Category: Cultural Topics in the News


A Dragon Kiln in Carolina

By K. Kris Hirst, About.com Guide

excavation photoChinese Pottery Technology in the Antebellum American South

As modern humans, we tend to think of international trade, commercial innovation and mass production as strictly modern inventions, no more than a century or so old and certainly never dreamed of by our great-grandfathers. I know what you’re thinking–didn’t Henry Ford invent that stuff? But as archaeology teaches us over and over again, modern industrial revolutions are in fact based on centuries and even millennia of collaboration, innovation and espionage.

A Dragon Kiln in Carolina is the story of the origins of mass production of an innovative and revolutionary type of ceramic stoneware, pottery made beginning in the southern United States about 1815, with clay body and glaze recipes and equipment technologies borrowed in part from 6th century Chinese manufacturing. It is a tale of the import of an idea for an enormous, fiery pottery-making monster, aptly named a dragon kiln for its heat, length and high-maintenance characteristics, and it is one of technological transmission from China to South Carolina that the excavators have yet to completely understand.

The archaeological identification of a dragon kiln in the historic South Carolina pottery workshops called the Edgefield District was made by Christopher Fennell (U. Illinois), George Calfas (U. Illinois), Carl Steen (Diachronic Research Foundation), and Sean Taylor (S.C. Department of Natural Resources) during the summer of 2011, and I thank them sincerely for bringing the story to me, as well as providing photos and information to take the story to you.

Read full article and photo essay online http://archaeology.about.com/od/ceramics/ss/Dragon-Kiln-In-Carolina.htm

 

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Jamie Arjona and Steve Szynal of UIUC excavate at Pottersville

Jamie Arjona and Steve Szynal of UIUC excavate at Pottersville

Unearthing the Past: Edgefield Pottery Excavations Reveal New, Surprising Information

June 30, 2012, by DeDe Biles, Aiken Standard News

Archaeological excavations are uncovering new and surprising information about the potteries that thrived in Aiken and Edgefield counties in the first half of the 1800s.

“There is a sparse documentary record of this area that is maddening, and what we’ve found has been a complete revelation,” said Dr. Christopher Fennell, an associate professor and the associate head of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Fennell and a team of graduate and undergraduate students, along with some volunteers, have been working at Pottersville, a site not far from downtown Edgefield, since just after Memorial Day. They are scheduled to wrap up this year’s efforts on Friday. Their focus in 2013 has been to add to the knowledge gained during a series of digs at the same location in 2011.

Before then, much of what was known about local potteries in the past suggested that a groundhog kiln about 25 to 30 feet in length and 9 to 10 feet wide would be found at Pottersville. Instead, the researchers discovered a kiln that was more than 105 feet long and had a sloping floor similar to the dragon kilns used in China.

“It gave us quite a new view of Edgefield,” Fennell said. “There had been a working historical theory before then that this had started out as smaller scale crafts industry. But what was found was a much bigger industrial-scale pottery.”

Read the full article online.

gottlieb_grahamMay 7, 2013 event, 7pm, at Common Good Books. “Anthropology and narrative nonfiction come together in a fascinating look at life in West Africa. In a compelling mix of braidedworldsliterary narrative and ethnography, anthropologist Alma Gottlieb and writer Philip Graham continue the long journey of cultural engagement with the Beng people of Côte d’Ivoire that they first recounted in their award-winning memoir Parallel Worlds. Their commitment over the span of several decades has lent them a rare insight. Weaving their own stories with those of the villagers of Asagbé and Kosangbé, Gottlieb and Graham take turns recounting a host of unexpected dramas with these West African villages, prompting serious questions about the fraught nature of cultural contact.” Read the full event announcement online at Common Good Books.

Dr. Stanley HylandDr. Stanley Hyland will visit with us on Thursday, March 28, as a speaker in our 2012-2013 Colloquium on Engaged and Applied Anthropology. These colloquium events feature an afternoon keynote presentation to the Department and also small-group discussions among our graduate students and Dr. Hyland over lunch and dinner.

Thursday, March 28, 3:00pm, 109A Davenport Hall, Examining the Impact of Three Anthropological Figures in the Reformulation of Anthropology for the 21st Century: Developing New Approaches to Poverty Policy and Social Justice in Memphis and the Mid-South Regionkeynote presentation by Prof. Hyland.

Dr. Hyland is Professor and Head of the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy and a member of the Department of Anthropology faculty at the University of Memphis. He received his PhD in 1977 from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and joined the faculty at the University of Memphis in 1976. Dr. Hyland has over 25 years of experience as an applied and urban anthropologist. He has focused his research on community building, particularly in its relation to grassroots economic activities. On a local level, his anthropological studies have included housing, neighborhood revitalization, new urbanism, evaluation, philanthropy, voluntary associations, and policy. On a national level, during 1989-1990, Dr. Hyland served as director of research for the Lower Mississippi Delta Development Commission, a federal commission to develop a strategic plan for economic development of the Delta for the year 2000. In addition to his research in community development, he has published numerous articles and monographs regarding neighborhood revitalization and public policy and has served on both local and national community-based advisory boards. Dr. Hyland received the 2012 Solon T. Kimball Award by the American Anthropological Association in recognition of his outstanding work in engaged and applied anthropology.

Marshall SahlinsMarshall Sahlins Resigns from the National Academy of Sciences

Inside Higher Ed

A Protest Resignation
February 25, 2013 – 3:00am

The eminent University of Chicago anthropologist Marshall Sahlins resigned from the National Academy of Sciences on Friday, citing his objections to its military partnerships and to its electing as a member Napoleon Chagnon, a long-controversial anthropologist who is back in the news thanks to the publication of his new book, Noble Savages.

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/02/25/prominent-anthropologist-resigns-protest-national-academy-sciences#ixzz2MWKzx05K

Godesses-small2013-Conference-HeaderCultural Anthropologist and Emeritus Professor David Plath has been selected to receive the 2013 Association for Asian Studies award for Distinguished Contributions to Asian Studies. The presentation will be made at the annual AAS meeting in San Diego, March 21-24, 2013. The AAS web site states that the award “is intended to honor both outstanding scholarship and service to the field. It is the highest honor the AAS can bestow.”

How Napoleon Chagnon Became Our Most Controversial Anthropologist

New York Times

By 
Published: February 13, 2013

. . . Among the hazards Napoleon Chagnon encountered in the Venezuelan jungle were a jaguar that would have mauled him had it not become confused by his mosquito net and a 15-foot anaconda that lunged from a stream over which he bent to drink. There were also hairy black spiders, rats that clambered up and down his hammock ropes and a trio of Yanomami tribesmen who tried to smash his skull with an ax while he slept. (The men abandoned their plan when they realized that Chagnon, a light sleeper, kept a loaded shotgun within arm’s reach.) These are impressive adversaries — “Indiana Jones had nothing on me,” is how Chagnon puts it — but by far his most tenacious foes have been members of his own profession. . . He spent much of the past decade working on a memoir instead, “Noble Savages: My Life Among Two Dangerous Tribes — the Yanomamö and the Anthropologists” . . .

Read the rest of the article here!  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/17/magazine/napoleon-chagnon-americas-most-controversial-anthropologist.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&emc=eta1N Chagnon

PromoDoc is a European Union funded project to promote European doctoral program to scholars around the world. The three-year PromoDoc project is being implemented by an international consortium, led by Campus France and composed of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Nuffic, the British Council, the European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers, and the Institute of International Education. It helps doctoral students find the program that fits their needs and facilitates the exploration of funding opportunities, including the Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctoral Program and Marie Curie Actions. Congratulations to Professors Alma Gottlieb on her appointment to serve as an Ambassador for PromoDoc!

Mark your calendars for an information session and join colleagues to learn more about these great opportunities from PromoDoc Ambassadors: “Graduate Studies in Europe,” Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, 2:30pm to 3:30 pm, at the Illini Union Bookstore, 5th Floor (Room 514).

 

“Lessons From the Ancient Maya” by Lisa Lucero

Co-sponsored by IPRH and the Chicago Humanities Festival

Date: November 11, 2012; Time: 3:00 p.m.

Location: First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple, 77 West Washington Street, Chicago

University of Illinois archeologist Lisa Lucero has been digging up the secrets of the ancient Maya for more than 20 years. Her most far-reaching discovery, though, is a recent one and carries implications for our own era. At the height of Maya Classic culture, around the year 800, several multiyear droughts may have hastened the end of the civilization’s ruling kings. Lucero’s research centers on the resilience and water management practices of the commoners, helping us understand the importance of rituals, strategy, and conservation to their ingenuity and perseverance. Hear her talk about the ideas Maya history may offer for present-day sustainability.

For program details and ticket information, visit the Chicago Humanities Festival website

Read a related CHF blog post about this program by intern Tara McGovern, who is a student of Lisa Lucero’s.

 

“How Did We Get Here?” A Conversation with Ripan Malhi, with Stephanie Levi

Co-sponsored by IPRH and the Chicago Humanities Festival

Date: November 10, 2012; Time: 4:00 p.m.

Location: Claudia Cassidy Theater at the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 East Randolph Street, Chicago

When did humans come to the Americas? And how? Those are some of the oldest (and greatest) questions of anthropology. Theories abound, but they are obsolete. Over the last few years, new genetic research technologies have upended our understanding, suggesting an intriguing model that turns on multitiered colonizations along with settlements in Beringa. University of Illinois professor Ripan Malhi is at the forefront of this scholarly revolution, which also involves the development of novel research collaborations with native communities. Malhi discusses his research with Stephanie Levi, founder of Science Is Sexy, which gives Chicagoan nonscientists and scientists alike a short, sweet taste of science in their everyday lives through a series of public events.

This program is generously underwritten by Colette and John Rau.

For program details and ticket information, visit the Chicago Humanities Festival website

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