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Magical Objects

Magical Objects
19 Russell Street, Room AP330
Time: Nov 24th, 5:00 pm End: Nov 24th, 6:30 pm
Interest Categories: Religion, Study of (FAS), Ethnography, East Asian Studies (FAS), Archaeology, Anthropology (UTSC), Anthropology (UTM), Anthropology (FAS), 2000-

The Department of Anthropology Ethnography Lab Workshop Series presents

Magical Objects

Workshop Facilitator: Emily Hertzman, PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto

Magical objects are a type of object that are thought to have either intrinsic supernatural powers or the ability to help connect people with a supernatural world in some way. As objects, they can act as potent signifiers, communicating a range of cosmological ideas. However, to understand these objects requires a significant amount of background information about the possibilities of the supernatural world they index. Interpreting these objects also involves knowledge about the context in which they were produced and circulated. Without this information these objects could be read as mundane, as opposed to "magical". In this workshop we will begin with an activity focusing on some atypical magical objects I acquired during my ethnographic fieldwork in Indonesia. We will brainstorm ways to interpret these objects in stages. In each stage I will help to explain more of the contextual details that may make these objects legible to different groups of people. After this we will try to position these objects alongside examples of other kinds of magical objects, comparing the kinds and breadth of contextual data needed to interpret them as supernatural.

Emily Hertzman is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology, at the University of Toronto. Her doctoral research focuses on Chinese Indonesian mobilities and subjectivities. She is a member of the Ethnography Lab and works on several projects in the city of Toronto, including the Kensington Market Research Project, and a project collecting Chinese Canadian oral histories. While studying migration patterns and practices in Borneo, West Kalimantan, she encountered a widely popular practice of Chinese spirit-mediumship, a tradition that includes many different sorts of magical objects. While not a specialist in the anthropology of religion or magic herself, she welcomes experts to this workshop to create a richer dialogue and more productive group analysis.

This event is free an open to all. Registration is not required. For further information, please contact Jessika Tremblay at ethnography.lab@utoronto.ca

The Ethnography Lab is excited to launch its 2016-2017 Workshop Series. This year, the series will focus on experimenting with different techniques for interpreting ethnographic data. Once primary data has been gathered in the field, every ethnographer must grapple with deciding which techniques are best suited to analyzing it before it can be included in a monograph, dissertation, or other published work. Most ethnographers don’t hesitate to spend hours pouring over field-notes, listening to audio recordings, or scrawling the perfect ethnographic vignette to tell a story about their data. But what actually happens between the gathering of that data and its transformation into abstracted, anthropological analysis, is often a mystery.

This workshop series, entitled Ethnographic Objects: Materialities and Meanings, is designed as a collective experimentation with different ways of interpreting the ethnographic object. Each workshop will center around one particular kind of ethnographic object that is commonly encountered in the field: the video interview, the mystical object, the selfie, the music playlist, the Facebook post, and others. Presenters will spend time contextualizing the object within their own field-work experiences, after which participants will be invited to join in the “workshopping” of different techniques to arrive at creative ways of analyzing their meaning. The objective of this series is to encourage critical and active thinking about the processes that are involved in transforming primary data into an anthropological product.

Located in the University of Toronto Department of Anthropology, the Ethnography Lab strives to encourage dynamic discussion and experimentation with the various ways in which ethnography is practiced and imagined.

Join us in the Ethnography Lab Seminar Room, located in the Anthropology Building, room 330, on select Thursdays from 5-6:30pm for stimulating discussion.

This series is FREE and OPEN to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

Contact Jessika Tremblay at ethnography.lab@utoronto.ca for more information.

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