2014 – 2015 Colloquium

Non-Cock Fights: On Doing ‘Sex’ and Undoing ‘Gender’ in Shatila, Lebanon

 

Thursday February 26, 2015

Anthropology and Sociology Building (ANSO) 134

11:30 – 1:00 pm

Event Poster: PDF

Dr. Gustavo Barbosa

PhD in Anthropology (LSE)
MSc (Hons) in Social Anthropology (LSE)
MSc in Social Anthropology (Museu Nacional – Rio de Janeiro)

Abstract

Using a workshop on ‘gender’ held at a local NGO and pigeon-raising as cues, the paper exposes the difficulties entailed by framing the experiences of the young men (shabāb) from the Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp in Lebanon as ‘gender-performance.’ Indeed, ‘gender’ as a concept does not work at all settings and at all times. While it serves to illuminate the biographies of the shabāb’s fathers, the fidāʾiyyīn (fighters), whose coming-of-age was very much informed by the fight to return to their homeland, it fails to capture the experience of those, like today’s shabāb from Shatila, with very limited access to power. Rather than framing the shabāb as ‘emasculated,’ for not being able to properly ‘perform’ a ‘gender,’ due to the political-economic constraints placed upon them, I rather take issue with ‘gender’ itself.  Effectively, by observing how the shabāb do their ‘gender,’ it is not only the full historicity and changeability in time and space of masculinity that come to the fore, but also the scholarly concept of ‘gender’ that can be transformed and undone. The paper suggests therefore that the tendency in studies of the Middle East and beyond to define ‘gender’ strictly in terms of power and relations of domination is restrictive. Conceived in such a way, ‘gender’ has a specific grounding in political-academic struggles conducted by the feminist and queer movements in Euro-America and its hasty transposition to other ethnographic contexts may be analytically unwelcome.

 

To Come and Go: Transnational Life Between Mexico and Alaska

 

Tuesday February 24, 2015

Anthropology and Sociology Building (ANSO) 2107

11:30 - 1:00 PM

Event Poster: PDF

Sara V. Komarnisky

Anthropology PhD Candidate, UBC
Liu Scholar
Sociocultural Anthropology MA, University of Manitoba

Abstract

In this presentation, I examine the experiences of place and patterns of transnational mobility of three generations of people who have been living between Acuitzio del Canje, Michoacán, Mexico and Anchorage, Alaska, USA for several decades. Based on long term ethnographic research, I analyze the experience of Acuitzences (people from Acuitzio) at several levels: as they encounter frictions in their movements across the continent; the practices of multigenerational family units who build lives in both Anchorage and Acuitzio; the uneven and situated habits that generate a transnational class formation, and the ways in which Mexicans in Alaska re-conceptualize their senses of place. My analysis reveals that Acuitzences in Alaska orient their lives to the transnational social field as a whole as they live, work, and imagine their futures across the continent. Acuitzio, Anchorage, and the experience of mobility between the two are thus necessary to feel at home in the world. Despite policy restrictions to migration, the lives of transnational Acuitzences who come and go show how the United States and Mexico are profoundly coproduced geographies.

Bio

Sara Komarnisky is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver). Sara was a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar from 2010-2013.

The Temporality of the Seascape in the Southern Strait of Georgia

 

Thursday January 15, 2015

Anthropology and Sociology Building (ANSO) 134

11:30 – 1:00 pm

Event Poster: PDF

Dr. Paul Ewonus

Abstract

In hunter-gatherer studies and the archaeology of small and intermediate scale societies, documenting the nature of changes in regional settlement is of considerable interest. The relationships among subsistence and social developments, as well as technological innovations, and changing landscapes are often seen as complex and contextual, but also important to our understanding of human history in a more general sense. In this talk I explore the extent and nature of temporal shifts in the social landscape of a substantial part of the Salish Sea, assessing seasonal land use through an understanding of place. Zooarchaeological analysis of a sample of thirty sites suggests that while extensive variation was characteristic of southern Strait of Georgia settlement from 3200 BC to contact with Europeans, late winter and early spring site use was prominent on southeastern Vancouver Island. The southern Gulf and San Juan Islands appear more generally to have been a focus of spring and summer inhabitation. This pattern is most evident during an important period of village aggregation in the southern Strait of Georgia between 650 BC and AD 650, although it is expressed to a lesser extent both before and after this interval. Not only are the landscapes and seascapes of the past accessible from an environmental or economic perspective using regional site results, but aspects of the social relationships that were brought into being along with those places and pathways may also be revealed.

Bio

Dr. Paul Ewonus holds degrees in Archaeology from Simon Fraser University (BA Hons, 2001), McMaster University (MA, 2006) and Cambridge University (PhD, 2011). He is a landscape archaeologist and social zooarchaeologist specializing in Northeast Pacific archaeology and British prehistory in Northeast Atlantic context, with an interest in the archaeology of small- and intermediate-scale coastal and island societies more broadly. His practical experience includes research and commercial archaeology in coastal and interior BC, as well as research fieldwork in the UK. Dr. Ewonus teaches in the Department of Anthropology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

 

Taiwan's Enigma: Recent Archaeological discoveries in Taiwan and their implications for the prehistory of Southeast Asia

November 27, 2014

Anthropology and Sociology Building (ANSO) 134

11:30 - 1:00 pm

Dr. Cheng-hwa Tsang

Institute of History, Academia Sinica, Taiwan

Abstract
Until the European spread Indo-European languages far and wide after the middle of 15th century, Austronesian was the most widely distributed language family, spoken across 10,000 kilometers of coastline and sea from Madagascar in Africa to Easter Island in the Pacific.  The Austronesian dispersal are among the most challenging mysteries facing historians, linguists, geographers, archaeologists, as well as the public. Despite its small size, the island of Taiwan had a striking range of cultural diversity in prehistory; it is a key region for the enigma of Austronesian origin and dispersal.  In this presentation, Professor Tsang will discuss recent archaeological discoveries in Taiwan, which are relevant to the issue of what was the place of Taiwan in the transmission of the people and culture from the Asian continent into the Pacific.
Bio
Dr. Cheng-hwa Tsang is Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute of History and Philology in Academia Sinica, Taiwan. An internationally renowned scholar, Professor Tsang’s research interests focus on the prehistoric archaeology in Taiwan and Southeast Asia, and the management of cultural resources and heritages. Dr. Tsang is an academician in Academia Sinica.
 
Co-Sponsored by: UBC Department of Anthropology and the Centre for Chinese Research at the Institute of Asian Research

The Substance of Self-Determination: Language, Culture, Archives and Sovereignty

Thursday November 13, 2014

ANSO 134

11:30 - 1:00 pm

Michael Shepard

Anthropology Ph.D. Candidate, UBC

Abstract
Everyday communication in Native languages continues to see decline around the world, even given efforts to reverse these processes. As language shift progresses there is heightened importance for documentation of these languages and the oral histories and unique cultural information they contain. Archives are commonly used to store these resources, but the design and functionality of archives often fails to address language community interests in protecting their capacity for self-determination and other core cultural beliefs. I find that large international archive options lack sufficient controls to maintain culturally based sharing protocol, enable contextualization of resources, provide opportunities for local collaboration and support educational dissemination. In this dissertation I critically evaluate the capacity of endangered language archives to affirm cultural beliefs and explore the impacts for maintenance of sovereignty and demonstration of indigeneity. I utilize identification of language ideologies as a lens to determine the cultural compatibility of archives and their practices. I present research with people from Indigenous communities in Washington State, Alaska and California. In addition, I describe interviews with managers and directors from major international language archives and small community based ones.

Transformations of Chinese Patriarchy

Thursday November 6, 2014

Anthropology and Sociology Building (ANSO) 134

11:30 – 1:00 pm

Event Poster: PDF

Dr. Stevan Harrell

Professor of Anthropology, Professor of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington

Abstract

China’s patriarchal system, under sporadic attack for many centuries and under concentrated attack for decades in the 20th, managed to survive more or less intact through the May Fourth Era and even the period of High Socialism. But in the last few decades, things have started to happen. Daughters-in-law openly berate their fathers-in-law. Companies sell filial-piety insurance. Everybody lives together before marriage, and in some places almost all brides are pregnant.  There is an acute shortage of sperm donors. This talk first traces the outlines of Han Chinese patriarchy, defined as a property-based system of gender and generational asymmetry, as it existed before 1949. It briefly discusses the very partial transformation of that system under Maoist state socialism, and then outlines in detail the more profound changes that have happened in the last three decades of Reform. Finally, it addresses the question, since China is still very much a masculine-dominant society, of what is replacing the recently transformed system Chinese patriarchy.

Bio

Stevan Harrell is Professor of Anthropology, Professor of Environmental and Forest Sciences, and Adjunct Professor of Chinese at the University of Washington. Among other interests, he has been pursuing topics relating to family, kinship and demography in Chinese societies for over 40 years.  He is editing Transformations of Chinese Patriarchy together with Gonçalo Santos.

Co-Sponsored by: UBC Department of Anthropology, Institute of Asian Research, and Centre for Chinese Research

Spaces of Education, States of Ruination and Survival

 

Thursday September 11, 2014

Anthropology and Sociology Building (ANSO) 2107

4:00 pm

Event Poster: PDF

Dr. Ayşe Parla

Associate Professor of Anthropology, Cultural Studies & European Studies, Sabanci University, Istanbul

Abstract

Taking my cue from the recent interest in 'ruins' as indexing both physical and social states of ruination, this talk will examine the historical and contemporary links between, on the one hand, physically abandoned buildings in Istanbul that were once Armenian minority schools, and on the other hand, the different states of social abandonment undocumented Armenian migrant children find themselves in despite their limited and largely informal access to minority schools. My focus on ruins as not mere remnants of the past but as presently embodied states also seeks to explore how the denial of genocide induces melancholy and impedes mourning in the national education system to which Armenian children in Turkey both without and with formal citizenship are exposed.

Bio

Dr. Parla received her B.A. from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in Anthropology from New York University. She is currently Associate Professor of Anthropology in the programs in Cultural Studies and European Studies at Sabanci University, Istanbul. Dr. Parla has written on state-authorized virginity examinations in Turkey as modern forms of surveillance of young women’s honor; the appropriation of Bulgarian Turkish migrants as refugees and ethnic kin in 1989 and the subsequent marginalization of post-1990s migrants from Bulgaria as part of the cheap informal labor force. She has published on questions of migration, citizenship, labor and ethnicity in various journals including Alternatives: Global, Local, Political; American Ethnologist; Citizenship Studies; Cultural Anthropology; Differences; and International Migration. As a visiting scholar at Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Study, she is pursuing the current impediments to Armenian migrant children's access to education in Turkey within a broad historical perspective on minority education from the Ottoman Empire throughout the Republic nation-state.

Co-Sponsored by: UBC Department of Anthropology and Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies.

Ethical (W)Holistic Linguistics: Endangered Languages at the Crossroads of Social Science, Humanities, Science, and Community Activism

 

Friday September 12, 2014

Michael Ames Theatre at the Museum of Anthropology

12:00 - 1:00 pm

Event Poster: PDF

Dr. Gregory D. S. Anderson

Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages

 

Abstract

The linguistics of endangered languages is an innately cross-disciplinary endeavor. Even within the narrow constraints of linguistics proper, the object of study interfaces with a diverse array of topics: acoustic physics (phonetics), the politics of ethno linguistic identity (sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology), the nature and extent of cognition (psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, typology) and the deep pre-history of individual communities (historical linguistics or linguistic archaeology). In this presentation I introduce the audience to a framework I have been developing called ethical (w)holistic linguistics. This phrase underscores that the investigation of endangered languages must cover a broad spectrum of disciplines. In order to develop a more fine-grained and nuanced understanding of language(s, it is necessary to understand the socio-historical contexts in which their speakers are embedded. I present some findings from recent and ongoing fieldwork in India, Siberia, North America, South America, Africa, Papua New Guinea and Micronesia. Discussion will move from long-forgotten migrations and population prehistory to examining the still powerful (post-) colonial legacies of the present day, from some of the ways that the language-culture interface is reflected, to key insights revealed by the formal and functional properties of language(s) that help define the extent of, and constraints on, our cognitive abilities. Finally, I finish my discussion with how, despite the many obvious threats to the complex tableau of diversity represented by and in the human ethnoglottosphere, there are still many causes for celebration as well, as emerging technologies open up new channels for community empowerment in the twenty-first century.

Bio

Founder and Director of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, Dr. Gregory D. S. Anderson has degrees in Linguistics from Harvard (A.B. 1989) and the University of Chicago (Ph.D. 2000). He also served as lead scientist on the Enduring Voices project, a joint venture between Living Tongues and National Geographic Society where he served as a Fellow of the Society from 2007-2013. He currently holds a Research Fellowship at University of South Africa (UNISA).

Dr. Anderson has authored eleven books and approximately one hundred peer-reviewed studies. He has published widely in the fields of historical linguistics, descriptive grammar, morphology, verb typology, and the linguistics of Munda, Salishan, Ogonoid, Tibeto-Burman, and Nilo-Saharan languages and many other language families.

Dr. Anderson has conducted fieldwork and training sessions for indigenous language activists on every continent, having pioneered the development of multi-media Talking Dictionaries for over 80 languages to date. He was also the subject (along with his Living Tongues Institute colleague David Harrison) of the critically acclaimed film The Linguists by Ironbound Films. He is well known for his 2006 book Auxiliary Verb Constructions from Oxford University Press where he established an entirely new functional and formal typology of auxiliary verb constructions. He is currently completing a book entitled Language Extinction: The Real Threat to Linguistic Diversity in the 21st Century to be published by Cambridge University Press.

Co-Sponsored by: UBC Department of Anthropology, First Nations Languages Program and Museum of Anthropology.