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Social inequality

Who We Are, What We Do: Department of Anthropology

Teaching and Learning

By Janet Harron

What does the food we eat tell us about who we are and where we come from?

How are national parks experienced differently by tourists and residents? What can government representations of the Iraq war tell us about American nationalism? How did a women’s party make it into the Northern Ireland peace process?

These are just a few of the many problems currently being investigated by anthropologists at Memorial.

“While our faculty members specialize in different areas, what brings us together is a common interest in the problems of social inequality which we view as being critical to understanding the contemporary world,” said assistant professor Lincoln Addison.

Dr. Addison is featured in Who We Are, What We Do: Anthropology, the first in a series of teaser videos produced by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and created by multihyphenate writer/videographer/rapper/producer Timo Sergeant, to be released weekly throughout the summer of 2016.

The videos are designed to demystify the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences for current and prospective Memorial students who might be unaware of what is involved in studying certain disciplines.

Also appearing in the video is fourth-year honours student Grace Sherwin, who discovered her major in a roundabout way. She registered in the course Indigenous People of North America during her first semester at Memorial as a requirement for her Aboriginal studies minor (now a certificate program).

“After that I was hooked — I changed my major from English to anthropology at the beginning of the next semester,” said Ms. Sherwin, who transferred from the University of Guelph where she had begun a commerce degree.

Mind-opening studies

Her honours thesis focuses on the iconic Native American Pocahontas and how she has remained relevant in Western society for over 400 years.

“So far I’ve found that she as a historical woman is a far cry from the ‘Disney-fied’ version most people think about when they hear the name Pocahontas,” said Ms. Sherwin. “Her story comes from the writings of European men, mostly Captain John Smith. Pocahontas’ narrative, as decided by Europeans, seems to appropriate Aboriginal history into an accepted and celebrated Westernized version.”

Ms. Sherwin characterizes courses in anthropology as “mind-opening,” most specifically Medical Anthropology (taught by Dr. Mark Tate) and the Anthropology of Death and Dying (taught by Dr. Reade Davis).

Anthropology of food

Dr. Addison’s research as an economic and environmental anthropologist focuses on changing food systems in Africa. He has carried out fieldwork in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Uganda and was originally drawn to anthropology by its emphasis on deep cultural immersion with different people.

An active member of Food Advocacy Research at Memorial (FARM), Dr. Addison is excited about his upcoming fall 2016 course on the anthropology of food.

“It will survey and examine local and global food systems, with an emphasis on experiential learning,” he said. “Students will be given the opportunity to prepare meals, and visit community gardens and local restaurants.”

Those interested in the course are welcome to email Dr. Addison directly.

For more information, see the anthropology degree map, visit the department’s website or follow them on Facebook.

Who We Are, What We Do is a summer series from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences featuring faculty and students discussing their discipline. The next installment of Who We Are, What We Do: Archaeology, featuring Dr. Meghan Burchell and undergraduate student Anna Sparrow, launches June 6.

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