Anthropological Writing as Activism

Featuring Michael Herzfeld and Manuela Pellegrino

Friday, October 18, 2019
Doors open at 5:30pm
House A

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Seating is limited. Please register at Eventbrite by October 10.

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About the event

Can anthropological writing endorse political activism? What is the social impact of anthropological research? How can anthropological writing reveal issues of power and promote empowerment?

Michael Herzfeld and Manuela Pellegrino will discuss their recent fieldwork in Greece and Italy, and reflect on the challenges of anthropological writing as activism. Participant observation remains the cornerstone of anthropology, while ethnographers practice “observant participation,” engaging actively with the very topics they intend to investigate. Herzfeld and Pellegrino will consider longstanding concerns about the objectivity of anthropological studies, and ethical questions about “giving voice,” advocacy, and the need to recognize the inherent ideological dimension of anthropological work.

About the presenters

Michael Herzfeld is Ernest E. Monrad Research Professor of the Social Sciences in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University, where he taught from 1991 through the end of 2018, is currently teaching a course on “Urban Ethnographies” at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, and served as the founding Director of the Harvard Asia Center’s Thai Studies Program. He is Honorary Professorial Fellow in the Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne; IIAS Visiting Professor of Critical Heritage Studies, Leiden University; Senior Advisor, Critical Heritage Studies Initiative, International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden; and Chang Jiang Scholar, Shanghai International Studies University, and is affiliated with programs at Thammasat University, Bangkok and The University of Rome-I (La Sapienza). He is the author of eleven books (most recently Siege of the Spirits: Community and Polity in Bangkok, 2016) and has produced two ethnographic films about Rome. A former president of the Modern Greek Studies Association and of the Society for the Anthropology of Europe, and member of the editorial boards of American EthnologistEthnologie Française, and International Journal of Heritage Studies and several other journals, he has served as editor of American Ethnologist (1995-98) and is currently editor-at-large (responsible for “Polyglot Perspectives”) at Anthropological Quarterly. His research in Greece, Italy, and Thailand has most recently addressed the social and political impact of historic conservation and gentrification, the dynamics of nationalism and bureaucracy, and the ethnography of knowledge among artisans and intellectuals.

Fellow19.PellegrinoManuela Pellegrino recently was a Smithsonian Fellow (2018-2019) at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. She was a co-investigator of a project on the two Greek linguistic minorities of southern Italy –  Griko, as known as Salentine-Greek (Grecìa Salentina, Apulia), and Greko or Calabrian Greek (Calabria). Since 2006, her research among Griko-speakers and supporters in Greece has formed the basis of her PhD thesis and resultant publications. In her work she highlights the transformative effects of the interplay of language ideologies and policies promoted by the EU, Italy, and Greece to protect Griko. Her new project on “environmental crisis and endangered heritage” in Salento (Apulia) moves beyond language revival, but she continues to study heritage as a resource from the past, for the future. Her research interests include: language ideologies, practices and policies, cultural heritage, Hellenism, historicity and temporality, environmental issues, Italy, Greece; her work on Griko reflects a longstanding interest as she comes originally from Zollino, a Griko-speaking village. Manuela holds a master’s degree and PhD in anthropology (University College of London) and she has lectured part-time at Brunel University London.