Installations (a remix and rebirth of "InnoVents" and "Salons" introduced to the AAA Annual Meetings program in recent years) invite anthropological knowledge off the beaten path of the written conference paper. Like work shared in art venues, presentations selected as part of the AAA Installations program will draw on movement, sight, sound, smell, and taste to dwell on the haptic and engage AAA members and meeting attendees in a diverse world of the senses. Presenters may propose performances, recitals, conversations, author-meets-critic roundtables, salon reading workshops, oral history recording sessions and other alternative, creative forms of intellectual expression for consideration. Selected Installations will be curated for off-site exhibition and tied to the official AAA conference program. Successful proposals will offer attendees an opportunity to learn from a range of vested interests not typically encountered or easily found on the traditional AAA program. Installations are meant to disrupt who and what we tend to see at the Annual Meetings, helping attendees encounter new people and to do different kinds of things at the intersections of anthropological arts, sciences, and cultural expression.

The majority of Installations do not require a registration. Exceptions will be marked with an asterisk. Register for the meeting by clicking here.

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2014 Installations

2014 Installations 



Wednesday, December 3, 2014: 12:00 PM-1:45 PM

Narrative Description:

International consensus forms around what is critical knowledge, and anthropologists have long noted that not every voice is included through the processes of change. On the road of development, global forces meet community negotiations. Posing questions that surround how development narrative forms, this installation addresses these dilemmas surrounding multi-vocality and the production of anthropological knowledge and practice. Its "confessionals" allow participants to watch, listen and interact with multiple perspectives related to socio-economic development forces. After listening to these multiple voices: community members, activists, students, anthropologists and other experts, participants are invited to contribute their own perspective and produce their own voice. Breaking down the barriers between consumption and production, as well as researcher and informant, the event seeks to explore how anthropologists both conduct and publish their work. Building on ideas produced in last year's installation, the event focuses on development not simply as a critique but rather an exploration of how communities and individuals interpret and negotiate change, and how we, as anthropologists, might capture these changes through the research and dissemination process.



Wednesday, December 3, 2014: 12:00 PM-8:00 PM

Location: Hierarchy, 1847 Columbia Rd. (downstairs) NW, Washington, D.C 

Narrative Description:

Ethnographic Terminalia 2014—Washington, D.C: Bureau of Memories: Archives and Ephemera will run from 3-7 December 2014. The Opening Reception will take place on Friday 5 December 2014 at 7pm at Hierarchy (Schedule of events is subject to change). For a full schedule of the Ethnographic Terminalia program please visit: 



Wednesday, December 3, 2014: 2:00 PM-3:45 PM

Narrative Description:

For over a century, the persona of an anthropologist has been consistently portrayed in American popular culture as any or all of the following: the archaeologist, the oddball eccentric gushing facts about an ancient culture, and, most frequently, the romantic adventurer studying the primitive Other. Yet, this portrayal does not align with the discipline's contemporary identity - an identity, born out of the existentially fraught anthropologist, has dramatically evolved since the post-modern turn nearly forty years past. Why this disconnect? As content makers and real-life anthropologists, is the contemporary meaning of anthropology out of reach for the content consumers? Or are there still differing definitions of the role of an anthropologist within the discipline? Or is it that television and film producers as intermediaries of popular culture think that one-dimensional characteristics are more marketable, refusing to depict anthropologists as they really are? Or, has there been no evolution of the identity at all, and do we all still believe that anthropologists are studiers of the primitive Other? Or could it be some combination of all these rationalities? This installation will be the second in a series of conversations about what it means to be a contemporary anthropologist, and how this identity should be portrayed to the public. The first conversation was held at the 2014 American Ethnological Society Spring Conference, as well as over a Google Hangout session with people around the country. The goal of this conversation will be the same as the first, which was to provide a space where individuals can be involved in meaning making—as content producers, consumers, and perpetuators. Where this session evolves from the first will be in reaching a deeper understanding of being an anthropologist. To accomplish this ambitious feat, this session will be highly interactive using live streaming to encourage “in the moment” commentary. It will be broken into segments: (1) observational, (2) discursive, and (3) publishing consensus. In the vein of Martinez's “Viewing Cultures,” it will consist of viewing video clips from interviews I've conducted with anthropologists, as well as people in the streets of Los Angeles and New York. After the screening, I will encourage session attendees, in the room and on the Internet, to discuss what an anthropologist is and how this identity should be represented. Finally, in the concluding section, we will compile all said definitions, and jointly attempt to write a dictionary entry of what an anthropologist is and how that said anthropologist should be seen in the public eye, which will then be published and voted for both online and in the room. This consensual action will work toward dispelling myths in popular culture, namely by closing the gap between popular representations of anthropology and the discipline's notions of it. This process will, in turn, redefine the role of an anthropologist—a role that, no less importantly, will have been interpreted in a space where all meaning makers had a hand—and that in itself, is a step toward a contemporary identity.



Thursday, December 4, 2014: 9:00 AM-10:45 AM

Narrative Description:

An interdisciplinary collaboration with Bridget Bartolini of the Five Boro Story Project, this installation challenges assumptions about anthropological ways of knowing and communicating knowledge through investigating the use of storytelling as a collaborative ethnographic method that engages participants in the creation and communication of locally relevant anthropological research. Focused on marginalized neighborhoods in New York City, often perceived as “cultural deserts,” The Five Boro Story Project's storytelling events have a hyperlocal focus, in which curated, multimodal performances are combined with participatory activities that invite community members to share their own stories, putting a diversity of voices in dialogue with one another. Through juxtaposing more traditional ethnographic work in Sunset Park, Brooklyn with an event put on by the Five Boro Story Project, this installation looks at storytelling events as both the subject of an anthropological investigation and a way of communicating anthropological understandings and knowledge in a form that is meaningful to the communities and individuals involved. This three part installation includes a discussion of storytelling projects as a collaborative methodology in anthropological research, a video presentation of a neighborhood storytelling program in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and an invitation to members of the audience to participate in a live storytelling event, helping anthropologists explore the ways in which projects like this can add to our methodological toolbox and challenge taken-for-granted assumptions about what counts as legitimate knowledge and how we can communicate that knowledge to diverse audiences, making anthropology that is impactful, participatory, and accessible by the communities in which it is generated. 


Thursday, December 4, 2014: 11:00 AM-12:45 PM

Narrative Description:

Laboratory of Speculative Ethnology Speculative Productions of Anthropological Knowledge This installation will present a series of speculative devices that embody and communicate ethnographic knowledge through combinations of materials and technology. The Laboratory of Speculative Ethnology specifically investigates modes and media for producing ethnographic knowledge by combining aspects of design, performance, and research. Key to the Lab's work is the making and use of objects that imagine and engage ethnographic knowledge as relevant to contemporary life, and as essential to forecasting "the future." The installation will include visual documentation of the Lab's work, process, and output. Two active devices will be available. The first is The Dividuator, a distributed device that allows individuals to step into a simulated experience of dividuation, the notion developed by Marilyn Strathern. Consisting of a set of lab suits with embedded technologies, The Dividuator encourages participants to dissolve individuality and to dive into dividuation. Egungun 3000 is a device that envisions ritual and ancestral practice as integral to present futures in the form of embodied remembrance. Using a range of sensors, data inputs, projection, sound and processing, Egungun 3000 illuminates the present futures embedded in African worldviews and beyond.



Thursday, December 4, 2014: 11:00 AM-12:45 PM

Narrative Description:

As the number of submissions to the SVA Film and Media Festival steadily increases every year, it is clear that the production of ethnographic film (considered in multiplicity of forms, from short to feature length films, multimedia and online projects) remains an important practice for many anthropologists. The rapid changes in digital media production and distribution possibilities, however, means that ethnographic filmmakers are afforded greater opportunities and challenges in terms of funding, producing, and distributing their works. This special panel will feature filmmakers, practitioners and scholars engaged in various aspects of media production and distribution. Speakers will include media studies scholar Cindy Wong, who has researched and published extensively on film festival networks and distribution; anthropologist and filmmaker Karen Nakamura whose most recent ethnographic monograph was published with two corresponding films on DVD as a part of the book; Alice Apley, the current executive director of DER Documentary Educational Resources (DER); and John Hoskyns-Abrahall, the principle founder of Bullfrog Films. This session will be facilitated by Harjant Gill.

The Art of Self-Publishing Films in the Age of Digital Distribution

Karen Nakamura (Yale University)

Paper Abstract: Former co-chair of the SVA Film Festival and SVA Board Member Karen Nakamura will talk about the pros and cons of self-publishing and self-distributing ethnographic films through venues such as CreateSpace. Her two films (Bethel and A Japanese Funeral) were distributed that way before becoming part of a print book published by a university press.


Cindy Hing-Yuk Wong (College of Staten-Island CUNY)

Paper Abstract: Film Festivals and Distribution

Negotiating the Changing Landscape of Documentary Production and Circulation: The View from Documentary Educational Resources (DER)

Alice Apley (Documentary Educational Resources)

Paper Abstract: This paper will discuss the changing context of documentary film production and distribution from the perspective of DER, the only non-profit film distributor with roots in the anthropological community. Founded in1968 by John Marshall and Timothy Asch, DER has been distributing ethnographic films to the educational and home markets for over 40 years. Through its fiscal sponsorship program for projects in production, DER is also in engaged in the support of current productions. This paper considers the current environment for ethnographic film including the explosion of documentary production and blurring of the boundaries between ethnographic film and social documentary, the challenges for film funding, and the effects of streaming on distribution.


Thursday, December 4, 2014: 2:30 PM-4:15 PM

Narrative Description:

Until recently, my art and academic scholarship have lived separate lives. However, as a longtime observer of human activity, I have long desired to integrate these two passions. The Visions of Space: Place and Social Justice in the Education of Indigenous Youth installation illustrates the use of community-based media projects exploring the contemporary spaces in which indigenous youth live and interact. Visions of Space is meant to create a venue and support structure for visual, audio, and performance art exploring contemporary issues in the spaces indigenous youth move though in their daily lives. The work, and resulting analysis, will demonstrate how indigenous youth make sense of and understand their communities; and 2) how this impacts their lives and decision making. Research exploring the intersections between the lived experiences of indigenous youth and their education is needed. As a group, indigenous students have lower scores on standardized measures of achievement, lower high school and college completion rates, and are under-represented in advanced level classes than non-indigenous students. Visions of Space centers youth voice and experience at the core of exploring communities, engages in the healing process of art, and proposes an innovative way of collecting information for policymakers. The work will be used to develop reports to local policymakers to understand the community characteristics influencing indigenous youth in Arizona and support ongoing educational research on developing social justice strategies for improving schooling outcomes. Visions of Space is meant to be a long-term project, and this installation shares some of the first work produced by participant youth and the principal investigator as she reflects on the process of centering youth vision and artistic expression in the production of knowledge around these critical issues. Utilizing documentary photography and semi-structured interviews to curate digital stories, the Visions of Space installation creates a space of dialogue where conference attendees can contemplate new forms of engaging in anthropology and community-based problem solving centering youth voices in social examination and theory-building. 


Thursday, December 4, 2014: 4:30 PM-6:15 PM

Location: The Charles Sumner School 1201 17th Street, NW Washington, DC 20036



Friday, December 5, 2014: 9:00 AM-10:45 AM

Narrative Description:

This Installation is proposed alongside an AAA Panel (of the same title) as a combined platform which intends to query the isolation of the 'screening' or 'exhibition' of aesthetics from its scholarly effects and engagements. To this end, scholarly analyses of radical innovations taking shape worldwide in Indigenous media will be presented in the AAA Panel; while this Installation screens emergent experimental Australian Indigenous cinema in conjunction with scholarly presentation and audience engaged discussion. Globally, Indigenous artists and community members are pioneering developments in technologically-driven forms of embodied perception. Beyond 'mediated traditionalism', this Installation will explore radical engagements with the alive presencing of Indigenous life worlds; worlds whose aesthetic forms are demanding more than art history or ethnographic theory can yet deliver. Two screening programs are featured: 1). 'Karrabing! Low Tide Turning' and 2). 'Desert Animations.' 1). 'Karrabing! Low Tide Turning' [] is a short film written and acted by members of the Karrabing Indigenous Corporation in collaboration with directors Elizabeth Povinelli and Liza Johnson and producer Tess Lea. It shows a group of Indigenous families who, in the midst of chasing down a mysteriously missing family member who holds the lease to their government-provided house, show what an ordinary day in their lives looks like and how complicated—ontologically, economically, culturally—the ordinary is. The film premiered at the 2012 Berlinale; went to Hanoi as part of the Berlinale Shorts Goes Exterior; and is now scheduled to appear online for the entire month of July 2014 as part of a collaboration between Berlinale Shorts and the prestigious German newspaper, Die Zeit. 2). 'Desert Animations' is a curated program of experimental Indigenous cinema, produced by community art organisations and media centres from the Central and Western Deserts of Australia, curated by Drs. Jennifer L. Biddle and Lisa Stefanoff, in partnership with Desart, as part of 'Same but Different: experimentation and innovation in Desert arts' []. 'Desert Animations' features select short animations from 'Intem-antey Anem' (These things will always be) (2007-2008), Utopia Bush Medicine Project; 'Animating Jukurrpa' (2009-10) and 'Animating Yimi' (2012), PAW (Pintupi, Anmatyere, Warlpiri) Media; 'Antanette & Tom' (2010) and 'Little Dingi' (2012), Yarrenyty Arltere Learning Centre; 'Cannibal Story' (2012), Yunkurra Billy Atkins, Martumili Artists; and NEOMAD interactive comic, Big hArt Yijala Yala. Presenter Dr Jennifer L. Biddle has conducted fieldwork with Warlpiri in Central Australia for over twenty years. Her research spans embodiment, affect, and radical cultural aesthetics; trauma and predicaments of occupation; language, poetics, translation, experimental ethnographic writing and intercultural ontologies. Her current analysis of new and emergent Desert aesthetics identifies how experimentation is enabling art to communicate directly with global audiences and markets is forthcoming as 'Remote Avant-Garde: Aboriginal Art under Occupation' (Duke University Press).


Friday, December 5, 2014: 2:30 PM-4:15 PM

Narrative Description:

Anthropologists have an amazing amount of insight into humanity in all its guises. But do we share it enough? In a recent NYT article, columnist Nicholas Kristof criticized academics for not being "public" enough. Yet a quick scour of the Internet suggests that anthropologists are engaging with the public more than ever before. Between books, blogs, newspaper columns, documentaries, and podcasts, thousands of anthropologists are finding ways to communicate with all kinds of publics. This is good for society, and good for our discipline. Anthropologists have a perspective distinct from other academics and social scientists who dominate broadcast media. In a world where inequality is increasing, where prejudice and violence are often described as an inevitable part of human society, and where even politicians feel free to reject evidence about human origins and present diversity that doesn't fit their pre-existing assumptions, anthropologists have urgent roles to play. And we're playing them. In this interactive installation we introduce our audience to the wonderful, and startlingly wide, world of popular anthropology. Featuring multimedia, three talks by high-impact writers, and a debate, our interactive installation invites you to get involved. First up, Erin Taylor and Gawain Lynch from PopAnth introduce the session with a short video of interviews with popular anthropologists from around the globe. Popular anthropologists choose to address wider publics, and find their work being shaped in ways that would never happen within the academy. The webs of significance we spin are varied and wide-reaching. Next, our three speakers - Agustín Fuentes, Rosemary Joyce, and Greg Downey - briefly present their perspectives on doing anthropology in public. Fuentes discusses the bumpy, and meandering, journey to use anthropological insight, and its inherent complexity, as a myth-busting toolkit in the blogsphere, youtube-dom, and the popular press. Downey argues that cultural anthropologists especially are just really bad at popularizing their own work; we turn down opportunities to reach a broad public, resent when someone from outside our field popularizes something we think is anthropological, and don't sufficiently study the fields that achieve public visibility better than we do. Joyce sees blogging as a way to extend the reach of academic books and articles, using contemporary media as a jumping off point to showcase how anthropologists think about issues like gender and what makes us human. To ensure maximum audience participation, the majority of the session will consist of a "town hall"-style discussion. Our speakers will pose questions to the audience on the issues that they see as important to the production of popular anthropology today. We hope that the discussion will inspire fresh ideas and motivation for anthropologists of all walks of life to engage with, and contribute to, the rich and growing corpus of public anthropology. To facilitate conversations beyond the AAA meetings, Agustín Fuentes will wrap up the session by suggesting ways we can move forward, collectively, into anthropology's public future.

Learning from the Enemy: Lessons on Popularizing Cultural Anthropology from Our Intellectual Adversaries

Greg J Downey Jr (Macquarie University)

Paper Abstract: Cultural anthropologists have exemplary popular intellectuals in our discipline, but we also stand to learn from studying public intellectuals from other fields, even if we disagree with them on substance. As a cultural anthropologist seeking to reach a broad audience, especially through PLOS Neuroanthropology, I draw lessons from successful colleagues and from interlocutors — including some who frustrate immensely — about how to promote "Brand Anthropology," to borrow from Ulf Hannerz. From psychology, including evolutionary psychology, our field might learn better how to foster the public sense of research "discovery." This sense of discovery carries enormous emotional power, as popularlizers in astronomy and evolutionary sciences demonstrate. From science journalism and travel writing, we might note how narrative and presentational technique fuels popular engagement, and how new media generate opportunities to reach a varied audiences. From brain science and psychiatry, we might better understand how "advice" and public debates about norms capture public attention. Finally, the way that "applications" are crucial in any public account of discoveries in fields like genetics or medicine, even when applications are decades off, highlights the importance of anthropological engagement, in the field, in policy, and in advocacy. The wedge of public engagement may appear messy and even morally fraught, its thin edge an unsavory blend of overly simple rhetoric and suspect imagery, but this wedge can open a space to share our field with a much broader public.


Rosemary Joyce (University of California, Berkeley)

Gawain Lynch 


Saturday, December 6, 2014: 9:00 AM-10:45 AM

Narrative Description:

Over the past few decades, anthropology has made great strides in recognizing the importance of concepts of embodiment for the creation of cultural identities. We have broken through the bonds of Cartesian dualism. The mind is not an ephemeral essence separate from the senses. And yet, when we seek to explore this process of embodiment, we consistently turn to linguistic modes of representation to "Produce Anthropology." This rift is particularly apparent in studies of musical culture. Anthropologists interested in music and sound studies consistently grapple with what Charles Seeger (1987) identified decades ago as the "musicological juncture" – the gap created by communicating about one mode of expression through a different mode. Speaking about music rather than musicking about music. Following the call of Steven Feld to attend to "acoustemology" – the sonic ways of knowing – this Installation seeks to "produce anthropology" through the innovative use of "sound experience" stations. Each presenter in this Installation focuses on different ways that identity and culture change are embodied within the sonic performance of indigenous communities throughout North America. Marshall's presentation examines different forms of music production within Navajo neo-Pentecostal contexts in order to demonstrate how conversion is "performed" at tent revivals, as both an agent in conversion and a way of embodying a converted identity. Snyder's presentation demonstrates the contemporary uses of Cherokee hymn singing within the Kituwah Preservation and Education Program as a means not of assimilation, but of language preservation and revitalization. The potentials and challenges of inter-tribal identity are explored by Belle's presentation on the iconic pan-Indian musical event of the powwow, specifically as iterated in markedly "Lakota" ways by contemporary Oglala practitioners. Posthumus examines two ritual songs by an Oglala singer in order to demonstrate the persistence of the foundational role of music in Oglala religion, ritual, and identity. Finally, the presentation of Chávez explores the ways in which diasporic Oaxacan residents of Los Angeles strive to maintain their ethnic identity and linguistic plurality through performing in Bandas Oaxaqueñas (Oaxacan Brass Bands). For this Installation, each scholar will present his or her work through the innovative medium of the "sound experience station." These stations, spread around the room and perused at leisure, will treat audience members to a rich array of audio, video, still images, and interpretive textual displays that convey key analytical insights into the role of embodied sound in the creation of contemporary indigenous identities. Dialogue will be fostered, both through individual interaction with presenters at the "sound experience stations," and as a community of scholars. After an hour of individual exploration, session organizers will gather the focus of the room into an interactive group discussion, with intention of fostering community collaboration around ideas of sound embodiment. Through this installation, we aim to bring the embodied process of identity creation to life for audience members in vividly experienced and moving detail.

Making Music, Creating Converts: The Aural Power of Diné Oodlání (Navajo Pentecostal) Tent Revivals

Kimberly J Marshall (University of Oklahoma)

Paper Abstract: For Diné Oodlání (Navajo neo-Pentecostal churches), becoming a believer is rarely an instantaneous decision, but rather a long-term process known as "coming under conviction." Scholars like Susan Harding (2001) have identified linguistic processes, such as preaching and testifying, in bringing potential converts under conviction. In this Installation, and using data gained through long-term ethnographic fieldwork within the Navajo neo-Pentecostal community, I argue that music is an equally important pathway through which conviction is experienced and conversion ultimately gains embodied reality. Through the medium of a "sound experience station," I compare different fields of music making at Navajo tent revivals: the presentational music of touring semi-professional Navajo Christian bands and the participatory praise music of Navajo neo-Pentecostal congregations and pastors. By focusing on the creation of indexical clusters and social synchrony, I argue that music at Navajo neo-Pentecostal tent revivals allows participants to "perform" conversion: both in the sense of bringing people under conviction and the sense of embodying a converted identity.

Eastern Cherokee Hymns in Translation, Performance, and Education

Sara L Snyder (Columbia University)

Paper Abstract: This sound experience station explores the contemporary social practices and uses of Cherokee hymn singing in language revitalization, where hymns are tools for language learning and a continuation of a cultural performance tradition. Among Eastern Cherokees, Cherokee-language Christian hymns are perhaps the most common display of Cherokee culture and language. Cherokee hymn singing is inextricably linked to the Cherokee syllabary, the written language that became a medium for Christian religious texts in the early 19th century. Bible reading and hymn singing in the Cherokee language, once viewed as products of culture loss and assimilation, are now considered traditional practices as the number of fluent Cherokee speakers continues to dwindle. In the late 20th century, almost all Cherokees who knew the syllabary learned it as adults. With the creation of the Kituwah Preservation and Education Program (the Eastern Cherokees' language immersion program) in 2004, this was no longer true. Preschool and elementary-aged immersion students learn the syllabary simultaneously with learning to speak Cherokee. In the contemporary context of Cherokee language revitalization the Cherokee hymnbook serves once more as a source and tool for learning sung hymn texts rather than the song texts being transmitted primarily through oral tradition. Additionally, hymn texts are used to teach Cherokee vocabulary and, tacitly, important social values to students. Fluent instructors at the language immersion program impart their own performance practices and language-study techniques to students, ensuring the acquisition of these important cultural practices by the next generation of Cherokee speakers.

Booming Bandas of Los Angeles: oaxacan Women and Youth As New Cultural Bearers of Philharmonic Brass Bands

Xochitl C Chavez (Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage)

Paper Abstract: As a result of transnational migration, indigenous communities of Oaxaca are increasingly contesting ethnic and linguistic marginalization. Through a case study of Oaxacan indigenous communities in Los Angeles, California, my work explores how these diasporic communities reproduce, La Guelaguetza, a Zapotec practice rooted in mutual reciprocity, through the present day annual festival of communal dances and musical forms. By focusing on these forms of cultural expression and the transmission of traditions to both adults and youth illuminates the ways in which communities become active agents in reproducing their cultural practices and claim cultural citizenship on both side of the U.S. and Mexico border. Through a case study of five Zapotec community based Bandas Oaxaqueñas (Oaxacan Brass Bands) this "sound experience station" addresses the significance and proliferation of second generation Oaxacan philharmonic brass bands in Los Angeles. Imperative in this work are the forms of collective action amongst Oaxacan immigrant communities and highlighting how women and youth now fill the ranks of musicians and new leadership. The presence of second generation Bandas Oaxaqueñas further exemplifies the diversity of Oaxaca's ethno-linguistic communities and how they strive to maintain their ethnic identity and a linguistic plurality within a bustling urban space.

Expressions of Oglala Identity in Modern Powwow Musical Performance

Nicholas I Belle (Indiana University)

Paper Abstract: The modern powwow exists as one of the most widely popular and publicly visible forms of contemporary Native American intertribal culture. Though an intertribal/ pan-Indian identity serves as the pervasive thread that connects modern powwow dance and music performance, in recent years, song and dance styles have trended towards expressions of a more tribally-based identity, particularly among the Sioux of North and South Dakota. William Powers made note of this phenomenon referring to it as "pan-Tetonism," citing the Oglala's desire to "adhere to that which is 'Sioux' rather than that which is 'Indian'" (1968:367). Focusing on powwow songs and modern Oglala musical performance, I continue the work of William Powers, seeking to engage contemporary Oglala powwow singers in a discussion regarding the individual's experience and personal development within the cultural context of the powwow. Questions guiding my research include: What is the difference between being 'Indian' and being 'Oglala'? What is the place of tribal specific performance within an intertribal setting? Is it possible to enact both an 'Indian' and 'Oglala' identity simultaneously? Working closely with Oglala young men who have extensive experience at both reservation based community dance and ceremonial events, as well as at large-scale intertribal powwows, I seek to contribute to a modern understanding of pan-Tetonism as it exists today. Through this "sound experience station," I explore contemporary motivations behind modern powwow-based Oglala musical performance, and the historical influences that help to shape the individual's approach to a performative representation of the self.

Calling Songs: Music in Oglala Lakota Religion and Ritual

David Posthumus (Indiana University)

Paper Abstract: Oral histories and the earliest written sources attest to the continuity of music and song as the foundation of Oglala Lakota religion and ritual, providing both structure and a mechanism through which knowledge and language are transmitted from one generation to the next. Knowledge received in visions, often in the form of a song, provided individuals with direction in their lives and could serve as a calling to become a religious practitioner. My collaborative research with the Oglalas of Pine Ridge Reservation examines the social organization of contemporary Oglala religion and how religion and ritual inform and impact conceptions of identity and indigeneity. Learning ritual songs as a singer and helper for a religious practitioner is one of the major tenets of the master-apprentice model through which young Oglalas today learn traditional knowledge, pass on the Lakota language, and become practitioners themselves. In my "sound experience station," the persistence of the foundational role of music in Oglala religion and ritual is explored through the analysis of two ritual songs sung by Oglala singer and military veteran John Around Him. 


Saturday, December 6, 2014: 11:00 AM-12:45 PM

Narrative Description:

This installation will recreate the streets of the contemporary Hill Community, located on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The Hill Community has garnered national attention as scholars conducting historical and archaeological research believe that this community will prove to be the oldest community still in existence in the Nation that continuously has been inhabited by free persons of color. During the first US Census in 1790, around 410 free African-Americans were living in The Hill Community; this was more than the approximate 250 living in Baltimore, Maryland and the 346 living on the nearby Wye House Plantation, made famous by Frederick Douglass's enslavement there. This history lay mostly undocumented until Professor Dale Green, Assistant Professor and historic preservation scholar in the School of Architecture and Planning at Morgan State University, began to investigate historic African American churches on the Eastern Shore and uncovered this historic jewel. Since that time (2010), not only has The Hill Community Project been established, but the town of Easton, in which this historic community is nestled, has contracted Morgan State University to create a Small Area Plan for The Hill Community. The research for the Small Area Plan was conducted in 2013 and 2014 by a transdisciplinary team of faculty, staff, and students in the fields of historic preservation, architecture, landscape architecture, economic development, sociology, and anthropology. Five classes, including 100 students, along with nine faculty and staff members, gathered secondary data, organized a massive community survey (field and online), held two community meetings, conducted a business survey, did informal interviews with residents and government officials, and conducted ethnographic observations, in order to create the Small Area Plan for The Hill Community. The transdisciplinary team was successful in creating a Small Area Plan that will continue the process of revitalizing this historic neighborhood. However, the transdisciplinary team documented the existence of four separate constituencies presently living in The Hill Community, who need to be unified in order for the community to succeed. Those groups are: 1) The Historic Core of the Hill, which is predominantly and historically African American; 2) The Gentrified Hill; 3) The Latino Hill; and 4) The Downtown Easton Business District, which is technically within the boundaries of the Hill, but has its own distinct needs. This installation seeks to demonstrate the competing needs of these constituencies by recreating the physical environment that marks each of these constituencies. A mini community—on the scale of a small stage set—will demonstrate four different architectural styles, levels of upkeep, colors, smells, and sounds of The Hill Community. Visitors to the installation will be able to ascertain the cacophony that is central to both a multicultural community and a transdisciplinary process that merges so many perspectives. Visitors to the installation will also see a large poster of the Master Plan that is part of the Small Area Plan for the Hill Community and a photo essay that demonstrates the importance of preserving historic African American spaces. 


Saturday, December 6, 2014: 12:00 PM-3:00 PM

Narrative Description:

In honor of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the release of Trinh T. Minh-ha's critically acclaimed film, Surname Viet Given Name Nam, this special event featuring the director will explore the impact and challenges of her work and feminist perspectives more broadly on ethnographic filmmaking and visual analysis in anthropological research. Structurally and aesthetically, since its release in 1989, Surname Viet Given Name Nam has occupied as central place in reconceptualizations of cultural "otherness," gendered histories, and the critical possibilities of visual representations of experienced realities. Nevertheless, specifically feminist perspectives remain under-explored in conversations on both ethnographic filmmaking as well as the theoretical challenges of ethnography in a filmic mode. What has ethnographic film learned from the film? What has or has not changed in the past twenty-five years? This discussion with director Trinh T. Minh-ha will focus on both how the lasting influence of the film on concepts of ethnographic film, as well as the ongoing significance of acknowledging, unearthing, and facilitating feminist perspectives through ethnographic filmmaking practices. A screening of the film (108 minutes) will precede the discussion. The session will be facilitated by Jenny Chio.

Screening of Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1989)

Minh-ha T Trinh (UC Berkeley)

Jenny Chio (University of Technology, Sydney)


Saturday, December 6, 2014: 2:30 PM-4:15 PM Marriott Ballroom Salon 2

Narrative Description:

This is an active installation, where participants contribute to the creative process. The installation provides a multi-sensorial experience in the incubation and embodiment of ethnographic theater projects, as they utilize performance space, body, and spoken word to convey the textures of life, tell human stories, and present anthropological arguments. The core goal is to experiment with and dialogue on the potentials of participatory ethnographic theater as a way of producing anthropology. The installation features excerpts of Re-Generation Initiative projects -- in multi-media forms such as video, posters, written text, and live performance -- to be interacted with, and even acted within, by installation participants. The term "participatory ethnographic theater" coined by Debra Spitulnik Vidali signals a collaborative process of documenting, analyzing, and inhabiting/approximating the lived experience of ethnographic subjects and contexts through various genres of theater and performance. The theory, method, and multi-media material explored during this installation derives from the Atlanta-based Re-Generation Initiative collective, headed by founding director Vidali. This work is inspired by techniques from applied theater, Forum theater, theater for development, yoga, dance, and ethnography. Previous Re-Generation Initiative projects have addressed issues of civic engagement, democracy and voting, global citizenship, gender stereotypes, racism, media overload, and our relations to time in modern society. The medium of ethnographic theater is relatively underexplored terrain for the re-presentation of ethnographic material and for building new forms of anthropological analysis and knowledge. It is also a dynamic arena for collaboration and public scholarship. The installation offers an opportunity for conference participants to experience a new form of anthropological production, one that they might incorporate into their own research and classrooms. It also presents an opportunity to see humanistic and social scientific strands of anthropology as unified rather than opposed, as the discipline moves forward with inspiration from the performing arts, as well as the fundamentals of ethnographic documentation and giving voice that have been hallmarks of anthropology since its beginnings. The installation has a fixed time structure. Committed participants should be present at the beginning. Participants arriving later are welcome as observers. The installation features a combination of theater and movement exercises, break-out group exercises, interactions with multi-media material, and dramatic readings (with short script segments provided on the spot for participants to read and enact, and with improvised vignettes and short monologues developed on location). The session will be facilitated by Vidali, in conjunction with artistic directors, collaborators, and actors from Re-Generation Initiative projects (e.g. from UCLA, Kennesaw State University, University of Malmø – Sweden, University of Pennsylvania, and Emory University). This participatory ethnographic theater installation will be filmed and material will potentially be used in future Re-Generation Initiative projects and projects of session participants. More information, along with a release form will be distributed in advance to participants who contact the organizer in advance. The session runs 1.75 hours, with the following format: Overview and Warm Ups (25 min); Interaction with Created Projects: Exposure/Sampling/Inhabitance/Critique (30 min); Creation and Play with New Material (30 min); Discussion and Evaluation (20 min).

Debra Spitulnik Vidali (Emory U) Organizer and Presenter, and John L. Jackson Jr. (UPenn), Discussant



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