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Department of Social Anthropology


 Faultlines of Class (Marlene Schafers, 2013)

A woman holds her two children standing in front of a house reduced to rubble after an earthquake. They wear no coats, one child has no shoes and there is snow on the ground. Residents in the block of flats in the background, where the woman’s husband works as housekeeper have just moved back into their renovated apartments, while the family in the picture have yet to receive state help.

Taken by Marlene Schäfers while in Van, Turkey, this photograph is just one example of how social anthropologists return from their fieldwork with compelling, and often deeply moving glimpses of life in very different parts of the world.

A recent competition was held in the Division of Social anthropology to celebrate the diverse range of research carried out by graduate students. For the competition, students were asked to submit three photographs, each along with a short narrative on their research. With prizes on offer for first, second and third place, the judges felt the “overall standard of the competition was impressive” with “almost all of the images being of exhibition quality”. However, because of the high standard the judges felt that “two entries of equal merit stood out above the others” and were therefore awarded joint first prize.

On selecting the winning photographs, the judges said “A distinctive feature of this competition was the inclusion of textual commentaries.In most cases these considerably enhanced the interest of the image, and some of the texts were very thoughtful and thought-provoking indeed.However an excellent text alone was not sufficient; the judges placed equal weight on the composition and photographic merits of the images themselves.

For the insight it has afforded into the creativity of field ‘work’, the judges hope that this very successful competition will be first of many.They wish to thank the co-ordinator (Eva Rybicki), and heartily congratulate all the entrants.”
The two joint winners were Jonathan Taee and John Fahy with Marlene Schäfers highly commended.

Follow the links below to see the photographs and narratives of each entrant.

Jonathan Taee

Jonny’s fieldwork takes place in Bhutan where he spent one year living in Thimphu, Mongar and other locations conducting ethnographic research with patients, practitioners and their families. His research explores patient health seeking narratives, examining how, when where and why patients are using the available assortment of practices, and what effects this medical pluralism may have on their experiences of sickness and amelioration.

John Fahy

John carried out his fieldwork in Mayapur, West Bengal where the spiritual headquarters of The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is home to devotees from all over the world who come together, unified by the shared purpose of worshipping and serving Krishna. It is in the Nadia District of West Bengal, close to the Bangladesh border.

Marlene Schäfers

While doing fieldwork on the Kurdish women’s movement and women singers in Van (Turkey), the city was hit by two major earthquakes on 23rd October and 9th November 2011. Aside from claiming over 600 lives and leaving thousands injured, the earthquakes took away what for many women in Van constituted the centre of their lives: the home.

Lys Alcayna-Stevens

I am currently completing 18 months of fieldwork in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I conduct ethnographic research in scientific communities studying wild great apes, and in the rainforest villages of their local collaborators. I am examining knowledge-making practices, as well as the relationships between scientists, local communities, state actors (such as the paramilitary Congolese Wildlife Authority), ‘poachers’ and the great apes being studied.

Lam Minh Chau

My PhD project traces the experiences of marketisation in late-socialist Vietnam, grounded in a North Vietnamese village where market transformations have been and are being manifested in unpredictable and changing ways. Its main focus is the diverse and complex trajectories in which rural economic life is being lived against the backdrop of many unpredictabilities that emerge as the country is changing towards a market economy.

Ryan Davey

Dominic Martin

Researching the post-Soviet situation of the ancient Orthodox spiritual movement, Old Belief, took me across the length and breadth of the Russian-speaking world. It was in the Russian Far East that I learned most about trying to live as an Old Believer in the post-Soviet world from working and worshipping with a formidable congregation for whom Old Belief was not just a more authentically Russian Orthodoxy but a complete way of life.

Baasanjav Terbish

I did my fieldwork in Kalmykia, south-west Russia, in 2009-2010, to investigate the so-called “ideology of reason” which was propounded by the then President of Kalmykia, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. It was officially the state ideology of Kalmykia until the resignation of Ilyumzhinov in October 2010.

Rachel Wyatt

I did my fieldwork in rural Sarawak, in a village on the border between Malaysia and Indonesia. There is no road access to my main fieldsite. During my time there, I accompanied the Penan inhabitants of my main village as they moved between their village, other villages, the jungle, and the towns, in order to experience their day to day life.