“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.

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.

Linguistics Seminar – “After Shaka: IsiZulu Language in Ideology and Social History”

Fri 23 Aug 2019, 3.30pm 
Basham Seminar Room, BPB Level 1, ANU

IsiZulu, a major language of South Africa, is not a static monolith, except as some people’s ideologies of language have so imagined it. This presentation traces some major historical events and changes, starting in the early nineteenth century, that have affected Zulu ways of speaking and in which they have been entangled, including the identification of “Zulu” as a unity distinct from cognate linguistic varieties in the region.

Judith Irvine first considers the dramatic expansion of a powerful Zulu kingdom under Shaka Zulu, from 1818. Shaka’s language policy was tied to the centralization of the Zulu state, and had consequences for dialectology, standardization, and ethnicity, especially as interpreted by missionaries in their own linguistic projects. Judith then turns to the forms of respect vocabulary and honorific utterance, with their specific principles of linguistic construction.

These deference forms were entwined with the role of language in the Zulu army, and involved both men and women. Yet, after the British annexation of Zululand in 1887 and the subsequent intensification of colonial rule, the colonizers identified these forms of verbal deference with folklore and gendered social roles. Comparing indigenous and colonizers’ varying conceptions of what language is and how to enlist it in social projects – their ideologies of language – can help bring out some sociolinguistic aspects of the colonial encounter and its aftermath.

More details.

 

“Becoming a Wrestler on the Outskirts of Khartoum, Sudan”

Date and time: Friday 23 August, 3–5pm
Speaker: Paul Hayes (PhD Candidate in Anthropology, ANU)
Location: Milgate Room, Level 2, A.D. Hope Building (#14), ANU

This post-fieldwork seminar examines the bodily practices and related material culture of young men in Khartoum, Sudan, who practice ‘Nuba wrestling’, a combat sport indigenous to Sudan. Based on 12 months of collaborative photography and first-hand sporting apprenticeship with wrestlers, I attempt to understand the magnetism of the sport through its concrete corporeal practices and material relations. I analyse the wrestlers’ material and bodily repertoires, not only for what they might mean as symbolic rituals or communicative signs, but also for what they do to the wrestler-subject. Through a microphysics of becoming a wrestler, I show how the doing of ‘corporeal-matter-in-motion’ leads to the creation of a specific being: an uneasy subject, caught between Sudan’s nascent pan-ethnic neoliberal modernity, and the racist vestiges of the Sudanese Islamist state.

“Just Exhaustion!”: Motherhood, Work, and Human Capital Investment in Senegal

Date &Time: Friday 16 August, 3pm-5pm

Location: Milgate Room, A.D. Hope Building #14, Australian National University

Abstract: Over the past two decades, the Senegalese state has reimagined national commitments to care for children and families as a politics of investment. Senegalese families today have unprecedented state support for their children following the creation of Senegal’s national early childhood care and education system in 2000. Case des Tout-Petits centers offer an array of public education and child welfare activities, including heavily subsidised preschool for children aged three to six. Development specialists, education theorists, and feminists have widely argued that affordable childcare helps “relieve” women of unpaid domestic work and “empower” them to pursue opportunities outside the home. Why, then, have many Senegalese mothers claimed that little children are now more exhausting than ever? This talk explores the problem of women’s fatigue by investigating how human capital investment projects like Senegal’s preschool system complicate motherhood in unexpected ways. Rather than presume that motherhood inherently entails forms of work, the presentation examines how attempts to naturalise motherhood into mothering work are negotiated and contested, with broader implications for how anthropologists might theorise neoliberal interventions into family life. 

Speaker: Kathryn E. McHarry is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. Her research focuses on global childhood policymaking and post-millennial transformations of age, care, and labor in Africa. Her dissertation, Entrepreneurs of the Future: Speculative Care and Early Childhood Education in Senegal examines the politics of human capital interventions and the economisation of family life.

Putting Africa Back into the Politics of British Decolonisation

Anthony Low Commonwealth Lecture 2019

This annual public lecture – in honour and memory of Professor Anthony Low AO, ANU Vice-Chancellor (1975-82) distinguished scholar and university administrator in Africa, Australia and the United Kingdom – will focus on Professor Low’s acute observation that African decolonisation owed as much (if not more) to local African agency as to the high global winds of change in the aftermath of World War II. Drawing from not merely recently released British State Papers, but the ‘lived experience’ of colonial Central Africa, this lecture will explore certain ‘dissonances’ between African social dynamics and global narratives of the demission of European power in the African colonial empires.

Speaker: Emeritus Professor Deryck M Schreuder was born and educated in Africa before taking up a Rhodes Scholarship to New College, Oxford. He has twice been an Australian Vice-Chancellor (University of Western Sydney and The University of Western Australia).

Date & time
Tuesday 03 September 2019, 5.30pm–7pm

Venue
APCD Lecture Theatre, Ground floor, Hedley Bull Building #130, corner of Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU

More information and registration

 

The Good Migrant: Gender, Race, and Naturalisation in Early Twentieth-Century South Africa and Australia

Speaker: Rachael Bright, Keele University
Wed 14 Aug, 4.15–5.30pm, McDonald Room, Menzies Library, ANU

What does a good migrant look like? How do migration officials identify ‘good’ migrants and how do potential migrants navigate this process? This paper will explore the development of early twentieth century migration laws and bureaucracies in South Africa and Australia in order to address these questions. It will particularly focus on Jewish and female migrants, drawing on a range of official migratory documentation and private diaries of those who sought to regulate and control the migratory process: as migrants, interested charities, and bureaucrats.

Rachel Bright is Senior Lecturer in Global and Imperial History at Keele University, UK. She specialises in migration and identity in the British settler colonies, especially South Africa and Australia. Her PhD from King’s College, London was followed by a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of East Anglia, and lecturing at the London School of Economics and Goldsmith’s College, London. Rachel is currently a Visiting Fellow at ANU researching female naturalisation in the early twentieth century, with funding from Keele University’s Institute of Social Inclusion and an Australian Bicentennial Research Fellowship from the Menzies Centre of Australian Studies, King’s College London.

Further details.

Indigenous Women in International Law

Veronica Fynn will be presenting her work on “Indigenous Women in International Law” and will be graduating from NCIS PhD program on the 19th July 2019.

18 July, 12.00, National Centre for Indigenous Studies,
Level 3 Conference Room, John Yencken Building, ANU

Abstract: The respect for human rights in international law entails a basic principle for our existence in a globalised world where socio-legal, economic, cultural and physical boundaries are polarised and fluid. Innovative concepts and new developmental approaches are emerging to augment gender equity and equality for all. The growing recognition of women’s leadership roles in diverse sectors at local, regional and international levels is indicative of a need to bridge the chasm by prioritising the gender justice agenda, especially regarding the effect and role of international law on Indigenous women. This specifically refers to the efforts made by Indigenous women in the Global South (which includes Africa, Asia and South Africa) who are charting their own course in international law while resisting Western hegemonic dominance to engineer social change, warrants examination, support and understanding. Referencing the effect of colonial history on Indigenous feminists in the Global South, this lecture adds to existing discourse on the prospects of Indigenous women’s engagement with international law. It concludes that while their future in international law is grim, a focus on creating a new generation of young leaders is recommended.