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

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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

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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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“He’s the least racist person I know”: Racism, the Mad Butcher and Empathy

Great piece by my colleague Catherine Trundle.

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We’ve all been reading about the celebrity New Zealand businessman the Mad Butcher (Peter Leitch) and his so-called ‘friendly banter’. While drinking wine at a vineyard on Waiheke Island he told local Māori woman Lara Wharepapa-Bridger that she was on ‘a white man’s island’. She later uploaded a Facebook post complaining about the racist remarks. Many people came to the Mad Butcher’s defence. As one fairly typical comment on Facebook put it, “to(sic) many snowflakes around!! They take anything and make it about racism!! Silly fools”. Many of the other responses Lara Wharepapa-Bridger received were much scarier and more threatening.

The use of the world ‘snowflake’ here – a favourite insult of the so-called American alt-right – speaks of a wider global trend. It reflects an increasingly vocal push back against anti racist movements globally. In the US, Trump’s victory revealed that many of those who voted for him…

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Survey participants wanted: Music education in Porirua Schools

Do you know any young people who attend school in Porirua? I would like to invite them to participate in a survey about music education in Porirua schools.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I recently started a new research project looking at the social impacts of three Sistema-inspired orchestral music education programmes operating in low decile schools in urban Wellington. 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 and there are at three here in Wellington: Arohanui Strings, Porirua Soundscapes, and Virtuoso Strings.

My new project looks at the social impacts of these three charitable organisations, which run music education programmes in low decile schools in Porirua and Hutt Valley. This is an independent project funded by Victoria University of Wellington.

As part of my research I am conducting an anonymous survey of young people attending school in Porirua. The goals of this survey are:

  • to find out how interested young people are in music education;
  • to see if there are any barriers that might prevent young people from taking part in music education.

If you know of a young person who attends school in Porirua I would appreciate it if you would consider asking them (or their parents or caregivers) if they would like to take part in this survey. The survey will take about 10 minutes to complete and is suitable for young people aged 10 and over. The link to the survey is below.

Music education in Porirua Schools survey

I would be happy to send you a copy of the survey if you would like to see the questions, and you can contact me here. The survey is available now and will close on Sunday 11 December.

Thanks!

#AAA2016 Melanesia Interest Group Business Meeting

Those of you attending this year’s annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association are warmly invited to attend the annual Business Meeting of the Melanesia Interest Group, which will be held on Thursday, November 17, from 6:15-7:30pm, in Convention Center room 206AB.

The agenda is as follows:

  1. Expanding the mandate of our interest group from Melanesia to the wider Oceania/Pacific region:
    (a) Vote for a new name (MIG? OIG? PIIG? Other suggestions?)
    (b) New guidelines for our expanded interest group (including how to ensure our invited session represents our newly expanded mandate)
  2. Ideas for our 2017 invited session
  3. Election of Convenor
  4. Member updates

At last year’s MIG Business Meeting in Denver we discussed expanding the scope of the MIG to include Polynesia, Micronesia, and possibly Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand. This is because there is currently no section or interest group representation for scholars of the Pacific more generally within the AAA. We agreed to open up the MIG to AAA members who work elsewhere in Oceania, and that I would begin work on this process.

This newly expanded AAA Interest Group will proceed as the MIG has done in the past by offering a space within the AAA for scholars of Oceania, hosting a business meeting at the annual AAA Meetings, and sponsoring an invited session at each AAA meeting.

Earlier in the year I completed a survey of MIG members and other anthropologists who work in Oceania. 57% of respondents currently belong to the MIG and 92% of respondents indicated that they would join an Interest Group of the AAA that represented scholars of the Pacific region. Just over 50% of respondents indicated that they work in Pacific regions other than Melanesia. These results indicate that an AAA Interest Group focused on Oceania would attract a number of new members.

This meeting will be of interests to all AAA members whose work involves Oceania in some form. All are welcome!

AAA 2016 papers relating to Oceania

The programme for the 115th annual meeeting of the American Anthropological Association (16-20 November) in Minneapolis is now available. I have compiled a list of sessions, papers and meetings that will be of interest to people working in Oceania. Unfortunately I don’t have access to the abstracts or list of venues (this content is restricted to those paying to attend the AAAs), but this is a good general guide to some of the interesting work being presented this year.

If I have missed anything please let me know so I can add it!

Wednesday, November 16

The Persistence of Memory among Maring in Papua New Guinea
Allison Jablonko, Society for Visual Anthropology
Wednesday 11:15 am
(part of the Society for Visual Anthropologys Visual Research Conference) Continue reading “AAA 2016 papers relating to Oceania”

SOMAA Launch Symposium with Marcia Inhorn as Keynote

SOMAA

Call for Papers

SOMAA will be launched in February 2017 at a one-day symposium at Victoria University of Wellington. Professor Marcia Inhorn (Yale University) will be the keynote speaker. The symposium will showcase current work in medical anthropology, with a particular focus on how work from/on the New Zealand context innovates, challenges and contributes to core theoretical debates in medical anthropology internationally. Questions addressed could include:

  • How does the political, legal, cultural and historical context of New Zealand society sharpen or refashion the issues medical anthropology can address and the critiques it can offer wider academic debates?
  • How does research from or on Aotearoa advance debates about ethics, medicine and illness, particularly in areas where medical anthropology has often critically intervened, such as in relation to practices of care, autonomy, responsibility, medicalization, inequality and the body?
  • How do New Zealand’s current neoliberal politics, its state model of healthcare, and its national pharmaceutical regime intersect…

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