2013 – 2014 Colloquium

Embracing Our Treasures: Nuxalk Ways of Being

Thursday February 6th, 2014

AnSo 134, 11:30-1:30

Clyde Tallio

Instructor, Bella Coola and
UBC Visiting Scholar


Clyde Tallio will share his work as an Indigenous culture and language teacher in Bella Coola.  He has taught in the Nuxalk-run school, Acwsalcta for 5 years as well as being a recognized alkw (speaker) at community events such as potlatches and funerals. He will discuss the importance of Nuxalk teachings for contemporary Nuxalkmc, and will also suggest ways that students and researchers can participate in these revitalizations of culture and language.


Clyde Tallio is an orator, ceremonialist, and historian educated in his community’s language, rituals, and customs. He was honoured by the Nuxalk hereditary chiefs and elders in 2011 and given the status of alkw – a legally recognized position validating his knowledge and role as educator in the community. This gives him the authority to act as speaker for the chiefs and conduct ceremony on their behalf. Clyde Tallio is a visiting scholar this term at UBC.

Co-Sponsored by:  UBC Department of Anthropology, UBC Faculty of Arts, First Nations Studies, First Nations Languages Program and MOA

Elephant-induced displacement and the power of choice: Moral Narratives about Resettlement in Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park

Thursday January 30th, 2014

AnSo 134, 11:30-1:30

Rebecca Witter

Postdoctoral Research Fellow,
UBC Institute for Resource Environment and Sustainability (IRES)


Conservation-related resettlement is a problem for people working and living in protected areas across the globe, around which diverse ideas, meanings, and narratives emerge and circulate.
In the first part of this talk, I draw from participant observation and interview data to assess the interactions between two 'moral narratives' that emerged in Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park (LNP) where international wildlife translocations were ongoing and resettlement is underway. LNP residents employed a 'moral narrative of protection' to achieve their objective of living free from conflict with wildlife. Conservation managers employed a 'moral narrative of choice' to advance their goal of achieving a voluntary resettlement programme. These divergent narratives reflect these actors' morally defined standards and expectations regarding people's responsibilities towards the environment, other species, and/or other people. Taken together they reveal important contradictions to the state’s claim that the resettlement programme is voluntary. Instead, they indicate that resettlement processes are taking place in a displacement context wrought by conflict with wildlife, elephants in particular. My findings advance understandings of the (as of yet under-examined) moral dimensions of conservation discourse and the complex relationship between displacement and volition.
In the second part of this talk, I take the opportunity to discuss other aspects of my ongoing work on human mobility, resettlement compensation, environmental assessment, and the rights movement in international biodiversity conservation.


Rebecca Witter is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Institute for Resource Environment and Sustainability (IRES) at UBC.  She has broad interests in the social, historical, cultural, and political dimensions of conservation and other environmental management and decision-making issues.  She received her PhD in Environmental Anthropology from the University of Georgia in 2010.  Her dissertation assessed changing relationships between human mobility and resource access in Mozambique's Limpopo National Park (LNP).  This research also demanded that she pay close attention to questions of identity, territory, and labor, and that she devote more time than she could have anticipated to talking with park residents about elephants, lions, rhinos, trees, and the ancestors.  At UBC Witter continues to develop her work on conservation-related displacement and resettlement.  She also collaborates with colleagues at IRES and elsewhere to track the rights movement in international biodiversity conservation and to assess the integration of diverse understandings of values, knowledge, and rights in various environmental assessment and decision-making processes.

Sponsored by:  UBC Department of Anthropology and the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES)

Between Time and History: An Archaeology of Food and Settlement on the Northwest Coast

Thursday November 14th, 2013

AnSo 134, 11:30-1:30

Iain McKechnie

Anthropology, Ph.D. Candidate
University of British Columbia


This talk examines multiple scales of Indigenous history on the Northwest Coast from the disciplinary perspective of archaeology. I focus on cultural lifeways archaeologically represented in two key domains of human existence: food and settlement. I show how this information refines archaeological understanding of cultural and historical variability on the Northwest Coast across six case studies, ranging from a coast-wide examination of archaeological fisheries data, culturally distinct hunting traditions on the southern British Columbia coast, and intergenerational changes in settlement practice in a small locality on the Northern BC Coast (Prince Rupert Harbour). Three case studies focus on Nuu-chah-nulth communities in Barkley Sound, including continuity and change in fisheries in a Nuu-chah-nulth ‘big-house,’ the parallel relationship between Indigenous oral histories and archaeological settlement histories, and a multi-sited investigation of variation in everyday foodways in a local group territory over the longue durée, the scale of history beyond events. I conclude that a focus on the pervasive aspects of the everyday over millennia offers insight into individual actions across broader patterns of history.

Mapping the Indigenous Divide: A Post-Indigenous Response to Colonization

Thursday November 7th, 2013

Michael Ames Theatre- Museum of Anthropology, 11:30-1:30

Paul Tapsell

Professor, University of Otago, New Zealand


Kin-accountability is/was fundamental to an individual's tribal identity as measured in terms of rights & responsibilities; duties & belonging; service and obligations to your relations. A net outcome of colonization is the separation of the individual from her/his value system of kin-accountability - geographical isolation from ancestral landscapes of belonging - and being required to survive as individuals in a world of western defined (colonizer) values. Tapsell's presentation will explore the disparities between 3rd generation urban raised Māori and their tribal home communities, not least the rise of Ethnic Māori as the "Indigenous voice" of Aotearoa/New Zealand, and possible solutions to overcome this apparent divide.

Where the Water Meets the Land: Between Culture and History in Upper Skagit Aboriginal Territory

Thursday October 17th, 2013
AnSo 134, 11:30-1:30

Molly Malone

Anthropology Ph.D. candidate
University of British Columbia


Upper Skagit Indian Tribe are a Coast Salish fishing community in western Washington, USA, who face the challenge of remaining culturally distinct while fitting into the socioeconomic expectations of American society, all while asserting their rights to access their aboriginal territory. This dissertation asks a twofold research question: How do Upper Skagit people interact with and experience the aquatic environment of their aboriginal territory, and how do their experiences with colonization and their cultural practices weave together to form a historical consciousness that orients them to their lands and waters and the wider world?

Based on data from three methods of inquiry—interviews, participant observation, and archival research—collected over sixteen months of fieldwork on the Upper Skagit reservation in Sedro-Woolley, WA, I answer this question with an ethnography of the interplay between culture, history, and the land and waterscape that comprise Upper Skagit aboriginal territory. This interplay is the process of historical consciousness, which is neither singular nor sedentary, but rather an understanding of a world in flux made up of both conscious and unconscious thoughts that shape how people behave.

I conclude that the ways in which Upper Skagit people interact with what I call the waterscape of their aboriginal territory is one of their major distinctive features as a group. Their approach to the world is framed by their experience of this space and the divide between land and water within it, which is permeable and constantly shifting. Community members understand the cultural salience of places within the waterscape, including places that are now submerged beneath lakes created by hydroelectric dams. Oral narratives remain important in Upper Skagit culture today even though the narratives are accessed in changing ways, such as reading and listening to recordings or invoking parts of stories at carefully chosen times. The regulatory and legal regimes of the colonial process—examined as both broad strokes and fine grains—shape people’s consciousness and behavior in the waterscape. This case study both builds on and contributes to the literatures of Coast Salish ethnography, cultural constructions of place, cultural distinctiveness of indigenous groups, and the anthropology of water.

The Vulnerability of Archaeological Logic in Aboriginal Rights and Titles Cases in Canada

Thursday October 3rd, 2013
Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies Seminar Room (307), 12:30-1:30

Andrew Martindale

Associate Professor of Anthropology
University of British Columbia


Join us for a topical discussion on the history of archaeological evidence in Aboriginal rights and titles cases in Canada, which illustrates a fundamental vulnerability between archaeological knowledge claims and its capacity to understand history. In recent post-Delgamuukw court cases, opponents of aboriginal rights and titles have exploited this contradiction, successfully restricting archaeology’s role to refuting evidence from indigenous oral records. If archaeology is to assert its capacity to reveal history within rights and titles cases, it must address two issues: lingering intellectual naïveté regarding interpretive links between material gestures and cultural identity, and a fundamental ethnocentrism in our understanding of humanity that reflects contemporary asymmetries of power.

Secrets and Truths: Knowledge Practices of the Romanian Secret Police

Thursday September 19th, 2013
Anso 134, 11:30-1:00

Katherine Verdey

Professor of Anthropology,
City College of New York Graduate Program


The opening of secret police archived in some Eastern European countries after 1989 has provided an unusual opportunity to learn how these organizations worked. This talk uses my own secret police file from Romania to discuss the techniques through which the Romanian Securitate sought to gather information and create knowledge. Concentration particularly on the use of secret informers, I will show how these techniques aimed also to transform the people subjected to them.


Katherine Verdery is Julien J. Studley Faculty Scholar and Distinguished Professor of Anthropology. Since 1973 she has conducted field research in Romania, initially emphasizing the political economy of social inequality, ethnic relations, and nationalism. In 1999 Katherine Verdery published The Political Lives of Dead Bodies: Reburial and Postsocialist Change. NY: Columbia University Press, wherein she investigates " why certain corpses -- the bodies of revolutionary leaders, heroes, artists, and other luminaries, as well as more humble folk -- have taken on a political life in the turbulent times following the end of Communist Party rule, and what roles they play in revising the past and reorienting the present." With the changes of 1989, her work has shifted to problems of the transformation of socialist systems, specifically changing property relations in agriculture. From 1993 to 2000 she did fieldwork on this theme in a Transylvanian community; the resulting book, The Vanishing Hectare: Property and Value in Postsocialist Transylvania, was published by Cornell University Press (2003). She is now completing a large collaborative project with Gail Kligman (UCLA) and a number of Romanian scholars on the opposite process, the formation of collective and state farms in Romania during the 1950s. The resulting book, Romania's War on the Peasants: Collectivization 1949-1962, will be published in 2010.