Deakin Anthropology Seminar Series #7: Rohan Bastin, “The State will have no religion”: Secular Crises, Conversion and Reconversion in India and Sri Lanka.

Friends, colleagues, please join us for the September instalment of our Deakin Anthropology Seminar Series 2017, presented by our very own Dr Rohan Bastin (Division of Anthropology, Deakin University). The seminar will be followed by drinks at The Edge, 6/8 Eastern Beach Rd, Geelong.

(Please note: our previously-scheduled seminar by Victoria Stead has been cancelled due to unforseen circumstances. The date and time remain unchanged, however.)

 

Date: Thursday 7 September
Time: 4:00-5:30pm
Location: Deakin Waterfront AD1.122

(Also, by videoconference, at Deakin Burwood C2.05, Deakin Downtown, and VMP 39384)

 

“The State will have no religion”: Secular Crises, Conversion and Reconversion in India and Sri Lanka.

Exploring the current controversies in India surrounding freedom of choice and religious conversion, specifically the so-called reconversion or ‘homecoming’ (gharwapsi) campaign being promoted by Hindutva groups, the paper explores a range of debates about secularism and the contemporary Indian state. Through a comparison with similar and closely articulated debates concerning Buddhism, conversion and state religion in Sri Lanka, the paper argues for a revision of the doctrine of secularism as well as the doctrine of postsecularism in both countries through a critique of the popular postcolonial assertion that secularism is a modern concept foreign to the region. 

 

Biography

Rohan Bastin is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Deakin University. He leads a project that proposes comparative research on socio-religious reform movements in Sri Lanka, exploring four separate yet related research foci in the post-war context involving each of the major world religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam). It explores questions of human equality and social cohesion in the setting of post-conflict national reconstruction.

Upcoming talk – Regional Systems and Phase Changes: Anomalies and Confusions, Iwa Island In The Case Of The Northern Side Of The Kula Ring And Other Points In The Ethnographic World

Friends, if you’re in the Melbourne area you might be interested in this upcoming talk at the University of Melbourne by anthropologist Frederick H. Damon, of the University of Virginia.
 
Regional Systems and Phase Changes:
Anomalies and Confusions, Iwa Island In The Case Of The Northern Side Of The Kula Ring And Other Points In The Ethnographic World
 
Tuesday 8 August, 2017
1.00pm
Lecture Theatre 1, Basement level, 221 Bouverie St, Carlton
 
Abstract
The idea of Phase Change, the transformation of one form into another, has a long history in the physical sciences but, outside of historical and presumptuous evolutionary interpretations, none whatsoever in the social sciences. This is true in spite of the fact that Arnold Van Gennep’s model of rites de passage is one of the best known and well-worn models of pan-human behaviour we have. As H2O molecules appear to have moments of random behaviour as they pass from ice to liquid or liquid to gas, so do humans as they move from one state to another. For long we have realized that logical relations like negation or inversion facilitate our understanding of human transitions. Yet the changeovers of humans and H2O molecules involve the constant of change in time. What of changes in space? Without question regionality of one kind or another is a condition of human society. Yet if the 20th century bequeathed to us two first order approximations for how humans array themselves in space, central place theory on the one hand and world-systems theory on the other, these approaches remain question-begging in the one case and severely limiting on the other. What role must anomalies and phase changes have in our understanding of human variability across space? This lecture strives to make apparent the kind of data we have to be able to understand in order to understand the role of ‘position’ in human sociality. Data used to make apparent what we need to know will come from many years of study of the Kula Ring in Papua New Guinea, as well as other regional systems in the Anthropological corpus, and well described but not well conceptualized aspects of the contemporary modern world-system.
 
Biography
Frederick H. Damon earned his BA from Duke University in 1970, his PhD from Princeton in 1978. He has been at the University of Virginia since 1976 where he is now a Professor in its Department of Anthropology. Since 1973 he has conducted more than four years of on-site anthropological research in and written and edited many papers and books on the north eastern Kula Ring society called Muyuw in eastern Papua New Guinea. His written work focuses on exchange and production, ritual and cosmology, and most recently ties between culture and environment. He is in the process of organizing research in Fujian Province, conceived as the historical and environmental dividing line between East Asia and the Austronesian expansion across the Indo-Pacific over the last 6000 years.

Deakin Anthropology Seminar Series #6: Akhil Gupta, ‘The Many Futures of Global Capitalism’

Friends, colleagues, please join us for the August instalment of our Deakin Anthropology Seminar Series 2017, presented by Akhil Gupta (UCLA, University of Melbourne). The seminar will be followed by drinks at The Edge, 6/8 Eastern Beach Rd, Geelong.

Date: Thursday 3 August
Time: 4:00-5:30pm
Location: Deakin Waterfront AD1.122

(Also: Burwood C2.05; Melbourne Corporate Center, enquire at desk; VMP 39384)

The Many Futures of Global Capitalism

In academic literature as much as in popular culture, call centres have set off enormous debates about the outsourcing of service sector jobs in a global economy. While we engage the political economic consequences of labour arbitrage, our primary focus is on the interplay of affective labour, futurity, and informatics to understand the sociocultural implications of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). We propose that the proliferation of disjunctive temporalities is key to understanding this interplay in the contemporary conjuncture of global capitalism. Since the opening of the first call centre in 1999, the BPO industry has grown rapidly to employ about 700,000 people with gross revenues of US $26 billion in 2015. Based on long-term and diachronic fieldwork with workers in three different companies in Bangalore, our objective in this project is to ethnographically examine the futurities spawned by intertwined processes of rapid transformation and stagnation, aspiration and anxiety, upward social mobility and precarity—in short, the disjunctive temporalities undergirding India’s “New Economy.”

Biography

Akhil Gupta is a professor of anthropology and director of the Center for India and South Asia at  the University of California Los Angeles. His work explores themes of transnational capitalism, postcoloniality, globalisation, infrastructure, and corruption. His field research interrogates anthropological and social theory from its margins, by paying attention to the experience of peasants and other groups of poor people in India. He is the author of, among other things, Postcolonial Developments: Agriculture in the Making of Modern India (Duke University Press 1998) and Red Tape: Bureaucracy, Structural Violence, and Poverty in India (Duke University Press 2012), and has edited, among other things, Anthropological Locations: Boundaries and Grounds of a Field Science with James Ferguson (University of California Press 1997) and The Indian State After Liberalization, with Kalyanakrishnan Shivaramakrishnan (Routledge 2010). He is currently doing a long-term research field project on call centers in Bangalore.

PhD Scholarship available: ‘Hazards, culture and Indigenous communities’

Some of you may be keen to note, a PhD scholarship is now available in Deakin’s Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Education. The PhD student will initiate and conduct research associated with the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC ‘Hazards, culture and Indigenous communities’ project led by Dr Timothy Neale and Dr Jessica K. Weir.

The project team is looking for applicants from the relevant social sciences Anthropology, History, and Geography to conduct an affiliated doctoral research project under the supervision of Dr Timothy Neale. The proposed doctoral project must align with the focus of the project, and at least one of its objectives, as well as with the aims of the BNHCRC more generally. 

This scholarship is currently only open to domestic candidates (domestic includes candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Resident, New Zealand Citizenship). Qualified international candidate should contact Dr Neale for further details. If you wish to discuss your research interests and project proposal before applying, please contact Dr. Neale via email <t.neale@deakin.edu.au>

More information at: http://www.deakin.edu.au/courses/scholarships/find-a-scholarship/hdr-scholarship-cultural-hazards

Deakin Anthropology Seminar Series #5: Tim Edensor, ‘The Power of Illumination’

Friends, colleagues, please join us for the July instalment of our Deakin Anthropology Seminar Series 2017, presented by Tim Edensor (Manchester Metropolitan University, visiting scholar, University of Melbourne). The seminar will be followed by drinks at The Edge, 6/8 Eastern Beach Rd, Geelong.

Date: Thursday 20th July
Time: 4:00-5:30pm
Location: Deakin Waterfront AD1.122

(Also: Burwood C2.05; Melbourne Corporate Center, enquire at desk; VMP 39384)

The Power of Illumination

As Sean Cubitt asserts, illumination is the focus of ‘an evolving set of meanings negotiated between scientists, engineers, manufacturers, marketers, architects, interior decorators, urbanists and their business and domestic customers’ (2013: 312) as cultural and historical contexts change, mutate and adapt. In considering how practices of illumination are entangled with power, this seminar draws on conceptions  advanced by Foucault, Marx, Bourdieu and Rancière. Firstly, it will explore how lighting is used in the surveillance, policing and control of bodies. Secondly, it looks at how lighting inscribes inequalities across space. Thirdly, it discusses how cultural capital is mobilized to assert judgements around aesthetic value and taste. And fourthly, it examines how the normative arrangements through which we apprehend everyday illuminated space are forged by those who have the power to distribute the sensible.

Biography: 

 

Tim Edensor is currently a visiting scholar at Melbourne University. He is the author of Tourists at the Taj (Routledge, 1998), National Identity, Popular Culture and Everyday Life (Berg, 2002) and Industrial Ruins: Space, Aesthetics and Materiality (Berg, 2005), and From Light to Dark: Daylight, Illumination and Gloom (Minnesota, 2017) as well as the editor of Geographies of Rhythm: Nature, Place, Mobilities and Bodies (Routledge, 2010). Tim has written extensively on national identity, tourism, ruins and urban materiality, mobilities and landscapes of illumination and darkness.

Call for Papers: Inaugural Oceania Ethnography and Education Network (OEEN) Conference

The Call for Papers is now open for the Inaugural Oceania Ethnography and Education Network (OEEN) Conference. Deakin’s Dr Jessica Walton (Alfred Deakin Institute) is convening this conference with A/Prof Martin Forsey (UWA). This conference is funded by the Australian Research Council and will be held at Deakin Downtown (24-25 August 2017). You can find the CFP and more information about joining OEEN here.

Deakin Anthropology Seminar Series #4: Frederic Keck, ‘Biosecurity in museums of virology, ornithology and anthropology’

Friends, colleagues, please join us for this fourth instalment in the Deakin Anthropology Seminar Series 2017, presented by Frederic Keck (EHESS, Musée du Quai Branly). The seminar will be followed by drinks at The Edge, 6/8 Eastern Beach Rd, Geelong.

Date: Thursday 1st June
Time: 4:00-5:30pm
Location: Deakin Waterfront AD1.122

(Also: Burwood C2.05; Melbourne Corporate Center, enquire at desk; VMP 39384)

Biosecurity in museums of virology, ornithology and anthropology

If biosecurity can be defined as a recent paradoxical injunction to circulate living material for the production of knowledge while securing its uses because of the instability of this material, it can help us revisit the history of museums as places where material is stored and conserved for the public display of knowledge. This talk will compare the history of virology since the discovery of the flu virus in the 1930’s, the history of ornithology since the voyages of Captain Cook and the history of anthropology since the foundation of the Museum of Man in Paris. It proposes a genealogy of the current analogies between the management of bird flu at Hong Kong University and the management of non-European artefacts at the musée du quai Branly in Paris.

Biography: 

Frédéric Keck is a researcher at the Laboratory of Social Anthropology and Director of the Research Department of the Quai Branly Museum in Paris. After studying philosophy at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris and Anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley, he has investigated the history of anthropology and contemporary biopolitical questions. He published Claude Lévi-Strauss, Une Introduction (Pocket-La découverte, 2005), Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, Entre Philosophie et Anthropologie (CNRS Editions, 2008) and Un Monde Grippé (Flammarion, 2010). He has co-edited (with N . Vialles) Des Hommes Malades des Animaux (L’ Herne, 2012) and (with A. Lakoff) Sentinel Devices (Limn, 2013).

Deakin Anthropology Seminar Series #3: Cris Shore, ‘Symbiotic or Parasitic? Universities, Academic Capitalism and the Global Knowledge Economy’

Friends, colleagues, please join us for the latest seminar in the Deakin Anthropology Seminar Series 2017, presented by Cris Shore, of the University of Auckland. (See below for a description of Cris’ research.) The seminar will be followed by drinks at The Edge, 6/8 Eastern Beach Rd, Geelong.

Date: Thursday 27th April
Time: 4:00-5:30pm
Location: Deakin Waterfront AD1.122

(Also: Burwood C2.05; Melbourne Corporate Center, enquire at desk; VMP 39384)

Symbiotic or Parasitic? Universities, Academic Capitalism and the Global Knowledge Economy

The health of social anthropology as a discipline has long been connected to its position as a university-based subject. However, changes in the political economy of higher education, including cuts in public spending, rising student fees, the privileging of STEM subjects over the arts and humanities, and the proliferation of new regimes of audit and accountability, pose challenges for social sciences as well as the university itself. In countries such as Britain, Australia and New Zealand, academics are being urged to be more entrepreneurial, to focus on ‘impact’, and to engage proactively with business and finance in order to create a more commercially-oriented ‘innovation ecosystem’. The idea of forging a ‘triple helix’ of university-industry-government relations has become part of the new common sense that now drives government policies for higher education. But how positive is this supposed symbiosis between universities and external financial interests? What are the costs and benefits of this collaboration? And what are the implications for the future of the public university?

Biography: 

Cris Shore is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Auckland. His main research interests lie in the interface between anthropology and politics, particularly the Anthropology of Policy, Europe, and the ethnography of organisations. He was founding editor of the journal Anthropology in Action and is a founder member (and co-President) of the Association for the Anthropology of Policy, a Section of the American Anthropological Association. His published work covers a range of issues of anthropological, theoretical and public policy interest including the European Union, the State, elites, corruption, ‘audit culture’ and higher education reform. He currently leads two projects: an EU Centres Network study of the effects of austerity in the Eurozone, and a Royal Society of New Zealand-funded project on ‘The Crown and Constitutional Reform in New Zealand and Other Commonwealth Countries’. His most recent book, co-edited with Susan Wright, is Death of the Public University? Uncertain Futures for Universities in the Knowledge Economy (Oxford: Berghahn Press, 2017).

Deakin Anthropology Seminar Series #2: Eben Kirksey, ‘Lively multispecies communities and deadly racial assemblages in West Papua’

Friends, colleagues, please join us for the second seminar in the Deakin Anthropology Seminar Series 2017, presented by Eben Kirksey, of UNSW. (See below for a description of Eben’s research.) The seminar will be followed by drinks at The Edge, 6/8 Eastern Beach Rd, Geelong.

Date: Thursday 30th March
Time: 4:00-5:30pm
Location: Deakin Waterfront AD1.122

(Also: Burwood C2.05; Melbourne Corporate Center, enquire at desk; VMP 39384)

 

Lively multispecies communities and deadly racial assemblages in West Papua

Indigenous people from West Papua, a territory under Indonesian rule, are foraging for food in spaces by the side of the road, in the ruins of recently logged forests. Living on the margins of market economies and transportation infrastructures comes with opportunities as well as risks. Emergent ecosystems are teeming with grasshoppers, katydids, praying mantises, and other edible insects, as well as marsupial game animals. Children are finding happiness in the hap of what happens in these multispecies worlds. At the same time, plans by technocrats in distant metropolitan centers to turn nomadic hunter-gatherers into a governable population have gone awry. Infrastructures and modern medical practices protect some people in Indonesia from tropical diseases like malaria, while Papuans die. Black lives matter. But some black lives matter more than others. The case of one black boy who was shot dead along the side of the road in June 2015 while hunting with friends is part of an ongoing process of genocide in West Papua. Race, nationality, and class all help determine who has full personhood before the law. In pursuing the elusive promise of justice in West Papua, indigenous people are pushing back against powerful assemblages and infrastructures, creating the conditions for continued life in multispecies communities. 

 

Biography: 

Eben Kirksey studies the political dimensions of imagination as well as the interplay of natural and cultural history. Duke University Press has published his two books—Freedom in Entangled Worlds (2012) and Emergent Ecologies (2015)—as well as one edited collection: The Multispecies Salon (2014). Dr Kirksey is perhaps best known for his work in multispecies ethnography—a field that mixes ethnographic, historical, ethological, and genetic methods to study spaces where humans and other species meet. He has been working in West Papua, the Indonesian-controlled half of New Guinea, since 1998. Princeton University hosted Dr Kirksey as the 2015-2016 Currie C. and Thomas A. Barron Visiting Professor and he is currently Senior Lecturer and the Environmental Humanities Convener at UNSW Australia.

Deakin Anthropology Seminar Series #1: David Boarder Giles, ‘Towards an Anthropology of Abject Economies’

Friends, colleagues, we would like to invite you to come along to the first seminar in the Deakin Anthropology Seminar Series 2017, presented by our very own David Boarder Giles. (See below for a description of David’s research.) The seminar will be followed by a start-of-the-series drink at The Edge, 6/8 Eastern Beach Rd, Geelong.

Date: Thursday 2nd March
Time: 4:30-6:30pm
Location: Deakin Waterfront AD1.122

(Also: Burwood C2.05; Melbourne Corporate Center, enquire at desk; VMP 39384)

 

Towards an Anthropology of Abject Economies

Where do things go when they are lost, discarded, or forgotten? What social afterlives do they lead? And perhaps more importantly, whose lives are constituted among the detritus? Through an exploration of such questions, and the larger patterns that emerge from them, I sketch out new directions for an anthropology of value, one that looks beyond the horizons of capital towards the futures that lie in its ruins.

To that end, we will explore what might constitute an abject economy—an economy built precisely on the abjection and abandonment of people, places, and things. What pathways of devalorization and desuetude might be its conditions of possibility? What emergent forms of life endure, for example, in the interstices of capital? What non-market practices and regimes of value are possible within its folds?

Giles develops both a theoretical framework for future research, and an ethnographic description from his own work with dumpster-divers, squatters, and other scavengers in several “global” cities in North America. These scavengers cultivate, in a very real sense, minor economies, putting into circulation those surpluses—people, places, and things alike—discarded by the prevailing markets and publics of these cities. They present us with one model of an abject economy: non-market forms of surplus value and labor, simultaneously made possible and necessary by the vicissitudes of capital accumulation.

These economies are paradoxes, neither separable from, nor commensurable with the logic of market exchange. Such economies hold profound lessons for the anthropology of the twenty-first century—in which market-centric, “neoliberal” regimes of value seem to have eclipsed so many other forms of economy. In a moment when there seems to be no “outside” to capitalism, we may yet discover its margins, and there may we not only learn a great deal about the ontological grounds of capital itself, but also discover existing and emergent modes of valuing otherwise. Giving an account of these dynamics and paradoxes, I will argue, will be one of anthropology’s key challenges in the coming years.

 

Biography

David Boarder Giles is a Lecturer in Anthropology at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. He writes about cultural economies of waste and homelessness, and the politics of urban food security and public space, particularly in “global” cities. He has done extensive ethnographic fieldwork in Seattle and other cities in the United States and Australasia with dumpster divers, urban agriculturalists, grassroots activists, homeless residents, and chapters of Food Not Bombs—a globalized movement of grassroots soup kitchens. You can read excerpts of his work at his blog.