Anthropology for Liberation readings 2.0

In 2017 I taught a new course for the first time: Anthropology for Liberation. Here’s the short course description:

How can Anthropology advance human emancipation from racism, gender inequality, class disparities, and other forms of oppression and exploitation? In this course we will consider what it means to approach anthropology from a decolonising perspective, and explore what an anthropology for liberation might look like in theory and practice, drawing on examples from Asia, Oceania, and Latin America.

I’ve written about how that went in an article called Pedagogical Experiments in an Anthropology for Liberation, and shared the list of readings from that first offering in a previous blog post.

In 2019 I taught the course for the second time, significantly revised based on student feedback, and with a new reading list. I expanded the reading list to include a wider range of material, including blog posts, videos, zines, and podcasts alongside academic articles. I’ll revise it again when I teach it later this year. Here’s what we engaged with in 2019:

Week 1

McGranahan, Carole and Uzma Z. Rizvi. 19 April 2016. “Decolonizing Anthropology.” Decolonizing Anthropology series, SavageMinds. https://savageminds.org/2016/04/19/decolonizing-anthropology/#more-19536

Alonso Bejarano, Carolina, Lucia López Juárez, Mirian A. Mijangos García, and Daniel M Goldstein. 2019. “Chapter 1. Colonial Anthropology and its Alternatives.” In Decolonizing Ethnography: Undocumented Immigrants and New Directions in Social Science. Durham and London: Duke University Press. Pages 17-37.

Tuck, Eve, and K Wayne Yang. 2012. “Decolonization is Not a Metaphor.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 1 (1): 1–40.

Week 2

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. 2012. “Chapter 3. Colonizing Knowledges.” In Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (2nd Edition). London and New York: Zed Books. Pages 117-143.

Singer, Andre (director). 1986. Off the Verandah – Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942). London: Royal Anthropological Institute. 54 mins.

Rooney, Michelle Nayahamui. 2018. “Other.” Hot Spots, Fieldsights, September 26. https://culanth.org/fieldsights/other

Week 3

George, Lily. 2017. “Stirring Up Silence.” Commoning Ethnography 1 (1): 107–12.

Salmond, Amiria J. M. 2019. “Comparing Relations: Whakapapa and Genealogical Method.” Journal of the Polynesian Society 128 (1): 107–29.

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.

Indigenous Action Media. 2014. Accomplices not Allies: Abolishing the Ally Industrial Complex – an Indigenous perspective & provocation. Pages 1-10. http://www.indigenousaction.org/wp-content/uploads/Accomplices-Not-Allies-print.pdf

Week 4

Stewart, Georgina. 2017. “The ‘Hau’ of Research: Mauss Meets Kaupapa Māori.” Journal of World Philosophies 2 (1): 1–11.

Anae, Melani. 2010. “Teu Le Va: Toward a ‘Native’ Anthropology.” Pacific Studies 33 (2/3): 222–40.

Uperesa, Fa’anofo Lisaclaire. 2010. “A Different Weight: Tension and Promise in “Indigenous Anthropology”.” Pacific Studies 33 (2): 280–300.

Radebe, Zowda. 23 May 2016. “On Decolonising Anthropology.” Decolonizing Anthropology series, SavageMinds. https://savageminds.org/2016/05/23/on-decolonising-anthropology/

Week 5

Teaiwa, Teresia. 2014. “The Ancestors We Get to Choose: White Influences I Won’t Deny.” In Theorizing Native Studies, edited by Audra Simpson and Andrea Smith, 43–56. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Harrison, Faye V. 2016. “Theorizing in Ex-Centric Sites.” Anthropological Theory 16 (2-3): 160–76.

McGuirk, Siobhan. 2018. “AnthroBites: Feminist Anthropology.” AnthroPod, Fieldsights, March 15. https://culanth.org/fieldsights/anthrobites-feminist-anthropology

Week 6

Aikman, Pounamu Jade William Emery. 2017. “Trouble on the Frontier: Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Sovereignty, and State Violence.” Sites: A journal of social anthropology and cultural studies 14 (1): 56–79. (I also asked them to watch Taika Waititi’s 2016 film Hunt for the Wilderpeople).

Webby, Kim (director). 2015. The Price of Peace. 1hr 33 mins.

Awatere, Donna. 1982. “Maori Sovereignty.” Broadsheet: New Zealand’s Feminist Magazine 100: 38-42.

Rewhiti, Debbie. 1984. “The Impact of Maori Sovereignty: An Interview with Donna Awatere and Merata Mita.” Broadsheet: New Zealand’s Feminist Magazine 124: 12-13.

Week 7

Wilbur, Matika and Adrienne Keene. 19 March 2019. “Ep #5: Decolonizing Sex.” All My Relations Podcast, 43min. https://radiopublic.com/all-my-relations-podcast-Wxxd3o/s1!5a0f7

Boellstorff, T., M. Cabral, M. Cardenas, T. Cotten, E. A. Stanley, K. Young, and A. Z. Aizura. 2014. “Decolonizing Transgender: A Roundtable Discussion.” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 1 (3): 419–39.

Laing, Marie. 2018. Two-Spirit: Conversations with Young Two-Spirit, Trans and Queer Indigenous People in Toronto. https://www.twospiritresearchzine.com/

Week 8

Brown, Dominic (director). 2009. Forgotten Bird of Paradise. Dancing Turtle Films. 26min.

Pouwer, Jan. 1999. “The Colonisation, Decolonisation and Recolonisation of West New Guinea.” The Journal of Pacific History 34 (2): 157–79.

Banivanua-Mar, Tracey. 2008. ““A Thousand Miles of Cannibal Lands”: Imagining Away Genocide in the Re-Colonization of West Papua.” Journal of Genocide Research 10 (4): 583–602.

Kirksey, S. Eben, and J. A. D. Roemajauw. 2002. “The Wild Terrorist Gang: The Semantics of Violence and Self-Determination in West Papua.” Oxford Development Studies 30 (2): 189–203.

Week 9

Harrison, Tere. 2016. Run It Straight (for West Papua). Fires of Kiwa Films. 14mins.

Te Ahi Kaa. 21 December 2014. The West Papua Fight for Sovereignty. RNZ. 11mins. https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/teahikaa/audio/20161811/the-west-papua-fight-for-sovereignty

Webb-Gannon, Camellia. 2017. “Effecting Change Through Peace Research in a Methodological ‘No-Man’s Land’: A Case Study of West Papua.” The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 18 (1): 18–35.

Kirsch, Stuart. 2018. “Chapter 2. When Contributions are Elusive.” Engaged Anthropology: Politics Beyond the Text. Oakland: University of California Press.

Week 10

Hayden, Tom. 2002. “Introduction.” In The Zapatista Reader, edited by Tom Hayden. New York : Thunder’s Mouth Press/Nation Books.

Hayden, Tom. 2002. “Zapatistas: A brief historical timeline.” In The Zapatista Reader, edited by Tom Hayden. New York : Thunder’s Mouth Press/Nation Books.

Vice. 2014. The Zapatista Uprising (20 Years Later). 12 mins. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HAw8vqczJw

González, Roberto J. 2004. “From Indigenismo to Zapatismo: Theory and Practice in Mexican Anthropology.” Human Organization 63 (2): 141.

Gledhill, John. 2008. “Introduction: Anthropological perspectives on Indigenous resurgence in Chiapas.” Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 15 (5): 483-505.

Week 11

Castillo, Rosalva Aída Hernández. 1997. “Between Hope and Adversity: The Struggle of Organized Women in Chiapas Since the Zapatista Uprising.” Journal of Latin American Anthropology 3 (1): 102–20.

Cappelli, Mary Louisa. 2018. “Toward Enacting a Zapatista Feminist Agenda Somewhere in La Selva Lacondona: We Are All Marias.” Cogent Arts & Humanities 5 (1): 1-13.

Mora, Mariana. 2017. “Chapter 5. Women’s Collectives and the Politicized (Re)Production of Social Life.” In Kuxlejal Politics Indigenous Autonomy, Race, and Decolonizing Research in Zapatista Communities. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Nash, June. 2003. “Indigenous Development Alternatives.” Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development 32 (1 Inclusion and Exclusion in the Global Arena): 57–98.

Week 12

Gomberg‐Muñoz, Ruth. 2018. “The Complicit Anthropologist.” Journal for the Anthropology of North America 21 (1): 36-37.

Loperena, Christopher Anthony. 2016. “A Divided Community: The Ethics and Politics of Activist Research.” Current Anthropology 57 (3): 322–46.

Case, Emalani. 2019. “I Ka Piko, to the Summit: Resistance From the Mountain to the Sea.” The Journal of Pacific History 54 (2): 166–81.

Knowing that students might not have time to get through everything assigned each week, I designed a weekly tutorial activity where four students would choose one of the assigned items (a different one each) and give a short written or verbal presentation about it to their tutorial group. The goal was not to summarise the item, but to link it to course themes and pose questions for their group to discuss together. How well that worked is a post for another day!

 

 

Christchurch Mosque Attacks: A Public Syllabus

My colleague Catherine Trundle is working with students and staff from our School at Victoria University of Wellington on this important syllabus about the Christchurch Mosque Attacks. The goal is to help challenge Islamophobia, racism and white supremacy in Aotearoa. Check it out, bookmark it, and revisit it to see how it grows. If you have a suggestion for the syllabus, contact details are in the post.

Grappling with Ethnography

A PUBLIC SYLLABUS to help challenge Islamophobia, racism and white supremacy in Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond.

This syllabus is curated by students in ANTH 406 and ANTH 312 at Victoria University of Wellington, with input from lecturers and students from across the School of Social and Cultural Studies.

This syllabus is an ongoing project, and will grow over time. It is worth reading now, and also coming back to see how it has developed in the coming weeks and months.

Read about how and why we created this syllabus here.

The SYLLABUS

Centring Muslim Voices

Anjum Rahman: We warned you. We begged. We pleaded. And now we demand accountability: “For more than five years, Muslim representatives knocked on every door we could, we spoke at every possible forum. We pointed to the rise of vitriol and the rise of the alt-right in New Zealand”, writes Anjum Rahman of the…

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Welcome to The New Outrigger!

This is a new website initiative from ANU Pacific Studies PhD students Bianca Hennessy (who I met in 2017 when she visited Va’aomanū Pasifika at Victoria University of Wellington as part of her doctoral research exploring Pacific Studies programmes around the region) and Mitiana Arbon. “The New Outrigger” is a space for “rigorous and academically informed dialogue, debate and conversation that brings together Pacific Islander and non-Islander scholars, activists, and artists. We want to explore the expansive transdisciplinary, Indigenous and Island(er)-centred, creative mode of studies that the Pacific inspires.” Well worth a look!

East Side Orchestras: Music and Social Change

I am currently working on a research project that looks at the social impacts of Arohanui StringsPorirua Soundscapes, and Virtuoso Strings. These groups provide free, Sistema-inspired orchestral music education programmes in low decile schools in Hutt Valley and Porirua. This project is funded by the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Marsden Fund.

Music colour
Photo: Lorena Gibson

El Sistema is a Venezuelan music and social development initiative that began in 1975 and is today one of the world’s largest and most famous orchestral music education programmes. Sistema-inspired programmes operate in over 60 countries worldwide, including Aotearoa New Zealand, providing musical and social opportunities to underprivileged children with the aim of transforming their lives, their families’ lives, and their wider communities (Booth & Turnstall 2014, 2016; Sistema Global: Friends of El Sistema Worldwide 2015).

In the last decade, scholars have paid increasing attention to how Sistema-inspired programmes operate in different cultural contexts, reporting positive outcomes in musical and educational attainment, development of children’s personal and social skills (including discipline, positive attitudes towards school, and raised aspirations) and family engagement (Creech et al 2016; Osborne et al 2015; Trinick & McNaughton 2013). Fewer studies have focused on the wider social development aims of Sistema-inspired programmes, however, such as community wellbeing and socioeconomic impacts (Allan 2010; Burns & Bewick 2015; Uy 2012), and a growing number of researchers are critiquing orchestral music education programmes for promoting middle-class Western ideologies and for unintentionally reproducing rather than challenging structural inequalities (e.g., Baker 2014; Bull 2016). This is where my project comes in. I want to look beyond educational achievement to learn more about the social effects that Arohanui Strings, Virtuoso Strings, and Porirua Soundscapes have on the young people who participate in music classes, as well as their families and their wider communities. My aim is to understand how these groups transform young people’s lives through music.

GuitarGoPro b&w
Photo: Lorena Gibson

I am using a range of ethnographic methods in this project, including interviews, participant-observation (attending rehearsals, concerts, holiday programmes, and other events), photography, and participatory video. This involves inviting some of the young people involved in these organisations to use video cameras to document their experiences, and collaborate with me on making a short ethnographic film – for example, by working with me to decide what should be in the film, shooting footage for it, and advising me during the editing process.

As well as making an ethnographic film showing how young people experience the relationship between music and social change, I will produce reports for Arohanui Strings, Virtuoso Strings, and Porirua Soundscapes. I will write academic journal articles and book chapters, and give a public talk at the end of the project (early 2020), and will upload published material here to this blog.

This research has been approved by the Victoria University of Wellington Human Ethics Committee, application reference 24293. If you have any questions about it, or are interested in becoming involved, please contact me.

 

References

Allan, J. 2010. Arts and the inclusive imagination: Socially engaged arts practices and Sistema Scotland. Journal of Social Inclusion, 1(2): 111-122.

Baker, G. 2014. El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela’s youth. New York: Oxford University Press.

Booth, E., & Tunstall, T. 2014. Five encounters with “El Sistema” International: A Venezuelan marvel becomes a global movement. Teaching Artist Journal, 12(2): 69-81.

Booth, E., & Tunstall, T. 2016. Playing for Their Lives: The Global El Sistema Movement for Social Change Through Music. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Bull, A. 2016. El Sistema as a bourgeois social project: Class, gender, and Victorian values. Action, Criticism, and Theory for Music Education, 15(1), 120-53.

Burns, S., & Bewick, P. 2015. In Harmony Liverpool Year 5 Evaluation: Health and Well- Being Report. https://issuu.com/liverpoolphilharmonic/docs/in_harmony_liverpool_year_5_evaluat

Creech, A., Gonzales-Moreno, P., Lorenzino, L., Waitman, G., Bates, L., Swan, A., de Jesus Carillo Mendez, R., Hernandes, D.N.C., & Gonzales, P. C. 2016. El Sistema and Sistema-inspired programmes: A literature review of research, evaluation, and critical debates (2nd ed.). San Diego, California: Sistema Global.

Osborne, M. S., McPherson, G. E., Faulkner, R., Davidson, J. W., & Barrett, M. S. 2015. Exploring the academic and psychosocial impact of El Sistema-inspired music programs within two low socio-economic schools. Music Education Research, 18(2), 156-175.

Trinick, Robyn and Stuart McNaughton. 2013. Independent evaluation of the music learning outcomes in the Sistema Aotearoa Programme. Report prepared for Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. Faculty of Education, the University of Auckland.

Uy, M. S. 2012. Venezuela’s national music education program El Sistema: Its interactions with society and its participants’ engagement in praxis. Music and Arts in Action, 4(1): 5-2.

 

 

New Zealand-born and internationally raised

I am delighted to welcome writer Cileme Venkateswar to anthropod. This is the third post in my series on doing fieldwork with kids, and in it Cileme (who I introduced in Part II of this series) reflects on what it was like to be the kid of an anthropologist who travelled a lot to do fieldwork. 

You grow up differently as a kid of an academic, that’s just kind of a given. There’s a certain drive you have, a desire to know more about the world, a determination to succeed in the things you find joy in that I’ve only ever seen so fiercely in children whose parents have similar professions.

But being the kid of an anthropologist in particular? Now that’s a whole other ball game.

I can safely say that I wouldn’t be who I am now in any way whatsoever without my mother’s influence as an anthropologist. I’ve learned some of the most important life lessons I carry with me as a now almost 21 year old from the anthropological teachings I witnessed and the research I was privy to as a child. Growing up, it was just me and my mum and so when it came to her doing fieldwork, there weren’t a whole lot of options for what I would do. It was simple. I’d just go with her.

Cileme
Cileme, age 8, in Singapore

Travelling from a young age is its own lesson. Before the age of 15, I had been to New Zealand (obviously), Australia, India, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the UK, the USA, Nepal, Portugal, Germany, France and quite possibly more that I don’t even remember. It ingrained in me from a very young age the vastness of the world and how much more there was out there. I was surrounded by so many different languages and cultures, heritage and traditions that even if I didn’t understand them, I was immediately curious about how their lives differed from my own and how much diversity existed around the globe.

Kids aren’t inherently patient, not in the slightest, but annual 12 hour plane rides, long taxi commutes to various places in numerous cities, waiting in long queues, having to amuse myself for several hours during book launches, research interviews etc., certainly helped improve what little patience I had as a child! It also produced a remarkably active imagination. I learned to sit in my own corner and make up stories in my head. I carted my imaginary friends around the world with me, having my own adventures in each new location we visited. I began a growing collection of books picked up cheaply in roadside book stalls and airport shops that helped foster a love for storytelling, complex characters and literature, a love that remains today as I study English and Creative Writing at university.

But one of the things I’ve only recently started to appreciate having learned solely from the situation of my mother’s work in academia, is my ability to converse with anyone, especially adults. Adults speak to kids a very particular way, stick to a select few conversational topics and often use that annoying, high pitched, slightly condescending tone of voice, laughing at the interesting and often naive answers they receive to their questions. Children rarely notice, but as a child of an academic, you’re constantly surrounded by adults in scenarios of meetings, pot luck dinners, fieldwork, or random encounters during a normal day. The asking about school, the ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ and the interest in what books you’re reading grows old pretty quick when you have several pot lucks a semester and you’re encountering the same adults each time. For a while, it’s easy to be amused by the luxury of getting to watch Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network on Sky TV, or running around playing tag outside with the other kids. But eventually, it reaches around 10 o’clock in the evening and the only shows on the television are reruns of episodes you’ve already seen, half the other kids are either asleep or have gone home, the high schoolers are bored of babysitting you and have taken to answering questions about their own subjects and university applications, and you meanwhile want another slice of the pavlova on the dessert table but unfortunately, there’s a group of lecturers from a department you’ve never heard of standing there and you have no segue into asking them to help you reach the cake tin. It’s around that point that you realise you’ve got to bridge the gap between child and adult and just find a way to talk to them without them looking down at you like a silly little kid.

Somewhere between the ages of 8 and 11, I suddenly gained the ability to proficiently and fluently interact with adults outside of the regular ‘child questions’, whether I knew them or not and whether we had common ground or not. I talked about travel, about what they might be researching and what my mum was researching, about where in the world they’d been and where in the world I’d been, about the things I didn’t understand in the books I read, about the stories I was writing, about whether I wanted to be a journalist or a novelist — anything and everything I could hold an almost adult conversation about. It never occurred to me that this was a ‘skill’ of any sort until I was much older. Only in the last few years of my life have I realised that people my age don’t just hold conversation with adults much older than them (even now with so much more to talk about), that it isn’t normal to be able to go up to a perfect stranger and find common ground, sparking a friendship. I’ve had so many friends pull me aside after a seamless conversation with a tutor or a lecturer and whisper ‘How did you do that? How did you know what to say?’ It’s so much easier now, as I can converse about politics, history, literature, climate change, generational differences, activism … but it all stemmed from the ability I decided to cultivate as a child.

Some of the things that have shaped me the most profoundly are the experiences I’ve had because I accompanied my mother in so many aspects of her job. I’ve played soccer with boys living in slums in India even though they didn’t speak a word of English nor I a word of Bengali. I’ve spent half my childhood wandering around university campuses playing make believe and dragging those same invisible friends to every country I had the privilege of visiting. I’ve been changed and impacted by each and every culture and experience I was enveloped in and would be so much lesser of a person without it all. This was all a part of my life out of necessity — me going with my mother was the only option either of us had for when she had to travel or go to research. But to any and all academics out there with kids: honestly. Even if you have other arrangements you could make, don’t rule out taking your kids with you, especially before they reach high school. Getting to see the world as a kid is unlike anything else, and they learn lessons that are invaluable and unteachable in any other circumstance. Believe me. We become better people for it.

Doing fieldwork with kids: Part II

Thanks to some amazing role models in the School of People, Environment and Planning at Massey University, where I studied, I have always known that it is possible (although not easy) to be a parent/grandparent and an academic. What I wasn’t quite so sure about was how, exactly, you went about doing ethnographic fieldwork with kids in tow. As an undergraduate student I read ethnographies written by anthropologists who had their families with them while conducting fieldwork – including Philippe Bourgois’ In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio, Nancy Scheper-Hughes’ Death Without Weeping: The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil, Annette Weiner’s The Trobrianders of Papua New Guinea, and Margaret Trawick’s Notes on Love in a Tamil Family – but I don’t recall many classroom discussions about the relationship between carework and fieldwork. This changed once I started my PhD. A number of my fellow PhD researchers juggled mothering and grandparenting with fieldwork, and have since written about how their experiences influenced their research (e.g., Lesley Reed’s thesis ‘What is this thing called Grandparenting? The social, economic and political influences on the role in New Zealand‘, or see the list Kelly Dombroski has here on her blog). My first glimpse into what it was like to actually do fieldwork with your child present was during a research trip to Kolkata, India, in late 2005.

Continue reading “Doing fieldwork with kids: Part II”

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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