Thursday, April 13, 2017

[Event] Final Year Project (FYP) Forum 2017

Poster of the FYP Forum 2017

The FYP Forum is a platform for undergraduate students to present their final year research projects on a topic of their choice. In the project, students would demonstrate their ability in applying concepts, theories and skills they have learnt in their years of anthropology study. This year, the forum will be held on Apr 25, 2017 (Tuesday) at 2pm–6pm at Room 12, Humanities Building, CUHK

Apart from the student presentations, we have also invited Ms Winsome Lee, our MA graduate, to give a keynote speech on "Skeletons In the Closet: From forensic anthropology to blogging". All interested are welcome! (Undergraduate students of other years are recommended to attend the forum since it can give them better understanding of their capstone course and inspire them of more anthropological research topics.)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


East Asian Anthropological Association 
Annual Meeting 

The Chinese University of Hong Kong 
14-16 October 2017

The East Asian Anthropological Association is a scholarly association of teachers and students of anthropology based in East Asia and engaged in anthropological work on East Asia. It has its conferences in China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan in recent years. Its upcoming meeting will be in Hong Kong 14-16 October 2017. We hope that you will propose a panel or an individual paper for this conference. You do not need to be a member of EAAA at present in order to submit a panel or paper; you become a member automatically by attending this conference.     
Please fill out a EAAA panel proposal or EAAA individual paper proposal, which will require an abstract from you in English. (We regret making English the conference’s language, but because of the prohibitive expense of hiring simultaneous translators, this is necessary.) You can submit either a panel proposal, which should have 3-6 participants speaking on a common topic, or an individual paper proposal, which is your paper alone. Individual paper proposals we will subsequently organize into panels. Submitted panels have a somewhat better chance of being accepted for the conference than individual papers. Panels that cross national boundaries rather than only dealing with one society are preferred, but we realize that such panels may not always be possible. 

If you cannot access the online forms, please complete the attached panel or paper proposal form and send it to by 1 May 2017. The program committee will make its decisions by 15 May, and will then send out acceptance notices, conference registration forms, and payment instructions to all participants. 

The conference will be held on 14-15 October at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, followed on 16 October by a tour of interesting Hong Kong places.  Registration will be US$100, and participants will pay for their own lodging. We will arrange lodging at a CUHK guesthouse (for which there are limited spaces), or at the Hyatt hotel; you will have the chance to choose which of these you would prefer. We will provide lunches and dinners and refreshments at the conference. For more details, please visit

We look forward to seeing you in Hong Kong in October! 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

[ I·CARE Film Festival 2017 博群電影節] Sunday Beauty Queen 周日皇后

This year's I·CARE Film Festival has invited Dr. Ju-chen Chen to be the post-screening speaker for the film "Sunday Beauty Queen". Highlighting the subjectivity of the Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong, this film shows us the dreams and life of these workers through their participation in a beauty pageant.

Sunday Beauty Queen

2016|Philippine|94 min|
In English & Filipino with English subtitles 
Director: Baby Ruth Villarama

When it comes to weekend streetscape in Hong Kong, the little makeshift havens put up by the Filipino maids in Central are likely to spring to mind. Leaving their country at a young age for a better livelihood, they strike the most of us as menial workers who crowd together on holidays. Who cares who they are, what their dreams are…? As director Villarama delves into their world, she finds out that some of them are busy getting ready for a beauty pageant. Their beauty eludes most Hong Kongers, but not Villarama and the jurors at the Busan International Film Festival, South Korea. Show time for our Cinderellas!

Date: 23 March 2017 (Thursday)
Time: 6:45pm
Venue: Room103, Y.C. Liang Hall
Post-screening Discussion Speaker: Chen Ju Chen (Lecturer, Department of Anthropology)
Language: English

Chen Ju Chen
Chen is a Lecturer of the Department of Anthropology in The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her research interest includes anthropology of China, globalization, urban studies, social differences, labor migration, gender, consumption and mass media.

Click HERE for details.







[Multiculturalism in Action Project 2016-2017] Participating in UNESCO 5th Peacemakers’ Cultural Celebration

The Multiculturalism in Action Project (MIA) participated in the 5th Peacemakers’ Cultural Celebration organized by UNESCO Hong Kong Association on 18 February, 2017 at the Hong Kong Science Park. The program aimed to enhance intercultural dialogues and cultural discovery to engender harmony and mutual understanding. More than 3,000 people joined the event, and there were booths and performances showcasing different religions and cultures.

Exhibition booth and volunteers of MIA

MIA brought its Exhibition on South Asian Communities in Hong Kong, with a special focus on Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan communities in Hong Kong. Visitors of various ethnic backgrounds were attracted. Publications such as Exhibition Handbooks, pamphlets, and leaflets were distributed free of charge.

MIA publications

The Exhibition is now available for schools, social service organizations, public libraries and other interested parties to lend out free of charge! It is accompanied by the Exhibition Handbooks and pamphlets in eight languages (Bengali, Chinese, English, Hindi, Nepalese, Sinhalese, Tamil, and Urdu). Please contact the Research Assistant, Connie Lee (, to discuss collaboration, such as public lectures and community exhibition, and/or other possibilities.

Friday, March 10, 2017

[Other Activities] Talks organized by Raising the Bar

Raising the Bar has invited Dr. Gordon Mathews and Dr. Chen to give talks on 28 March 2017! Those who are interested can purchase tickets at their website

China's Little Africa: Stories of the African Diaspora in Guangzhou
By Dr. Gordon Mathews

Date and Time: 28 March 2017 (Tue), 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Location: Orange Peel 2/F, 38-44 D'Aguilar Street Central, Hong Kong Island
Details / Ticket purchase:

The megacity of Guangzhou is China’s most multicultural city today, and it is home to the largest concentration of Africans in the region - many of them entrepreneurs, merchants, and traders. Unlike the majority of foreigners working in China, Africans often seek to stay, marrying a Chinese wife and making Guangzhou their home. However, the country’s lack of citizen rights for African husbands and its racial prejudice prompt a recurring question: Will they ever be fully accepted - not as foreigners but as legitimate residents of China?

In this talk, Gordon Mathews will explore the business, personal, and romantic relationships between the Africans and Chinese as they pursue low-end globalization in Guangzhou.


Gordon Mathews is a professor in Anthropology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is also the author of “What Makes Life Worth Living?”, “Global Culture / Individual Identity”, “Hong Kong, China: Learning to Belong to a Nation”, “Ghetto at the Centre of the World: Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong”, as well as his forthcoming book, “The World in Guangzhou: Africans and Other Foreigners in South China's Global Marketplace”, upon which this talk is based.

Gordon is well-known for his expertise on Chungking Mansions, low-end globalization, and the African diaspora in Guangzhou. His work has been featured by key international publications like CNN, CNBC, BBC, The Economist, and the South China Morning Post.

* This talk will be delivered in English.



非洲人跟其他在中國工作的外國人不同,他們大多選擇在當地覓偶,落地生根。不過, 非裔丈夫在中國缺乏公民權利並受種族歧視, 引致一個周而復始的問題:他們終會有被完全接納為中國居民而非外國人的一天嗎?

Gordon Mathews 會在此講探索中非人民在廣州追尋低端經濟全球化時建立的各種商業、個人以致情侶關係。



Sunday Catwalks and Hong Kong's Filipino Beauty Pageants
By Dr. Ju-chen Chen

Date and Time: 28 March 2017 (Tue), 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Location: Rula Bula G/F, 58-62 D'Aguilar Street Central, Hong Kong Island
Details / Ticket purchase:

In Hong Kong, Filipinos are often homogenized and stigmatized as domestic workers who live without purpose beyond remitting money home. But every Sunday, they gather at friends’ birthday parties, engage in church services, attend association board meetings, and more. Interestingly, many even go on stage to compete in beauty pageants.

In this talk, Ju-chen Chen will bring us to the forefront of understanding individual aspirations - such as receiving a college education or working overseas as a maid - in the broader context of the Philippines’ class structure, colonial legacy, and global exodus.

Dive into the discourse of modernization and the impact of a global capitalist institution through the lens of Filipino beauty pageants in Hong Kong.


Ju-chen Chen is a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her research focuses on migrant workers (mingong) in China and foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong. She is particularly interested in exploring relationships between the experiences of migration and the realization of motherhood and womanhood.

Since 2011, Ju-chen has been doing ethnographic research on the Filipino community in Hong Kong and has been invited to be a judge at several Filipino Beauty Pageants, including Miss Pinoyshot Princess and Top Model Queen.

Ju-chen holds a PhD degree in Anthropology from Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

*This talk will be delivered in English | One drink minimum




讓我們在認識菲籍傭人選美的同時, 看Ju-chen如何深入剖析現代化話語, 以及全球資本市場帶來的影響。


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

[Upcoming Seminar] Circulating “Debts” Among Friends: The Business Practices and Communality of Tanzanian Dealers in Hong Kong and China

Title: Circulating “Debts” Among Friends: The Business Practices and Communality of Tanzanian Dealers in Hong Kong and China 
Speaker: Sayaka OGAWA (Associate Professor, Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences, Ritsumeikan University)
Date and time: 10 March 2017, 1:00p.m.-2:30p.m.
Venue: Room 115, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


In her Philosophy of Debt (2014), the French philosopher Nathalie Sarthou-Lajus advocates the reinstatement of “debt.” “Debt” is generally considered to be negative. We are reluctant to be indebted to others, and glorify living on our own without being in debt. However, Sarthou-Lajus points out that this very idea is at the root of the problems of our capitalistic economy. This presentation shows how Tanzanian dealers circulate "debt" and "indebtedness" among themselves and various customers in African countries through electronic money-sending services and SNS on mobile phones in order to pursue commercial transactions and construct their own communality. Based on this, I argue for the possibility of a voluntary and independent system of “debt without repayment obligation” that is different from Sarthou-Lajus’s ideas. I show the potential of a new system of debt circulation arising out of the gray zone of nations, namely, the pirate arena in the heart of the capitalistic economy rather than in governmental social welfare. 

Sayaka Ogawa is an associate professor of the Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences, Ritsumeikan University, Japan, She has specialized in African area studies and cultural anthropology. Her research theme is exploring how marginal people can construct their own life-world while adapting to the logic of global capitalism, and how they can build their own communality for mutual security while respecting autonomy and heterogeneity. Her book The Art of Surviving in the City (in Japanese, 2011) explored the unique business practice and communality of street traders in Tanzania by focusing on street-wise cunning. This book won the 33th Suntory Prize for Social Science. Now she is trying to reveal global distribution systems of second-hand goods and copy products in order to discuss contemporary consumption culture.

A light lunch will be served at 12:30 pm. First come first served.

All interested are welcome!

Friday, March 3, 2017

[Announcement] Summer Field Trip to Cambodia (2-13 June,2017)

Summer Field Trip to Cambodia (2-13 June,2017) for major in anthropology, minor in anthropology, archaeology and cultural heritage studies undergraduate students

This year, Professor Sharon Wong will lead a 12-day field trip to Cambodia. This will be the first credit-bearing summer course – ANTH3321 Topics in Anthropology from Department of Anthropology. The main theme of the trip will be “the Meanings of Cultural Heritage and Archaeological Sites to “Insiders” and “Outsiders””. At the core of the trip, students are required to participate in two-day workshop on interactive lecture and discussion on digital heritage and intangible cultural heritage studies in Cambodia, and hands-on sessions on archaeological artifacts (in collaboration with School of Archaeology, Royal University of Fine Arts, National Museum of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21), APSARA Authority, Angkor, University of Sydney, and Centre for Khmer Studies, Siem Reap etc.)

Place: Cambodia
Dates: 2-13 June, 2017
Fee: HK$4800 for the trip (Department will sponsor up to half of the summer field trip, you can also still apply for subsidy from the NA College Office)
Online application form:
Deadline for submission: 7th March, 2017 (Tue) 5pm

Some of the expected outcomes of the field trip are:

  • Understand the cultural heritage studies, archaeology, museum anthropology and people and cultures in Southeast Asia in concrete experience;
  • Study the various interpretations of “Memory of the World”—case study on the memory of Khmer Rouge and “World Heritage”—case study of Angkor
  • Connect cultural dynamics with local and international researchers/students in Cambodia –study the meanings of cultural heritage and archaeological sites to ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’;
  • Know how to collect data and prepare a mini research report on a case study of cultural heritage/archaeological site or museum;
  • Learn to communicate with local people in ways other than students’ spoken language;
  • Use inter-disciplinary approaches and critical thinking in discussing heritage issues
  • Program of the trip tentatively includes:
  • Conducting participant observations, interviews and group research projects in 1-2 cultural heritage/archaeological site(s) or museum(s);
  • Visit the major temples of Angkor National Park and some archaeological sites;
  • Meeting with researchers and students in local and international Institutions;
  • Meeting with archaeologists and anthropologists working in Angkor-World Heritage Site in Southeast Asia;
  • Daily briefing sessions and workshops


Students should be prepared for some challenges, and mentally make a commitment not to complain since the fieldwork is going to be short;

  • It will be very hot; not all sites and institutions will have AC, the average high 35-40C, it may have heavy rain.
  • Language: all local people speak Khmer, some of the local students and researchers can speak fairly good English, Mandarin and/or French;
  • Food: some meals may be very simple especially near the archaeological sites; we will try to go out occasionally to eat in restaurants;
  • Students will be stay in pairs or with local Khmer students. Exact arrangements to be arranged, and depend on the male/female breakdown.
  • Hard work: students should expect to spend many hours writing field notes and studying archaeological artifacts, and participant observations in some field sites. After the field trip, students will use their findings to curate a summer field trip exhibition at Hui Gallery, CUHK (Oct, 2017)

The summer field trip will be a rewarding and unique life experience for anthropology students to understand culture of another place. Do not miss this great learning opportunity. Click here for more details:

Thursday, March 2, 2017

[Cultural Heritage Talk Series 2016: Recap] Imagining Angkor: Politics, Myths, and Archaeology

Imagining Angkor: Politics, Myths, and Archaeology 

Speaker: Prof. Miriam Stark (Department of Anthropology, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa)
Time: 4:00 - 6:00 pm, 14th October, 2016 (Friday)
Venue: Lecture Theatre (L1), Institute of Chinese Studies, CUHK

Text: Sarah Chong (Research Assistant)

Angkor, as the capital city of the Khmer Empire for several centuries, has been mysterious and alluring in the eyes of many people. On 14th October 2016, our department and the Centre for Cultural Heritage Studies invited Prof. Miriam Stark from the Department of Anthropology, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa to give a public lecture on Angkor, helping to unveil the mystery of this place. The public lecture was co-organized by the Institute of Chinese Studies, Chiang Ching-kuo Asia-Pacific Centre for Chinese Studies, and the École française d'Extrême-Orient (EFEO). The history of Khmer Empire and Angkor, dating back to the 9th century all the way to the 15th century, have been the study interest of scholars of different fields. Prof. Stark adopted a historical approach to present her arguments and highlighted the importance of Angkor as a cultural heritage. Three major topics—politics, myths and archaeology—were discussed in the talk.

Prof. Miriam Stark giving the public lecture
Angkor is “intrinsically political”, as Prof. Stark described. It has been regarded as a representation of the entire country. Angkor Wat was always the key element on the national flags of Cambodia in different regime—from the flag of the French Protectorate of Cambodia starting from the Mid-19th century, to the flag of the Kingdom of Cambodia between 1950 and 1970 and the flag of the Democratic Kampuchea (the period of the Khmer Rouge). Prof. Stark emphasized that even today Angkor Wat has an important role to play not only in the national flag of Cambodia, but also in people’s everyday life. For instance, the image of Angkor Wat as well as the slogan “My Country, My Beer” can be found on the packaging of one of the most popular beer brands in Cambodia.

The myths of Angkor have also framed the ways people view the past of Cambodia. In her talk, Prof. Stark discussed how Angkor has been imagined or interpreted by different groups of people. The European, as the outsiders, tend to portray Angkor with the image of Angkor Wat. The Musée Guimet in Paris has significant collections of the Pre-Angkorian and Angkorian artifacts and the replicas of Cambodian ancient temples’ fabrics. The Khmer, as the insiders, link up Angkor with different symbolic meanings. For the locals, Angkor is the key of their national identity and the sacred place of religion. Even when the Cambodian people moved to the refugee camp in Philippine during the Khmer Rouge regime, they built the model of Angkor Wat there, reflecting the importance of Angkor to them. Angkor, being a basic component of the Khmer identity, has significant influence on how people define Cambodia as well as how the Cambodian define their nation state.

“If you want to understand Angkor, you must do archaeology,” Prof. Stark said. Prof. Stark emphasized how archaeology plays its role in reconstructing the picture of Angkor. Archaeological research helps to reveal the history of Cambodia from the early historic period (500 BCE), to the Pre-Angkorian period (500 CE), as well as the Angkorian period (1000 CE) and the collapse of Angkor (1500 CE). Prof. Stark also talked about the Greater Angkor Project III, which is a collaboration of various institutes. The project sheds light on the Angkorian urbanism in different periods. Prof. Stark shared her experience of participating in the project, with a special focus on the archaeological research on people’s lives in the past, including their residential pattern, where they lived and how they used the space.

The audience
People from different countries are doing archaeological research in Cambodia now. Prof. Stark pointed out that development is an opportunity for the country but at the same time a very big challenge to Cambodia’s archaeological record. Fortunately, the Ministry of Environment and other stakeholders have been working together to ensure the protection of heritage and the continuous development of economy.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

[Event] I Am A Woman: An Evening to Celebrate International Women’s Day (我是女性: 慶祝“國際婦女日”之夜)

Let's celebrate the International Women’s Day on March 8th! Featuring 7 women from all walks of life, this event will celebrate women in all of their diversity through stories and food. Talk topics will include science, race, motherhood, empowerment (English), power, sexual orientation and religion (Cantonese).

8 Mar (Wed)
LT7, 3/F Cheng Yu Tung Building (CYT)
CUHK (near Hyatt Regency Shatin)

English presentations
Food reception
Cantonese presentations
End of event

ALL Participants – regardless of gender- are welcome to participate in this celebration! Co-organised by the CUHK Centre for Global Health and Gender Studies Programme, this event will also feature an educational display about local organisations fighting to promote gender equality.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

[Upcoming Seminar] Multiculturalism Reconsidered: A Theoretical Perspective on East Asia’s Reality

Title: Multiculturalism Reconsidered: A Theoretical Perspective on East Asia’s Reality
Speaker: Masaki TOSA (Professor, School of Asia 21, Kokushikan University)
Date and time: 3 March 2017, 1:00 – 2:30 pm
Venue: Room 115, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK


I have been engaged in a comparative study of multiculturalism in East Asia, particularly in six global cities including Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Taipei, Seoul, and Tokyo. I will present the tentative results of my research and set forth a basic theoretical framework. My argument is that nationalism is a very important reference point to understand multiculturalism in East Asia. In order to discuss this in a compact way, I will rely on Liah Greenfeld's “nationalism trilogy.” 

Masaki Tosa is a Professor at the School of Asia 21, Kokushikan University, Japan, and Hon. Adjunct Professor at the Department of Anthropology, CUHK. He has been engaged in area studies of East Asia as a cultural anthropologist. His main areas of research include nationalism and globalization, pop culture, and multiculturalism.

All interested are welcome!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

[One-Day Workshop with Miriam Stark: Recap] Part II: Archaeology in Asia

One-Day Workshop with Miriam Stark
Part II: Archaeology in Asia

Speaker: Miriam STARK (Professor of Anthropology, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa)
Time: 3:30 – 6:30 pm, 17 Oct 2016 (Monday)
Venue: NAH401, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK

Text: Cheng Jing Saichia (Research Assistant)

Prof. Miriam Stark and the participants of the workshop

In October, the Department of Anthropology invited Prof. Miriam Stark to give a public lecture and two workshops on
archaeology. The second workshop ‘Archaeology in Asia’ was held in the afternoon of 17 Oct 2016.

At the beginning of the workshop, Prof. Stark shared with the participants some recent archaeological discoveries in Southeast Asia. She highlighted the contributions of Southeast Asian archaeologists in questioning the existing human evolution hypothesis (the multiregional hypothesis and the out of Africa hypothesis) and the human migration in the Southeast Asia region throughout Pleistocene period. In particular, the ‘Flores Man’, found on the island of Flores in Indonesia, has been one of the important contributions to world archaeology made by the Southeast Asian archaeologists.

Apart from human evolution, Prof. Stark also talked about the useful findings of these archaeologists in tracing the origin of potteries and food production. For instance, the discovery of a historical pottery —— the production of which dates back to 1200 YBP —— has challenged the previous understanding about the origin of potteries and agriculture. Furthermore, early cultivation and plant domestication evidence found in Southeast Asia have assured the importance of archaeological work in Southeast Asia.

Prof. Stark emphasized that there is a lack of concern on Asian archaeology. There are insufficient archaeologists working in some of the Asia regions such as ‘North Barbarian’ (Xiongnu Empire) and ‘Southern Barbarian’ (Lingnan Region). She also pointed out that world history education has undervalued the importance of Asia history. For example, the Han Dynasty was as significant as the state of Rome; however, it is seldom mentioned in world history education. 

Prof. Stark answering questions of the participants

In the workshop, Prof. Stark also introduced the history of Cambodia and Angkor, especially the Angkor Empire, which had been the world largest pre-industrial city. Last but not least, Prof. Stark shared her own archaeological experience in Cambodia and encouraged people to join the Cambodia archaeological field school in the future.

Suggested Readings:
Stark, M. T. (2015). Southeast Asia, Archaeology of. In J. D. Wright (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (2nd ed., Vol. 23, pp. 63-69). Oxford: Elsevier.
Stark, M. T. (2014). The Archaeology of Early Modern South East Asia. In J. Symonds & V.-P. Herva (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Historical Archaeology. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

[One-Day Workshop with Miriam Stark: Recap] Part I: Materiality, the Social Lives of Things, and Kalinga Ethnoarchaeology

One-Day Workshop with Miriam Stark
Part I: Materiality, the Social Lives of Things, and Kalinga Ethnoarchaeology

Speaker: Miriam STARK (Professor of Anthropology, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa) Time: 10:00am-1:00pm, 17 Oct 2016 (Monday)
Venue: NAH401, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK

Text: Viviane Liu (Part-time Research Assistant)

On October 17, the Anthropology Department invited Prof. Miriam Stark from the University of Hawaii to give two workshops to CUHK students. In the first part of the workshop, Prof. Stark talked about “Materiality, the Social Lives of Things, and Kalinga Ethnoarchaeology”.

Prof. Miriam Stark
Prof. Stark’s talk was largely based on her ethnographic dissertation and fieldwork done in the Philippines mainly in the 80’s and 90’s. She began her talk by providing participants a short introduction and background information on women potters who resided in a village known as Dalupa, on the Upper Pasil Basin in the Phillippines. Her admiration and respect for these women were strongly conveyed when she mentioned all the names of the women shown in her presentation.  

She provided us with an overview of the history of “Americanist” / “Euro-Americanist” approaches in terms of conceptual framework in archaeology and how these approaches / paradigms have shaped our thinking regarding materiality. Since the foundation of Americanist archaeology was initially based on ethnology and anthropology, in earlier times it was believed that humans and objects were intrinsically entwined with each other. This correlation was believed by the German-American anthropologist Frans Boaz (1858-1942)—the founding father of anthropology.

In fact, early American studies regarding the study of objects intensely focused on culture history and social anthropology. One of Boaz’s PhD students, Alfred Kroeber (1876-1960), an American cultural anthropologist from the University of Columbia, had created a diagram to map time and space variations by placing the same types of objects to mirror the chronological sequence. These diagrams are still very important foundations for current archaeologists and anthropologists to document linear sequences of objects in their studies.

From the 60’s and 70’s onwards, archaeologists no longer followed the culture history approaches and a new era of approaching materiality had emerged. Known as “Processual” or “New Archaeology”, prominent archaeologists of this “movement” were American archaeologist Lewis Binford (1931-2011) and British archaeologist Colin Renfrew (b. 1937). However, epistemological tensions arose when it came to accepting materiality being an indisputable part of archaeology. Conflicts occurred between archaeologists who were against materiality and those who accepted it. Those who opposed thought that this notion was deemed too humanistic, hermeneutic and phenomenological; it didn’t fit into their own definition of “science”, where empirical data and evidences were the only valid forms of methodology. Prof. Stark clearly had her own view when it came to the notion of materiality. She emphasized that archaeologists are materialists themselves and focus on work about historical materialism, Marxist’s notions of organization, production and change etc.  

Though the majority of archaeologists were concerned with style, they believed they should accept notions of materiality. They believed that they should start with style in order to study function, context and process. However, the “hyper-social science” people argued that studying style alone was not scientific enough, instead they should engage themselves with function; and the two should be separated. This whole notion/study is also known as “New Materialism” or “Evolutionary Archaeology”. But Prof. Stark believed that function and style should be studied together, especially when it came to the study of pottery. 

There are mainly two kinds of approaches to deal with materiality in contemporary archaeology: artefact biography as social history, and artefact biography as use-life. The former is based on Kopytoff’s essay on the cultural biography of objects: commoditization as process, as written in The Social Lives of Things (edited by Appadurai in 1986). Kopytoff believed that objects are divided into animate and inanimate objects. Objects with animosity contain agency, potency, which, for example can be seen in a Buddhist ceremony, by, for instance, dressing a Buddhist statute as if it is alive. Inanimate objects, on the other hand, are on the receiving end of the “animosity spectrum”. The belief in animosity in objects are respected and taken into consideration by anthropological archaeologists who focus on the Southeast Asia region in particular. Though many other archaeologists are dealing with less-animate (dead) objects, the study on “style” is still important to questions related to social boundaries, mobility, the production, maintenance, co-residence, interactions, imperialisms of various artefacts based heavily on style as a social process etc.

Using this approach can be problematic though when it comes to the study of tribal cultures and their material culture. Prof. Stark drew participants’ attention to her Kalinga project and argued why an ethnoarchaeology is a more suitable approach when we deal with tribal people and their objects. The Kalinga Ethnoarchaeoloical Project in the Philippines, founded in 1973 by William Longacre, who (together with Lewis Binford) believed that local people and the natives were neglected in the studies done by cultural historians. Longacre believed that he could trace the patterns of post-marital residence based on clusters of very similar ceramic styles (i.e. ceramic style variability). This could reflect the tradition and skills that was passed on by mothers or aunts to (newly-wed) women.  

A case study that Prof. Stark discussed in detail was Dalupa, a village on the mountains of the Upper Pasil Basin. She mainly studied the ceramic change (primarily focused on utilitarian wares) in Dalupa and another village throughout the 20th century. Prof. Stark explained that the women potters were poor and desperately needed more income. In order to expand their current markets, these women potters had to become more innovative by, for example, making candlestick holders and goblets. She also noted that ceramics in different parts of the river valleys looked different despite they were serving for similar functions.  

She then proceeded to show the importance of style, by pointing out that exquisite designs known as tinoktoks could be found everywhere such as blankets, ceramics and tattoo’s on females. She also mentioned that it was difficult to ignore the notion of style since these patterns were related to how the women made the potteries and were reflected in their vessel forms. This brought us back to her earlier statement that style and function should be studied together.

And this all came back to the notion of artefact biography as use-life. People might no longer think about patterns, but these were basically "encoded" in the potteries. Though the manufacturing process of ceramics seemed to be mechanic, the actual process was institutionalized and was different for every production group.

Prof. Stark concluded the workshop by saying that the uniqueness of ceramics did not only depend on the manufacturing process, style and function, but also on how these ceramics were being used and justified in public spaces through dances, which defended and re-enforced a village’s social boundaries, so that everyone knew where they came from.

Suggested readings:

Stark, M. Social Dimensions of Technical Choice in Kalinga Ceramic Traditions. In Material Meanings: Critical Approaches to Interpreting Material Culture, edited by E. Chilton, University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, pp. 24-43

Stark, M., Bishop, R., Miksa, E. 2000. Ceramic Technology and Social Boundaries: Cultural Practices in Kalinga Clay Selection and Use. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 7(4), pp. 295-331.