The latest from cultural survival

Reprinted from Cultural Survival

Source: Cultural Survival

Indigenous community radio stations in Guatemala have found themselves in the midst of a hopeful period regarding their legalizations, as the new government entered in January 2016. Bill 4087, Community Media Law, which was brought to the table in Congress after years of lobbying, has achieved significant advances as it passed its first and second readings in Congress. It is within this context that a new community radio was born in the Maya Mam territory of Quetzaltenango, in the community of Huitan.

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Anthropology and anthropological teaching in Kerala

Guest post by Dr. S. Gregory

The year 2012-13 marked a milestone in the History of Anthropology in Kerala for multiple reasons. Among many things, it marked the 25 years of PG teaching in Anthropology in Kerala and the Department of Anthropology had the unique privilege of organizing the Indian Anthropological Congress, the 10th Congress of the Indian National Confederation and Academy of Anthropologists (INCAA). The INCAA Congress, which was held as a full Congress once in three years and inter-Congresses in between, would henceforth be holding its full Congress every year under the name ‘Indian Anthropological Congress’, for which Kannur sets its beginning. The 2013 Congress held between 14 and 16 February 2013 aimed at taking a fresh look at the anthropological identities and approaches in the context of the emerging challenges and examines its potentiality for the future of the humankind. Hence, the focal Theme of the IAC 2013 was ‘Anthropology and the Future of Humankind. The theme of the Congress was chosen in the context of the dilemma Anthropology confronts between its professional commitment and the tendency to compromise its autonomy in order to erase out its anti-establishment stance, and hence of the urgency to examine the role of Anthropology vis-à-vis the future of humankind. The Congress attracted senior and young Anthropologists, from all over India, from the North, North East, East, West and South, with a total of about 250 participants, more than two third of them being from outside Kerala.

The inaugural function was presided over by the National President of INCAA, Prof. R.K. Mutatkar. Prof. A.P. Kuttikrishnan, the then Pro-Vice Chancellor of Kannur University inaugurated the Congress. Prof Gregory welcomed the gathering and provided a glimpse of the decade evolution of the Congress. Prof. PRG Mathur, the senior-most Anthropologist in Kerala, and Prof. B. Ananda Bhanu, the former Head of the Department of Anthropology were felicitated on the occasion by the President of INCAA, Prof. Mutatkar. This was followed by Prof. B.M. Das Memorial Oration by Prof D.K. Bhattacharya, from Delhi University, and was presided by Prof I.J.S. Bansal. The INCAA publications were released on the occasion. The academic exercise of the Congress started with the Round Table, which was moderated by Prof A.K. Danda, the Member-Secretary of INCAA. Fourteen eminent Anthropologists from all over India made deliberations on the conference theme: Anthropology and the Future of Humankind. It brought out a few significant concerns related to the academic and social situation which demands some methodological and analytical changes within anthropology as a discipline.

The second day of the Congress started with the Plenary Session. There were two speakers in the plenary session. Prof B.V. Sharma from Hyderabad Central University deliberated on ‘Culture and Development’ while Dr. Kannan P. Nambiar from George Washington University, Washington DC talked on the ‘Feminization of Migration and Human Rights’. This was followed by the S.C. Dube memorial lecture by Prof. Parasuram, Director of TISS, Mumbai and was presided by Prof Yogesh Atal. Prof Parasuram also released the Silver Jubilee Souvenir of the Department on the occasion, which provides a comprehensive picture about the Department and its overall profile.

The Scientific Sessions, which followed the SC Dube Memorial Lecture, involved six symposiums on varied themes, ranging from Ethnic Identity to sustainable Development, Health and Disease, Human Genetics, Growth and Developoment, Multiculturalism and Anthropological Identities and Approaches, and were held parallel in six different venues, each with three Technical Sessions. More than 80 papers had been deliberated in these sessions, followed by academic discussions. The Poster Session of the Congress had papers across all the themes of the Symposium. The cultural banquet offered by professional artists and by our own students, giving a few glimpses of Kerala Culture, enthralled the participants to its peak.

The third day started with a Special Interactive Session on Tribal Development, with the participation of the tribal activist, from Kerala Ms. C.K. Janu and moderated by Dr J.J. Pallath. The interaction was made lively and truly enriching and enlightening with the participation of Dr Jakka Parthasarathy, the former Director of the Tribal Research Center, Dr Francis Kulirani, the former Deputy Director of the Anthropological Survey of India and Shri Mohankumar, the former Director of KIRTADS. This was followed by the valedictory function which was presided over by the senior anthropologist, Dr. PRG Mathur. The Valedictory address was delivered by Prof Hussain Khan of Karnataka University. The winners of the Quiz program, conducted for the higher Secondary Anthropology students, which was one of the pre-Congress exercise, were honored with cash awards and memento.

The participants expressed a deep sense of appreciation for an excellent organization and arrangement as well as academic deliberations during the Congress. The Congress, organized under the aegis of INCAA, was made possible with the financial support from IGRMS, ICSSR, KIRTADS, Praxis India and from the University. The INCAA Kerala Chapter and the Faculty and students from the department had been the backbone in making the Congress a grand success. The extensive coverage given by the Press was unprecedented and provided the necessary boost to take Anthropology in Kerala to new heights. It had also provided an opportunity for the young anthropologists to get exposed to the wider canvas of Indian Anthropology.

II

Though the roots of anthropology in India could be traced back to the early phase of the colonial era, Anthropology as an Academic discipline had its beginning in India, only in 1920, with the starting of the Department of Anthropology at Calcutta University, with L.K. Ananthakrishna Iyer from Kerala as one of the founding fathers of the Department. The 22nd Indian Science Congress held at Calcutta in 1935, under the Presidency of Dr J.H. Hutton, with the theme Anthropology and India, and the establishment of Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI) in 1945, carving it out from the Zoological Survey of India are worth mentioning here.

In Kerala, the ethnological tradition of L.K. Ananthakrishna Iyer was continued by his son L.A. Krishna Iyer, and carried forward further by his grandson L.K Balaratnam, the living continuity of this trio. Yet another doyen of Anthropology was Prof. A. Aiyappan, former Vice-Chancellor of Kerala University. The line of Anthropological stalwarts in Kerala would be incomplete without the name of Prof. PRG Mathur. The Tribal Research and Training Institute (TR&TI) established in 1970 with Professor A. Aiyappan as its Founding Special Officer, later became a separate Department of the Government of Kerala and renamed as Kerala Institute for Research, Training and Development of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (KIRTADS) in 1979, under the Directorship of Professor PRG Mathur, to conduct research on socioeconomic status of tribes, and impart training to officials posted in tribal areas about the tribal culture. KIRTADS became a center for Anthropological doctoral Research as well at a time when there was no Anthropology Department in any of the Universities in Kerala. Prof. Mathur had also been instrumental in the establishment of the Ananthakrishna Iyer International Centre for Anthropological Studies (AICAS) in 1979, at Palakkad, with the main objective of promoting anthropological research in South India.

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Anthro in the news 10/28/13

A sex counselor in Japan with one of her clients. Photograph: Eric Rechsteiner/Panos Picture, in the The Guardian

• No sex please, for young Japanese

An article in The Guardian describes changing patterns of sex, love, and marriage, or none of the above in urban Japan. The article quotes cultural anthropologist Tomomi Yamaguchi, a Japanese-born assistant professor of anthropology at Montana State University as saying: “Remaining single was once the ultimate personal failure…But more people are finding they prefer it.” Being single by choice is becoming, she believes, “a new reality” in urban Japan. The current flight from marriage may signal a longer term rejection of earlier Japanese norms and gender roles.

• Alan Greenspan may take Social Anthropology 101

In an interview with Alan Greenspan, Financial Times writer Gillian Tett was surprised when Greenspan expressed interest in social anthropology and asked Tett for suggested readings. In shock, Tett comments that Greenspan no longer thinks that classic orthodox economics and mathematical models can explain everything. [Blogger’s note: I am dying to know which readings Tett suggested to Greenspan! David Graeber’s book Debt would be at the top of my list for Greenspan].

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

It’s a big  job

The Boston Globe carried an article about Jim Yong Kim’s attempts to overhaul the World Bank. Kim was in Boston Thursday to accept an award from the Harvard School of Public Health. A physician by profession and cofounder of Partners in Health with Paul Farmer and others, Kim is also a medical anthropologist. Although a proponent of the World Bank’s renewed commitment to supporting large hydroelectric dam projects, Kim at the same time expresses concern for the poor:  “What we’ve seen all over the world is that if you don’t pay attention to that bottom 40 percent, you can have fundamental instability in your society…Even in countries that have made so many gains in lifting people out of poverty, the bottom 40 percent were still saying, ‘But wait a minute, we want more.’ ” [Blogger’s note: Studies of large dam construction projects consistently show that they displace thousands, even millions, of people and thus increase the number of people in the “bottom 40 percent.”]

Tanya Luhrmann dumbing down religion?

In an article in The New Republic, Leon Wieseltier its literary editor, argues that, in her recent series of op-eds in The New York Times, Tanya Luhrmann expresses positive views of evangelicism (which he says she “adores”) and is “peddling another intellectual argument for anti-intellectualism, another glorification of emotion in a culture enslaved to emotion.”

What’s in a name: Asylum seeker is preferable

Australia’s The Age published a critique of recent official Australian statements about categories of immigrants, particularly a new delineation between asylum seekers and illegal maritime arrivals: “The conjoining of ‘asylum’ and ‘seeker’ is evocative. Who seeks asylum? A human in danger, distress and despair; someone who is hoping to survive on the lee shore of kindness.”

In contrast, the phrase “illegal maritime arrivals” contains no sense of humanity. Jonathan Rosa, assistant professor of linguistic anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, says such phrasing “is more about signalling one’s political affiliation than about trying to describe immigration.”

• Post-multicultural ethnic branding in Canada

An article in The Vancouver Sun notes that one in five Canadians are immigrants and nearly as many are second-generation citizens. So, it would seem that ethnic marketing would be on the rise. Instead, there seems to be growing emphasis on a “post-multicultural” nation.

Design anthropologist Ujwal Arkalgud says brands would do well to leverage Canadiana with high profile examples including Molson Canadian beer, Tim Hortons coffee, Hudson’s Bay department stores, and Roots apparel, all of which have effectively used national identity to sell products.

“Looking at audiences based on their ethnicity is a brutal, brutal practice,” said Arkalgud, director of strategy at Sonic Boom, a strategic marketing communications firm in Toronto. “It makes the assumption that just because somebody has immigrated, or has a certain background, they think a certain way; the reality is that our behaviours are guided by who we are and our own beliefs and values.”

Continue reading “Anthro in the news 10/28/13”

Louisiana event: Come to Promiseland

ADHT Save the Date African Burial Ground

The 9th Annual International Conference of the African Diaspora Heritage Trail, called Come to Promiseland, will take place in Parks and St. Martinville, Louisiana on October 11-12th for the Dedication and Declaration of the Indigenous African Creole Protigenitors’ Burial Ground and Inaugural Cultural Heritage Symposium.

Professor Bob Maguire of the Elliott School will present a paper, entitled “The Stone Junkies of Parks: Playing Ball and Strengthening Community.”

(Click on image to enlarge.)

Digital mapping empowering for indigenous peoples or exploitation?

From the Argus Leader:

Google is inviting indigenous people across the world to take time Friday to add local geographic and commercial features to its online maps. The company, in partnership with the National Congress of American Indians, is making Friday its first ever Indigenous Mapping Day.

Google Map Maker
Google Map Maker. Source: Argus Leader

Participants must have a Google account to edit or add to maps represented on the popular Google Maps and Google Earth. Participants also must be affiliated with the tribe whose community they plan to map.

Many U.S. tribal communities lack accurate mapping of roads, buildings and other services available to tribal members or general public, said Sarah Beccio, a spokeswoman for the National Congress of American Indians.

“Basically, you can improve driving directions, enhance public safety, or put tribal businesses on the map,” she said. “Also, you can identify areas that maybe shouldn’t be on a map; for instance, a store in the wrong place.”

Edits to Google maps can be made anytime, but Google chose Friday in honor of the U.N. International Day of the World’s Indigenous People.

The United States has more than 550 federally recognized tribes, some with reservations and some without tribal land. There are nine Sioux tribes in South Dakota, each with its own land.

Denise Mesteth, director of the Oglala Sioux Tribe Land Office on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, said better digital maps for her tribe’s land might help local businesses.

“We want our businesses to get noticed,” she said. “Being able to find places to eat while on the road with an iPhone, and this is an opportunity for the tribe to get that advertising.”

But a Rosebud Sioux tribal official is uncomfortable with the effort. Paula Antoine, Sicangu Oyate Land Office coordinator for the Rosebud Sioux, said Google Earth, which shows archived photos of just about anywhere in the world, has images of Rosebud’s sacred sites, including where ceremonies are held.

“There’s a lot of things that shouldn’t be on there,” she said. “To me, it’s violating our space, our rights.”

Book note: Shaping the Motherhood of Indigenous Mexico

Shaping the Motherhood of Indigenous Mexico by Vania Smith-Oka. Vanderbilt University Press, 2013.

Shaping the Motherhood of Indigenous Mexico book cover
Vanderbilt University Press
Mainstream Mexican views of indigenous women define them as problematic mothers. Development programs have included the goal of helping these women become “good mothers.” Economic incentives and conditional cash transfers are the vehicles for achieving this goal.

This book examines the dynamics among the various players – indigenous mothers, clinicians, and representatives of development programs. The women’s voices lead the reader to understand the structures of dependency that paradoxically bind indigenous women within a program that calls for their empowerment. The cash transfer program is Oportunidades, which enrolls more than a fifth of Mexico’s population. It expects mothers to become involved in their children’s lives at three nodes–health, nutrition, and education. If women do not comply with the standards of modern motherhood, they are dropped from the program and lose the bi-monthly cash payments.

Smith-Oka explores the everyday implementation of the program and its unintended consequences. The mothers are often berated by clinicians for having too many children (Smith-Oka provides background on the history of eugenics and population control in Mexico) and for other examples of their “backward” ways. One chapter focuses on the humor indigenous women use to cope with disrespectful comments. Ironically, this form of resistance allows the women to accept the situation that controls their behavior.

New book: Climate change, indigenous peoples, and legal remedies

This extract is from a review in the blog PowerEngineering:

Elizabeth Kronk, associate professor of law and director of the Tribal Law & Government Center at KU, has co-edited Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples: The Search for Legal Remedies with Randall S. Abate, associate professor of law at Florida A&M University. The editors gathered work from a collection of legal and environmental experts from around the world, many of whom hail from indigenous populations. Their entries examine how climate change has affected indigenous peoples on numerous continents and how future legal action may help their cause.

“As far as I know it’s the only book of its kind,” Kronk said. “There are lots on climate change, but none that I know of that examine the effects of it on indigenous people. A lot of times when you hear about climate change people say ‘when or if this happens.’ Well, it’s already happening, and indigenous people especially are being forced to deal with it.”

The book examines climate change through an indigenous perspective in North and South America, the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand, Asia and Africa. The contributors, all either practicing lawyers or law professors, both explain the problems faced by indigenous populations and break down attempts to devise legal, workable solutions.