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Lunch and Learn with Dr. Silvia Tomášková, “Early Anthropology on the Margins: Siberia as the Place to Be”
November 2, 2015 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Dr. Silvia Tomášková, Professor and Chair, Department of WGST/Department of Anthropology, will present on “Early Anthropology on the Margins: Siberia as the Place to Be.”
‣ Talk description
In writing my last book Wayward Shamans (2013), which traced the history of Siberian shamans as an idea and a concept later used in prehistoric archaeology, I came across a body of writing about and by Siberian exiles who became enthusiastic early anthropologists. As with many expansive book projects, I had to set aside most of this research. In this conversation I would like to return to the late 19th and early 20th century eastern margins of the Russian empire and situate these exiles at the very beginning of the emergence of Anthropology as a field and a discipline. This is a piece on the very backburner of all my writing. However, I feel strongly that this history should be better known and thought through in a disciplinary history of my field and in colonial histories of the Russian empire.
I was born and raised in the now extinct country of Czechoslovakia. I emigrated to Canada, and after two very long and very brief years as a refugee, I entered McGill University where I discovered Anthropology. Without proper guidance I followed the money and went to Yale University, where I received an MA in Slavic Languages and Literatures. I also realized that Anthropology was better. I therefore transferred to UC Berkeley where I received my PhD in Anthropology in 1995. After a postdoc at Harvard I started my first job at UT Austin, only to realize that job interviews in February are no prediction of Texas in August (105F 3 months straight). I came to UNC Chapel Hill in 2001 when I was hired into the (now) Department of Women’s and Gender Studies to help with a Women and Science Program. In 2010 I switched my fieldwork from Eastern Europe to South Africa, and to my delight found myself at home – oppressive regimes do create similar, therefore to me very familiar, cultural responses. I currently study prehistoric rock art in the Northern Cape of South Africa, build virtual models of engravings and eventually hope to create a virtual museum for the local communities.