Welcome to The Department of Anthropology
Piers Locke has returned from a field trip to Sri Lanka as a visiting fellow of the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Center for Asian Elephant Conservation at Rajarata University, Mihintale. During his trip Piers conducted ethnographic research on orphaned elephant rehabilitation, wild elephant population monitoring, management of captive elephants in Buddhist temples, and human-elephant conflict, serving as a consultant on a project to protect communities suffering frequent elephant incursions. Piers also conducted historical research on elephant iconography in Sri Lankan civilization, and on the Esala Perehera, a famous ritual event featuring caparisoned elephants, acquiring resources for his current project on the historical photography of human-elephant relations in colonial South Asia.
On Thursday 17 October Piers Locke gave a lecture on the topic of 'Humans and Elephants in South Asia' for the Okeover chapter of the University of the Third Age (U3A).
TRASH TALK: Dr David Giles (Anthropology) stands in a dumpster – a situation familiar to him. As part of his doctorate study into the economics of food consumption, he joined the dumpster-diving culture in Seattle [more]
Zhifang Song has been invited to give a lecture at the Advanced Workshop for Junior Anthropologists held by the Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences of China in Wuhan between 24 to 28 Sept, where he will talk about his experience of anthropology as a Chinese scholar working in the western academic context.
Expert to talk about captive elephants (6 May 2013)
Erin Ivory, one of the world's leading experts on zoo elephants, will talk about the care of captive elephants at the south and Southeast Asian elephant conference.
The NZIRI (New Zealand India Research Institute) of which Aditya Malik (Anthropology) is Associate Director, has announced its first annual round of research and travel grants. A total of $256,669 in grant funds has been awarded in 2013. Ninety-eight applications (67 for seed funding and 31 for travel grants) were received from New Zealand universities in the areas of Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Sciences from which five for seed funding and fourteen for travel grants were successful. Five PhD students from UC (including three from Anthropology) were awarded travel grants for field research and conference participation in India.
Chandan Bose, Tuhina Ganguly, and Kierin MacKenzie, PhD candidates in Anthropology, have been awarded New Zealand India Research Institute (NZIRI) post graduate travel grants to conduct field research for their respective projects in India. The grants are highly competitive and were made on the basis of a wide selection of candidates from all New Zealand universities working in the fields of Social Sciences, Humanities and Sciences. Chandan, Tuhina, and Kierin have each been awarded the maximum grant amount of $5000.
Study into the rise of women in racing industry (4 April 2013)
A UC researcher is investigating New Zealand's thoroughbred racing industry, which contributes extensively towards the country's economy.
What Anthropology is
Anthropology is primarily the study of humanity, and it explores the human condition in multiple ways. It is about who we are, how we organize ourselves into groups, and the practices and beliefs that give meaning to our lives. It is about social relations between individuals and groups. It is about how we are governed through systems of authority. It is about how we make a living. It is about the ways in which we depend upon and transform natural environments.
Anthropology is also about the relations we develop with other forms of life; about the ways we respond to crisis and conflict; about forms of identity and belonging; and about the historical legacies that configure the social world. It is about the knowledge humans develop and the beliefs people hold that help us explain existence. It investigates the ritual actions and cultural understandings that characterise particular ways of life. Anthropology is about self and other: social and cultural diversity, across space, and through time, our pasts and our futures.
Anthropology is global in scope and it traverses the social sciences. Anthropology asks social, cultural, political, economic, environmental, religious, historical, psychological, and philosophical questions. Crucially, anthropology seeks to combine these separate kinds of question to provide a holistic account of the human condition. Anthropology is concerned with agency and autonomy, with bodies and biology, with colonialism and control, with death and desire, with ecology and environmentalism, with faith and freedom, with governance and greed, with hatred and horror.
Anthropology engages with ideology and inequality, with justice and judgment, with knowledge and know-how, with loyalty and love, with politics and power, with reciprocity and redistribution, with science and survival, with technology and transition, with vision and veracity, and with war and wisdom. Anthropology extends perspective and expands horizons. It is an approach to the world that fascinates and enlightens. It is a discipline that equips you for critical reasoning, for analytic explanation, and for understanding our globalized world.
Anthropology at Canterbury
Here at the University of Canterbury, we introduce you to social and cultural anthropology. Related to human geography, history, indigenous studies, linguistics, philosophy, political science, psychology, and sociology, this kind of anthropology is distinctive for a research method called ethnography. To undertake ethnographic research is to immerse oneself in the activities and relationships of everyday life, to develop trust and rapport with members of social groups, and then to analyze and write about one’s research experience. Anthropologists work with all sorts of people in all sorts of places, whether they are scientists in submarines, elephant drivers in jungles, nomads in deserts, or citizens in cities. Anthropologists study all sorts of practices, whether it is the production and consumption of food, the celebration of births, deaths and marriages, the routines of working life, or the worship of gods and heroes.
Canterbury Anthropologists are all active ethnographers, with experience working among residential, occupational, and virtual communities in Africa, Australia and New Zealand, South, East, and Southeast Asia, and the Pacific. As socio-cultural anthropologists we are interested in topics such as communication and symbolism, cultural heritage, diaspora and migration, development and social change, environmental activism, ethnicity and nationalism, gender relations, the globalizing economy, health and wellbeing, human-animal relations, kinship and family, natural resource management, natural disaster, political power, ritual performance, and social inequality.
Why Anthropology Matters
Anthropologists develop the intellectual tools that help us understand the complexities of the modern, globalized world in which we live. But anthropologists also investigate, advocate, and advise. The work of anthropologists makes a real difference in today’s world, whether it be helping the Marshall Islanders secure compensation from the US government for nuclear testing, uncovering the illegal trafficking of human organs, helping indigenous peoples secure their land rights, helping the Occupy movement articulate its critique of capitalist high finance, or even providing expert advice in the trial of Norwegian terrorist Anders Brevik.
Anthropological expertise informs conservation and development projects, disaster management, ecosystem services, human rights, medical programmes, social policy, and urban planning. An education in anthropology equips you with knowledge and skills of use in a wide variety of occupational situations. Graduates in anthropology typically go on to work in business, charities and NGOs, documentary production, education, government, news media, research organizations, and museums. Anthropology is about you and your world.
For more information about anthropology and anthropological career paths see: