• 18/06/18 The Burden of Writing the Sorcerer's Burden
    Public Lecture by Prof Paul Stoller, West Chester University

    A cooperation between OLA (Dutch PhD forum on Latin America), LASP (Latin American Studies Programme) and CEDLA

    What is the future of anthropological expression? During the past few years, I have been thinking about the ethnographic past to ponder the anthropological future. For almost 40 years I’ve been writing ethnographic works that have taken on many forms - academic essays, memoirs, a biography, and more recently fiction. In this presentation, I use my struggle to write The Sorcerer’s Burden, a novel about the practice of West African sorcery in contemporary times, to demonstrate how institutional constraint has shaped how we have represented culture. The narrative of my 10-year burden of writing The Sorcerer’s Burden - against the grain of anthropological convention - leads to a discussion of the representational strengths of ethnography, fiction, drama, poetry and multi-media installations. In the end, I suggest that the complexity of a digital application or an anthropological argument is of limited value if bloodless prose obscures the ethnographic story. It is the quality of our stories, as Jean Rouch might have argued, that determines whether an ethnographic work will remain open to the world. In this way, the story marks our path to the future.

    Paul Stoller is Professor of Anthropology at West Chester University. He has been conducting anthropological research for more than 30 years. His early work concerned the religion of the Songhay people who live in the Republics of Niger and Mali in West Africa. In that work, he focused primarily on magic, sorcery and spirit possession practices. Since 1992, Stoller has pursued studies of West African immigrants in New York City. In his most recent work, Stoller has focused on the dynamics of well-being in the world. Stoller’s research has resulted in the publication of 15 books, including ethnographies, biographies, memoirs as well as three novels. In 2013 King Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden awarded him the Anders Retzius Gold Medal in Anthropology. In 2015 the American Anthropological Association awarded him its Anthropology in Media Award. Since 2010 he has blogged regularly on culture, politics, and higher education for The Huffington Post. His novel The Sorcerer’s Burden: The Sage of a Global Family was published in September 2016. His most recent book is Adventures in Blogging: Anthropology and Public Media (2018).

    VENUE: CEDLA, Roetersstraat 33, Amsterdam - Lecture room 2.02 - 2nd floor
    TIME: 15:00h

  • Ongoing Exhibition: “Portraits from the gold mine”
    A visual essay by Luciana Massaro

    Small-scale gold mining is one of the causes of environmental degradation and socio-political conflicts. The use of mercury and deforestation represent a severe threat to the environment and to the health of the miners and their families. At the same time, this activity offers a livelihood opportunity to over 100 million people in more than fifty countries, many hundreds of thousands of which are spread in the Amazon region.

    The exhibition shows the portraits of different figures involved in small-scale mining in the Vale do Rio Peixoto, state of Mato Grosso (Brazil). Here, the miners are organized into a cooperative that seeks to integrate innovative, effective, and cleaner technology in order to increase gold production, but also decrease the impact on the environment.

    This visual essay was part of an anthropological research on small-scale gold mining technology within the GOMIAM Project.

    VENUE: CEDLA, Roetersstraat 33, Amsterdam - Lecture room 2.02 - 2nd floor
    TIME: Every day 9:00 - 17:00h

  • 18/06/2018 - 22/06/2018 Intensive summer workshop on ethnographic writing and blogging with Paul Stoller, Professor of Anthropology at West Chester University

  • The aim of this four-day workshop is to introduce doctoral students to the fundamental features and essential practices of ethnography and ethnographic blogging in the contemporary world. During the workshop students will learn what distinguishes ethnography from other forms of academic and nonfiction representation. The technique of “Weaving the World,” the seamless linkage of ethnographic description to social analysis will be presented. Students will be asked to read examples from the work of ethnographers who have, in various ways, attempted to use this technique to evoke social worlds through the exposition of space/place, character, and dialogue. These are strategies that ethnographic writers can use to ensure that readers come to know a people who live in a particular place.

    During the workshop students will be asked to write culture. The instructor will outline ethnographic (and blogging) writing practices—the “tricks of the trade.” He will then ask the students to begin to “Weave the World” by writing (1) short descriptions of space/place, dialogues, and character portraits (2) combine those elements into a short ethnographic essay that captures in prose the texture of place/space, characters and/or those elements as they are expressed during an event and (3) produce a blog on an issue of contemporary importance.

    Paul Stoller is Professor of Anthropology at West Chester University, USA. In his more than 30 years of anthropological research and writing, Stoller has focused on Songhay religion in Niger and the life of West African street traders in New York City. Professor Stoller’s work encompasses money, religion, film, writing and medicine. His most recent work investigates the dynamics of well-being in the world. Paul Stoller has made himself a name for challenging the limitations of conventional academic writing: He promotes storytelling as a way to communicate anthropological knowledge to the wider public. Stoller has published 14 books, including ethnographies, biographies, memoirs as well as three novels. Since 2010 he has been blogging regularly on culture, politics, and higher education for The Huffington Post and became an advocate for a more public and engaged anthropology.

    Additionally we have a Public lecture on the evening of June 18, 2018: The Burden of Writing the Sorcerer’s Burden: Ethnography, Fiction and the Future of Anthropological Expression.

    Workshop Schedule
    Day 1: June 19, 2018: Ethnographic Foundations and the Evocation of Place. Setting the story.
    Day 2: June 20, 2018: Dialogue and Character.
    Day 3: June 21, 2018: Sensuous Ethnography
    Day 4: June 22, 2018: Blogging Anthropology

    Workshop days usually last from 10 am to 5 pm.

    Target group
    PhD students in their writing up phase of their research who include ethnographic writing in their dissertation. We especially welcome students from our OLA and LASP networks, but are also very interested in making our group more diverse by reserving places for students with a different regional focus.

    EUR 50: Students of our OLA and LASP networks
    EUR 80: Students outside OLA and LASP networks
    This fee covers: 4-day workshop, lunches and coffee during the workshop (Tue-Fri). The fee does not cover: accommodation, additional meals, travel costs and other expenses not listed above.

    Please send a short statement of motivation (max. 300 words) including a brief summary of your research topic and own ethnographic fieldwork experience to Evi Kostner (e.kostner@uu.nl) until March 31, 2018. Please also include a short bio (max. 50-100 words). Notifications of acceptance will be send out by mid-April.

    ATTENTION: People who apply for the workshop are expected to participate in all four workshop days. The idea is to become a community of writers during this week!

    This workshop will be held in English.

    18.06.2018 - 22.06.2018

    VENUE: CEDLA, Roetersstraat 33, Amsterdam - Lecture room 2.02 - 2nd floor