School Newsletter 2019 - Our Graduate Students

The School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography's 1000th DPhil

Max Gluckman was awarded the first Oxford DPhil in 1936. Over the summer of 2019 the one thousandth DPhil award was made. We congratulate Catherine Hardie for being number 1000! Catherine, a Clarendon Scholar, completed both the MPhil and DPhil with us and is now a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Translation, Interpreting, and Intercultural Studies, Baptist University of Hong Kong.

The new DPhil in Migration Studies

This Michaelmas the first new DPhil in Migration Studies students began their studies at the School. The DPhil in Migration Studies, which was announced in Michaelmas 2018, is based in the School and the Oxford Department of International Development (ODID). This course offers the opportunity to undertake an in-depth project drawing on excellent research departments, centres and scholars. There is more information about the degree here.

rai logo

The School hosted the Ninth RAI Student Conference in September 2019

In September, the School of Anthropology and the Museum Ethnography (SAME) at the University of Oxford hosted the Ninth RAI Student Conference. The Chair, DPhil student Keiko Kanno, reports on it here.

The two-day conference invited participants from all areas of anthropology and archaeology.  Fifteen papers addressing the conference theme ‘Anthropology in the past, present, and future’ were accepted. Students from institutions around the country came together and shared their recent work on broad topics including but not limited to anthropology, education, environment, health, media, space and time. The high level of the presentations generated discussions throughout the event.

We had extremely vibrant and stimulating discussions after the keynote speech on three moments of photography in an Indian city in the past, not-so-past, and into the future by Professor Marcus Banks, Director of Graduate Studies and Professor of Visual Anthropology at the University of Oxford.

The event was generously funded by the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI), and volunteers from the Oxford University Anthropological Society supported the event on the day.

Many thanks to all those who contributed to making this conference a thought-provoking and intellectually diverse event. 

'Tibetan Objects in Transition' at the Pitt Rivers Museum

In January 2018, SAME DPhil student Thupten Kelsang curated a case display at the Pitt Rivers Museum on the material culture of Tibet.

The material culture of Tibet has been sought, collected and studied in the West since the middle of the 19th century. Often construed as valuable and exotic ‘art’ or ‘antiques’, it has since entered museum collections and global art markets in large quantities. British museum collections of Tibetan material expanded greatly in the early 20th century following the extensive looting that occurred during the Younghusband ‘Mission’ to Tibet of 1903-4.  Thereafter anthropologists, missionaries, explorers and other visitors to Tibet continued the process of removing items they believed could explain its mysteries and its religion. Thousands of Tibetan objects are therefore now stored in museums around the world, but Tibetans often lack access to them and the opportunity to interpret them in their own terms. ‘Tibetan Objects in Transition’ arose from the perceived need to insert contemporary Tibetan voices, narratives and perspectives into museum space(s).

This case display is an experiment in creating a ‘Tibetan’ mode of displaying material culture which emphasises contemporary Tibetan voices, narratives and perspectives. Drawing from the Pitt Rivers Museum’s collections, as well as objects loaned by members of the Tibetan community in the UK, it is underpinned by the idea of transition, in terms of the material culture and people of Tibet. Like some Tibetan people, Tibetan objects have been ‘displaced’ from their original settings and acquired new meanings over the course of their journeys. Here, these displaced objects and narratives have been re-united with Tibet, personified through the figure of the Senmo: the mythological female progenitor of the Tibetan people. More information can be found here.

dislplay case tibetan objects in transition

Tibetan Objects in Transition’ display case: Photographer: John Cairns, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford (c)