The Vega Day 2019

Date: Wednesday 24 April 2019 at 13.30–17.00.

Venue: Beijersalen, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm (metro: Universitetet; bus stop: Universitetet norra).

Movie from the Vega Symposium 2019
Pictures from the Vega Day 2019
Professor Emily Martin receives SSAG’s Medal in Gold from the patron of the Society, His Majesty the King of Sweden (Swedish Royal Court)

Witnessing Anthropological Journeys, and the Returns

The 2019 Vega Symposium honours Professor Emily Martin, Professor of Anthropology at New York University, recipient of SSAG’s Medal in Gold 2019, for her profound contributions to anthropological thought and research. The theme of the symposium will focus on anthropological journeys, and the returns. Honoring complex cross-cultural differences in ethical codes about reciprocity, anthropologists have returned books and articles, analytic grammars and dictionaries, and material support. What does the reciprocal relationship between ethnographers and their interlocutors tell us about the kind of knowledge ethnography can produce? Similar questions are now being raised about the proper fate of ethnographic treasures that are housed in American or European museums and libraries. Should such collections of cultural heritage be returned to their communities of origin?

Programme

13.30 Opening of the Vega Symposium. Associate Professor Thomas Borén, President SSAG and Chair of the Symposium

13.35 Introduction. Professor Jörgen Hellman, SSAG, Moderator

13.45 Witnessing Anthropological Journeys, and the Returns. Professor Emily Martin, New York University, USA

14.30 Who Owns History: The New York City African Burial Ground, the Movement for Black Lives and Confederate Monuments. Professor Leith Mullings, Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA

15.00 Coffee

15.30 Responsibility and Care in/through Returns: Law, Property and Decolonization of Knowledge. Associate Professor Jane Anderson, New York University, USA

16.00 The Burden of Giving: Everyday Reciprocity during Anthropological Fieldwork. Professor Don Kulick, Uppsala University, Sweden

16.30 Discussion

16.45 Closing of the Symposium

Most welcome!

Poster 2019 (pdf)

The SSAG Medal in Gold to Professor Emily Martin

Professor Emily Martin.

SSAG has decided to award Professor Emily Martin, New York University, USA, for her contributions to anthropology in a long row of influential books and articles. Her most classic book is about medicine and American culture, titled The Woman in the Body: a Cultural Analysis of Reproduction (1987). This book reads science with an eye for the cultural values that it reproduces and reinforces, even as it disavows and denies that it is a cultural product at all. Professor Martin’s approach combines feminist analyses with an ethnography of science and medicine and was highly innovative and original. It moreover founded a productive and constructive way to contrast the views of medical science with those of real people from diverse social and economic backgrounds.

Professor Martin’s production of classic works has continued and also influenced feminist and gender studies outside the discipline of anthropology. She is still publishing major works that challenges new generations of young anthropologists.

The Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography Medal in Gold.

On 24 April 2019 Professor Martin will receive SSAG’s Medal in Gold by the King of Sweden. On the same day the 2019 the Vega Symposium is focusing on Professor Martin’s research. Save the date!

Anthropology has long been associated with journeys to visit exotic locations and people. On many of those journeys anthropologists returned home bringing ethnographic treasures – sometimes objects but often also information about languages and social customs. Although ethnographers have taken resources from the communities they study, they have also frequently returned resources to those communities. Honoring complex cross-cultural differences in ethical codes about reciprocity, anthropologists have returned books and articles, analytic grammars and dictionaries, and material support. What is the emotional tenor of these relationships: nostalgia, loneliness, vulnerability, guilt, anger, fear? What does the reciprocal relationship between ethnographers and their interlocutors tell us about the kind of knowledge ethnography can produce?

Similar questions are now being raised about the proper fate of ethnographic treasures that are housed in American or European museums and libraries. Should such collections of cultural heritage be returned to their communities of origin? If so, under what practical or legal conditions? What is the role of anthropologists in relation to forensic materials, the skeletal remains of enslavement, genocide or colonialism? How can anthropologists negotiate the return or preservation of such forensic materials in relation to the desires of their living descendants? These questions enable new insights about the history of anthropology and future relationships between anthropologists and the communities they study. They open up exploration of the emotional cathexis of ethnographic fieldwork and the forms of knowledge it enables.

The Vega Day 2018

Invitation 2018 (pdf)
Poster 2018 (pdf)
Movie from the Vega Symposium 2018
Pictures from the Vega Day 2018

The Vega Day 2017

Invitation 2017 (pdf)
Poster 2017 (pdf)
Movie from the Vega Day 2017
Pictures from the Vega Day 2017
Chinese scientist Yao Tandong receives 2017 Vega Medal in Stockholm (Xinhuanet, Xinhua News Agency)
Chinese scientist Yao Tandong receives 2017 Vega Medal in Stockholm (China Global Television Network, CGTN)
Kungen delade ut Vegamedaljen (Swedish Royal Court)

The Vega Day 2016

Invitation (pdf)
Movie from the Vega Day 2016
Movie of when His Majesty the King hands out SSAG’s medal in gold 2016
Pictures from the Vega Day 2016

The Vega Day 2015

Movie from the Vega Day 2015
Pictures from the Vega Day 2015