaca Press: London. Pages 9-19.
  3. Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. 2012. “Colonizing Knowledges.” In Decolonizing Methodologies (2nd edition). Dunedin: Otago University Press. Pages 61-80.
  4. Harrison, Faye. 2008. “Writing against the Grain: Cultural Politics of Difference in Alice Walker’s Fiction.” In Outsider Within: Reworking Anthropology in the Global Age. Chicago: University of Illinois Press. Pages 109-133.
  5. Tengan, Ty P. Kāwika. 2005. Unsettling Ethnography: Tales of an ’Ōiwi in the Anthropological Slot. Anthropological Forum, 15:3, 247-256.
  6. Sissons, Jeff. 2005. “Indigenism.” In First Peoples: Indigenous Cultures and their Futures. London: Reaktion Books. Pages 6-35.
  7. Mikaere, Ani. 2011. “Are We All New Zealanders Now? A Māori Response to the Pākeha Quest for Indigeneity.” In Colonising Myths, Māori Realities: He Rukuruku Whakaaro. Wellington: Huia Publishers. Pages 97-119.
  8. Simpson, Audra. 2007. On Ethnographic Refusal: Indigeneity, ‘Voice’ and Colonial Citizenship. Junctures, 9, 67-80.
  9. Kaʻili, Tēvita O. 2012. Felavai, Interweaving Indigeneity and Anthropology: The Era of Indigenising Anthropology. In Joy Hendry and Laara Fitznor (eds.), Anthropologists, Indigenous Scholars and the Research Endeavour: Seeking Bridges Towards Mutual Respect. London, United Kingdom: Routledge. Pages 21-27.
  10. Muru-Lanning, Marama. 2016. Intergenerational investments or selling ancestors? Māori perspectives of privatising New Zealand electricity-generating assets. In Peter Adds, Brigitte Bönisch-Brednich, Richard S. Hill, and Graeme Whimp (eds.), Reconciliation, Representation and Indigeneity: ‘Biculturalism’ in Aotearoa New Zealand. Heidelberg : Universitätsverlag Winter. Pages 49-61.
  11. Fabish, Rachael. 2014. “Chapter 1. Methodology: ‘Learning to be affected’ by Kaupapa Māori.” In Black Rainbow: Stories of Māori and Pākehā working across difference. PhD thesis, Victoria University of Wellington. Pages 23-60.
  12. Loperena, Christopher Anthony. 2016. A Divided Community: The Ethics and Politics of Activist Research. Current Anthropology, 57:3, 332-346.

As you can see, we are only going to read one reading per week instead of the usual 2-3 per week that many courses assign. This is so we can develop a thorough, critical understanding of each required reading.

I plan to provide a list of recommended readings to supplement the required reading list, which will include authors like Paulo Freire, Franz Fanon, and Edward Said, and non-academic texts such as poetry, fiction and film. What would you recommend I add to this list of recommended readings, and why? I would love to hear your suggestions!

Pacific Reading PDFs Update (12/20/16)

I have just found this amazing resource/blog – highly recommend checking it out if you are interested in Oceania.

Beauty of Oceania

LINK TO PACIFIC READING DROPBOX

These docs are under the History of the Pre-Colonial Pacific subfolder

Readings that are bold are my personal favorites. Happy reading!!

  • New England Missionary Wives, Hawaiian Women and ‘The Cult of True Womanhood” by Patricia Grimshaw
  • The Postmodern Legacy of a Premodern Warrior Goddess in Modern Samoa by Malama Meleisea
  • Tuku Whenua and Land Sale in New Zealand in the Nineteenth Century by Margaret Mutu
  • Aupuni (From Dismembering Lahui: A History of the Hawaiian Monarchy to 1887) by Jonathan Kay Kamakawiwo’ole Osorio
  • Scholarship from a Lazy Native by Teresia K. Teaiwa
  • Tatauing the Post-Colonial Body by Albert Wendt
  • Possessing Tahiti by Greg Dening
  • The Past Before Us by Nehe Dewes
  • Simply Chamorro: Telling Tales of Demise and Survival in Guam by Vicente M. Diaz
  • The Other One-Third of the Globe by Ben Finney
  • Beyond “the English Method of Tattooing”: Decentering the Practice of History in…

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Anthropology under my skin

What follows is the text of the presentation I gave as part of the the Reclaiming Anthropology panel during the Anthropology in Aotearoa Symposium held at Victoria University of Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand, on 11 May 2017.

 

I remember when anthropology first got under my skin

20 years ago now

BA, first year,

Student loan, didn’t care.

I asked my flatmate what I should study.

Endangered Cultures, she said

You’ll either love it or hate it.

She was right.

 

That course challenged us

to think about structures of power.

Colonialism

racism

gender and class inequalities

right here, at home, as well as out there.

We read John Bodley alongside Donna Awatere

(from her activist phase, not her Act Party days),

became politicised with Haunani-Kay Trask,

and got angry with Ranginui Walker.

Ethnocide, ecocide, genocide,

right here, on this land.

We learnt about the violence of progress and development.

Anthropology got under my skin.

It made me uncomfortable.

 

Anthropology made me look at this skin.

White skin.

Recognise its privilege

and think about what it means to live in a settler society

benefitting from ongoing processes of colonisation.

For my first anthropology research project

I delved into the insidious history and practice of colonisation

in Ireland, where my ancestors are from,

and Aotearoa, where some of them ended up.

I channeled my outrage into a song and an essay

2000 words, double spaced

in good English

Chicago referencing.

I got an A+.

 

Later, I learnt the name of the anthropology under my skin:

Anthropology for Liberation.

I eagerly followed Faye Harrison’s work, which asked

how can we decolonise anthropology?

How can anthropology work towards social justice

Emanicipation from racism, gender inequality, class disparaties, poverty, neocolonialism

Liberation of the oppressed and marginalised?

Adding Linda Tuhiwai Smith, bell hooks, and Paulo Freire to the mix,

I wrote to change the world.

2000 words,

double spaced,

Chicago referencing.

 

This was anthropology to be applied.

I tried to apply it when I was a high school music teacher

where it felt like I spent more time talking to teenage boys about

why it wasn’t okay to call each other faggot,

why it wasn’t okay to make fun of “horis,”

than how to play music.

I wondered what they learnt about ethnicity and race in their classes.

One small ethnographic study of Palmerston North schools later, I learnt that

in one school,

the school I worked at,

students were taught that there are four human races:

Caucasian, Mongolid, Negroid, and Australoid.

They did not learn that biological races don’t exist.

They did not talk about Franz Boas

or race as a social construct.

I wrote an essay calling bullshit

2000 words,

double spaced,

Chicago referencing.

I got an A+.

I gave it to the school.

They were polite

but they weren’t interested.

 

They weren’t the only ones not interested in my

anthropology for liberation.

Anthropology’s colonial heritage casts a long, cold shadow.

Studying the Other

as if they can be understood,

rendered knowable to the West.

I went to Papua New Guinea for my PhD without reading Margaret Mead

and ran straight into her legacy

in the 1980s ban on anthropologists doing research in Morobe Province,

still remembered,

and in the sharp questions from people I met

who wanted to critique her work.

I went to Tonga to do fieldwork for a report,

an anthropologist hired for her expertise on culture and development.

My first interview didn’t go well.

“So they’ve sent another palagi to tell me about my culture, have they?”

She asked

“What are you going to do with my knoweldge?”

 

We have been decolonising the arrogant assumptions that animate our practices for a quarter of a century or more;

– that anthropology can produce transformative knowledge

– that anthropology can bring about social change

We’re still working on it.

We need to keep working on it.

 

Anthropology is still under my skin 20 years later,

a tattoo that grows with me.

Post-PhD and after five years of adjunct work I practice my anthropology

at university,

full-time lecturer

student loan up to here.

Juggling managerial assessments of intellectual value

with teaching,

with service and academic care work,

in an increasingly neoliberal environment.

 

Last year I applied for promotion

over the bar,

from lecturer to lecturer.

I almost didn’t get it.

Excellent teaching and service, they said,

but not enough publications.

On track for a PBRF ranking of CNE.

Keep doing everything you’re doing, they said, and

write more.

 

Last year I applied to the Marsden early career fund

for a new research project

on how kid’s lives are transformed through music.

I almost didn’t get it.

“It is understood that the researcher has had two maternity leaves since defending the PhD,” wrote Reviewer 1.

“That would leave approximately three years for publications and other research-related outputs.”

As if I stopped parenting once I returned to work.

As if the work I was returning to wasn’t a series of fixed term,

discontinuous,

part-time,

often teaching-only contracts.

“The publication output of 3 peer-reviewed articles and 1 book chapter is at least half of what it should be,” wrote Reviewer 1.

As if quantity is what counts.

As if the entire scholarly merit of my new project,

being considered for an early career research grant,

should be measured by my publication record.

 

That independent,

critic-and-conscience-of-society tattoo parlour

that helped etch anthropology under my skin

is now a chain store in the knowledge economy.

 

Can neoliberalism and decolonisation coexist?

 

Can we decolonise anthropology

work on projects that genuinely move us further toward

an anthropology for liberation

and be publishing machines?

 

Can we decolonise anthropology

address issues of poverty, structural violence, discrimination

work in risky situations

in a risk-averse environment?

 

Can we decolonise anthropology

when our university proposes a policy on Academic Freedom

that would limit us to speaking only in our “field of expertise?”

 

Can we decolonise anthropology

provide opportunities for our students to work towards social justice,

to translate personal experiences into public concerns,

in classes of a hundred, two hundred, three hundred people?

When our university wants to remove the cap on our courses,

increasing student numbers without increasing the number of staff?

 

Can we decolonise anthropology

show students that anthropological knowledge

can make a difference in the world

is necessary in this world

while meeting university measures for graduate employability?

 

Last year my colleagues asked me what I wanted to teach.

Decolonising anthropology, I said.

My new course, Anthropology for Liberation, starts next term.

 

I’ve been thinking about those essays we write,

that we ask our students to write;

2000 words,

double spaced,

in good English,

Chicago referencing style.

That referencing style

makes it easy to cite

peer reviewed academic sources.

That referencing style

does have guidelines for citing

non-peer reviewed sources

but you have to hunt for them.

 

I’ve been thinking about how I can make space

for different ways of learning, knowing, and being,

for recognising the shoulders of different giants.

What happens if I ask students to write an essay

informed by a politics of decolonisation

called “An indigenous view of Wellington”

that requires them to work with different forms of knowledge?

Knowledge that might not be easy to cite using

Chicago referencing style?

 

How you do reference a tattoo?

 

Maybe instead of asking

“how many references do I need?”

students will start questioning what counts as knowledge,

whose knowledge counts,

and where knowledge resides.

 

My new course has a hundred students already.

I’m looking forward to learning with them

and adding to the anthropology under my skin.

Join us to celebrate 50 years of Anthropology at VUW (May 10-12)

Come join our celebration! You’ll get to hear Dame Joan Metge, Dame Prof Anne Salmond, Prof Michael Jackson, and a host of other anthropologists. All welcome.

vicanthropology

This year the anthropology programme at Victoria University of Wellington is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. In honour of this important milestone, we have organized a programme of events that will highlight the history of anthropology at Victoria, explore the changing conditions shaping the discipline, and speculate about the future trajectories of anthropological knowledge at Victoria, in New Zealand, and beyond.

Events are open to the public for all who wish to come and join our celebration.  Some require pre-registration, so check below for the full and final schedule of events and details of events.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday 10 May, Te Herenga Waka Marae

10:30am – 12:30pm: Pōwhiri and Marae Kōrero, at Te Tumu Herenga Waka
Discussion by Dame Dr. Joan Metge and Bernie Kernot
2:00pm – 3:30pm: Masterclass with Professor Michael D. Jackson, Kelburn Campus (graduate class, limited spaces, pre-registration required – email 50anth@vuw.ac.nz

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SOMAA Research Roundup

Roundup of medical anthropology research in Aotearoa New Zealand.

SOMAA

Welcome to our first SOMAA research roundup. Here you’ll find brief summaries and links to recent publications by SOMAA members covering such topics as housing and wellbeing, mental health in the Pacific, transcultural approaches to bioethics, and the taken-for-granted assumptions of bipolar disorder treatment. Happy reading!

Housing Children: South Auckland: The Housing Pathways Longitudinal Study

An important new study about housing and wellbeing in New Zealand by Kathryn Scott (U or Auckland), Julie Park (U or Auckland) and Patricia Laing (VUW), arguing that considering the changing ecology of housing over time for families and individuals —housing pathways — is fundamental to understanding housing issues.

Careful Words: Nursing, Language, and Emotion in Papua New Guinea

By Barbara Andersen (Massey Albany), this article reveals how nursing education in PNG socializes nurses to take stances toward language and communication that impact their care practices. In a resource-poor setting where health workers risk blame for structural inequalities, this…

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Tales of becoming a public anthropologist

Thoughtful piece on becoming a public anthropologist in Aotearoa New Zealand by my colleague Catherine Trundle

vicanthropology

Academics are increasingly called upon to apply their skills and knowledge to public problems and issues. In New Zealand as elsewhere we’ve witnessed a growing public and political appetite for universities to make knowledge accessible. We’re increasingly expected to work in more temporally immediate ways to address contemporary social challenges. The status quo model of knowledge dissemination, of publishing an article two years or more after conducting research in a journal hidden beyond a pay-wall that only a few scholars will read, is under fire within and outside of the Academy.

In Cultural Anthropology at Victoria both academic staff and students are increasingly focusing on how to enact this commitment to public scholarship. Blogs such as this one are now commonplace online, and speaking to the media is increasingly part of our everyday work. Yet the public anthropology we do is not always this publicly visible. To our students we…

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Medical anthropologists in/of Aotearoa meet for launch and symposium

Sorry to miss what looks like a great symposium and launch of the new Society of Medical Anthropology in Aotearoa.

SOMAA

By Nayantara Sheoran Appleton.

On Wednesday February 15th, just over 30 medical anthropologists from across New Zealand attended the launch of the Society of Medical Anthropology of Aotearoa (SOMAA). The launch was marked by a daylong symposium with 13 presentations and a keynote address by Dr. Marcia Inhorn who is the William K. Lanman Jr. Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs at Yale University. SOMAA “is a national collective for medical anthropologists working in or on Aotearoa.” It will serve as intellectual space aimed at brining medical anthropologists together to discuss developments in medical spaces, health policy, and support each other through regular interactions. The launch and symposium made evident that there was great excitement about collective work and the intellectual developments in the field.

The day opened with a short introduction by Dr. Catherine Trundle and Associate Professor Susanna Trnka, the secretary and president of SOMAA respectively…

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Join us for Ethnography Shelf – an ethnography reading club online and in person

vicanthropology

In our previous blog post, Brigitte Bönisch-Brednich noted that her resolution for 2017 is to read six ethnographies.  Inspired by this and all the different ethnographies we in the Cultural Anthropology Programme at Victoria University of Wellington are reading, we have started an ethnography book club on GoodReads.  The goal is to read and discuss an ethnography every two months.  If any of you are interested in ethnography (students, anthropologists, writers), we invite you to join us!

The plan is for Cultural Anthropology staff to select an ethnography, and the group to read it over the two-month period, meeting to discuss it during the last week of the second month at VUW.  We’ll post some questions to get started in thinking about the book, and where possible we’ll also invite the authors to join us in our online conversations.

Lorena Gibson chose our first ethnography, Tupuna Awa: People…

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