The Wollotuka Institute, University of Newcastle
A pioneer of hospital ethnography in Australia and internationally, Debbi has worked in rural communities in Turkey and Eswatini, as well as extensively in the public hospital system in Australia. With more than twenty years experience as a health systems analyst, Debbi’s research has included clinical governance and health management, development health and the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), behaviour change, culture change, workers compensation, industrial relations, patient safety, infection control, family violence, multidisciplinary clinical team communication, video ethnography, hospital ethnography and maternity systems. She has taught in a number of universities in anthropology, medical, nursing, Indigenous Studies and Development Studies departments/centres. Her current life/research interests incorporate health in areas such as permaculture and food security, sustainable housing techniques, i/Indigenous knowledges, with an overarching focus on resource equity and decolonisation.
In the first part of this talk I draw on the concept of partisan observation, and discuss examples of and potentials for anthropologically-informed social justice activism. I make the obvious point that this type of anthropological work has been fatally constrained by academic commodification. Moving “back” to more classic anthropological method, Participant Observation, in the second part of this talk I suggest that one of the most urgent contributions that anthropology can contribute to Discourses of Unfucking is our expertise in understanding human universals. Relativist ethnography - however flawed and colonialist - has collected an enormous amount of data about human societies. Comparative method allows us to make informed statements about the remarkably few characteristics that are common to all human societies. For example, the insight that reciprocity is a human universal, while money is merely a mechanism to enact (or place a barrier to) reciprocity is desperately needed rescue knowledge for the planet. I suggest that this is only one of many knowledges that anthropological expertise can contribute to local and globalised projects of unfucking.
Professor of Ethnicity Race and Migration, and Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies, Yale University
Kalindi Vora’s work has brought together an investment in uncovering racial and gendered histories of science and technology in the present through ethnographic study of sites including information and communications technology, assisted reproductive technology, and robotics and machine learning. Her current book project is tentatively titled, Autoimmune: Chronic Conditions and Care in a Time of Uncertain Medicine. It places contemporary narratives of illness by patients facing racism and sexism in their daily lives within an analysis of the history of the concept of autoimmunity and contemporary practices of healthcare self-monitoring to understand the potential for patient-physician co-production of medical knowledge. She has also worked to bridge critical race and gender studies critique with STEM research practice through the “Asking Different Questions” pedagogical project at UC Davis (with Sarah McCullough) and the forthcoming book, The Science We are For: A Feminist Pocket Guide as part of the Star Feminist Collaboratory (K. Vora, L. Irani, C. Hanssmann, S. Varma, S. Zarate, L. Quintanilla).
“Essential care” comes out of a book project with the working title, Autoimmune: Chronic Conditions and the Cost of Care in a Time of Uncertain Medicine. Throughout its chapters, this book attends to the undertheorized role of caregiving as a uniquely racialized and gendered “stressor” in communities and populations underserved because of structural injustice. For example, in general, women of color have a much higher incidence of systemic conditions like autoimmunity, chronic pain, and chronic and hard-to-diagnose syndromes like fibromyalgia. All of these conditions correlate highly with stress, whether a stressful event in an individual’s life, or chronic daily stress. However, the relatively recent field of the science of stress individualizes problems that are in fact systemic. The impact of Covid19 on US workers in 2020 highlighted the roles of race and gender in our experience of disease. It also laid bare the racialized and gendered inequities of medicine in general, particularly for workers doing service provision newly renamed “essential work.” The concept of “essential care” references the term “essential workers” in the US, those whose jobs were deemed necessary to society during the Covid pandemic and puts that term within a larger scope of the cost of caregiving as this can manifest in chronic health conditions. Taking an approach informed by the history of feminist science theory and practice, this project elaborates the need for medical practices that extend beyond the science of stress to center personal, embodied experiences of patients in conversation with examining the structures of inequality in which those individuals are positioned. It pursues the possibilities in current patient-centered and community-centered initiatives that experiment with collaborative, non-hierarchical relationship between practitioner and patient to address the relationship of chronic illness to racism and misogyny.
Head of Institute of Wollotuka Institute at the University of Newcastle
Kathleen Butler is an Aboriginal woman, belonging to the Bundjalung and Worimi peoples of coastal New South Wales. She has been an active member of Aboriginal organisations, holding executive positions on the Regional Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG), Local Aboriginal Land Council and Aboriginal Corporation. She is the past President of Itji Maru AECG and delegate to the Hunter Regional AECG. She was the first Australian and first woman to be awarded a Toihuarewa Visiting International Fellowship from the University of Victoria, New Zealand.
The Distinguished Lecture in Anthropology was introduced by the AAS in 2009 and has continued on a mostly biennial basis as an important feature of the AAS Annual Conference.
As an Aboriginal undergraduate student more than thirty years ago, the first piece I read in which I saw myself reflected was Dr Gaynor McDonald’s Photos in Wiradjuri Biscuit Tins. My title pays homage to that moment and the subsequent shaping of my belief that Aboriginal cultures could be reflected in the academy.
This presentation gives voice to the ongoing tensions between the disciplines of Aboriginal Studies and Anthropology. Acknowledging my own place leading a School of Aboriginal Studies, I remain hopeful that there can be meaningful dialogue between disciplines, and the vast repository of Anthropological research can be both repatriated to, and interrogated by, Aboriginal communities for their benefit. I argue that this has the potential to contribute to both a decolonising and Reconciliation/Truth-Telling agenda for the tertiary sector and more broadly. Recognising my position as both insider and outsider to this process, I frame my analysis using the Fish Trap Methodological Framing developed by the Wollotuka Institute, which recognises that the sharing of resources for the good of Country and Peoples is critical in our current environment/s.
When: Saturday 26 November 2022 at 2pm
Where: Kathleen Fitzpatrick Theatre, Level B1, Room B01, Arts West Building (West Wing), University of Melbourne