SAEM MAJNEP MEMORIAL SYMPOSIUM ON TRADITIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL KNOWLEDGE
To be held at the University of Goroka, 31 October – 2 November 2012
CALL FOR EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST
Ian Saem Majnep was a member of the Kalam tribe from the Kaironk Valley in Madang Province who was born around 1948. He worked closely with the late Ralph Bulmer, the Foundation Professor of Anthropology at the University of PNG, and also with Andrew Pawley, now Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at the Australian National University, on the documentation of the Kalam language and traditional environmental knowledge. Saem’s work on the documentation of traditional Kalam knowledge was recognized through the award of an honorary doctorate by the University of PNG in 1989. The Saem Majnep Memorial Symposium (‘the Symposium’) is named in honour one of PNG’s first internationally recognized indigenous knowledge experts, who sadly passed away in 2007. The basic aim of the Symposium is to enhance the capacity of universities in PNG to train students in the appreciation and documentation of traditional environmental knowledge, engage them in deeper processes of interaction with the local holders of such knowledge, and involve them in wider processes of biocultural education, expression, and revitalization.
Indigenous knowledge holders are increasingly demanding recognition for their practices without that recognition undermining the position of their knowledge as a socially embedded process. Recognition of Intellectual Property Rights has proved to be an inadequate route to deal with this issue. Whatever ‘indigenous knowledge’ was and is, it is also undergoing transformation in the contemporary world – it does not exist in a vacuum, but is embedded in the changing relationships internal to indigenous communities, and between members of these communities and external interest groups. The development of new models for the documentation and dissemination of such knowledge must therefore be based on recognition of at least three issues:
- The growing awareness of external threats to the reproduction of indigenous knowledge and practices, offset by a growing awareness in indigenous communities of the importance of preserving these things for future generations.
- The desire of indigenous peoples to present themselves to the outside world as knowledge holders and to gain recognition of their stewardship of lands and environments based on relations of mutual constitution rather than alienable possession.
- The opportunities presented by new technologies for recording and transmitting indigenous knowledge and practices in digitally mediated forms.
There is growing evidence that most of the students now entering universities in PNG come from urban family backgrounds, have little experience of rural village life, and are largely unfamiliar with traditional environmental or ecological knowledge (TEK). There is already some provision for the design and delivery of courses relating to TEK in the PNG university system, but much more could be done to improve the resources available for the teaching of such courses. Although some university graduates find employment in non-government or community-level organizations that have some interest in the documentation or revaluation of TEK, they have often received very little in the way of relevant training while at university. The same is true of the vast majority of graduates who find employment in organizations that have no such interest. As the years go by, an increasing proportion of the individuals who count as members of the national elite are losing all connection with the forms of knowledge possessed by village-level experts who commonly have very little in the way of formal education. Some provision is already made for the teaching of TEK in PNG’s secondary school curriculum, but there is again a notable shortage of suitable curriculum materials. The University of Goroka can play a key role in helping to fill this gap because of its role in training and current and future secondary school teachers.
Outcomes of the Symposium
We expect the short-term outcomes of the Saem Majnep Memorial Symposium to include:
- A review of what has so far been achieved in the documentation and dissemination of TEK in and from PNG, with particular focus on partnerships between scientific and local experts, and on the relationship between research and education.
- A review of new technologies for documentation and dissemination of TEK at local, national and international scales, with appropriate recognition of issues involving intellectual property rights.
- An outline for the first edition of a textbook or manual to be used in training tertiary students (including secondary school teachers) in practical techniques for the documentation and dissemination of TEK.
- Plans for development of additional funding proposals for development of institutional capacity and resources to undertake such documentation and dissemination through the formal education system in PNG.
- Plans to connect this type of activity with the integration of TEK into local-level land use and resource management systems in PNG.
Longer term plans to build institutional capacity to document and disseminate TEK in PNG will be based on these short-term outcomes. All participants will be asked to formally approve the use of their contributions to the Symposium in any future publication or in any document used for teaching purposes.
Organisation of the Symposium
Key participants in the Symposium will include:
- Scientific and local experts who have been involved in the documentation of TEK in PNG through partnerships of the kind pioneered by Ralph Bulmer and Saem Majnep;
- Individuals with particular expertise and experience in teaching university students about TEK in PNG;
- Individuals with particular expertise and experience in developing the use of new technologies for the documentation and dissemination of TEK; and
- People with a professional interest in the potential use of TEK as a means to promote the conservation of biological diversity or the management of local ecosystems in PNG.
The Symposium organisers are planning to invite approximately 30 participants from outside Goroka, including 10 local experts in TEK from Eastern Highlands and surrounding provinces with road connections to Goroka. In addition, we plan to invite another 20 participants from Goroka itself, including UOG staff and staff of partner organisations based in Goroka.
The Symposium will be advertised in PNG’s national newspapers, as well as by means of posters in UOG, in order to boost attendance by interested members of the public (including schoolteachers) from Goroka and surrounding areas, as well as by interested staff and students of UOG (including school-teachers taking in-service courses). Part if not all of the Symposium proceedings will be conducted in Tok Pisin in order to facilitate the participation of local indigenous knowledge experts who do not speak English.
A Symposium Steering Committee (SSC) has already been established at UOG. The SSC is responsible for the identification of individuals to be invited to the Symposium and for sending out the invitations, but is receiving support and advice from partner organisations in the identification of individuals to be invited to the Symposium from outside Goroka.
Expressions of Interest
If you would like to be funded to participate in the Symposium, please send a short (maximum 200-word abstract) of the topic on which you would like to speak and an even shorter (maximum 100-word) note about your past and current interest in the documentation and dissemination of TEK in PNG to:
- Mr Wasang Baiio, Symposium Steering Committee Chairman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- With copy to: A/Prof. Colin Filer, Australian National University (email@example.com)
If you are able to fund your own travel to Goroka and would like to participate as an observer or discussant, please just send a short note about your past and current interest in the documentation and dissemination of traditional environmental knowledge in PNG.
A Symposium program will be developed when the list of likely expert participants has been established and they have indicated the topics on which they would like to speak.
We aim to have a draft program ready for circulation before the end of September, so would like to receive expressions of interest by Friday 21 September at the latest.
Southpaw is a new literary journal of writing from the global south. It is dedicated to the idea of ‘south-south’ dialogue: to conversations between writers, artists and readers about life away from the metropolitan centres of power and culture. It is a literary left hook from the south features fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, essays, reviews and images.
Southpaw issue 1 is focused through the theme of displacement. Writers from South Africa, Indigenous Australia, Philippines, Colombia, Suriname, Angola, Indigenous Japan, China, the Horn of Africa, Tunisia, New Zealand and non-Indigenous Australians write fascinating stories and reflect on home and eviction, migration and asylum seeking, cultural diplomacy and political oppression, cross cultural dealings and cultural reclamation.
- Kevin Murray on the idea of south,
- Danilova Molintas on the city of Baguio, Kendall
- Trudgen on diplomacy in East Arnhem Land and
- Martin Plowman on UFOs in South America.
- Fiction by: Karen Jennings, Tony Birch, paulo da costa, Ruth San A Jong and Paul Maunder.
- Non-fiction by Yeeshan Yang, Karen Lazar, Batool Albatat and Aliza Amlani.
- Reviews by Alice Robinson (Tamil pulp ction), Justin Clemens (Mapanje), Bernard Caleo (Ubby’s Underdogs), John Hughes (Planet B) and Vicki Crowley (Indigenous sexuality).
Since colonisation in the Pacific, there has been much talk about cultural differences. Those from European cultures profess a more individualist world view, where one should stand independently of family and social ties. By contrast, Pacific peoples are seen to place much emphasis on genealogy as determinate of selfhood. But behind all this talk, lies a more fundamental difference – silence.
As Unaisi Nabobo-Baba argues in her book Knowing and Learning: An indigenous Fijian approach (Suva: IPS Publications, 2006), the silent child in a Western classroom is seen as a problem. By contrast in many traditional Pacific communities, silence is seen as a culturally appropriate mode of behaviour. Nabobo-Baba goes further and develops a taxonomy of silence, which includes 18 different ways of being quiet, including ‘silence and the elements’ and ‘silence when in awe of custom’ (see here for an extract of her book).
The cultural meaning of silence poses some challenging questions:
- How can silence be reconciled with modern democracy?
- What is the role of silence in modern Western countries like Australia?
- How can silence speak?
- What is the positive role of silence in the classroom?
Would you be interested in being part of a further discussion about this issue? If you would like to be involved in the development of a colloquium on silence, you are invited to send in your details. This includes:
- Area of interest
- What you would like to contribute to this development
Contributions can include research, a specific perspective, a performance, a venue or a program context.
Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Responses are due 21 January 2012.
Other Knowledges: Reflections on Recent Archaeology in South America
3 November 2011 7:30pm Institute of Postcolonial studies
David Turnbull considers recent research into the ancient civilisation of Caral in Peru, which questions the privileging of sedentary forms as necessary for complex social organisation. Turnbull reflects on the nature of heterarchy as framework for emergent knowledges and spaces. He relates this to the work of Enrique Dussel, which advocates ‘a space for transmodernity in which modernity and its negated alterity could co-realise themselves in a process of mutual creative fertilization.’
Dr David Turnbull is a philosopher of science who has published extensively on the history of space and time, with recent emphasis on concept specific to southern knowledges. His books include Masons, Tricksters and Cartographers: Comparative Studies in the Sociology of Scientific and Indigenous Knowledge (2000)
International Conference on “Decolonising Our Universities” June 27-29th, 2011, Penang, Malaysia
Multiversity is pleased to announce its Fourth International Conference on the subject of “Decolonising Our Universities” being held in Penang, Malaysia, from June 27-29, 2011. The conference is being jointly organized by Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and Citizens International (CI), both based in Penang.
The specific objective of the conference is to provide a platform to scholars, researchers and activists to share work done by them individually or by their departments and institutions on drafting university curricula, syllabuses and courses in social sciences teaching and research that consciously avoid, deny or reject Eurocentric frameworks and assumptions.
The conference is not focused on Eurocentrism itself. The explicit purpose is to encourage academics within the Global South to move out of a Eurocentric worldview in the sphere of knowledge production, especially in the social sciences, and to help regenerate or create fresh models of intellectual enquiry and research more in touch with their own realities and intellectual traditions.
It is an undisputed reality of our times that most academic knowledge has been hegemonized by the western world. The hegemony has extended to even the perception of what constitutes knowledge. This situation of tyranny has prevailed now for over 200 years. Efforts are even now underway to expand further the reach and influence of existing social science models from European and American universities and to intensify dependence of the academic community located within the Global South on these.
There have been several attempts to resist this hegemony in knowledge production and sharing or what Ward Churchill has referred to as the empire of “white studies.” There is an intensive discussion underway on the reality of Eurocentrism and on the baleful distortions that affect knowledge when it is impregnated by such ethnocentric western assumptions and orientations. This discussion is taking place across the board beginning from anthropology and extending to the media and communications. African scholars, for example, have recently challenged the propriety of teaching traditions of western philosophy contaminated with racism in African universities.
By and large, however, thousands of universities across the Global South have uncritically imported, adopted or inherited the prevailing model of social science research from the European academic community (which, of course, also comprised their erstwhile colonizers). Prestigious universities like Delhi, for example, continue to teach courses in which the bulk of the content is unabashedly imported from the west. This, nearly sixty years of being politically free.
Multiversity – a joint project of Citizens International in Malaysia headed by S.M. Mohammad Idris (also President of the Third World Network), and Other India Press headed by Claude Alvares from India – has held three earlier international conferences to take this discussion and its momentum forward. The first conference was held in 2002, the second in 2006 and the third in August 2010. (See www.multiworldindia.org.) At these conferences several discussions have taken place on these issues and it was therefore resolved to bring together in June this year:
a) Researchers and scholars who have done substantial work in excoriating the ghost of Eurocentrism consciously from their teaching and academic work or institutions;
b) Persons at the university level including Vice Chancellors who might be keen to introduce non-Eurocentric research methodologies in their own universities and departments.
c) Innovators who have ventured beyond the petrified framework of lectures in lecture halls and developed methodologies of learning that once again excite students, enthuse society and economy, and help generate new knowledge that is of use to society as a whole.
For the conference, the Secretariat is preparing for circulation a preliminary Source Book containing the output of scholars and intellectuals who have done work in this specific area. However, Multiversity is also committed – pursuant to the conference – to publishing a volume comprising all the presentations made during the event. This would also perhaps be the first major text reflecting academic attempts emanating from the Global South to depart from the regime of Eurocentric social sciences.
Image courtesy of dennisyu68
A call from Videobrasil
Southern Panoramas: accepting submissions until March 10
With a new name, focus, and format, the 17th International Contemporary Art Festival SESC_Videobrasil is accepting submissions for the Southern Panoramas competitive exhibition up until March 10, 2011. Open to all artistic manifestations for the first time, the exhibition is accepting submissions of installations, performances, book-objects, and other experiments. Visual artists from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia (except Japan), Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania may submit artwork produced from May 2009 onwards.
View the regulations and entry forms for the 17th Festivall here.
And from Tokyo:
South by Southeast: Australasian Video Art
SJ RAMIR | Patricia PICCININI | Steve CARR | Angelica MESITI | Swirhana SPONG | Daniel CROOKS | Shaun GLADWELL | Damiano BERTOLI | Ronnie VAN HOUT | Daniel VON STURMER | David ROSETZKY | Richard BELL
10.30 – 12.30 Sunday 20 February 2011
16.00 – 18.00 Thursday 24 February 2011
Australia and New Zealand exist at a point somewhere between the eastern and western worlds, maturing away from British colonialism to become progressive modern countries with specific indigenous heritages. South by Southeast operates as a broad survey of recent single channel video works by Australian and New Zealand artists, reflecting the complex diversity of artists living in these countries and their unique approach to art making. The works emerge out of the specific cultural and geographical conditions of these isolated countries while reflecting the pervasion of, yet irrefutable distance from, the centres of global cultural influence.
The works within the screening program seek to introduce a selected survey of current art practice from these countries, marking a shift from the documentation of the performative – prevalent in the early employment of the medium of video within an art context – as well as the narrative format prominent within conventional cinema works. This selection of single channel video works often foresake a stringent narrative linearity, instead creating drama that operates outside of a defined temporal sequentiality. These works are for the most part produced with a gallery and museum framework in mind, operating more within the realm of the moving image, rather than as films intended for a cinema context.
Many of the works evoke a strong sense of isolation, depicting singular figures within various situations or against the backdrop of almost undisturbed landscapes, be they urban, suburban or rural. This alludes to the distant position of these countries in relation to the rest of the world, whilst also referencing the relative expansiveness of their respective topographies and comparatively sparse populations. To this end, the Hitchcockian title refers to the idea of locating oneself, both physically and psychologically in relation to our geographic and cultural differences, and in particular, on the occasion of the Yebisu International Festival for Art & Alternative Visions, to the geographical location of Australia and New Zealand in relation to Japan.
For more information on the program please go to:
Yebisu International Festival for Art & Alternative Visions
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
17 – 27 February 2011
‘I have a different idea of a universal. It is of a universal rich with all that is particular, rich with all the particulars there are, the deepening of each particular, the coexistence of them all.’ Aime Cesaire
A new platform has been developed as part of Southern Perspectives to connect writers interested in south-south dialogue.
Suwiki is a network for exploring issues and activities that might be shared in common among countries outside the transatlantic metropolitan centres. This includes shared practical challenges, such as journal costs and rankings, distance from international gatherings and local support for knowledge production. It also features theoretical issues across disciplines, such as the geopolitics of knowledge, epistemological ethics and indigenous studies. Suwiki is for individuals and organisations that explore a southern perspective on a broad range of disciplines, including creative arts, humanities, professions, social and physical sciences. It applies particular to those in Africa, Latin America, South Asia and Oceania. Members can:
- Register individual field of expertise and interest
- Notify of upcoming events, calls for papers, conferences
- Profile key southern thinkers, such as Paulin Hountondji, Rabindranath Tagore, Garbiela Mistral, Epeli Hau’ofa and Raewyn Connell
- Promote common resources such as journals and websites
- Discuss issues of common concern
- relation between Indigenous and Western knowledge
- aspirations to the north and rivalry with southern neighbours
- drawing a line between localism and provincialism
- collective forms of knowledge
To register, go to the home page and fill in your details on the top right of the screen. For more information, go here.
In May 2011, the University of the South Pacific will be launching its publishing arm that will be known as the USP Press. The goal of the Press is to publish high quality research and writing on issues related to the Pacific Islands, or the islands commonly known as Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Toward this end, the University wishes to announce an international competition seeking manuscripts in the following categories:
USP Press Literature Prize ($3000) will be awarded to the overall winner from the following categories.
The winner in each category will receive $1,000.00
- Fiction ($1,000)
- Poetry ($1,000)
- Drama or Screenplay ($1,000)
USP Press Non Fiction Prize ($3,000) will be awarded to the overall winner from the following categories. The winner in each category will receive $1,000.00.
- History, Auto/Biography ($1,000)
- Sciences ($1,000)
- Social Sciences/Humanities ($1000)
- Best Children’s Book ($2,000)
The competition is open to all nationalities and closes on 15 February, 2011.
The prize money will be in American dollars
Each submission must clearly indicate the category in which it is to be considered.
All submissions must be in hardcopy. Online submissions will not be accepted.
All submissions should be addressed to:
The Chair, Board of the USP Press,
Professor Vilsoni Hereniko,
Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies,
The University of the South Pacific
Private Mail Bag,
Laucala Campus, Suva, Fiji.
For enquiries, write to
ANU Campus 31 January-11 February 2011
Call for applications from Pacific Islander scholars
The State Society and Governance in Melanesia Program (SSGM), situated in ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, is offering a Pacific Scholarship Award for eight places to graduate students and scholars from universities, research institutions and professional bodies in the Pacific Islands to attend its Developing Pacific Scholarship Program for two weeks from 31 January to 11 February 2011. Full travel costs to and from Canberra, plus accommodation, will be paid to successful Pacific Islander applicants.
This Program is envisaged as a training opportunity for younger Pacific Islands researchers. During the first week of the Program, a selection of ANU Pacific Studies staff will offer brief summaries of their current research, there will be opportunities for comments and feedback on the visiting participant’s writing and research, and guided introductions to research resources. The second week will feature 15-20 minute presentations from each of the visitors on any aspect of their research. Trips around Canberra and social events will also be offered. For further information please see the SSGM website: http://ips.cap.anu.edu.au/ssgm
How to Apply
Send an abstract (less than 250 words) drawing on research you are currently or have recently undertaken and how you wish to develop this during your visit to ANU, as well as the topic of your proposed short presentation during the second week at the Pacific Research Colloquium. Please include a brief biographical description explaining who you are and which institution or organisation you are affiliated with. Send to: email@example.com Deadline for abstract: 27 October 2010
Successful applicants will be notified by 2 November 2010 and will be required to submit a full draft paper by 26 November 2010. Award of the Scholarship will be dependent on receipt of the draft paper. Applications from Pacific Island women are strongly encouraged. This program is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID)