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Conferences and workshops

Exploring the City and Beyond

UEL Anthropology Student Conference

9–9.30: Registration and refreshments

9.40–10: Mark Jamieson - Opening address
10–10.30: Henry Hayden - Ritual and belonging in a Sikh Gurdwara in Stratford
This presentation offers some insight into the world inside a Sikh Gurdwara in East London, as the practice and understanding of rituals and the imagining of belonging are explored in relation to one of the world’s most influential religions.
10.30–11: Elena Fejdiová - We were like sisters: collective ritual practices among women sharing direct sales cosmetics
In this talk I will show that the practices observed during purchasing of direct sales cosmetics among groups of women in Slovakia are to be interpreted as collective cosmetic rituals through which women create and sustain mutual obligations and form cosmetic coalitions. Through the analysis of the observed shopping procedures consisting of collective catalogue browsing and ordering and bringing in of the ordered cosmetics and their distribution I will show how the collectives of women operate and how to understand their observed behaviour as ritual. 

11-11.30: Coffee break

11.30 – 12: Lionel Sims - Apollonian Delphi: interpreting pre-history with history
Recent research in linguistics has pushed back the probable date for the origins of the proto-Indo-European language and, with the possibility of a shared origins with the Basque language, draws greater Europe’s shared language and culture back to the Palaeolithic. The Greek myths are one early recorded version of Indo-European myth and, when combined with archaeology, history and cultural astronomy, should be able to provide parallels for interpreting other Indo-European prehistoric cultures. Since myths are the scriptural basis for rituals they can inform our interpretation of European prehistory. This paper considers the myth of Apollo’s oracular power at Delphi, and shows that Apollo’s metamorphoses go beyond appearing as the dolphin of the Delphinus constellation, mimicking those of the dragon of the Draco constellation timed to coincide with the dark moon culminations of the nine-yearly alternation of the major and minor standstills of the solstice moons. These findings coincide with the archaeoastronomy of many North-western European monuments which display lunar-solar alignments which map the nine-year cycle of major and minor lunar standstills scheduling the conduct of dark moon solstice rituals.
12-12.30: Andrew Shearer - Authority and its reactions in modern day football supporters 
Using participant observation and interviews with a group of supporters the work aims to argue how the modern-day football stadium through CCTV has become a panoptical space as from the work of Foucault. The relationship between the authority figures inside the stadium and the supporters is also addressed with relation to who is truly in control. Changes of behaviour by all involved are also examined as a way to determine who is in control. The authority figures involve the referee on the pitch, the stewards in the crowd and the police. 
12.30-1: Alison Bates -The milk of human unkindness: breastfeeding in public, discrimination, violence and resistance
New mothers can face multiple socio-cultural expectations. This work-in-progress examines the current attitudes to breast feeding in public, when and why those attitudes may have come into usage and methods used by mothers and their supporters to resist certain types of discrimination and violence. 
1-2: Lunch break
Staff and students ambassadors will be on hand during the lunch period to help offer holders, prospective applicants and others with questions about our programme.
2-2.30: David Hayward - Cosplay: the fans behind the masks
The cultural phenomenon that is costume play, or cosplay for short, has been gaining in popularity over the last several years. Events such as the MCM London comic convention and London Film and Comic Convention fill large venues in London such as the ExCel centre in Victoria Dock and London Olympia centre as thousands attend these conventions to show off what they have made, built or bought in order to demonstrate the love that they have for particular fictional characters. This work explores the significance of cosplay for those who attend such events.
2.30-3: Daniel Soman - Understanding linguistics through an anthropological dissertation of a West Indian group of people in a London street
This presentation considers how Montserratian Creole acts as a social space alongside with standard English in the context of a London street. It draws on methods and theoretical concerns of linguists present and past who have worked on creoles and past.
3-3.30: Alice Vittoria - Fuel land allotments: an anthropological account on cultural transmission, identity and belonging
This presentation focuses on anthropological fieldwork conducted in the “Fuel Land Allotments” in East Finchley, Borough of Barnet (North London). It examines the allotment as a liminal space, as a place that is positioned between two different “realities”, the urban and the rural, and as a zone that occupies the ground between tradition and modernity. I will therefore draw upon the work done by Van Gennep (1909) on rites of passage and the concept of liminality.  I will moreover explore the allotment as representing a place of conversion in which plot holders constantly try to alter the conditions of the environment in order to reproduce their own cultural identities. Allotment holders dynamically convert British land into something that is utterly different as a way to replenish their own identities and construct new forms of belonging; the purpose of the research is to find out the social and symbolic processes involved in this conversion as well as to understand why and how plot holders engage in these transformative mechanisms. Thus, I will be focusing on Gardner's account on Sylheti migrants and Leach's structural analysis on symbolism.
3.30-4: Coffee break

4-4.30: Rafael Fuentes - The Nanakshahi calendar: Towards an epistemology of modern social time  
My research analyses the on-going conflict within Sikhism regarding implementation of a new calendar in Eastern Punjab (India) and subsequently discusses how anthropological study of this calendrical change sheds light on social and political processes in the region. Furthermore, it provides a comprehensive epistemology of time with an ethnographic approach to understand how time-measurement erects cultural governance and the mechanisms through which globalization and capitalism are shaping individual and collective attitudes towards time in Eastern Punjab.
4.30-5: Sabino Alvino and Mouse Hicks - High culture, high violence, high ideals; an exploration of the structural violence of prohibition
In this presentation we explore the idea that drug prohibition is a form of structural violence, and that it precipitates and exacerbates considerable further violence, both physical and structural. Conversely we propose drug legislation has actually demonstrably reduced violence. We outline the arbitrary and often self contradictory nature of drug prohibition and then examine of contexts of violence caused by drug prohibition, which include the emergence of organised crime in association with alcohol prohibition in the 1920s US, and the proliferation of clandestine "meth-labs" and gang violence following the criminalisation of methamphetamine in the 1980s. We will then explore counter examples in which drug legislation has reduced violence, including examples from the Netherlands and Portugal.
5-5.30: Paul Valentine - Why were the Curripaco cannibals?
This paper asks the question why were the Curripaco cannibals, bearing in mind the deadly risks they had to take going on a raid and the supernatural threats they believe they had to face when they ate human flesh? The Curripaco are Arawak speakers who live in the Northwest Amazon. I conducted fieldwork among them from 1981 to 2003 when I collected the data on the cannibalism, a practice that until now has not been described in the ethnographic literature.  
5.30-5.45: Camilla Power - concluding address

About the conference 
Exploring the City and Beyond is designed to showcase the work of students reading Anthropology at UEL. It features presentations by eight of our current undergraduate students (Alvino, Bates, Hicks, Sabino, Hayden, Shearer, Soman and Vittoria), one postgraduate student presently at UEL (Fejdiová), and another former undergraduate (Fuentes) who is currently studying Anthropology at Masters level and preparing for doctoral research at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Besides those given by our students, Exploring the City and Beyond also features presentations by two former lecturers on our programme (Sims and Valentine) both of whom have been inspirational in shaping the Anthropology programme at UEL. 

Exploring the City and Beyond will allow prospective applicants, offer holders and others a taste of (a) what anthropology really is, and (b) what anthropology at UEL is all about. 

Please note that attendance at Exploring the City and Beyond is completely free. We would however ask those who intend to come to let us know if at all possible, so that we may manage numbers most efficiently. If you do plan to come (or have any queries about the conference or indeed about the study of anthropology at UEL) please e-mail

We very much look forward to seeing you on the 23 March.

Mark Jamieson, Programme Leader and Senior Lecturer in Anthropology

Venue: UEL Docklands Campus room EB.2.43

This conference is open to UEL staff, students, alumni, staff and students at external universities and research groups, and the general public.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

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