Last update... 24 October 2012
The University of Aberdeen invites applications for three PhD studentships on the theme of Northern Colonialism: Historical Connections, Contemporary Lives.
These studentships are part of the University’s strategic investment in northern research and aim to foster path-breaking interdisciplinary research on the processes and impact of colonialism in the North. The Northern Colonialism programme builds upon existing expertise in Anthropology, Archaeology, History and Geology and is structured around three themes: Economies and Polities, Environments, and Cultural Transformations.
Doctoral students will undertake ethnographic, archaeological, archival, museum and/or material culture research to consider the intersections of history, colonialism, and contemporary social life in The North. The North is defined here not so much by latitude as by the intersection of climatic, environmental, historical, geopolitical and cultural conditions, all of which come together to give the region a significance for the future of life on earth quite out of proportion to its relatively sparse human population.
For further details on the programme and how to apply, please see:
Central Eurasian Studies Society best social science book award
Johan Rasanayagam has been awarded the CESS book prize for 2012, awarded to the author of the best social science book on Central Eurasia published in 2010 or 2011, for his monograph Islam in Post-Soviet Uzbekistan: the morality of experience (Cambridge UP).
American Anthropological Association prize winner
At the recent AAA conference in Montreal, Alison Brown was awarded The Michael Ames Prize for Innovative Museum Anthropology. This is awarded by the AAA's Council for Museum Anthropology. Alison shares the prize with Laura Peers and Heather Richardson (both from the Pitt Rivers Museum) for the work they did on the Blackfoot Shirts project – ‘”These shirts are our curriculum”: artifacts, Blackfoot people and the retrieval of cultural knowledge’.
Three Department books published:
Three members of the Department have recently published research monographs. They are -
Tim Ingold's 'Being Alive: Essays in Movement, Knowledge and Description'
Johan Rasanayagam's 'Islam in Post-Soviet Uzbekistan: The Morality of Experience'
Trudeau Foundation Scholarship winner
Congratulations to Zoe Todd, PhD student in the Department, on the award of a highly prestigious Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholarship for her PhD on 'Lands, Lakes and Livelihoods: Intersections of Mining, Women's Subsistence Fishing and Environmental Change in Paulatuk, NT'.
British Association of Canadian Studies prize winner
Congratulations to University of Aberdeen Anthropology/Archaeology PhD student Francois Guindon, who has won the British Association of Canadian Studies - Prix du Québec for his project: 'Maamaahtaaukstaau Iinuu / Creative People: Material Culture and Technological Practices of the Mistissini Cree'.
PhD student wins Royal Anthropological Institute prize
Congratulations also go to Cristian Simonetti, PhD student in the Department of Anthropology, who has won the RAI Arthur Maurice Hocart Prize. The prize is awarded for the best anthropology essay by a postgraduate student in Britain or Ireland. Cristian's essay is entitled ‘With the past under your feet. On the development of time concepts in archaeology’.
Angus Pelham Burn Awards
The Department of Anthropology is pleased to announce that there were three successful recipients for the 2011-12 Angus Pelham Burn Research Funding Award. The awards support PhD fieldwork in the circumpolar north.
Zoe Croucher Todd: Land, lakes and livelihoods: intersections of mining, environmental change and women’s subsistence fishing activities in Paulatuk, NT
Francois Guidon: Maamaahtaaukstaau Iinuu / Creative People: Material Culture and Technological Practices of the Mistissini Cree
Norman Prell: The Road to Magadan – Remembering the GULAG
PhD student makes Top 40
PhD student Zoe Sarah Croucher Todd is listed as one of the 'Top 40 Under 40' in Edmonton, Canada for her advocacy and fundraising work on social issues, including Aboriginal research and cycling advocacy. Congratulations Zoe!
Special edition of ETNOFOOR on imitation
A special edition of the Dutch anthropological journal ETNOFOOR on the subject of imitation has just been published. This was guest edited by Andrew Whitehouse and Petra Tjitske Kalshoven (who is now at Manchester) and came out of a panel they convened at the 2009 ASA conference in Bristol. Articles cover subjects as diverse as copying as a technique used by artists, scientists building robots, Melanesians ‘pretending’ to do capitalism and early anthropologists learning about indigenous peoples through imitative embodiment. You can view the table of contents at the ETNOFOOR website.
The Department of Anthropology is very happy to announce that James Leach has been promoted to a Professorship, while Arnar Árnason becomes Senior Lecturer. We welcome Martin Mills to the Department as Senior Lecturer, having arrived from the School of Divinity, History and Philosophy. Neil Curtis, Honorary Lecturer in Anthropology, has also moved on from his position as Senior Curator at Marischal Museum to become Head of Museums for the University.
Maggie Bolton has won funding from the British Academy for a fieldwork project in Bolivia, along with Kate Miller from the Institute of Education at Stirling University. It is entitled 'Education, Citizenship and Democracy in Rural Bolivia: The participation of rural people in further and alternative education concerning forms of government' and focuses particularly on political education. In addition, Maggie has been invited to participate in a British Academy Latin America and Caribbean programme seminar on 'Paradigms of Diversity and Social Cohesion: education planning, curriculum design, and language vitality among Latin American indigenous peoples (2000-2012)' in Newcastle in early November.
Jo Vergunst has received funding from the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Carnegie Trust for two short field visits to Ilulissat, West Greenland as part of a project called ' Exploring Environmental Change Through New Connections in Art and Anthropology'. Working with artists from the Art Space Nature programme at Edinburgh College of Art, the research explores art fieldwork practice and its connections with anthropology.
New book published: Reite Plants
Reite Plants: An Ethnobotanical Study in Tok Pisin and English
Porer Nombo and James Leach
Reite Plants is a documentation and discussion of the uses of plants by speakers of the Nekgini language, a people who reside in the hinterland of the Rai Coast in northern Papua New Guinea. High quality images and detailed information about traditional customary practices using plants provide a unique entry into understanding Nekgini social and cultural life. The book contains a discussion of the ownership of plant knowledge in the context of both local and contemporary global trends. As a dual language, co-authored text, the book is a unique contribution to the ethnobotany and anthropology of Melanesia. Reite Plants represents the product of a long term collaborative work between the authors.
The book is free to download from the Australian National University E Press, or can be ordered in print form.
Carnegie Centenary Lecture: "FROZEN ICE AND MELTING HISTORY IN AMERICA'S FAR NORTHWEST"
Julie Cruikshank is a distinguished ethnohistorian and Professor of Anthropology from the University of British Columbia. She is also Carnegie Centenary Professor in residence at the University of Aberdeen, February-May, 2009.
Monday 22 February, 2010, 5.30 pm
University of Aberdeen, New King's 10
Further details and an abstract are on the poster.
Enquiries to: Dr. Nancy Wachowich, Department of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen, tel: 01224-272736, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Campus maps and directions can be supplied on request, or accessed at:
All are welcome! A drinks reception will follow the lecture.
New Taught Masters Programme in Design Anthropology
The Department of Anthropology is launching a new taught postgraduate programme in Design Anthropology. James Leach is programme co-ordinator and the first students will begin in September 2010.
Latest PhD jobs successes
Excellent news of Rob Pontsioen who has been appointed Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Asian Cultural History Program in the Smithsonian Institution's Anthropology Department.
Joe Long and Maria Nakhshina have both been offered postdoctoral fellowships at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, Germany. Katy Fox will shortly be taking up a position at the EU working on rural development. Rachel Harkness has a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh. Congratulations to all.
An 'Engaging Anthropology in Practice' workshop will take pace on Saturday 20th February at the University of Aberdeen:
For more information, click the above link or contact Caroline Gatt email@example.com
Professor Julie Cruikshank will be based in the Department of Anthropology from February to May 2010. She will be here as visiting Carnegie Centenary Professor. Upcoming talks and seminars will be announced on the Seminars page.
Angus Pelham Burn Award 2010-11
PhD candidate Jenanne Ferguson is the 2010-11 recipient of the Angus Pelham Burn Award. Jenanne's fieldwork project title is: 'Constellations of Language: language policies and linguistic practices in two communities in the Sakha Republic'.
The Awards exist to support postgraduate students in the Department with fieldwork in the circumpolar North and are funded thanks to the generosity of Mr Angus Pelham Burn.
IPSSAS 2010 in Aberdeen
The University of Aberdeen's Department of Anthropology is hosting the 7th Summer Seminar of the International PhD School for Studies of Arctic Societies (IPSSAS), to be held 18-29 May, 2010.
Program theme: Arctic Networks, Social Values: Historical and Contemporary Exchange in the Cicumpolar North.
Experimental Archaeology conference
Carolyn Forrest, a PhD student in the Department, is organising the 4th Experimental Archaeology Conference. It will take place at the University of Aberdeen on 14 - 15 November 2009.
Radcliffe-Brown Lecture comes to Aberdeen
The British Academy's 2009 Radcliffe-Brown Lecture in Social Anthropology will be delivered this year, in Aberdeen, by Professor Lila Abu-Lughod of Columbia University. Her title is 'Anthropology in the Territory of Rights - Human and Otherwise'. The lecture will take place at 5.30 pm on Monday November 16th in Lecture Theatre MR051, MacRobert Building.
Student wins AAA competition
Ruairidh Falconer, who graduated with an MA Hons Anthropology degree this summer, has won the undergraduate competition for the Student Paper prize of the Society for Linguistic Anthropology in the American Anthropological Association. The Department has congratulated him on this great achievement. The paper was based on his dissertation completed in the Department under the supervision of Alex King, entitled 'Santiago Atitlán: Globalisation and bilingual development among youth in a Mayan town'.
Department is 'Leading Edge'
Tim Ingold and other members of the Department of Anthropology feature in an edition of BBC Radio 4's Leading Edge science documentary. Along with an extensive interview with Prof Ingold about his interests in anthropology, the programme contains a report from the first 'Designing Environments for Life' workshop at the Institute for Advanced Studies.
'Designing Environments for Life' kicks off in Glasgow
The first of four 'Designing Environments for Life' meetings funded by the Institute of Advanced Studies in Glasgow has taken place. Over this autumn participants will examine the relations between the environment in everyday life on the one hand and techno-science and policy-making on the other. Tim Ingold, James Leach, Jo Vergunst and a number of postgraduate students from the Department are involved.
Design Anthropology workshop
James Leach has hosted a three day workshop to develop a research and teaching agenda for Design Anthropology in Aberdeen. Amongst the attendees were Prof George Marcus from the University of California, Irvine and groups from Aarhus University and the University of Southern Denmark.
Choreographic Objects featured by the AHRC
Department's triple Royal Society of Edinburgh success
At the Royal Society of Edinburgh's annual grant awards ceremony on Wednesday 2 September no less than three members of the Department of Anthropology were formally recognised for their grant successes. In the last year Tim Ingold received a Scottish Government Arts and Humanities Small Grant for his project 'Reconnecting the cultural the natural: engaging art and anthropology in Greenland'. Alison Brown, along with co-applicant Kathryn Whitby-Last from the School of Law, were awarded a Scottish Government Arts and Humanities Workshop grant for 'Obstacles and solutions to the repatriation of sacred-ceremonial objects from Scottish collections to their indigenous owners'. And on the night itself the RSE announced that Jo Vergunst and co-applicant Rebecca Wade (Centre for Urban Water Technology, Abertay University), have won funding for 'Making space for water, biodiversity and people in Scotland's cities', through the Scottish Crucible project fund.
RAI Student Film Prize success
At the 11th Royal Anthropological Institute Festival of Ethnographic Film, held at Leeds Metropolitan University (1-4 July 2009), the Wiley-Blackwell Student Film Prize was awarded to Anni Seitz and Sophie Elixhauser for their film ‘Sermiligaaq’. Sophie Elixhauser is studying for a PhD in the Department of Anthropology.
Sermiligaaq 65°54'N, 36°22'W
Anni Seitz and Sophie Elixhauser
63 min; 2008
This ethnographic film is based on a year’s fieldwork in an Inuit community on the east coast of Greenland. It traces everyday life of the Nathanielsen family from snowy winter to the bright summer. We learn about traditional activities as much as about contemporary life. The villagers live between fishing, seal hunting, supermarkets, shuttle helicopters, and computer games. The film lets us experience in clear and poetic scenes normality in an extraordinary world, quietly observing events, faces and gestures that combine to form a portrait that is at the same time strange and strangely familiar.
The Department has awarded two prizes to students in the 2009 graduating class. Ariadne Menzel wins the prize for Best Student in Anthropology, while Ruairidh Falconer wins the prize for Best Dissertation. Congratulations to both, and to all graduating students.
New book published
Nicolas Ellison and Mónica Martínez Mauri from Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona are the editors of a new book:
Paisajes, Espacios y Territorios. Reelaboraciones simbólicas y reconstrucciones identitarias en América Latina (Landscapes, places and territories. Symbolic reelaborations and reconstructions of territorial identities in Latin America) published by Abya Yala and Erea-CNRS.
Royal Society of Edinburgh funds workshop
Dr. Alison Brown and Dr. Kathryn Whitby-Last’s (Law, University of Aberdeen) recent application for an award from the Royal Society of Edinburgh Workshop in the Arts and Humanities scheme has been successful. The workshop, ‘Obstacles and solutions to the repatriation of sacred-ceremonial objects from Scottish collections to their Indigenous owners’ will be held in 2010.
Choreographic Objects: Sadler's Wells event
As part of James Leach's Choreographic Objects project, a public seminar will be held in association with Sadler's Wells Theatre in London on April 25, featuring the choreographers William Forsythe, Siobhan Davies, Wayne McGregor and Emio Greco|PC (Pieter C. Scholten).
Ms. Hiroko Ikuta, Ph.D. Candidate in Social Anthropology, has been awarded a postdoctoral Dickey Fellowship at Dartmouth College (New Hampshire, USA) in the Dickey Center for International Understanding, which includes the Institute for Arctic Studies. Ms. Ikuta's project, 'Environmental Change, Language Shift and Knowledge Transition among St. Lawrence Island Yupik', will build on part of her Ph.D. dissertation and benefit from collaboration with Prof. Igor Krupnik of the Smithsonian Institution, as well as Dartmouth faculty. The fellowship begins on Sept. 15 and runs for one academic year. Ikuta worked as a research assistant with PI Dr. Alexander King on the ESRC Grant 'Dance, tradition and power among Alaskan Eskimos', which ends 30 April and is currently finishing her Ph.D. dissertation on a similar topic.
AHRC grant award
'These shirts are our curriculum': artifacts, Blackfoot people and the retrieval of cultural knowledge
Alison Brown is co-investigator on a new project supported with a grant from the AHRC. With Laura Peers, of the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, she will be working with Blackfoot communities in southern Alberta and northern Montana to explore the cultural history and contemporary meanings of five Blackfoot men's shirts held in the collections of the Pitt Rivers Museum. Collected in 1841, the hide shirts are decorated with porcupine quillwork and beadwork; three, with human- and horse-hair fringes along the sleeves, are ritual garments. There are just two shirts of this age in Canadian museums, and Blackfoot people have had little access to them. Through handling sessions and exhibitions at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary and the Galt Museum in Lethbridge, the project will make the shirts available to Blackfoot people and the wider public for the first time. It will explore how historic artefacts can be used by indigenous communities to revive, share and transmit cultural knowledge, and how they serve to anchor social memory and in the construction of identity. It will consider how the transmission of cultural knowledge can benefit different generations, and explore the implications of such knowledge for museum practice.
The Department has been accorded significant recognition in the latest UK Research Assessment Exercise. The percentage of research output in the submission judged to be world leading was 30% and an additional 25% was deemed to be internationally excellent. In addition, the RAE committee noted an impressive increase in our research student numbers, and a high level of research income per staff member.
New Anthropologist joins staff
We are happy to welcome Dr Maggie Bolton to Aberdeen, who has joined the Department as Teaching Fellow. Her interests are in science, technology and expertise and animal-human relations, based in fieldwork in the Bolivian Andes.
New book published
Arnar Árnason and Jo Vergunst, together with Mark Shucksmith from the University of Newcastle, are the editors of a new book 'Comparing Rural Development: Continuity and Change in the Countryside of Western Europe', published by Ashgate.
Nicolas Ellison has been appointed to the scientific committee of a joint Humanities and Geography conference 'Sacrée Nature, Paysages du Sacré' organised by the university of Orléans and the laboratoire ENeC (Espaces Nature et Culture) of the Sorbonne (Paris IV).
New Professor in the Department
David Anderson has been promoted to a Personal Chair. He becomes Professor of the Anthropology of the North, with the congratulations of colleagues.
'Maximising Miniatures' exhibition opens
An exhibition bringing together miniatures created by Aberdeen's gaming community with small Inuit and Indonesian objects from Marischal Museum's ethnographic collections has opened. Petra Tjitske Kalshoven won funding from the University's Cultural Engagement Fund and as part of the project will be running gaming and painting workshops in October. The exhibition is in the Old Town House in the King's College campus and is free. Photos can be viewed in the gallery.
New book published
Tim Ingold and Jo Vergunst's edited book 'Ways of Walking: Ethnography and Practice on Foot' is now available, published by Ashgate.
Visit of Reite villagers from Papua New Guinea
The AHRC funded Melanesia Project, based at the British Museum, will sponsor the visit of two Reite villagers from the Rai Coast of Papua New Guinea to the UK in the summer of 2009.
Melanesian practices and the anthropology which describes them demonstrate that objects are valued by Melanesian peoples for the relationships they generate, foster, and maintain. The Melanesia project follows this model in developing a new approach to the British Museum collections. The purpose of the Melanesia project as a whole is to understand how people think about objects and to re-establish old, and build new, relationships with people in Melanesia around them.
A period of time will be devoted to the visitors' exploration of the collections, focussing first on objects from the North Coast of Papua New Guinea. The intention is to draw upon their knowledge of the making and use of things to add to the catalogue information available, to stimulate narrative and reflection on past and present practices (in both places), and to elicit some meta-commentary, as it were, on the value and purpose of museum collections in the future from the perspective of Rai Coast villagers. James Leach will act ethnographer of the process and as host to his Rai Coast kin. Report will be made to the final conference of the Melanesia Project to be held in 2010.
More information on the Melanesia project, and other visits that have been organised by its staff (Lissant Bolton, Liz Bonshek, Julie Adams and Nick Thomas) is here.
AHRC research workshop wins funding: Choreographic Objects
A series of research workshops entitled 'Choreographic objects: traces and artifacts of physical intelligence' has been awarded funding from the AHRC 'Beyond Text' programme. Led by James Leach, the workshops will investigate how dance choreographers and their associated organisations have independently begun to explore the potential of interactive digital media and related technologies to document, represent, transmit and disseminate aspects of their artistic practice. The varieties of information-rich resources they have created (including on-line interactive scores, digital dance archives, choreographic software agents and real-time training simulations) will constitute the choreographic objects that the project investigates.
'Material Histories' website launched
The website for Alison Brown, Nancy Wachowich and Tim Ingold's AHRC-funded project Material Histories: Social Relationships between Scots and Aboriginal Peoples in the Canadian Fur Trade, c1870-1930 is now live. The site is about how material objects can be used as a focus to explore fur trade histories, drawing on museum collections and those of families in Scotland.
'The Performance of Indigeneity' ESRC project starts
David Anderson and Nicolas Ellison have begun an ESRC-funded project 'The Performance of Indigineity'. The heart of the project is a twelve month study of two ritual performances among Totonacs in Eastern Mexico (Voladores and Huehues danzas). The field study will investigate how these dances have taken on new meanings in a context of inter-ethnic tensions and the negotiation of indigenous autonomy through ‘sustainable development’ projects.
The fieldwork on Totonac ritual dances will be conducted by Dr. Nicolas Ellison directly. He will observe and document performances of both ritual dances and their preparations in the Totonac municipality of Huehuetla as well as review historical photographic and audio and video archives available in Mexican institutions for documentary evidence of Totonac dances and their change over time.
The field research is contextualised within a broad comparative research programme at the University of Aberdeen devoted to the understanding of performance, landscape and indigenous rights. The research will conclude with an international seminar in Aberdeen and with a series of comparative articles. Our collective goal is to use ethnographic description to address current debates on political ecology and human-nature relationships.
ESRC studentship available
A full MRes + PhD ESRC studentship on 'Making Landscapes: Collaborations between Art and Forestry' is available in the Department, to be supervised by Jo Vergunst and Tim Ingold. The deadline for applications is June 18.
Julie Cruikshank heading for Aberdeen
The Department has won a visiting Centenary Professorship from the Carnegie Trust. Professor Julie Cruikshank of the University of British Colombia will be at the Department during spring 2010.
Material Histories exhibition opens
A new exhibition exploring the links between the North-East of Scotland and the fur trade in Northern Canada has opened in the University’s Marischal Museum. It is part of the AHRC project carried out by Alison Brown, Nancy Wachowich and Tim Ingold, entitled Material Histories: Social Relationships between Scots and Aboriginal People in the Canadian Fur Trade, c1870-1930.
AnthroSource goes live
The Department now has access to the AnthroSource archive of AAA journals. Please use it!