2016 Workshops

LONDON ANTHROPOLOGY DAY 2016 WORKSHOPS

WORKSHOP SESSION 1 11:00

The Evolution of Culture

Culture has played a fundamental role in the evolutionary success of our species. People everywhere depend on collectively shared knowledge and skills that have been accumulated over generations, and which would be impossible for an individual to learn in a single lifetime. But when and how did our capacity for culture evolve? To what extent is it shared with other animals, especially our closest primate relatives? If cultural learning is supposed to be adaptive, why are we so prone to spreading useless, or even dangerous, beliefs and behaviours? Can we predict how human culture will evolve in the future? In this workshop we will examine how these questions are being explored by researchers working across the traditional boundaries of biological and social anthropology, covering examples as varied as the origin of the boomerang, the chimps who go fishing, a famous English football failure, and the evolutionary roots of modern celebrity culture.

Room: Stevenson

Durham University: Jamie Tehrani

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A Walk on the Dark Side:” human nature and the attraction of death, disaster and catastrophe

9/11 Ground Zero-New Orleans-Pompeii-the Maze/Long Kesh-the streets of the Troubles-The Somme-Madame Tussauds-Rwanda… 

Why are the living attracted to the dead, to violence, to death and destruction, disaster and catastrophe? This will be a workshop using anthropological, encounters with ‘dark tourism’ in particular as a lens to peer into the dark side of human nature. You have been warned…

Room: BP

University of Roehampton: Jonathan Skinner

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Object worlds in the Pacific

Are the distinctions we make between people and objects, an ethnographic present and archaeological past, and Western and non-Western worlds that useful? How do objects make people and make social relations, and carry with them many of the qualities we associate with people (e.g. biography, agency, even animacy)? These are themes we explore in this workshop through a series of Pacific (Melanesian, Polynesian and NW Coast) case studies; supported by things themselves. Prepare to be surprised!

Room: Moser

University of Southampton: Yvonne Marshall & Joshua Pollard

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Studio Photography in Africa: Anthropology, Archaeology and Art History

Everybody makes selfies, these days.  But mobile phones have not always been around. When photography was first used to produce portraits, cameras were expensive and not affordable to everyone. Introduced to Africa, Africans quickly started producing portraits in photo studios.  In this workshop, we will look at how photographers used these studios to make people beautiful. They portrayed their sitters according to the latest fashion.  Recently, photographers have started using digital technology to enhance the sitter’s portrait – producing rather cool pictures.

Room: Studio

University of East Anglia: Ferdinand de Jong

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Good to think, pet, kill, torture, defend, blame and eat: A workshop on the anthropology of human-animal interactions

 Anthropologists have often focused on human-animal interactions. Knowing how a culture thinks about its nonhuman animals often reveals underlying moral principles, deeply engrained taboos as well as local and global economic and political agendas. South Korea is well known as a nation that eats cats and dogs, and its open and widespread consumption of animals, regarded as pets elsewhere, attracts international criticism. But is it more morally questionable to eat cats and dogs than other nonhuman animals? Why do we find it difficult to understand that in some regions of Papua New Guinea people eat their own pets? Is it acceptable to advocate rights and welfare for one species yet consume another? Why, during the 2013 ‘horsegate’, did British anthropologists feel the need to demonstrate that, as opposed to France, horsemeat had rarely been consumed in the UK?This workshop will consider anthropological approaches to human-animal interactions using case studies from Exeter’s research hub on anthrozoology and life sciences as illustrative examples.

Room: Sackler A

University of Exeter: Julien Dugnoille

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Human Evolution – 7 million years in the making!

The breath-taking story of human evolution in just 45 minutes. Answering such questions as; Where did we come from? Why do we walk on two legs? Why are we so clever?

And of course; If we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?

Room: Sackler B

Oxford  Brookes University: Simon Underdown

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Why We Post: the Anthropology of Social Media

The Why We Post project at UCL Anthropology investigates the uses and consequences of social media for people around the world. Based on the work of nine anthropologists who conducted ethnography in places such as a factory town in China, poor settlements in Brazil, and an IT complex in India, the project has recently culminated in a series of free open access books, a free e-course and website: www.ucl.ac.uk/why-we-post. In this workshop, participants will meet some of the Why We Post team and will hear first-hand about what it is like to conduct anthropological fieldwork. Participants will also learn about a new and exciting area of anthropology – the anthropology of social media. Through practical activities, films, talks, and a q&a session, participants will come away with an understanding how social media impacts cross-culturally on different areas of life such as romantic relationships, politics, and social inequality.

Room: Anthropology Library

Why We Post Project (UCL): Laura Haapio-Kirk, Xinyuan Wang, Shriram Venkatraman, Daniel Miller, Razvan Nicolescu, Juliano Spyer

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WORKSHOP SESSION 2 12:00

Filming Ritual

Anthropologists usually think of themselves as understanding ritual through putting it into context – the meaning of a particular ritual comes from looking at how it relates to the wider society in which it occurs. But does this sometimes mean we miss what rituals are actually like as experiences? Using one bit of film as an example we will explore anthropological approaches to ritual, and consider the ways in which film can provide alternative forms of understanding.

Room: Stevenson

Goldsmiths: Chris Wright

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The Madness of Success? Why Stress, Anxiety and Depression are on the Rise in Contemporary Societies

Who amongst us doesn’t want to be successful? Whether it be getting a job, winning the X-Factor, or passing our exams, most of us are motivated by some vision of ‘success’, and imagine that our life will be better when we achieve it.  But will it? This workshop will explore recent anthropological studies that suggest contemporary ‘cultures of success’ and ‘motivation’ may in fact be generating increasing levels of anxiety, depression and psychic trauma amongst those who ‘make it’, as well those who do not.  We will investigate why ‘success’ has become such a major preoccupation recently, how it might be linked to the rise of mental illness, the ways in which these processes might affect people differently according to their race, class, gender and the nation in which they live. Finally, we’ll ask how anthropology could be used to help make things better.

Room: BP

LSE: Nick Long

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Why Die for a Group?

To what groups do we belong? For what groups might we be willing to die? This workshop will explore the importance of group identities for human beings and how a range of different experiences, from growing up together to initiation rituals to religious and ethnic persecution, can lead us to become willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. After examining these ideas to in relation to American Christianity and the Libyan revolution, we will discuss the possibility of producing such devotion to ‘humanity’ as a whole.

Room: Moser

Queen’s University Belfast: Jonathan Lanman

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The Anthropology of Fairytales

This workshop explores some familiar European fairytales, showing how they open a window into pre-Christian conceptions of death and resurrection. Across much of Aboriginal Australia, Africa and Native America, initiation rituals were traditionally conceptualised in terms of temporary death followed by a return to new life. Stories such as the Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and-the-Beanstalk emanate from now almost-forgotten European traditions in which girls and boys were initiated into the secrets and mysteries of adult sexual life. Drawing on techniques first developed by the French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss, Camilla Power will demonstrate an intriguingly close kinship between European tales of enchantment and myths collected by anthropologists from distant parts of the globe.

Room: Studio

University of East London: Camilla Power

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Brains, Bones and Genes: What makes us human?

Biological anthropologists are interested in understanding humans, past and present, from an evolutionary perspective. This workshop will offer potential students an introduction to some of the major subject areas, from primate biology and behaviour, to human evolution and human genetic diversity. Short presentations will be supplemented with hands-on activities. Specific workshop topics will include: tool use (brains), skeletal anatomy (bones) and skin colour (genes).

Room: Sackler A

University of Cambridge: Eóin Parkinson, Sarah Decrausaz & Emma Pomeroy

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Why We Eat, What We Eat

This workshop explores why we eat what we eat. We think about what is edible and inedible, how this changes cross-culturally, and the reasons behind different food preferences. We also consider eating as a social practice that makes and unmakes social relations, and conclude by reflecting on eating behaviours that seem alien to us, such as cannibalism and a preference for insects.

Room: Sackler B

University of Wales Trinity Saint David: Emma-Jayne Abbots

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Anthropology Teachers’ Session

This session is for teachers currently teaching (or interested in teaching) Anthropology and related subjects in schools.  Teachers may be teaching Anthropology A-Level, Social and Cultural Anthropology within the International Baccalaureate or in other pre-university settings.  The session will offer a chance to meet fellow anthropology teachers and explore how ‘Why We Post: the anthropology of social media’  resources can be used to engage students with anthropology.

Room: Anthropology Library

Laura Haapio-Kirk, Xinyuan Wang, Shriram Venkatraman, Daniel Miller, Razvan Nicolescu, Juliano Spyer [Why We Post Project (UCL)] and Tomislav Maric [Anthropology A Level Teacher at Bentley Wood High School for Girls]

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WORKSHOP SESSION 3 14:00

Why economists are almost always wrong: the case for studying anthropology

Governments, corporations and international agencies use economics and statistics to understand social life — but in the process, they miss almost everything worth knowing. To demonstrate this, we’ll adopt an anthropological perspective to examine the development of a middle class in Africa, looking at why simple economic models don’t tell us much about social reality.

Room: Stevenson

 Brunel University: Will Rollason

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Bodies and Performances

In the West, a beautiful body is often defined as a thin body. It may be surprising to learn, then, that in other cultures entirely different ideals of beauty exist. Among Fijians, for example, a full, rounded body is desirable, and is proof that a person is well cared for by their family and community. Bodies and bodily performances are important across all cultures and have been throughout history. Quite often, however, the very same bodies or practices carry different meanings depending on the respective cultures. In this workshop we will explore some anthropological approaches to the body, considering practices such as tattooing, piercing, scarring, masking, and wearing clothes, and find out how they express differences in individual, ethnic, religious, or gendered identities. Students will be venturing into the space of the British Museum to gather examples from past and contemporary peoples, which we will discuss together.

Room: BP

University of Sussex: Evan Killick 

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The Face of Identification: from the skull to the identity of unknown corpses

In this workshop, students will be shown how forensic anthropologists identify murder’s victims from their skulls by reconstructing the biological profile of an unknown subject (aging, sexing), understanding the cause and manner of death (trauma analysis) and delineating his/her facial profile.

Room: Moser

Liverpool John Moores University: Matteo Borrini

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Social Anthropology and International Development

This participative workshop will look at how social anthropologists understand and contribute to international development. It will pose some key questions such as “what do we mean by development in the context of radically different notions of a good life?”, and “how can we help to avoid development having negative impacts?”

Room: Studio

University of East Anglia: Emma Gilberthorpe

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Anthropology After War – inside and outside perspectives

Anthropologists studying the aftermath of contemporary conflict may encounter not only locales suffused with painful histories, memories and experiences but also a powerful ‘tribe’ of international agencies who bring their policies into these locales. What can critical anthropology offer to the study of such scenarios? This is what a group of local and international anthropology students jointly aimed to figure out in a ‘co-creation project’ in Kosovo 2016.

Room: Sackler A

Bournemouth University: Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers

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Why We Post: the Anthropology of Social Media

*Please note that the content of this workshop is identical to the Why We Post workshop at 11.00 so please do not sign up for both!*

The Why We Post project at UCL Anthropology investigates the uses and consequences of social media for people around the world. Based on the work of nine anthropologists who conducted ethnography in places such as a factory town in China, poor settlements in Brazil, and an IT complex in India, the project has recently culminated in a series of free open access books, a free e-course and website: www.ucl.ac.uk/why-we-post. In this workshop, participants will meet some of the Why We Post team and will hear first-hand about what it is like to conduct anthropological fieldwork. Participants will also learn about a new and exciting area of anthropology – the anthropology of social media. Through practical activities, films, talks, and a q&a session, participants will come away with an understanding how social media impacts cross-culturally on different areas of life such as romantic relationships, politics, and social inequality.

Room: Sackler B

Why We Post Project (UCL): Laura Haapio-Kirk, Xinyuan Wang, Shriram Venkatraman, Daniel Miller, Razvan Nicolescu, Juliano Spyer

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WORKSHOP SESSION 4 15.00

Was Biological Sex Always Gender?

An interactive workshop which will enable us to think with a social anthropologist’s large-scale about how both social expectations of gender, but also scientific knowledge about biological sex, have shifted over time and space.  We will be checking out what we really know about biology; we will also be allowing our tacit practical knowledge to surface and interfere with our text-book and media-given knowledge; and we will walk away with our world changed.

Room: Stevenson

SOAS: Caroline Osella

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South Pacific: Visual Anthropological Journeys

Drawing upon research on mental illness, spirit possession, comedy and psychiatry in the South Pacific nation of Tonga, this workshop looks at some of the key ways video can be used as a way to research, collaborate, get feedback, and create a shared-anthropology that has influence on issues that matter to people. We will look at some key media and documentary representations of life in Tonga and the South Pacific and see how an engaged visual anthropology can address them. Come prepared to comment in small groups on a variety of research footage and clips from documentary and ethnographic films.

Room: BP Lecture Theatre

University of Kent: Mike Poltorak

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Intelligent Objects – a hands-on workshop examining strange things (including beer cans and giant vegetables)

What do objects do and what do they demand from us? Why do they provoke such powerful responses and how do they influence us? This hands-on workshop aims to explore these questions and the emerging realisation that things are not just lifeless objects that convey meaning, but can also act as animated beings with desires, needs, appetites, demands and drives of their own. This workshop examine how things that people make also make people…

Room: Moser

UCL: Ludovic Coupaye

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Embodying History: how do humans become who they are?

By actively exploring how hierarchy is experienced and expressed through the human body, participants in this workshop will have the opportunity to explore a particular anthropological case study and learn something more general about how human beings make sense of the societies they are born into.

Room: Studio

University of Manchester: Gillian Evans

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The Real Paleo: Human Evolution and the Hadza Hunter Gatherer Diet

How have foods changed and what are they doing to us? What is the paleo diet and how good is it for us? This workshop will examine foraging practices and nutritional demands amongst the Hadza of Tanzania and will make healthy recommendations for the urban eater.

Room: Sackler A

University of Roehampton: Dr Colette Berbesque

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What is the Appeal of ‘Going Native’ in Tourism and Reality TV?

Since 2000, there has been an explosion in the popularity of Reality TV shows about modern travellers who live briefly in a ‘tribal’ community. Even without the support of a television channel, many people today are inspired by photos in National Geographic and elsewhere to visit societies in the Amazon, New Guinea, or similar destinations to experience first-hand what life is like far away from urban consumer culture.  This workshop looks at videos and photos from tourist visits to the treehouse-building Korowai people of Indonesian Papau, to ask questions about the culture and society of the tourists themselves.  What is the idea that tourists and TV viewers have of the people visited?  Where does that idea come from? What is desirable about it?

Room: Sackler B

University of Cambridge: Rupert Stasch

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