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The Impact of the Antipodes on Anthropological Thought

The Sydney Sawyer Seminar explores the history of how the Antipodes – and especially the Indo-Pacific lands and oceans – has constituted a laboratory for the Atlantic world over a broad intellectual, geographical and temporal scale. Our seminar covers three centuries from 1700 to 2009, and focuses on Atlantic-derived conceptions and experiences within the Antipodes that bear especially on the themes of humanity and cultures, of sovereignty and imperialism, and of environment and ecology.

Session One
The Impact of the Antipodes on Anthropological Thought: Histories of Human Order
Friday, 27 March 2009
1-5pm, Holme & Sutherland Rooms, Holme Building, Science Road, The University of Sydney
Convenor:     Jude Philp
Presenters:   

  • Elena Govor, Australian National University ‘Miklouho-Maclay and Russian anthropology’
  • Shino Konishi, Australian National University ‘The Slippery Native Tongue: Aborigines, explorers, and the eighteenth-century notion of a natural language’
  • Ron Day, Murray Island Community Council   ‘Meriam-le (Mer Islnders), Anthropologists and the idea of rational understanding’
  • Helen Gardner, Deakin University  ‘Out of site: missionary/anthropologists and their informants’
  • Jude Philp, University of Sydney  ‘Taking Torres Strait Islander culture to Cambridge University’
  • Discussant:    Warwick Anderson, University of Sydney, tbc

This session investigates the impact of the antipodes on anthropological thought through centring discussion on the disparate and extraordinarily diverse peoples of the Pacific region. The aim of many 18th-century European expeditions to the Pacific was to glean information about natural phenomena (geology, astronomy, cartography etc). The mediators of this information were the peoples indigenous to the many islands and lands spread across the Pacific Ocean. Rather than a laboratory of clinical and predetermined materials, the antipodean ‘laboratory’ was often treated as a marketplace where negotiation for access to resources necessarily involved the gathering of cultural knowledge, names, languages and cultural products. These chance purchases and notes were the beginnings of anthropological thought here.
RSVP to Katherine Anderson [email protected]  or 02 9036 5347 by March 20.
For further information regarding the Mellon Sawyer Seminar series visit:
http://www.arts.usyd.edu.au/school/sophi/news_events/sawyer_seminar_series.shtml