“Now I am Dead”: Anthropological Encounters with the Other

Tue 03 Dec 2019, 5–7pm, Lady Wilson Room (2.10), Sir Roland Wilson Building, ANU

Now I am Dead (2018) dir. by Philipp Bergmann

“If anthropology is founded on the violence of speaking for others,” anthropologist Isabel Bredenbröker asks in the thought-provoking short film Now I am Dead (2018), “then how can I relate to this?”

Bredenbröker and film director Philipp Bergmann had planned an artistic video installation to explore the nature of the ethnographic encounter through the lens of her research on death in a small town in Ghana. But in the midst of filming, Isabel’s grandfather dies in Germany. Asking the people she encounters for advice about how to react to the death of a far-away family member whilst shooting a film on death in West Africa, the perspective of the foreign researcher is tragicomically inverted and incorporated into a local perspective. The distinctions between the other culture and one’s own, between the Other and the Self get blurred, just as the threshold between life and death becomes something that can be experienced in a playful way.

“This is absurd,” Bredenbröker declares, “but in its absurdity, it makes perfect sense.”

About the presenter: Isabel Bredenbröker is a PhD candidate in the Research Training Group of Value and Equivalence at Goethe University, Frankfurt. Trained as an anthropologist, her research considers the material and economic aspects of death in the Volta Region of Ghana.

Coinciding with the annual conference of the Australian Anthropological Association, the Freilich Project is pleased to host the screening of this unique short film, and a discussion on the perennial challenges of ethical encounters between individuals and cultures in social scientific research.

The film screening and discussion is free and open to all, and will be followed by light refreshments.

Please register for catering purposes.

2020 Phyllis Montgomerie Commonwealth Award

Applications are invited for the 2020 Royal Commonwealth Society’s Phyllis Montgomerie Commonwealth Award. The award, of up to $5000, is intended to help with expenses, including travel, associated with a research or education project to be conducted in a Commonwealth country, including Australia.

Criteria

There is no restriction on the field of study or endeavour, nor are applications restricted to university students. Projects should have the potential for demonstrable benefit for the subjects of the study and Commonwealth member states. Applications must also include a clear statement of objectives and identifiable outcomes.

Eligibility

To be eligible, applicants must be:

  • Australian citizens
  • Residents of the Australian Capital Territory
  • If students, graduate or higher degree

How to Apply

Online application form and details here.

The closing date for applications is Friday 15 November 2019.

(Note: in previous years all successful applicants have been PhD students at ANU.)

Intra-Party Politics and Conflict in Ghana

African Studies Reading Group, Thursday 24 October, 6pm.
Lady Wilson Room, Sir Roland Wilson Building, 120 McCoy Circuit, ANU.

Recent studies on democratization and conflicts in Africa have largely focused on civil wars, as well as national, sub-national and local elections. Little attention has been given to conflict and violence as a result of internal processes of political parties. The dynamics of intra-party conflicts differ from those at the national or sub-national levels, and therefore should be treated as a subject in its own right. Political parties in Ghana are beset by intra-party conflict, which poses a significant threat to the democratic development of the country. Drawing on elite interviews and ethnographic observations, this presentation will argue that the struggle for power, the lack of internal democracy, ethnicity, factionalism, and patronage have contributed to intra-party conflicts and violence within Ghana’s two dominant political parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP).Ernest Akuamoah is a PhD student in the School of Politics and International Relations. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Studies (First Class Honours) from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (Ghana) and a Master of Philosophy in Political Science from the University of Ghana, Legon. His PhD project examines the impact of term limit relaxation on electoral violence.

All welcome, refreshments provided.

Early Career Research Small Grants Scheme

ANU’s Herbert & Valmae Freilich Project for the Study of Bigotry is welcoming applications for the 2019 round of the Early Career Research Small Grants Scheme (for activities to be undertaken in 2020).

Three grants of up to $5000 each will be awarded to emerging scholars to assist research into the causes, the histories and the effects of ethnic, cultural, religious and sexual bigotry and animosity. Applications are open to all Early Career Researchers and PhD Scholars working in Australia, and are due on 15 November.

Full details of the Scheme are available here on the Freilich Project website.

Exhibition: Photography, Race and Slavery: African Sitters of Qajar Era Iran (UNSW, Sydney)

(Ordinarily we restrict posts on this site to events in Canberra, but this fascinating exhibition about a little known aspect of African and African diasporic history is an exception to the rule. -IA)

Photography, Race and Slavery: African sitters of Qajar Era Iran – Seminar and Exhibition Opening

Curated by Dr Pedram Khosronejad (Western Sydney University), this exhibition traces the unexplored history of African slaves in Iran during the Qajar dynasty and looks at the unique relationship between photography and slavery in Iran from 1840s to the 1930s. This exhibition is presented as part of the UNSW Library Exhibitions Program and the Silk Roads@UNSW Research Network Seminar Series in collaboration with the Religion and Society Cluster of Western Sydney University.

UNSW Library, Sydney, 25 September 5:00pm RSVP

Maxine Beneba Clarke in Conversation with Zoya Patel

Award winning author, Maxine Beneba Clarke (editor of Growing Up African in Australia), will be in conversation with feminist author and editor, Zoya Patel, about her leadership journey as an Australian born black writer of Afro-Caribbean descent, creating space for other African diaspora voices, and empowering those who’ve been historically sidelined in Australian literature to tell their stories.

Maxine Beneba Clarke is the ABIA and Indie award-winning author of the memoir The Hate Race, the short fiction collection Foreign Soil, the poetry collection Carrying The World, and several critically acclaimed children’s books, including the Boston Globe / Horn Prize award winning The Patchwork Bike, and the recently released Fashionista. She is the editor of Growing Up African in Australia, and Best Australian Stories 2017. Maxine is The Saturday Paper’s Poet Laureate.

Zoya Patel is the author of No Country Woman, a memoir of race, religion and feminism, published by Hachette Australia.

She Leads In-Conversation events aim to provide the community with the opportunity to hear from women leaders from different backgrounds and industries, in a conversational format, followed by a live Q&A session, book signing and networking. Men are actively welcomed to attend.

The In-Conversation with Maxine Beneba Clarke will be at the Ann Harding Conference Centre, University of Canberra on Friday 20 September 2019 from 6:15–8:15 pm.

More details and ticket information here.

Seminar: “Dual Exposure: Transcendental Harm in the Islamic Ontology of Pollution in Tunisia”

Wed 28 Aug 2019, 9.30–11am
Marie Reay Teaching Centre, Kambri/Room 3.03, Building 155

Exposure to harmful substances typically occurs through the entanglements of bodies and materials in late industrialism. How this exposure is measured depends as much on the sensory perception of these materials, as on knowledge and technologies that reveal unperceivable substances, and assess their effects on a given organism. In Western toxicology harm from exposure therefore emerges between perceivable and hardly perceivable worlds. This is also true of North African Islamic epistemologies of pollution. Here harm is constructed in the relationship between the physical world (alam al-shahada) of humanity, and the spiritual world (alam al-ghayb) inhabited by the angels and jinn. Based on 15 months of ethnographic research in Tunisia during a waste crisis in the aftermath of the revolution, this paper explores how exposure and harm are shaped by ontologies that organize the relationship between people, materials, and the unseen. It argues that certain materials can pierce the veil between the physical and sprit world in North African Islam, thereby removing the protecting of guardian angels, and attracting evil forces. Exposure from pollution in Tunisia can therefore be seen as ‘dual’ in that it renders the individual vulnerable to potentially harmful substances as well as vulnerable to the harmful effects emanating from the spirit world.

Dr. Siad Darwish is a sessional academic at the School of the Humanities and Social Inquiry at the University of Wollongong. He holds a PhD in anthropology from Rutgers University and an MA in the Anthropology of Development from the University of Sussex. His research traces waste flows and unequal chemical relations between cells, bodies, the micro-ecologies of his field sites, planetary ecology, and sometimes the otherworldly. Using this approach, his first book manuscript is an exploration of the environmental politics of the Arab Uprisings in Tunisia. Find out more on sdarwish.org.

Ibidolapo Adekoya – Three Minute Thesis Final

PhD candidate Ibidolapo Adekoya will be a finalist in ANU’s Three Minute Thesis competition on 4 September, and her research has just been profiled in The Canberra Times:

When Ibidolapo Adekoya first got the opportunity to research malaria proteins she “couldn’t say no”. The Australian National University PhD student, who grew up in Nigeria, has had the disease several times and knows how horrible it can be.

Tickets for the final are free and available here. Good luck Dola!