Lunchtime Seminar – 16 June – Abhimanyu Pandey

June 10th, 2016 by anna.c

A lunchtime seminar will be held in the Mond Building Seminar Room, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RF

Thursday 16 June 2016, 12.00–1.00

All welcome

Abhimanyu Pandey

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, Nepal

Assessing and harnessing trans-boundary cultural and historic ties to integrate conservation and development: case studies from ICIMOD’s Trans-Boundary Programme

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) is a regional intergovernmental learning and knowledge sharing centre serving the eight regional member countries of the Hindu Kush Himalayas – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan – and based in Kathmandu, Nepal. One of ICIMOD’s main programmes in the Hindu Kush Himalaya region is the Trans-Boundary Landscapes (TBL) Programme, which addresses the conservation and sustainable use of natural and cultural resources in landscapes defined by contiguous ecosystems and historic cultural linkages rather than by political boundaries. Two of ICIMOD’s TBL initiatives – the Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KSLCDI), and the Hindu Kush Pamir Landscape Initiative (HKPL) – have ongoing activities to both deepen the understanding of trans-boundary cultural-historic ties, and to harness these ties to promote better international cooperation and livelihood generation for borderland communities. This presentation shall elaborate KSLCDI’s endeavour to (a) assess cultural ecosystem services, (b) map the trans-boundary Kailash Sacred Landscape’s (KSL’s) sacred and historic geography, (c) nominate parts of KSL as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and (d) promote better tourism practices in KSL. In addition, it shall also briefly shed light on HKPL’s endeavour to promote better trans-boundary cooperation between Xinjiang (China) and Khyber-Pakhtunkwa (Pakistan) by its initiation of the trans-boundary Zero Point festival in 2015.

Lunchtime Seminar – 14 June – Eric Thrift

June 7th, 2016 by anna.c

A lunchtime seminar will be held in the Mond Building Seminar Room, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RF

Tuesday 14 June 2016, 1.00–2.00

All welcome

Eric Thrift

University of Manitoba

Khot ails and “herder households”: Normative models of contingent social organization in Mongolia

Anthropological critiques of development practice have problematized the household survey as a primary unit of data collection, pointing to ways in which the nuclear household often constitutes a normative governance construct rather than a reflection of actual social organization. Prior studies have underlined the importance of households’ internal differentiation, drawing particular attention to the ways in which gendered and generational standpoints may be suppressed through administrative/documentary processes, by which complex and shifting networks of social relations are represented in the more legible form of unitary, bounded units. Engaging this critique with reference to evidence from multi-sited ethnographic field research in Mongolia, this paper explores how the Mongolian census category of “herder household” fails to capture the radical fluidity of pastoralists’ actual residential groupings and resource use. Various development interventions addressing pastoralism and environment have attempted to create new collectivities that require stable and immanent household identities, as mediated by kin relations extending from the (male) “head of household”. Such interventions may be weakened by their failure to accommodate the sharing of resources and economic decisions through dynamic and highly distributed networks. I argue that households and herder camps (“khot ails“) should not be theorized as bounded groups, but as sites of intersecting, contingent relations among family and relatives, livestock, and other resources. On this basis, I suggest applications for grounded, policy-oriented data that captures the nature and extent of contingent relations.

Seminar – 7 June – Ed Pulford

June 5th, 2016 by anna.c


Tuesday 7 June 2016

4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room

Ed Pulford

University of Cambridge

Bandits, Martyrs and Revolutionary Relations in Wartime Manchuria 1900-1950

The region known to some as Manchuria entered the twentieth century as a rapidly changing frontier of the Manchu, Korean, Han Chinese and Russian worlds. Amidst massive migrations from three of these groups, social and political life was atomized with communities often separated by differences of language and sphere of economic activity, even when living in close proximity. Yet beginning only six months into the new century, these disparate inhabitants were dragooned by conflict into new allegiances and enmities. Consciousness of and agitation for alignments along economic, political, ethnic and national lines developed in step with the polarising effects of wars whose belligerents included Russian Tsarist and Soviet forces, Chinese warlords, the Japanese Kwantung Army, Korean resistance fighters, and Chinese Communists and Nationalists. During these conflicts, warring parties competed fiercely to cast enemy combatants in the familiar guise of Manchurian ‘bandits’ and to valorise their own soldiers as plucky ‘comrades in arms’ (Ch. zhanyou, Kor. jeonu) whose fallen were ‘martyrs’ to revolutionary and national causes. These efforts continue to this day in the statist mythologies of the People’s Republic of China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Drawing on ethnography and history from Hunchun, a town in southeastern Manchuria, this paper explores the practice of competitive bandit- and martyr-labelling, adding to accounts from Manchu, Korean, Japanese, Han and Russian-focused scholarship which have problematised PRC and DPRK narratives by highlighting the fragmented military allegiances of this time. However, as well as underscoring the already obvious inadequacies of flimsy and highly partial official state histories and compensating for the swaths of human experience which they obscure, this paper also seeks to examine day-to-day military comradeship – distinct from international alliances – as a key and lasting relationship forged during this pivotal period in Manchurian history.

Lunchtime Seminar – Jerry Zee – Airborne Dust Event: Experiments on a Chinese Airstream

May 24th, 2016 by anna.c

A lunchtime seminar will be held in the Mond Building Seminar Room, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RF

Tuesday 31 May 2016, 1.00–2.00

All welcome

Jerry Zee

University of California

Airborne Dust Event: Experiments on a Chinese Airstream

At the threshold of the ‘Chinese Century,’ consecutive seasons of frequent and intense dust storms over Beijing revealed decades of Reform as also a new air-condition. Dust storms revealed winds as vectors of meteorological entanglement that bound Beijing to desertifying inland and upwind regions as serial moments in the passing of a floating continent. Meteorological insecurity drives experiments in politics and environment, aimed at an earth all too ready to distribute into the atmosphere. In this paper, I explore state forestry programs to hold the earth to the ground in Alxa, a cradle of dust storms in Beijing’s dust-shed. Through the fortuitous inter-rooting of two plant species, I explore the experimental reconfiguration of regional politics into a machine for creating and proliferating state-sanctioned multi-species landscapes for holding the sand and breaking the wind that make the land a potential aerosol suspension. Along a Chinese airstream, China folds and opens into a terrain of experiments.

Jerry Zee is Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the program in Science and Technology Studies at UC Davis. He received his PhD in anthropology at UC Berkeley. His work explores experiments in politics and environment in China’s meteorological contemporary, where political techniques grapple with wind, sand, and dust. His forthcoming book, States of the Wind explores dust storms, desertification, and environmental repatternings of politics along the path of past and possible storm, from China’s Inner Asian Frontiers to California, weeks away as the wind blows. In 2017, he will start as Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Lunchtime Seminar – 25 May – Robbie Barnett

May 19th, 2016 by anna.c

A lunchtime seminar will be held in the Mond Building Seminar Room, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RF

Wednesday 25 May 2016, 12.00–1.00

All welcome

Professor Robbie Barnett

Director, Modern Tibetan Studies
Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University

Tibetan New Year on TV in the Fire Monkey Year: The promotion of modernity

The Chunwan, the annual Spring Festival or New Year television gala in China, is the most important show on television each year in China, with reportedly the largest audience of any television program in the world. There are numerous local editions of that show, and this year at least seven different versions were broadcast in Tibetan. This talk looks at two of the shows from Lhasa, and at their part-worship, part-mockery of extreme consumerism, mobile phones, breakdancing, and the loyal Tibetan cadre.