Anthropologist Presents at Paris Conference, Engages in Fieldwork

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Monday, July 30, 2012

It’s been a busy summer for Professor Jacqueline Urla (anthropology). At the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) conference in Paris she made a plenary presentation at the EASA conference. Her “Reflections on a ‘Thick’ Description of Resistance,” reviewed the emergence of resistance as an object of ethnographic study.

Arguing that the “thick description” characteristic of ethnography is a valuable contribution to the field of resistance studies, she called on anthropologists to make their work more relevant by engaging as public intellectuals in a broader field of political discourse. Urla’s presentation drew from her book, Reclaiming Basque: Language, Nation and Cultural Activism (University of Nevada 2012), as well as her research on the historical memory movement in Spain.

Also at the EASA conference, along with colleagues Mikel Aramburu and Jaime Palomera at the University of Barcelona, Urla convened a workshop, “Uncertainties in the Crisis of Multiculturalism.” It explored uncertainties and fears surrounding cultural diversity and heritage in the so-called “post-multicultural” moment. PhD candidate Christopher Sweetapple '10 (anthropology) presented, and Associate Professor Krista Harper was a discussant.

The workshop was part of the ongoing collaboration between the departments of anthropology of UMass Amherst and the University of Barcelona within the three-year initiative “Cultural Heritage in European Societies and Spaces” (CHESS), supported by the National Science Foundation.

Earlier this summer Urla conducted fieldwork on the historical memory movement in Spain. During this time she served as field supervisor for students who conducted research on the theme of “Multiculturalism, Migration, and Heritage in Europe,” also as part of the CHESS project.