Category Archives: Announcements and Listings

Workshop: (Mis-)Representing Cultures and Objects

Registration is now open for the workshop (Mis-)Representing Cultures and Objects at the University of Stirling.

The workshop is one of the concluding elements of an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award entitled Tibetan Collections in Scotland 1890-1930: using material culture to establish a critical historiography of missionary and military intent. The project examined the ways in which, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Tibetan artefacts were collected and displayed in Scottish museums, particularly in the Edinburgh museum (now National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh). The Principal Investigator was Dr Timothy Fitzgerald (University of Stirling), with Dr Henrietta Lidchi (National Museums Scotland), and Dr Michael Marten (University of Stirling). The bulk of the research was carried by Inbal Livne, who will shortly be awarded her PhD. A summary of her doctoral thesis is available here.

The workshop will offer an opportunity to find out more about the CDA project, as well as exploring some of the issues that arose from it, in particular examining ways in which (mis-)representations of cultures and objects are connected and influence one another. We therefore welcome Tibet specialists, but also scholars working in a wide variety of disciplinary and geographic fields who can contribute something to the debate as it relates to the museum sector.

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BGC Research Fellowship Announcement

The Bard Graduate Center is proud to announce a new funded research fellowship Program. The BGC invites scholars from university, museum and independent backgrounds to apply. Candidates must already have a PhD or equivalent professional experience. The fellowship is open to both collections-based research at the BGC or elsewhere in New York, and to writing or reading projects in which being part of the BGC’s dynamic research environment is intellectually valuable.

Deadline for proposals: April 15, 2014

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My Street Film Project: Submissions Open for 2014

My Street’s annual competition is now open for submissions, with a deadline of May 19th.



My Street is a documentary film archive, focused on the UK, but expanding rapidly across Europe of short films produced by amateur, professional (and anything in-between) filmmakers. The project is resolutely local – all video and film must be pegged to a post code – but within that frame allows participants to speak to their locality in a multitude of different voices, styles, and genres.

Communities and Commodities: Anthropological Perspectives on the Material Bases of Social Groups

CALL FOR PAPERS: American Anthropological Association annual meeting, Washington, DC, December 3-7, 2014

While commodity consumption and commodification, especially when tied to globalization, were once primarily defined as superficial pursuits in modern societies linked with the homogenization or “loss” of culture, we now understand that people  use commodities, even mass-produced goods, in highly varied and culturally-meaningful ways. Commodities can and do reflect a community’s status, ethnicity, identity, and even morality. The creation, acquisition, and exchange of commodities can be processes of socialization that reinforce some identities and social ties while downplaying or masking others, and this can occur at many scales and toward many purposes. The existence and use of varied commodities by people in ancient and modern communities in ways that create or manifest material patterns (e.g. specialized crafts, organized labor, slavery, the body as a sexualized commodity), reinforces the need and potential of research in all of the subfields of anthropology on this subject.


We welcome papers from across the sub-disciplines of anthropology that explore how communities, past and present, are produced through the practices of making, moving, controlling, and consuming commodities. From Marx’s ‘relations of production’ to Appadurai’s ‘social life of things,’ scholars of society and culture have investigated the links among social organization, cultural practices and identities, and the economy. Building on these ideas, we welcome papers that apply a wide range of theoretical stances. We are especially interested in how a focus on the material dimension of this topic provokes questions about how best to identify, investigate, and understand multi-scalar communities from the perspectives of material remains, social practices, historical patterns, political economies, language and communication, and physical bodies.

If commodities are one anchor for this session, the idea of the community is the other. We define communities in an open-ended way – drawing especially on John Watanebe’s definition of the community as the union of ‘people, place, and premise’ – to investigate the ways in which economic practices are social practices. Defined broadly, communities of study may be imagined (in Benedict Anderson’s sense) and/or ‘real,’ and they may be based in spatial proximity, biology, production, consumption, or other practices.

Questions addressed by this session may include: How do workshops, factories, and unions become sites of social production and group identity? How do changes in global commodity flows challenge existing communities or bring new communities into being, and how do existing communities  create links to new commodities? How do commonalities and conflicts over consumption practices galvanize some communities and dissolve others? How do more hidden points in commodity chains – from storage and transportation, to sale and stealing – become the basis for social groups to form and operate? How can communities become commodities in and of themselves (such as tourist destinations)? Linking all of these questions are material patterns that reflect and reinforce communities.

We especially encourage submissions that explore how material goods and the places where they are made, stored, transported, sold, and consumed become anchors for social relations. However, this is not an effort to fetishize the commodity, but rather to better investigate the many ways in which products of economic demand are producers of social groups. Our focus on the material qualities of commodities is deliberate, as it provides a link to various anthropological approaches to study communities past and present.

If you are interested in participating, please contact both John Millhauser ( and Dru McGill ( with an idea of your topic. The deadline for submitting abstracts to the AAA is April 15 (both for sessions and individual papers). Once we have gauged the level of interest and range of topics, we will contact potential participants to let them know if their paper fits. Participants should be prepared to provide a rough draft of an abstract to us by April 8th so we can organize the session (or sessions, depending on the response) and provide instructions for submitting abstracts to the AAA. Details are also available on the AAA website:

We also plan to submit this session for sponsorship by the Society for Economic Anthropology:

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions whatsoever,

John & Dru &


PhD Scholarship: The Moral and Cultural Economy of Mobile Phones in the Pacific

EOI closing date: 30 March 2014

This three-year scholarship is for a PhD candidate who will conduct ethnographic field research for a study of the moral and cultural economy of the mobile phone in Fiji. S/he will spend at least 12 months over the three years of candidature in Fiji documenting and analysing the relationships between consumers, companies, and state agents that take shape around mobile phones, digital media and infrastructures. The candidate will carry out research based on his or her specific expertise and research interests while also contributing a key component to a broader comparative study with Papua New Guinea funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant The Moral and Cultural Economy of the Mobile Phone in the Pacific. The candidate will also become a Postgraduate Member of the Digital Ethnography Research Centre.

Eligible candidates will have a BA with Honours or MA/MsC (Research) in Anthropology, Sociology, Media, Communication, Science and Technology Studies, Informatics/Information or other related discipline. Candidates must be willing to undertake ethnographic fieldwork in Fiji and be willing to learn the language of their fieldwork site. Pending final approval, the Scholarship will include a tax-free stipend of $24,653 per year for three years (July 2014 to June 2016) and project-related research expenses. Please note that all applicants will need to apply for and be accepted to the PhD program in Media and Communication at RMIT University to be eligible for the scholarship. Application details, including details and deadlines for RTS placement for Australian and New Zealand citizens and possible tuition fees for International candidates, can be found here.

Initial expressions of interest, including a CV and 500-word initial project proposal should be sent before 30 March 2014 to Dr. Heather Horst with the subject line PHD Scholarship EOI

Professorship in the Cultures and Materials of Knowledge – Gottingen University

The University of Göttingen is currently inviting applications for a Professorship in the Cultures and Materiality of Knowledge (W2 tenure-track).

The position is initially available for a five year period and may be extended into a permanent professorship following a positive evaluation.

We are looking for a professor with expertise in the research and teaching of knowledge cultures, with particular emphasis on the materiality of knowledge, as exemplified by the Göttingen academic collections. The successful candidate will manage the recently established research centre, which will serve as a focal point for future projects in knowledge research in close cooperation with respective departments, groups and colleagues at the University of Göttingen.

The candidate is further expected to take a leading role in the development and setting up of the doctoral programme ‘Material Cultures of Knowledge’, which includes teaching duties of 4 semester hours a week, predominantly in the above mentioned doctoral programme. In addition, the professor will work in close association with the Göttingen Institute of Advanced Study, the Lichtenberg Kolleg and join collaborative efforts to establish a museum dedicated to the representation of knowledge cultures and the world of scholarship, drawing on the University’s rich academic collections.

Focal points in research and teaching should be demonstrated in the following areas:

-  theories and cultural practices of academic collections

  • -  the history of the sciences and humanities (18th-21th century)
  • -  the theory and history of material and knowledge cultures

In addition, experience in the following areas is advantageous:

    • -  theories and cultural practices of academic collections
    • -  exhibitions and outreach activities.Applicants must have an outstanding Ph.D. in a related discipline and demonstrate other scholarly achievements, such as those acquired within the framework of a junior professorship or habilitation. In addition, applicants should demonstrate teaching experience in related fields, such as the history of science, study of material culture, art history, literature, anthropology, cultural studies, etc.

      Further information about the position is available at the following website: www.uni-

      Additional prerequisites in appointing limited term professorships are regulated by Section 25 of the Lower Saxony Higher Education Act (NHG). As a Public Law Foundation, the University of Göttingen holds the right of appointment. Further information is available upon request.

      We explicitly welcome applications from abroad. As an equal opportunity employer, the University of Göttingen places particular emphasis on fostering career opportunities for female scholars and therefore strongly encourages qualified women to apply. Under certain circumstances, part-time employment is possible. Candidates with disabilities who are equally qualified for the position will receive special consideration.

      Please submit your application including a curriculum vitae, a detailed representation of training, academic history, previous employment, teaching experience, and a list of publications within six weeks after publication of this advertisement. Applications should be addressed to:

      Präsidentin der Georg-August-Universität Göttingen Prof. Dr. Ulrike Beisiegel
      Wilhelmsplatz 1
      37073 Göttingen


PhD Studentship: “Making the Oceans Visible: Science and Technology on the Challenger Expedition (1872-­‐1876)

Via Heloise Finch-Boyer, National Maritime Museum

Following the award of an AHRC collaborative doctoral studentship to Dr. Simon Werrett (UCL) and Dr Heloise Finch‐Boyer (National Maritime Museum) for “Making the Oceans Visible: Science and Technology on the Challenger Expedition (1872-­ 1876)” a 3-­‐year fully funded AHRC studentship at UCL is available.

The successful candidate will be expected to carry out research for a doctorate in the Department of Science and Technology Studies, supervised by Dr Simon Werrett (STS) and Dr Heloise Finch-­‐Boyer (NMM). The student will undertake research at the National Maritime Museum and other London museums and archives. Candidates should be able to demonstrate an interest in the study of British maritime history and the history of science. They are normally expected to have a good Master’s degree in History, History of Science, Museum Studies, or a related discipline. A summary of the project is below.

Candidates should apply through the normal application procedure for the PhD degree at UCL, via an online application system:

Candidates should make clear in their personal statement that they are applying for the “Challenger studentship”. Candidates should explain in the statement their experience and/or qualifications for undertaking this project and they should describe how they will approach the topic to be researched. Candidates should also provide a sample of their work (an essay or Masters thesis chapter, for example) no longer than 3000 words.

Applicants are bound by AHRC eligibility criteria: only EU citizens can be given awards and for a full award UK residency is required. EU students will receive a fees only award, and UK resident students will receive fees and a stipend. Please see the AHRC<> pages for detailed guidance on this.

The deadline for applications will be 15 March 2014 and candidates should be ready to be called for interview for the studentship in the last week of March in London. It is expected that the successful candidate will take up the position in October 2014. Further enquiries about the position may be directed to<> or<>

Further Particulars:

Making the Oceans Visible: Science and Technology on the Challenger Expedition (1872‐1876)

This project is a new partnership between the National Maritime Museum and University College London, offering an innovative research project combining the History of Science, British maritime history and museum studies.

Before the nineteenth century, the ocean depths remained a mystery to Europeans. Even the Navy’s worldwide coastal surveys only emphasized how little people knew. From 1872 to 1876 the H.M.S. Challenger expedition, sponsored by London’s Royal Society and the Admiralty, set out to explore deep oceans. As the first expedition sent out with the primary aim of gathering scientific information, Challenger is now seen as the foundational voyage for the entire discipline of oceanography. Yet despite its importance, historians tend to study only small aspects of Challenger, and popular accounts tend to see the voyage as a “new dawn” of science. This PhD project examines the legacy of earlier exploration voyages for Challenger and considers its significance for histories of science, anthropology and museum studies.

Although scientists on board pioneered new deep‐water collecting techniques, the expedition actually drew on a far longer tradition of maritime science and exploration that began with Captain Cook. The Challenger story is now told in museums and aquariums around the world as story about environmental protection and saving our “blue planet”. In fact, at the end of the 19th century audiences were more interested in Challenger’s results which suggested the potential of commercial fisheries beyond Europe’s seas, and the exotic ethnographic materials brought back from remote Pacific islands.

Scholars have long sought to understand scientific expeditions at sea. Historians of European exploration have described life on board and encounters with other peoples in great detail. Yet the centrality of Cook tends to anchor histories of exploration in the 1770-­‐1840 period, whereas this project analyses its legacy in important later Victorian voyages such as Challenger. Many historians have focused attention on ship technology or the precision instruments used in Challenger, isolating its science and engineering aspects. This project links the science to the cultural, political and social dimensions of Challenger’s role in exploration history. Museum studies scholars are researching how exhibitions can change our assumptions about the history of exploration and geography. Studying how Challenger was exhibited from the 1880s and the stories told about oceanography adds to this research. It also contributes to discussions about how exhibitions using historic objects can present scientific debates.

Research Questions

Given Challenger’s significance, the central focus of the project will be an analysis of the influences on the voyage and its legacy. How did Challenger make the ocean knowable through experiments, practical skills and expertise? How were the results of the expedition made visible to different audiences in the past and today? The project will explore three issues:

  1. Challenger used novel techniques: bottom trawls, depth soundings, temperature measurements and specimen collections. The project will assess the ship, navigation and crew modifications deployed to make this possible. What new instruments, techniques and practices enabled Challenger, its scientists, officers and crew, to make the ocean knowable?
  2. The project will situate the history of the instruments and techniques used by Challenger in a longer tradition. While the voyage pioneered the use of photography, for example, the traditional method of painting and drawing specimens was also used. How did practices on Challenger differ from those used in previous voyages of exploration?
  3. Knowing the oceans did not, of course, finish with the end of Challenger’s voyage, but continued after. Objects and materials collected on the expedition were taken on land, distributed, researched, exhibited and discussed in laboratories, lecture halls, and museums across the country. The project will ask: how was knowledge of the oceans made visible after the Challenger expedition concluded?

The student will consider the entire history of Challenger’s voyage. There will also be considerable leeway to focus on one or more of the following research themes:

• History of Science and Technology: For the first time on Challenger the Captain shared his cabin with the chief scientist. This shows how closely sailing and science were linked on the expedition. The student could focus attention on the wide range of old and new instruments, ship modifications and new navigational practices that proved to be the foundation of oceanography.
• History of Anthropology: Challenger pioneered the use of photography, which provided graphic images of communities encountered on the voyage. The crew collected ethnographic objects from them, including human remains. The student could examine how previous exploration influenced the way that Challenger studied non-­European cultures, and how the expedition informed later cultural evolution theories.
• History of Museum Studies and Material Culture: The student could focus on what happened to the expedition’s oceanographic materials, instruments, specimens and objects after the voyage. It is possible to demonstrate how artefacts circulated around museums, universities, laboratories and exhibitions in the decades after Challenger. The student could show which objects were used to communicate knowledge long after the expedition had concluded.

Research Method

The student will begin researching the archival and object collections at the National Maritime Museum that are linked to the Challenger voyage. NMM has an official Challenger photograph album with ethnographic and technical images (some of the first photographs to be made on a voyage of exploration), memoirs, correspondence, logbooks and scientific data from Commission Captain Nares, Commander Maclear, Paymaster Hynes, Navigating Lieutenant and Abraham Smith. NMM holds Challenger oceanographic samples, instruments, medals, lithographs, ships plans, charts and models. As part of the doctoral research, the student will improve catalogue records of these items. The student will also be able to draw on a wealth of manuscripts, artworks and objects related to previous eighteenth-­‐ and nineteenth-­‐century British voyages of exploration.

After refining the research question, the student will link this material to objects and archives in other institutions. British institutions that have relevant holdings include the UK Hydrographic Office, the Natural History Museum, the British Museum, the Science Museum, the Royal Society, Edinburgh University and the University of Southampton. The Scripps Institute of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego and the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco also have relevant objects
and archives related to Challenger.

To enhance research on how the historical objects derived from the Challenger expedition made the oceans visible, the student will engage with museum curators, restoration experts, learning professionals and design experts at the UCL Institute of Making. The student will study and experiment with ways of recreating historical evidence from Challenger (for example coral or sediment samples, water collecting bottles, dredgers or ethnographic objects) using 3D printing, reproductions, or digital software. These will provide resources for asking new research questions and for communicating the research, and will be trialled in learning programmes at the Rethink space and future Exploration Gallery at RMG.

Announcing Transactions: a Payments archive

Reblogged from the blog of the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion

Through 2013, the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion has funded over 125 researchers in 38 countries. Every year they come together at the University of California, Irvine to share their research questions and conclusions. They also bring with them more tangible lessons: an incredibly diverse assortment of artifacts that also help to tell the still-unfolding story of mobile money.

We did not anticipate becoming a museum. But one of the important side-effects of our large and still-growing research network has been the accumulation of stuff: state and local currencies in multiple denominations, promotional material from mobile money deployments, and artifacts of everyday monetary practice, from cell phone sleeves to piggy banks. We have been fortunate to receive many of these as gifts from our researchers, and early on we realized the treasures that had begun to gather in our offices. We began a partnership with the British Museum to receive many of these artifacts for its own collection of modern money paraphernalia, and as we have documented before, many of these objects can now be seen in the Citi Modern Money Gallery.

In 2013, inspired by this incipient collection, IMTFI research assistants formed a new partnership with the Intel Science and Technology Center for Social Computing (also at UC Irvine), as well as a range of other institutions (from the Fitzwilliam Museum at the University of Cambridge to the Khipu Database Project at Harvard University), to launch a new website and online collaborative collection. Called TRANSACTIONS: A Payments Archive, this collection brings together artifacts from partner collections and written commentaries from independent contributors to spark a conversation about the material cultures and histories of payment and debt.

You can read more about the TRANSACTIONS archive in Anthropology News:
How might attention to such objects, their contexts and uses illuminate the longue durée history of forms of payment and transactional record-keeping and reframe understandings of the materiality of debt and money? And how might we reassemble a material history of money, debt, payments, and transactional records across their often-disconnected institutional contexts? […] Transactions is our attempt to constitute a collaborative framework to address these questions.TRANSACTIONS needs your help!

We invite public participation in this collaborative endeavor in two ways:

1) Submit images of transactions artifacts of your own (or those you have come across in research) to our Collaborative Archive, along with a short explanation detailing their who, what, when, and where. Visit our site and click the “Contribute” button to learn more.

2) We welcome commentaries of 500-1500 words that offer more in-depth reflections on transactions artifacts, either those we have selected from our partner collections or those you have found in your own research. We have already hosting commentaries and other reflections from scholars such as Jane Guyer, Joe Deville, Alexandre Roig and Waldemar Cubilla, Lana Swartz, and Carlyn James.

Feel free to contact us at