Our first talk in 2013: Joel Robbins: Beyond the Suffering Subject: Anthropology, Rights, and the Comparative Study of the Good

The Anthropological Research Team is happy to announce the visit of Joel Robbins, one of the world’s leading scholars in the anthropology of religion and cultural change and soon-to-be professor at Cambridge to the Arctic Center. On Thursday 17 Jan. 14:30-16:00, in the Borealis lecture room 313, Joel Robbins will talk about his subject of the Comparative Study of the Good.

Joel Robbins is professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, San Diego and currently Jane and Aatos Erkko Visiting Professor in Studies on Contemporary Society at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. He is currently co-editor of the journal Anthropological Theory. His background is in symbolic, semiotic and structural anthropology. He has widely published on the anthropology of religion, ritual, morality, Christianity and conversion, and on ideas of culture, values, and secrecy in general. You can check his full list of publications here, or learn about his research through his website.

Robbins criticizes anthropology’s universalistic approach toward suffering over the last several decades. He suggests a departure from the focus on the subject living in pain, in poverty, or under conditions of oppression, which so long has been at the center of anthropological work. Robbins warns that anthropology has begun to risk relinquishing its special role of insisting on bringing questions of cultural difference to bear on all manner of intellectual discussions. He seeks to turn attention towards an anthropology of the good capable of recovering some of the critical force of an earlier anthropology without taking on many of its weaknesses.

In his lecture on Thursday, Robbins will explore how anthropology arrived at the point of considering the surrender of its place in Western conversation, and he will suggest that it may recover some of its former critical potential by turning to the cross-cultural study of different ways human beings living in diverse societies define and try to achieve the good. As an example of what an anthropological contribution to such a discussion might look like, he will illustrate how Melanesian ideas about the crucial role of relationships in human life-ideas about what we might call the rights of relationships-raise important issues relevant to contemporary discussions of the global applicability of the notion of human rights. Robbins will illustrate that if we can use such cross-cultural material about the diversity of human values, we can re-introduce a truly comparative component to currently vigorous and sometimes strident conversations about human rights. Then we will have a good indication of the promise of an emerging anthropology of the good.


You are all welcome to this event. We look forward to an interesting day with Joel Robbins.

Posted in All, Announcements, Guests, Theoretical Issues | 8 Comments

Adventure Siberia, 90 minutes documentary

Workers on the Trans-Siberian Railway construction. Screenshot from the recent Siberia documentary

Workers on the Trans-Siberian Railway construction. Screenshot from the recent Siberia documentary

TV channel ZDF (second German state channel) screened over the holiday a two-part documentary on Siberia and the fascination that this huge land mass has had on researchers, business people and other adventurers. The programme can be watched online via the media library of the TV channel as PART ONE and PART TWO. The film introduces to some figures of Siberian research starting with Georg Wilhelm Steller in the 19th century and ending with contemporary researchers from vulcanology, nature conservation and – anthropology. Anthropology research team member Florian Stammler was one of these figures. The programme also comes with lots of accompanying material on the website, among others also links to Arctic Centre and arcticanthropology. Continue reading

Posted in All, Announcements, Extractive Industries, Fieldwork, Indigenous Peoples, Russian North | Tagged ,

New intern at the Anthropology Research Team

My name is Berit Wahlers and this is the first day of my internship at the Arctic Center in Rovaniemi. I will be spending two month at the Anthropology research team and during this period I will assist the team in their daily work. Apart from that, I will try to find a topic for my Master thesis as well as develop a research question. My interests are on climate change and how it affects the life and culture of local communities in the Arctic and how these communities adapt to it.Berit

I am originally from Bremen, which is located in Northern Germany. Since four and a half years I am studying Cultural Anthropology at the University of Hamburg and I am currently studying my Master’s degree. Last term I did an Erasmus exchange to the University of Copenhagen. During this time I spend some days in Helsinki. This was my first stay in Finland. Now I am glad to get to know the northern part of Finland as well. After contacting Florian Stammler to ask about the possibility of an internship at the Anthropology research team, I decided to take the opportunity to have an insight in the ongoing projects and get supervision for the topic of climate change in the Arctic region.

I look forward to getting to know Finland and its people and having an insight in the anthropological work on the Arctic region.

Posted in All, Guests

Sámi herding, Utsjoki, Lemmenjoki Finland TV

reindeer roundup as filmed by ZDF, Dec 2012

reindeer roundup as filmed by ZDF, Dec 2012

For those interested in Sámi reindeer herding in northern Finland, and Utsjoki, and especially those who know German, you may be interested to watch a programme in the German second channel ZDF that they were sending for the end of 2012. The programme talks about Sámi land rights, reindeer roundup, gender relations, schooling in Utsjoki, and lots of nice landscape and reindeer shots. The programme can be watched online here. (as of 30-12-2012)

Posted in All, Fennoscandia, Indigenous Peoples, Sámi

“Electronic Memory of the Arctic” – conference on cultural communication in the circumpolar world

It’s a high profile conference taking place in St Petersburg, with support by the Arctic Council, RF Ministry of Foreign Affairs, RF Ministry of Culture and the Russian Geographical Society.
For us arctic anthropologists, it’s nice to see that this conference has cultural communication in its name. The organisers understand under cultural communication all activities by humans in Arctic, which builds a welcome bridge between the indigenous cultural heritage in the Arctic, and the history of Arctic exploration.
The special focus is on electronic resources. The project “electronic memory of the Arctic”, which is a project endorsed by the Arctic council in 2011, is the official host of this conference. Continue reading

Posted in All, Announcements, conferences, Fennoscandia, Indigenous Peoples, oral history, Russian North

Santa anthropology? Santa Claus link collection

Yamal-Iri, the grandfather from the end of the land, with anthropology research team members Anna Stammler-Gossmann and AC staff Markku Heikkila and Ulrike Sippel

Yamal-Iri, the grandfather from the end of the land, with anthropology research team members Anna Stammler-Gossmann and AC staff Markku Heikkila and Ulrike Sippel

Where would be a better place than at the Arctic Circle to establish a research unit on the ethnography and social anthropology of Santa Clauses? When we think about Santa, we mostly get the image of this Coca-Cola dressed red and white person riding on Rudolf the reindeer bringing presents. But in fact there is a rapidly increasing variety of personages and images connected to the idea of Santa Claus.

Continue reading

Posted in All, Fennoscandia, Guests, Indigenous Peoples, Russian North | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Lectures and events, autumn 2012, anthropology research team, Rovaniemi

Open invitation to all, academic and practitioner participants – no RSVP required. Additional posters and announcements for the different events will be posted at the door of the venue. Please see also separate programmes and announcements on the “lectures and events” page of this blog

Unless otherwise announced, all events to be held in the “Borealis” room of the Arctic Centre, further questions to Florian Stammler or Anna Stammler-Gossmann

Thursday 22 November 12:00 –“How do we see the sea?” EU-ACCESS project
Dr. Dmitrii Klochkov. (Director of Marine Informatics Company, Murmansk, Russia )
“Man and Sea: Life on board of Russian trawler.”
Dmitrii Klochkov has decade long history in studying and providing information for and about Russian high Arctic fishery in the Barents Sea and is a cooperation partner in Anna Stammler-Gossmann’s component of the EU ACCESS project.

26-27/11 Workshop Oral History and Arctic Anthropology, various lecturers and presentations
Start – Monday 12:00, end Tuesday 19:00, open participation, see separate programme
ORHELIA project activity Continue reading

Posted in All, Announcements, conferences, Guests, Indigenous Peoples, oral history, Russian North, Sámi, Theoretical Issues