Winter Term, 2014
Anthropology Tan Sack Lecture Series
Friday's at Noon
January 17 No lecture
January 24 Dr. Pat Lucas, Minzu University China
Six-Hundred Years of Environmental Blindness: A Case Study from China
This presentation examines social responses to changing environmental conditions in a region of southwestern China over a 600-year span. During this period, from the beginning of the Ming Dynasty to now, ever increasing population pressures on a continuously deteriorating regional environment eventually lead to the invention of exclusionary group narratives and memories among descendants of early settlers, against a later incoming wave of desperate landless migrants. These fiercely-held local narratives, despite springing from local environmental conditions and land-use needs, however, never directly reference any underlying environmental factors. This bias for the social, and blindness towards the environmental, has strong implications for our experience as humans in a changing planet, especially in a time when the scope of both the social and environmental now extends to the global.
Short bio: Dr. Patrick Lucas graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Oregon, with B.A.s in computer and information science, Chinese, and linguistics. He also holds an M.A. in applied linguistics from the University of Oregon, and a Ph.D. from Minzu University in Beijing in cultural anthropology. His research interests include historical memory and narrative, boundaries and symbolic systems, and identity. First coming to China in 1985 as an undergraduate student, Dr. Lucas has been leading study abroad and international education programs out of Beijing since 1995.
January 31 David Schmitt, Earth and Ecosystems Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, NV
Paleoarchaic Environments, Geomorphology, and Human Adaptations in the Old River Bed Delta, Western Utah
During the regressive phase of Pleistocene Lake Bonneville, the Old River Bed connected two major sub-basins of the Bonneville Basin in western Utah. Beginning around 11,800 14C years ago, this river ran north, emptying into the Great Salt Lake along its southwestern margin. After ca. 8700 14C years BP, water ceased to flow and environmental conditions along the channel began to approach those found at present. During the ca. 3000 years of its existence, however, the river fed a large marsh/ wetland system in its delta covering several thousand kilometers and supported a riverine environment along its length. Foragers were drawn to this rich wetland eco-system and created thousands of sites, including camps and short-term resource acquisition and processing loci.
This talk discusses late-Pleistocene/early Holocene Bonneville Basin environments and geomorphology, as well as more than a decade of archaeological research in the delta on Paleoarchaic mobility, subsistence, and technological organization.
February 7 Isidore Lobnibe, Western Oregon University
A Season of Riots: Cotton Farmers' Revolt in Burkina Faso and the State Response
In April 2011, SOFITEX- the Burkina Faso state company responsible for the management, production and marketing of cotton came out with farm input and producer prices of the cash crop. The announcement immediately triggered tension and anger among members of the powerful National Cotton Producers Association (UNPCB) who accused the union leadership of conspiring with SOFITEX to impose unjustified cost on individual farmers. Some village associations called for a downward revision of the set prices and threatened to boycott farming cotton for the 2011-12 seasons if their demands were not met. By mid -July, some regional associations had followed through with the threat, intensifying the conflict between the UNPCB and its members on the one hand, and village associations and SOFITEX/government on the other. The conflict came to a head especially over the price of fertilizer with violent riots breaking out between opponents and supporters of the boycott; the latter started killing livestock and uprooting the crops of the farmers who planted crops. This presentation draws on a month-long fieldwork to explore the bloody and violent riots that characterized the 2011 farming season. It argues that the reactions of the farmers stem from a broader weakening political economy of the long reign of the Blaise Campore’s administration amidst high cost of living, exemplifying the disconnect between neoliberal and state-authorized agricultural policies that are supported by reform regime of NGOS, and the aspiration of the state that aims to claim success over the exploitation and poverty of farmers in the country’s cotton industry.
February 14 Shelby Anderson, PSU Anthropology
Ceramics and Social Networks in Northwest Alaska
Social networks are considered essential to human occupation of Arctic environments. Access to non-local goods through networks is also linked to the development of more complex social organization in northern hunter-gatherers groups. Ceramic geochemical and formal data are used to test hypotheses about the nature and extent of networks over the last 1000 years in Northwest Alaska, a period characterized by significant social and environmental change. Results suggest ceramics were circulating more widely than expected and hint at changes in raw material procurement strategies during the study period that may be related to shifts in mobility or networking strategies.
February 21 No lecture.
February 28 Hillary Crane, Linfield College
Objectivity in religious ethnography
Taiwanese Buddhist nuns claim that, now that they have renounced the world and become nuns, they are becoming men. In describing their gender transformation, these nuns explain that the sex of the body is a product of one's karma and that a masculine body is a sign of better karma. To model their own transformations, they also draw on several examples from Buddhist literature of stories in which women suddenly become men -- illustrating their advanced spiritual state. They believe this transformation can happen suddenly in one lifetime or over the course of many. Prof. Crane will highlight the role of the nuns' separation from the family as key to their gender transformation. This lecture will be based on research conducted over multiple years and in multiple sites in Taiwan -- primarily at a large, co-ed, mountain monastery where she lived and worked for an extended period. She will also discuss some of the challenges of conducting research within a proselytizing religious community.
March 7 Sarah Cunningham & OSU Rural Ethnography students
Constructing Meaning & Negotiating Change in Rural Oregon
Students in the 2013 OSU Ethnographic Field School will share their findings. Topics include the local food movement, community art, green energy, and ethnic restaurants.
March 14 David McMurray, OSU Anthropology
50 Years of Mass Migration to Europe: The Impact on Nador, Morocco
My Fulbright proposal for 2013 was to return to the city of Nador to carry out a longitudinal study of the impact
of massive out-migration. Twenty-fi ve years have elapsed since I last lived in Nador. Signifi cant changes
had rocked the city and its inhabitants in the interim, many of them migration-induced, or at least related.
Specifi cally, I went back to explore 1) the ways in which gender and generational relations have altered over
the last two decades in the face of the tightening of access to older, male-dominated migrant destinations
in France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany and the opening up of new ones in Italy and Spain, 2) the impact
new communication technologies have had on migrant relations to the country of origin, 3) the relatively
recent changes in the position of the Moroccan state towards its Amazigh (Berber) citizens (Nador is the
“capitol” of the Amazigh North of Morocco) and the impact that may have on the desire to emigrate on the
part of Nadoris of Amazigh descent, 4) the influence since the 1990s on Nadori migrants of the militarization
of the Nador-Melilla border, 5. the impact on Nador of returned migrants and remittances that have
accumulated over the last quarter century.
These lectures are subject to change so check back frequently.