December 11, 2015


Welcome Address & Introduction of Participants
Patrick Laviolette (Tallinn University)

Immanence & Transcendence: An Anthropological Problem or its Solution?
Carlo Cubero  (Tallinn University)
How to reconcile the experience-rich, disorienting, and ever crescent character of participant observation with the demands of rendering this experience to a third person, the reader? How to maintain an integrity of the “informant's point of view” while still contextualising it within an admittedly Western-centric form of knowledge (anthropology)? What are the limits of “the social” from an anthropological perspective? When is ethnography not anthropology?

This talk will address what may seem like a methodological and epistemological deadlock for anthropology. Indeed, many of the anxieties that followed the publication of Writing Culture (1986) concerned themselves with what seemed to be inherent contradictions embedded in the project of modern anthropology. Issues such as the limits and nature of reflexivity, the relationship between fiction and non-fiction forms of writing, the responsibility and agency of the anthropologist, the role of the informant, the limitations of text-based ethnography, amongst many others, presented anthropologists with dilemmas that questioned the integrity and consistency of the discipline's credibility.

This lecture will address these tensions for their productive potential, in opposition to the view understands them as an epistemological problem to be solved, unless the anthropological project is unravelled. The case will be made from the point of view of audiovisual ethnography, which has endured substantive critique throughout the discipline's history, and demonstrate how looking at anthropology from non-discursive perspective reveals how these tensions converge to mark anthropology's creativity and vitality. Theoretically, the argument will be supported by the philosophical and methodological tension suggested in immanent versus transcendental knowledge. The lecture will conclude with situating  'narratives' as central to the anthropological project. Narratives in this case will be addressed as the process by which the tensions suggested between immanence and transcendence come together.

Anthropological knowledge for contemporary world?
Klavs Sedlenieks (Riga Stradins University)
The closure of numerous departments of anthropology and the removal of anthropology from the mainstream discourse signals that something is happening. Anthropology has been around for more than a century. What have we learned as a science of human beings? What do we know and what can we do with this knowledge? Is anthropology a kind of science that tends to predict and manipulate or a kind of art that tends to entertain and open-up creative thinking, or neither?


Anthropology and Theatre/Film: Points of Convergence, Divergence, Agreement and Conflict
Gareth Hamilton , Ieva Raubisko & Mara Pinka (University of Latvia)
In this presentation we consider and analyse anthropological engagement with theatre and film. What happens when these platforms of knowledge meet? Can anthropological knowledge be successfully communicated through the media of theatre and film? Or should the task be reserved for the more specific vehicles of ethnographic theatre (ethnodrama) and ethnographic film? Based on two examples of anthropological involvement in theatre and film (‘Trauki’ [‘Vessels’], a collaborative piece at the Dirty Deal Teatro (sic) in Riga and the documentary ‘Force Majeure’ created as part of the events of European Capital Culture–Riga 2014 ) we discuss some of the epistemological and ontological implications of anthropology’s engagement with the fields of art and performance, and the benefits and the potential issues which may arise. We consider the role of the anthropologist as knowledge provider and representer compared to that of these other media. We also highlight questions of authority (academic or artistic) and unspoken power relations which may affect our work as anthropologists in terms of epistemology, dissemination, representation and disciplinary ethics.

Dueling local and global conceptions of Climate Change and their Impact on the Moral Economy of Lithuanian Farmers
Victor de Munck & Vytis ÄŒubrinskas (Vytautas Magnus University)
Our experiences are local but often our idealizations (be they good or bad) are global so that we exaggerate the good or bad qualities of the subject of our vision. Morality too, as Greene (2010) has argued, seems to be, predominantly local. Thus we are given to empathize with the suffering of those who are close and ignore that of those who are distant.  Using freelisting, interviews and the case study method we show how Lithuanian farmers deal with the problematics related to climate change. Climate change does not just happen locally but also globally. Further, its importance is not just limited to the climate but includes the national, regional (i.e., the EU) and international policies it spawns which impact the farmer from “afar.”
We will describe the apparently cultural (rather than individual, idiosyncratic) strategies, practices and ways of evaluating climate change that Lithuanian farmers, at present, use. These strategies must deal with local empirical realities of climate change, global economic markets, technological innovations, government policies, EU regulations, and international ideas concerning “going green.”  We will present a uniquely anthropological perspective for analyzing these emerging strategies that have led to increasing distrust for government policies and an emergent sense of “victimization” that clashes with the farmers’ personal sense of autonomy and the nobility of their work as the “providers of food to the nation.”

General Discussion


December 12, 2015

10:00 – 13:00
1st Session of Workshops

13:00 – 14:00

14:00 – 17:00
2nd Session of Workshops

Presentations of Workshop Results



Planning the Nation-State: Policy, Migration, and Segregation in Europe
Timothy Anderson
Room A-046
An analysis of power requires a critical reflection on the terms, operations, and political technologies that govern and shape our lives. In this workshop, we turn an anthropological lens towards public policy and urban planning, critically assessing the ways in which public actors in Europe have interpreted and framed social phenomena. A case study on migration and racial segregation in Stockholm will be the focal point for a discussion tying together Michele Foucault, John Rawls, Eric Swyngedouw, and Philippe Bourgois. Attendees will be expected to reflect on what their nation, race, citizenship, etc means within a wider web of European policy discourse and debate. A vox populi/participant observation activity in central Tallinn will be used to critically gauge local perceptions of refugee policy and integration.

Does ethnography have to be linear? Experimenting with hypertext ethnography
Mikhail Fiadotau
Room M-227
Participants will explore the potential of employing hypertext to create a non-linear, interactive ethnography. While linear text remains the default mode of presenting ethnographic, and indeed all scientific data, non-linear forms such as hypertext offer a number of unique features which in turn open up intriguing possibilities.

The non-linearity of hypertext means it has the potential to capture the complexity and multi-layered character of culture and experience better than a linear account. Navigating through hypertext can also evoke the dynamics and cyclical patterns of human thinking. The interactivity allows the reader more agency, making ethnography something that they can explore or even construct within given constraints.

Participants will conduct a short fieldwork exercise and then collaborate on a non-linear account of their experiences using Twine, an interactive story creation tool. They will then reflect on the creation process and the complexities arising from the non-linear nature of the medium.

No previous experience of interactive story creation is required; learning the basics of Twine only takes a few minutes.

Re-authoring patients’ problem stories for a more peopled medical anthropology
Davide Ticchi
Room M-328
This workshop aims to address new methodological solutions to the hegemony of the ‘pathologising script’ spoken in clinical settings. The workshhop will highlight the way anthropology can contribute to an understanding about patients’ body and life story in applied medical anthropology. The traditionally medico-scientific assessment of pathologies often proves inadequate in finding alternatives to the dominant problem story being told, without granting a full appreciation of the effort required before and after someone undergoes treatment. Adolescents and youths usually experience overprotective behaviors from the medical industry and they are consistently subjected to standardized protocols, which challenge youngster’s subjectivity and freedom of decision-making before and after treatment.

The workshop will make the case for a collaboratively engagement between different medical specialists and the experienced knowledge of patients themselves. The recognition of the ‘epistemic privilege’ of patients on behalf of medical professionals is as important as the respect that we, as anthropologists, should always grant to informants. Anthropology is well placed to bridge the urgency of “speaking back” with the objectifying hegemony of empirical sources in medicine.

The success of this workshop rests upon the interactive involvement of participants, who are invited to recount vivid descriptions of real-life situations related to problem-based research in the fields of healthcare and medical anthropology. The tasks are inspired by readings from American anthropologists Gelya Frank and Robert F. Murphy. These readings are then to be re-authored by participants, who also share their own experience of being a patient or a listener of people who have undergone treatment by integrating it in the final presentation. In the second session paediatric surgeon Dr. Alessio Pini Prato is going to illustrate the difficult and yet all-encompassing relationship between clinical assessment and patients’ quality of life, aiming to inspire the discussion preceding the presentation of workshop results. Comparing informants’ own interpretation of healing with anthropologists’ point of view will ultimately contribute to sort out solutions to the problems we may face in fieldwork, when committed to build up transparent and collaborative relationships with informants we co-create a more peopled medical anthropology.

Developing the faculties of an ethnographic listener: theoretical and practical approaches to sound recording
Polina Tserkassova & Marje Ermel
Room M-214
The workshop will address some of the creative tensions of sound recording methodologies and listening practices in anthropology. We will explore this through the various exercises preceded by a short introduction of the difference between the theoretical approaches of Alan Lomax and Steven Feld.
Lomax’s approach is driven by a paradigm that emphasises the preservation and documentation of minority musical practices in the Americas. It also concerns itself with tracing the origins of these musical practices. This approach views sound as embedded in historical and social circumstances. This view contrasts with the approach of Feld’s acoustemology which refers to the effects and affects that are elicited through sound. Feld’s methodology is to reproduce authored sonic narratives that elicit in the listener a sense of place and the inter-subjective relationship between field recorder, informants, and sonic environment. In the light of these theoretical frameworks we will share our own experiences of what it means to be an ethnographic listener and a sound recordist in the fields of Hare Krishna movement practitioners in West-Bengal and Sufi practitioners in Turkey.

The substantial part of the workshop will consist of practical exercises, which are designed to experiment with the different ways of listening. The goal is to develop the awareness of ourselves as hearing beings and the decision-makers in the process of making ethnographic sound recordings. The activities will include a certain amount of creativity, improvisation, and movement. The exercises will be followed by hands-on recording practice, the aim of which is to produce a short ethnographic recording. The final works will be presented to the rest of the participants. The recorders and headphones will be provided but if anybody prefers to use their own equipment then they are most welcome to bring them along.

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