Anthropologist Rupert Stasch’s research focuses on the treehouse-dwelling Korowai people living on the island of New Guinea in Indonesian Papua. Since 1990, they have been visited by fifty film crews and thousands of tourists, who are motivated by the idea that Korowai are a “Stone Age society” living outside of global markets and history. Drawing on ethnographic research with tourists, guides, reality television crews, and Korowai themselves, Stasch describes the vivid fascination that tourists and Korowai people have with each other’s strange characteristics and analyzes the stereotypes that visitors and Korowai project onto each other.
Previous HAU-Morgan Lectures
The 2014 Morgan Lecture reports on an ongoing multi-sited, multi-method ethnographic project investigating wave science—the study of periodic, oscillating, and undulating phenomena—in different fields, from cosmology, to biology, to oceanography, to sport, to social science. Fixing on waves as scientific things—amalgams of the formally described and materially instantiated, of the conceptual and empirical—the project examines how scientists apprehend and model waves as entities that cross the boundaries of the human and the ahuman, the agentive and the overdetermined, and the cultural and the natural.
The 2013 Lewis Henry Morgan Lecture explores the value of comparison in the social sciences. Originally a specialist on Indian society, in 2001 Professor van der Veer published a book comparing religion and nationalism in India and Britain. Five years ago, he began comparative work on China, and has just published a book comparing the spiritual and the secular in India and China. He is currently editing another comparative work on Religion in Asian Cities.
“Getting the Water Right” is the motto of Everglades restoration, which is among the world’s largest and costliest ecosystem restoration projects. In Florida and globally, getting the water right is as much a social and cultural project as it is scientific or political. In this 2015 Lewis Henry Morgan Lecture, Jessica Cattelino builds from ethnographic research in the Everglades to explore the cultural politics of water. Examining how Everglades residents—including Seminole and non-Seminole farmers and ranchers, water managers, and environmentalists—value water, she considers the distinctive forms that nature takes in settler colonial societies like the United States.