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Keynotes (at the Reitoria)

Monday 18th April: Shaping lives

Emergent logics of expulsion - beyond social exclusion
Saskia Sassen (Columbia University)


The central argument is that the current socio-economic system of advanced capitalisms contains logics of expulsion that need to be differentiated from the more familiar notion of social exclusion. Social exclusion happens inside the system. What I am trying to capture is a logic that expels people from the system. In the last two decades there has been a sharp growth in the numbers of people that have been “expulsed,” numbers far larger than the newly “incorporated” middle classes of countries such as India and China. I use the term “expulsed” to describe a diversity of conditions: the growing numbers of the abjectly poor, of the displaced in poor countries who are warehoused in formal and informal refugee camps, of the minoritized and persecuted in rich countries who are warehoused in prisons, of workers whose bodies are destroyed on the job and rendered useless at far too young an age, able-bodied surplus populations warehoused in ghettoes and slums. My argument is that this massive expulsion is actually signaling a deeper systemic transformation, one documented in bits and pieces but not quite narrated as an overarching dynamic that is taking us into a new phase of global capitalism.

Short biography

Saskia Sassen is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology and Co-Chair of The Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University (www.saskiasassen.com). Her recent books are Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages ( Princeton University Press 2008) and A Sociology of Globalization (W.W.Norton 2007). Forthcoming is the 4th fully updated edition of Cities in a World Economy (Sage 2011). Recent edited books are Deciphering the Global: Its Spaces, Scales and Subjects (Routledge 2007), and Digital Formations: New Architectures for Global Order (Princeton University Press 2005). The Global City came out in a new fully updated edition in 2001. Her books are translated into twenty-one languages. Two of her books are translated into Portuguese, Cities in a World Economy (Sao Paulo: Studio Nobel), and most recently A Sociology of Globalization with Artmed in Sao Paulo (2010).

Shaping lives – negotiating and narrating memories
Peter Aronsson (Linköpings Universitet, Sweden)


Life-stories and experiences are shaped within a broad range of uses of heavily institutionalized identity politics, mediated narratives and situational bodily experiences. Acting upon individual desires is a necessity for formation of collective identities and identification, communicatively constructing society.

Examples from a variety of contexts will be used to argue that meaning is created thorough exchange between spheres of different logics: existential, political, market and institutional logics might openly oppose each other and crave for autonomy, but do more often reinforce each other when life-experiences and new utopias are being shaped through narrating and negotiating memories.

Short biography

Peter Aronsson (1959) is Professor in Cultural Heritage and the Uses of History since 2001 at a multi-disciplinary Culture Studies department, Linköping University. PhD in history, Lunds University 1992. His dissertation dealt with the historic conditions for creating a durable democratic culture. The role of historical narrative and consciousness to direct action has been focused in recent research both as regards historiography proper and the uses of the past in the historical culture at large Currently he is co-ordinating several international projects exploring the uses of the past in National Museums and participating in a large project on historical consciousness, exploring the general concept of history. See, www.nordicspaces.eu, www.eunamu.eu, www.histcon.se.

Among his recent publications are together with Simon Knell  and A. Amundsen, (eds). National Museums. Studies from around the World. (London: Routledge, 2010); "National cultural heritage - Nordic cultural memory: negotiating politics, identity and knowledge." Transnationale Erinnerungsorte: Nord- und Südeuropeische Perspektiven (Berlin: Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, 2009) "The Image of the Peasant within National Museums in the Nordic Countries." Societal change and ideological formation among the rural population of the baltic area 1880-1939 (Huddinge: Södertörns högskola, 2008); "Representing community: National museums negotiating differences and community in Nordic countries." Scandinavian Museums and Cultural Diversity. (Paris, Oxford, New York: UNESCO; Berghahn Books, 2008);: Aronsson, Peter, Narve Fulsås, Pertti Haapala & Bernard Eric Jensen. "Nordic National Histories." The Contested Nation: Ethnicity, Class, Religion and Gender in National Histories. (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).

Tuesday 19th April: Creativity and emotions

Feeling the road: marketing car love in an era of violence
Catherine Lutz (Brown University, USA)


The talk will explore the emotional life of cars and drivers in the United States, with special focus on how car marketing shapes affects in the current sociocultural climate. Based on anthropological research with drivers, buyers, marketers, and emergency personnel, the talk outlines a political economy of automobile affect in the United States, raising issues of encapsulation and individualism, fear of crime and crashes, the anger and culture wars emerging around transit modes and congestion, and the car interior as a marketing and political space.

Short biography

Catherine Lutz is the Thomas J. Watson, Jr. Family Professor of Anthropology and International Studies at the Watson Institute for International Studies and Chair, Department of Anthropology at Brown University.  She is the author of Carjacked (with A. Fernandez-Carol, 2010), Breaking Ranks (with M. Gutmann, 2010), The Bases of Empire (ed., 2009), Local Democracy Under Siege (with D. Holland et al., 2007); Homefront(2001); Reading National Geographic (with J. Collins, 1993); and Unnatural Emotions (Chicago, 1988).Lutz is past president of the American Ethnological Society, the largest organization of cultural anthropologists in the US, and is recipient of the Leeds Prize, the Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing, the Delmos Jones and Jagna Sharff Memorial Prize for the Critical Study of North America. She has conducted some of her research in conjunction with activist organizations, including a domestic violence shelter, Cultural Survival, and the American Friends Service Committee.

Artistic interpretation of semantic layers of Baltic natural sanctuary *Rāmawa
Valdis Muktupāvels (University of Latvia)

Three groups of motifs, characterizing Baltic sanctuary, are presented:

  1. *Rāmawa (Romowe, Romow) as a historically documented Pagan Baltic (Prussian, Lithuanian and, possibly, Latvian) natural sanctuary – a holy grove or/and a separate holy tree (usually an oak-tree) inside this grove. The name *Rāmawa is derived from the root rām- (lv rāms, lt ramus/romus, pr rāms), meaning 'calm, enlightened state of mind', therefore its meaning in Baltic languages is associated with a place, where someone can obtain such a state of mind. Several *Rāmawas have been identifiedin situ, mostly in the Northeastern Prussia (present-day Kaliningrad region).
  2. The holy tree of *Rāmawa – it is described in the Simon Grunau's (ca. 1470-1530) 'Preussische Chronik', the first comprehensive history of Prussia, written sometime between 1517 and 1529. While dismissed by many historians as work of fiction, its motifs are found in other Baltic traditions: there are numerous sources about adoration of holy trees in Prussia, Lithuania and Latvia. Several widespread motifs in Latvian folksongs add extra meanings to the holy tree as arbor mundi. A modern Prussian writer Ortrun Brunhild Hela has an idea in her novel 'Das wahre Märchen vom Bernsteinzimmer' equalling the holy tree of *Rāmawa to the holy aśva-tree described in Chapter 15 of the Bhagavadgītā.
  3. The Pagan priests and performers of rituals in *Rāmawa – *Kriwwis (Criwe) and *Waīdila (Waidelotte, Waideler, Waidel). The name *Waīdila is derived from the root *waīd-, expressing sacred, magic and performative activity. *Rāmawa/Romowe and its Pagan clergy is equaled to Rome and its Christian clergy, especially the Pope, in the 14th century Prussian chronicles of Peter of Dusburg (died ca. 1326)

These motifs are interwoven into my oratorio 'Pontifex', which is a postmodern vision concerned with spirituality of the modern world. It is an attempt to trace the interaction between Pagan and Christian worlds and to contour a bridge between them, to find the bridge-builder (pontifex in Latin). Thematically, the focus is on ancient Baltic people – the Prussians, whose priests *Waīdila performed their sacred activities in *Rāmawa and had a duty to carry souls of the dead across netherworld waters into the hands of their gods.

Peaceful pantheistic Prussians became extinct after their contact with Christian culture, yet the ancient religion and the people's spirit has not disappeared at all. Pope John Paul II, having his Polish name Wojtyła literary close to *Waīdila of Pagan Prussians (the prominent structuralist and researcher of Baltic mythology Vladimir Toporov thinks positively about their semantic relation), who were partly assimilated by Poles, was doing his mission of promoting peace, understanding and co-existance, just as if he was a true descendant of the *Waīdila. The modern Pontifex is making bridges between time immemorial and the future, he stretches his hand across the waters of destruction and ignorance.

The motifs related to the Baltic sanctuary are meaningful not only locally, their universality makes them significant globally. This is one of the reasons, why the signs of different world music traditions are present in the artistic palette of the oratorio, making it a world symphony.

The oratorio text is comprised of several fragments in New Prussian, Latvian, Polish, Sanskrit and Latin: Karol Wojtyła's poem 'Myśląc ojczyzna', Pēters Brūveris' poems "Irklis" and "Piesitas rūtij", Latvian folksongs, Chapter 15 of Bhagavadgītā, ceremony of papal election and the Roman mass, Aestian, Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Moslem, Hindu prayers.

Subsequently, the oratorio's audio presentation is offered.

Short biography

Valdis Muktupāvels (1958) is Doctor of Arts, Professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Latvia, Director of the Baltic Sea Region studies Master’s degree programme. Valdis Muktupāvels is expert of Latvian and Baltic traditional and modern music culture – historical and social aspects, traditions and change, musical instruments, culture and identity issues. He has authored and coauthored five books on different aspects of music and more than 50 articles. Valdis Muktupāvels is one of key figures of folklore revival movement in Latvia, he has contributed to the revival of traditional musical instruments, and has promoted preservation and dissemination of the heritage at home and abroad. He is composer of choral, instrumental and film music, has recorded albums of kokle, bagpipe and traditional music. Valdis Muktupāvels is awarded the Order of Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas (2001) and twice the National Grand Prize in folklore (2003, 2005).

Wednesday 20th April: Ecology and ethics

Ethnobiological research and ethnographic challenges in the 'ecological era'
Amélia Frazão-Moreira (Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, New University of Lisbon)


Important issues in the study of the ways that people make places and feel the world has been the local knowledge and the ecological practices. Nowadays, in the “ecological era”, this subject gained new prominence. However, we attend different dynamics that, in some way, can seem epistemologically ambiguous. The ethnobiological studies, heirs of linguistic and cognitive anthropology, are permeable to deductive logics and etic approaches. The ethnoecological paradigm is associated with the rhetoric of “indigenous rights” and is politically situated. The applied ethnobiological surveys are engage in global nature conservation programs and in intangible cultural heritage safeguarding, but also in community development projects. Therefore, we can consider the ethical and political dimensions of research relationships and the relevance of ethnographic approach in the contemporary ecological research. Taking data from different contexts and focused in my fieldwork experiences, I will try to outline some of these theoretical and methodological challenges and to discuss the ethnobiological construction of how people make the places.

Short biography

Amélia Frazão-Moreira is a Lecturer at the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences of New University of Lisbon (FCSH-UNL, Portugal), and researcher of the Centre for Research in Anthropology (CRIA, Portugal). She has a PhD in Social Anthropology (2000, ISCTE-Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa, Portugal) and her doctoral thesis examined the Nalu (Guinea-Bissau) social appropriation of nature and the cognitive variability of ethno botanical classifications. The current research focuses on historical, cultural and local relationships between humans and the natural domain, in the contexts of biodiversity preservation programmes and turistification processes. Her fieldwork has been located in Portugal and Africa (Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, and Mozambique). Her published work includes many articles and chapters, and she is author of Plantas e "Pecadores". Percepções da Natureza em África(2009, Lisboa: Livros Horizonte).

Is there an ecological ethics? 
Mauro Almeida (Campinas State University, São Paulo)


Ethics was defined nearly two and half millennia ago as the wisdom about what a good life is, and how to attain it by means of virtuous conduct. Aristotle, the author of this definition, also defined economy as the science of the good management of the oikos. Is it possible to bring together these ideas of ethics and oikos management under the notion of an ecological ethics? We think so; however, this return to an apparently pre-modern ethics of virtuous oikos management (in contrast with Kantian ethics and its modern versions by Rawls and Habermas) requires some revising in the current globalized context. First, we are required to extend the notion of oikos from the household to ecosystems and from these to the planet, and we must also include among its recognized dwellers not just us humans but all forms of being— human and non-human, material and immaterial. A second requirement, which may seem to contradict the first, is that we recognize the irreducible plurality of oikoi and the different ways in which a good life is invented and acted out. How then to reconcile the push towards ethical universalization—the globalization of oikos --, with the demands of local differentiation which in inherent in the plural nature of the oikoi? Or, to put it in another way: how to reconcile the ecological imperative with the anthropological imperative? An initial answer includes perhaps the idea that any ethical imperative (e.g. the anthropocentric imperative of human rights, the pathos-centric imperative of animal rights, and the biocentric imperative of life rights, to use Otfried Höffe’s phrasing) implies a minimal epistemological assumption: that some partial rational consensus may be reached through communication on a partially shared worldThis assumption of qualified universalism is compatible with the anthropological imperative that requires from us that we take seriously the plurality of life-worlds.  Is it possible to reconcile a minimal epistemological consensus with ontological pluralism? This is the question to be discussed. 

Short biography

Mauro William Barbosa de Almeidawasborn in Rio Branco, Acre. Ph.D. in Social Anthropology (Cambridge University/Darwin College, 1993), Master in Political Science (University of São Paulo, 1979). Was Tinker Professor at the University of Chicago in 2006, and Visiting Scholar at the University of Stanford and other institutions. Currently is Professor at the Department of Anthropology of the Campinas State University, São Paulo, where was head of the post-graduate program and head of department. His research areas include Brazilian peasantry and folk literature, the Amazonian rubber tappers, and traditional knowledge and agricultural systems, as well as anthropological theory and its relations with natural sciences and mathematics. Was member of the federal Council for the Management of Genetic Patrimony (CGEN), of the Sao Paulo State Council for Historic and Cultural Heritage and of other consulting bodies. Was active in the creation of the first Extractive Reserve in Brazil (protected territories collectively used by traditional communities) and in the planning of the “University of the Forest” (now a Forest Campus of the Federal University of Acre), and has among other honors received the Chico Mendes Medal from the Government of Acre. His publications include "A Encyclopedia of the Forest. The Upper Jurua River: practices e knowledge”, co-authored with Manuela Carneiro da Cunha", and articles published in Current Anthropology, Daedalus, Ambio, Journal of Latin-American Anthropology among others. Together with ethnobotanist Laure Emperaire, heads currently a research project on traditional agricultural systems in western Amazonia (January/2011).

Performing ritual tears on a global stage
Charles Briggs (University of California, Berkeley)


Relatives collectively narrativized emotions as performed ritual wailing over the corpse of a young man who died from a mysterious disease that was killing dozens in a Venezuelan rainforest. Their affectively-charged sounds inflected a novel process of knowledge production taking place next door as community representatives, a physician, and an anthropologist sought to produce a biomedical object—a diagnosis—that would travel seamless into a revolutionary government's health policies and the international press.

Short biography

Charles L. Briggs is the Alan Dundes Distinguished Professor in the Department of Anthropology of the University of California, Berkeley. His publications include Learning How to AskVoices of Modernity (with Richard Bauman), Stories in the Time of Cholera(with Clara Mantini-Briggs),  and Poéticas de vida en espacios de muerte. He is currently researching cultural models of circulation and communication; narrative representations of violence; global health and indigenous knowledge practices; and, in Cuba, Ecuador, Venezuela, and the United States, how media representations shape the politics of health.