This article describes the findings of an undergraduate Ethnography of the University Initiative (EUI) course in which students examined the university's efforts to improve the racial climate of the campus. These institutional efforts are intended to create a more comfortable environment for under-represented minority students who often comprise a significantly smaller group on campus than in their home neighbourhoods and high schools. Many minority group students experience isolation and discomfort connected to a lack of 'ownership' of campus spaces and traditions, which tend to be monopolised by white students. In my EUI class, which was sponsored by the Office of Minority Student Affairs (OMSA) at the University of Illinois (U of I), under-represented minority students focused their ethnographic projects specifically on campus-sponsored programmes intended to facilitate interaction across racial and ethnic groups. Of particular interest to students were programmes related to residence halls and campus social spaces. The findings presented here indicate that campus-sponsored programmes to increase race awareness that depend upon students' voluntary participation may be less effective in bringing students together than required classroom-based programmes and informal interaction through shared extra-curricular passions.
The Case of the Documentary Film Malen’kaia Katerina (Tiny Katerina)
Ivan Golovnev and Elena Golovneva
This article investigates the representation of childhood in ethnographic films among the indigenous peoples of the Russian North. The article focuses on the documentary film Malen’kaia Katerina (Tiny Katerina; Ivan Golovnev 2004), which depicts the childhood of a Khanty girl in northwestern Siberia. The article employs the concept of ethnocinema as a synthesis of scientific and aesthetic approaches for perceiving and understanding traditional culture. Based on field diary recordings, reflections on the anthropological knowledge of childhood are represented via the audiovisual medium. Particular attention is paid to the visual representation of the world of childhood in traditional Khanty culture, including the child’s relation to nature, the world of adults, games, and the development of gender identity.
Gina Hunter and Nancy Abelmann
Welcome to this special issue of Learning and Teaching: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences. As guest editors, we are delighted to be able to share the experiences of the Ethnography of the University Initiative (EUI, www.eui.uiuc.edu), a multi-disciplinary course-based initiative that fosters student research on their own universities and is
housed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (U of I). EUI is at once a pedagogical approach, a teaching community and a digital archive. EUI also works as a research agenda committed to student engagement with university practice and policy – and thus to institutional critique. In this editorial introduction, we provide an overview of EUI’s history, innovations, organisational structure and guiding values. We also introduce this issue’s authors – faculty members, an administrator and a former student – all of whom have taught with EUI and have documented here the ways in which taking the university as a research subject transformed their courses and teaching, and in some cases, their programmes and learning.
Susan Brin Hyatt
As a political and economic philosophy, neoliberalism has been used to reshape schools and universities, making them far more responsive to the pressures of the market. The principles associated with neoliberalism have also extended to programmes for urban economic development, particularly with respect to the largescale gentrification of neighbourhoods rendering them amenable to investments aimed at creating spaces attractive to white, middle-and-upper class consumers. In this article, I discuss how universities themselves have come to play a significant role as urban developers and investors, promoting commercial retail development and building upscale housing in neighbourhoods adjacent to their campuses. My entry point into this discussion is through describing an ethnographic methods class I taught in 2003, whereby students carried out collaborative research in the African-American neighbourhood surrounding Temple University's main campus in Philadelphia. As a result of their work, we produced a neighbourhood newspaper that sought to disrupt the commonplace assumptions about 'rescuing' the neighbourhood from what was presented as an inexorable spiral of decline; rather, our work showed that actions taken by the university, itself, had helped to produce the very symptoms of decline that the new development project now purported to remedy.
Gunther Dietz and Laura Mateos Cortés
Multicultural discourse has reached Latin American higher education in the form of a set of policies targeting indigenous peoples. These policies are strongly influenced by the transfer of European notions of 'interculturality', which, in the Mexican context, are understood as positive interactions between members of minority and majority cultures. In Mexico, innovative and often polemical 'intercultural universities or colleges' are being created by governments, by NGOs or by pre-existing universities. This trend towards 'diversifying' the ethnocultural profiles of students and curricular contents coincides with a broader tendency to force institutions of higher education to become more 'efficient', 'corporate' and 'outcome-oriented'. Accordingly, these still very recently established 'intercultural universities' are often criticised as being part of a common policy of 'privatisation' and 'neoliberalisation' and of developing curricula particular to specific groups which weakens the universalist and comprehensive nature of Latin American public universities. Indigenous leaders, on the contrary, frequently claim and celebrate the appearance of these new higher education opportunities as part of a strategy of empowering actors of indigenous origin or African descent.
Going beyond this polemic, this paper presents the first findings of an activist anthropological and ethnographically-based case study of the actors participating in the configuration of one of these new institutions of higher education, the Universidad Veracruzana Intercultural (UVI), located on the Mexican gulf coast. This article examines the way UVI has appropriated the discourse of interculturality on the basis of fieldwork conducted in the four indigenous regions where the UVI offers a B.A. in Intercultural Management for Development. The study focuses on the actors' teaching and learning practices, which are strongly shaped by an innovative and hybrid mixture of conventional university teaching, community-oriented research and 'employability'-driven development projects.
Holger Jebens, Pathways to heaven: Contesting mainline and fundamentalist Christianity in Papua New Guinea. Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books, 2005, 256 pp., ISBN 1-84545-005-1 (hardback).
James Leach, Creative land: Place and procreation on the Rai Coast of Papua New Guinea. Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books, 2004, 256 pp., ISBN 1-57181-693-3 (paperback).
Explorer and Researcher of the Tungus-Manchu Peoples and Their Languages
This article deals with the eminent Russian explorer, ethnographer, naturalist, and geographer Vladimir Arsenyev. He devoted thirty years to researching the Russian Far East, in particular the Ussuri taiga, and to documenting the lives and customs of the region’s inhabitants and their surroundings. The article focuses on the linguistic activities of Arsenyev, who simultaneously studied the local Tungus-Manchu (Udeghe and Oroch) languages and left behind unique materials. Its goal is to move beyond a consideration of Arsenyev’s novel Dersu Uzala to consider Arsenyev’s writing in his expedition journals, and demonstrate the differences between the actual Dersu Uzala and the literary character.
A Croatian Example
In this paper I explore the link between research into contemporary alternative medical practices (CAM) and activism. It is based on my recent research (2004-2007) which dealt with the interrelatedness and coexistence of biomedical and non-biomedical systems in the city of Zagreb. The process of adoption and introduction of CAM to Western European countries started some twenty years ago and in Zagreb the process was evident after the fall of communism. My research started with patients and their attitudes towards illness, health, well-being and suffering, factors that determined their choice of therapies and healers. However, hearing stories of people's experiences of CAM propelled me into the role of therapist as listener and, through attending to the silence surrounding the use of CAM in a relatively hostile society, the role of anthropologist as activist. Through the process of understanding and interpreting sensitive cultural practices, I explore whether anthropologists are uniquely placed to actively protect the rights of people to whom they owe their science.
Exclusions from Israel's #J14 Movement
In the summer of 2011, a movement known by the hashtag #J14 swept across Israel. At height of #J14, thousands of people were camped out in tents on Tel Aviv’s swanky Rothschild Boulevard, and smaller encampments peppered the green space of nearly every city in Israel. The Saturday night protests in Tel Aviv drew upwards of 300,000 people, who made a broad call for “social justice,” with specific demands focusing on skyrocketing housing prices, health care, childcare, and the overall high cost of living. Notably absent were any demands addressing the myriad of issues facing non-Jewish citizens of Israel, as well as the question of the ongoing occupation. In this article, I will consider the #J14 movement in terms of how civil society operates as an ideological construct, making possible some alliances (however counterintuitive) while excluding others from public debate all together. Following Mamdani’s argument that civil society as a concept is premised on exclusionary practices, I argue that mobilization in the name of civil society will not only reproduce these exclusions, but also widen the gap between those who do and do not receive crucial state services.
Anthropological Perspectives on Wellbeing and Place
Emilia Ferraro and Juan Pablo Sarmiento Barletti
In this thematic issue we offer anthropologically-informed snapshots of the different forms that wellbeing takes when approached from place-based perspectives. We are interested in highlighting and engaging with the undermining of place in the literature on wellbeing, which has produced a lack of appreciation for the role that culture plays in forming and informing different discourses, understandings and practices of wellbeing, as well as wellbeing scholarship itself. Our articles examine place as part of a project that aims at generating new contexts from which to ‘think otherwise’ about social policy, politics, the creation of knowledge, and, ultimately, existence.