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SEMINAR: Anthropology and Sociology Seminar Series

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Today's date is Friday, February 26, 2021
Anthropology and Sociology Seminar Series : Relationships in the Making: Negotiating knowledge through documentation. Other events...
Museums these days work hard to document their collections through field research, and all anthropologists are deeply involved in the everyday negotiation of their presence in different fieldwork contexts. Part of what underlies such negotiations is a principled reliance on conventional Enlightenment conceptions of knowledge. Assumptions built into this mode of making knowledge result in a perfectly rational process in which appropriation, and recontextualisation seem obvious and natural: realising the value of (data) collection by preserving and analyzing it in a reified space. However, such spaces are often claimed to be inaccessible or inutile to the people about whom they claim to know. Documentation may thus also be read as an artefact of persistent inequalities that lie behind data gathering or collecting, epitomized by the imposition of knowledge forms. While some historical collectors and many contemporary scholars work beyond the implications of this frame, it remains a formative problematic. Taking account of the diagnosis, the talk will draw on an experiment, undertaken with Reite villagers on the Rai Coast of Papua New Guinea, to make documentation ‘responsive’ to a different problematic: that of retaining the ‘relationality’ of knowledge. In doing so, we will explore one strategy to make documentation itself a process and a relationship, responsive to an ethics of mutual, but differentiated, value creation. Drawing upon the Melanesian practice of ‘knowledge as relationship’ is one possible way to make the process of documentation responsive to the relationships it constitutes.

James Leach is a Social Anthropologist with research interests in creativity, intellectual property, knowledge production, digital technologies, and ecological relations to place. His primary fieldsite is in Papua New Guinea, and has also undertaken fieldwork in the UK, Europe, and Australia with Contemporary dance companies, interdisciplinary collaborators, and software engineers. Some of his recent works include Dance Becoming Knowledge (with Scott deLahunta), Leonardo; The death of a drum: objects, persons, and changing social form on the Rai Coast of Papua New Guinea, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute; ‘Foreword’: Ownership and Nurture Studies in Native Amazonian Property Relations, eds. Brightman, Faust, and Grotti; Leaving the Magic Out. Knowledge and effect in different places. Anthropological Forum. He works for CREDO, Université d'Aix-Marseille, France, and is an adjunct in Anthropology and Sociology at UWA.
Speaker(s) James Leach
Location UWA, Social Sciences Building Room 2204
Contact Farida Fozdar <[email protected]>
Start Fri, 15 Nov 2019 14:30
End Fri, 15 Nov 2019 15:30
Submitted by Karen Eichorn <[email protected]>
Last Updated Mon, 11 Nov 2019 09:02
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