Sara Perry: Intersection of Archaeology and Visual Anthropology

Brave hunter, guided by arrows. Source: Perry (2009).

We’ve featured the newish blog anthropologies here before – its thematic issues are always worth a read. The January 1 edition was particularly interesting because its theme, Visual Anthropology, is of keen interest to the department here since we are currently hiring in that subdiscipline.

But it was of particular interest because one of our distinguished alumna, Dr. Sara Perry, has a short essay entitled Fluid Fields: The (Unspoken) Intersections of Visual Anthropology and Archaeology.  Sara writes an elegant account of how her long-standing research interest in how archaeologists create, consume, and circulate images matters within a holistic anthropological project:

However, on the other side, amongst audiences of archaeologists, I am often similarly loath to declare myself to be a visual anthropologist. This is because I have repeatedly been challenged by both my archaeological students and colleagues for doing research that is purportedly “not real archaeology.” My response to such a baseless statement is that archaeologists are—and always have been—skilled users and makers of multi-media, capitalising on various visual anthropological methodologies to facilitate or augment their work.

It’s almost a manifesto for how archaeologists and visual anthropologists need to learn from each other, not so much through shared attention to material culture, but through shared attention to images as artifacts.  It’d be hard to find a better example of the niche that our department’s thematic approach to graduate studies is designed to fill.

Sara’s work is best known to us here in the form of her brilliant M.A. thesis on visual representations of the First Peopling of North America, Australia and the Pacific (downloadable PDF!).  Since leaving us, she went to complete her Ph.D. in 2011 at the University of Southampton, working with Professor Stephanie Moser, and as of this month she has started as lecturer at the University of York, U.K.  Congratulations to Sara on her new position!



Perry, Sara (2009). Fractured media: Challenging the dimensions of archaeology’s typical visual modes of engagement. Archaeologies: Journal of the World Archaeological Congress 5(3): 389-415


November 14th Colloquium: Jutta Gutberlet on “Waste to Energy”

Recyclers against waste incineration in São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil.

‘Waste to energy’ Expanding the Geography of Despair and Resistance: Community-based Research with Recyclers in São Paulo Metropolitan Regio

Jutta Gutberlet, PhD

Department of Geography,
University of Victoria

Monday Nov. 14, 2011


MACLaurin D103

Free and open to the public

Outline: Waste is a resource! Through recycling different components are re-inserted in the material cycles. Direct and indirect jobs are created with this activity, particularly in the global South, where a significant part of the population depends on resource recovery. This presentation will introduce the Participatory Sustainable Waste Management (PSWM) project, a University partnership project between UVic and the University of São Paulo, in Brazil. This community-based and action oriented research project takes an integrated approach on capacity building and policy design for more inclusive solid waste management. I will elucidate some of the results achieved over the past 6 years and will highlight and discuss current challenges to selective waste collection and classification with recycling cooperatives in the metropolitan region of São Paulo. Recently large corporations and consulting firms, mainly based in North America and Europe, are promoting energy recovery as a sustainable form of waste management. Waste to energy eliminates the priority of reinserting recyclables in production processes, generates toxic air contaminants and ashes and ultimately perpetuates natural resource extraction. The incineration of recyclable materials collapses the resources basis of the informal and organized recycling sector, threatening the livelihoods of workers. For the informal sector solid waste collection, separation and transformation provides work, income and possibilities for human development. The spreading of waste to energy plants has created a new geography of despair among the most excluded citizens and has initiated a movement of resistance against this powerful industry. I draw on the reconceptualised understanding of waste as a resource and situate the activity of informal and organized recycling within the social economy. Analysis reveals the present geography of despair and social/environmental injustices as a result of current economic and political developments in the solid waste sector. Finally, I discuss the resistance and social mobilization arising from organized recycling groups, using recent events documented in Brazil.

More information on Dr Gurberlet.

Colloquium Nov 7: Sarah Fletcher and Angelique Lalonde

It’s wonderful that our nascent Ph.D program is so vibrant with a variety of students working across the disciplines and themes.  Monday’s colloquium will showcase this even further, as we welcome two young scholars to the podium.

Sarah Fletcher will speak to the topic of, Where is home? Using theatre to facilitate the empowerment of immigrant youth to uncover challenges and opportunities that influence wellness, and Angelique Lalonde will address Embodying Ethical Consumerism through Yoga: a “Sustainable Living Project” in Costa Rica.

You can read the abstracts for these two talks by clicking on continue.  The Colloquium is held at 11.30 on Monday November 7th in MacLaurin D103.  It is free and open to the public.

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A “Four-Field Manifesto” for Moral Optimism

Traces of ancient raised fields in Bolivia mark a former sustainable agricultural system. Source: Clarl Erickson, UPENN

Anthropology needs to make “an explicit claim to the moral optimism that may be this discipline’s greatest appeal and yet its most guarded secret” (Trouillot, p.136).

So begins a stirring essay by Jason Antrosio, an Anthropologist at Hartwicke College.  Ostensibly about Capitalism and its excesses, the piece also works as a “four-field manifesto” for moral optimism in the contemporary global context.  In this, Anthropology is urged towards the forefront of a movement to contemplate the relationship between market forces and the global citizen.

Drawing heavily on the work of Michel-Rolph Trouillot, the essay takes each Anthropological subdiscipline in turn, showing how singly and together they challenge the easy conventional wisdom about “human nature” which structures contemporary discourses and political thought:  humans are naturally greedy and selfish, Capitalism harnesses greed and selfishness to productive ends, therefore Capitalism is inevitable and invincible.

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October 24 Colloquium: Genevieve von Petzinger on Upper Palaeolithic Art

von Petzinger. Source: TED

From the Walls to the Grave: Linking the Parietal and Portable Geometric Signs found in European Upper Paleolithic Art

Genevieve von petzinger

Ph.D. Candidate,

Anthropology, UVIC

Monday Oct. 24, 2011


MACLaurin D103

Free and open to the public

Outline: The geometric signs found in French rock art during the Upper Paleolithic (10,000 – 35,000 BP) show definite spatial and temporal patterning between the sites. This continuity suggests the geometric signs were being used with purpose, and that they were meaningful to those who created them. If they did have significance, and were being used to convey information, then we could be looking at a very early form of graphic communication. This implies that there was a system, but how can we identify the manner in which the creators of these markings organized and utilized them? This talk will examine some of the ways in which we can approach function and meaning, including the potential for comparison with portable art objects from the same time period.

Bio: Genevieve von Petzinger is a Ph.D Student in the Department of Anthropology, where she also recieved an M.A. degree.  Her thesis received wide attention in the media for its novel approach to geometric or non-figurative European cave art and forms the basis of publications in preparation.  She recently became a TED fellow, and  her biographical interview for that or is rich with information about her ideas. She also has a page at the Bradshaw Foundation.

October 17 Colloquium: Budd Hall on Knowledge Democracy

Knowledge, Democracy and Action: Towards a Knowledge Democracy Movement

Budd Hall

Monday Oct. 17, 2011


MACLaurin D103

Free and open to the public

Outline: We have been hearing about the concept of knowledge economy for a number of years. We have also heard about knowledge society. Both of these concepts share a desire to explain the relationship of knowledge with either job and economic structures in the case of KE or with broader citizen engagement vis a vis the state in terms of KS. Knowledge Democracy as a concept is sometimes also expressed as a cognitive justice movement. As Boaventura de Santos Sousa notes, “there will be no global social justice without global cognitive justice.” Budd will share some of his thinking about what a Knowledge Democracy Movement might consist of and why he feels it is important.

In Defence of Anthropology

Screenshot of Governor Scott on Anthropology. Source:

There’s been a bit of controversy making the rounds recently since the Governor of Florida started using Anthropology as an example of a degree program which that state’s universities could use a bit less of.  Well, fortunately there is concerted and highly effective push-back on this notion.  The American Anthropological Association issued a strongly worded, if rather generic, letter (PDF).  The Chair of the Anthropology Department at University of South Florida was more eloquent:

Anthropologists at USF work side by side with civil and industrial engineers, cancer researchers, specialists in public health and medicine, chemists, biologists, and others in the science, technology, and engineering fields that the Governor so eagerly applauds. Our colleagues in the natural, engineering, and medical sciences view the anthropological collaboration as absolutely essential to the success of their research and encourage their students to take courses in anthropology to help make them better scientists.

Noted blogger Daniel Lende has a roundup of some of the reaction here, while Kristina Killgrove responds as well: Continue reading