Welcome to Summer Research Interns

Today we welcomed two new members of the lab as Summer Research Interns. Shakti Puri and Lucy Harries have both just finished their final year as Modern Languages students and will be with us for four weeks over the summer working on bringing D-PLACE to the wider public.

Lucy Harries
Shakti Puri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lucy: I am a French and Italian graduate interested in the link between linguistic, cultural and environmental elements and practices. I am currently undertaking a research assistantship with the aim of making D-PLACE accessible to the wider public, in particular for school teaching. This involves developing resources, such as lesson plans and tutorials, in order to encourage use of the database in communities outside of academia.

Shakti: I am a graduate in Spanish and Portuguese interested in linguistic diversity and how this is reflected in various cultures. As a Summer Research Intern I will be hoping to expand the accessibility of the online database D-PLACE. This development aims to increase the use of these resources amongst the general public with a focus on students and teachers, aiding a deeper understanding of diverse communities.

Thanks to the Faculty of Arts Research Committee for funding Lucy and Shakti this summer!

February 2017 events in the excd.lab

  1. As part of the British Academy International Partnership Mobility award that enabled Josh Birchall from the Museu Goeldi to visit us back in October, Fiona is currently in Belém, Brazil to meet with collaborators on an incipient comparative database of South American language and kinship.
  2. As part of her trip, Fiona gave a talk on “As dinâmicas da diversidade cultural e linguística” (The Dynamics of Cultural and Linguistic Diversity).
  3. Friend-of-the-lab, Bristol Anthropology PhD student Janet Howard published a paper titled Frequency-dependent female genital cutting behaviour confers evolutionary fitness benefits in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Read The Economist’s summary here.
  4. Peter Racz’s paper Social Salience Discriminates Learnability of Contextual Cues in an Artificial Language has been published in Frontiers in Psychology.

Welcome to two new lab members

As the new year dawns, we welcome two new members to the excd.lab:

Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow Sean Roberts joins us from a postdoc position in the Language and Cognition group at the MPI Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands. His research is in evolutionary linguistics and statistical approaches to modelling cross-cultural data. He’ll be with us for three years, developing computational and statistical workflows for identifying causal effects in linguistic and cultural data.

Rebecca O’Connor is an MSc Palaeobiology student. She’s doing a phylogenetic comparative analysis of marriage, looking at the evolution of marriage (monogamy and polygyny) in different language families.

We’re excited to have you both on board!

Hosting visiting researchers

As part of the Varikin project, we are able to host visiting researchers who are funded by the National Science Foundation in the United States; the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning in South Korea; the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovationin Argentina; the Society for the Promotion of Science in Japan; the National Natural Science Foundation in China; the National Research Foundation in South Africa; the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt) in Mexico; the Canadian Tri-agency Institutional Programs Secretariat (TIPS) in Canada; or the Brazilian National Council of the State Funding Agencies (CONFAP) in Brazil.

Applications for this scheme are due in early 2017 (depending on the country of the visitor), and visits can begin in mid- to late-2017. We are particularly interested in hosting individuals with active field research sites and who may be able to contribute to our VariKin-Development subproject on how children learn kinship concepts. However, we would welcome proposals from scholars in all fields of anthropology, linguistics, and cognitive science, who may be interested in cross-cultural diversity in kinship from any angle. More information can be found here. Please get in touch with Fiona as soon as possible to discuss applications.

We also hope to be able to host visitors from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, or Slovenia through the ERC Visiting Research Fellowships program during the academic year 2017-2018. More information about this program will be available in June 2017.

South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership

UK/EU students interested in applying for the AHRC South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWW DTP), a funding scheme for PhD students in the arts and humanities, are invited to attend the SWW DTP Information Day on November 28 in Cardiff. Registration is free but must be completed by November 13: https://swwdtp.fluidreview.com/.

Students interested in joining the excd.lab through this scheme are advised to get in contact with Fiona as soon as possible. The SWW DTP provides full funding and a stipend for three years, as well as additional research funds and opportunities for training and professional development (including placements of up to six months with national and international consortium partners). A unique advantage of the SWW DTP is co-supervision across two different universities, allowing students to take advantage of the academic and social resources of two different institutions. Potential students who projects are anthropological and/or linguistic in nature can refer to the Joint Guidance from the AHRC and ESRC on these “interface” subjects. The 2017 deadline is January 12.

October 2016 events in the excd.lab

1. We welcomed Sam Passmore and Simon Bishop as new PhD students in the lab. Sam will be working on the Varikin-Evolution project and Simon on cultural adjustment in overseas students at the University of Bristol.

2. We are excited to host Joshua Birchall from the Museu Goeldi in Belém, Brazil, for three weeks as part of a British Academy grant. Josh works on Amazonian languages, and we’re working toward establishing a comparative database of South American language and kinship.

3. We are holding a one-day interdisciplinary workshop on “Quantitative Comparative Approaches to Language and Culture” (QCALC).

September 2016 events in the excd.lab

1. We welcomed Dr Alice Mitchell and Dr Catherine Sheard to the VariKin project. Alice will be working on VariKin-Development, studying children’s understanding of kinship relations in Bristol and Tanzania, and Catherine will be working on Varikin-Evolution and providing admin support.

2. Fiona, Alice, and Peter are at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology this week for the Kinship Cognition and Practiceconference.

3. Fiona will also be speaking at the Cultural Evolution Workshop at the MPI for the Science of Human History on September 26, talking about the value of kinship to the field of cultural evolution.

February 2016 events in the excd.lab

1. In February we welcomed Dr Péter Rácz to Bristol and he’s started work on the VariKin-Usage corpus linguistics project.

2. In January Alarna and Fiona were working with Jamie Tehrani from Durham on a fairytales project.

3. The D-PLACE database is very near to release. In April, Fiona will be talking about D-PLACE at the European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association meeting in London.

4. Two further VariKin positions have been advertised: a PhD in Cultural Phylogenetics and a Postdoc in Kinship Concept Acquisition. See the People page for details.

5. Applications for the Quantitative Methods Spring School at Jena were launched.

6. We welcomed Evi Argyriou as a project assistant – she is collecting kinship term data from Dravidian and Athapaskan languages.

7. Fiona was in New Zealand in March, experiencing new kinship ties at a family wedding!

A second-hand treasure

Finding classic ethnography in second-hand bookstores or charity shops is one of my great pleasures. This weekend I rumbled a copy of Te Rangi Hiroa Sir Peter Buck’s “The Coming of the Maori” for the bargain sum of £2.50.

CotM-Buck
It’s a bit mildew-spotted on the outside but in great condition inside.

 

 

dedication
I wonder who Barbara was to get such a scholarly and interesting present from her Dad in 1958? (That’s my bookstamp there, yes, isn’t it great? I like ferns. A gift from my ever-thoughtful sweetheart.)

 

 

kete
One of the plates at that back: a collection of woven flax kits (kete). I remember trying to do even the most basic weaving as a kid and being astonished at the fine detail that skilled weavers can produce. The middle-left is particularly lovely.

Te Rangi Hiroa was an amazing man – an anthropologist, politician, doctor, health campaigner, and served in the armed forces – and all this at a time when discrimination against Māori people in public life was routine in New Zealand. The article linked here mentions the epilogue from “Vikings of the Sunrise” where Te Rangi Hiroa considers the passing of a traditional Polynesian way of life:

“The old net is full of holes, its meshes have rotted, and it has been laid aside.

What new net goes afishing?”

I had not realised before that this was where Witi Ihimaera took the title of his book of short stories “The New Net Goes Fishing”. Those stories were classic high-school reading when I was growing up, and I can see how the stories resonated with Te Rangi Hiroa’s theme.