Anthropology and Sociology M257 University of Western Australia
35 Stirling Hwy, CRAWLEY
Phone + 61 08 6488 2858
I am a Social Anthropologist with research interests in creativity, intellectual property, knowledge production, digital technologies, and ecological relations to place. My primary fieldsite is in Papua New Guinea, and I have also undertaken fieldwork in the UK, Europe, and Australia with Contemporary dance companies, interdisciplinary collaborators, and software engineers. I hold the positions of directeur de recherche (CNRS) at the Centre for Research and Documentation on Oceania (CREDO) (www.pacific-credo.fr) and Future Fellow in Anthropology at the University of Western Australia.
My current research concerns several sites of contemporary knowledge making. From the temporal unfolding of social and ecological effectiveness in garden rituals in Papua New Guinea, to the knowledge of space, emotion, structure, and social others that are created in contemporary choreography, the project has two ethnographic foci. Firstly, the translation and presentation of 'bodily intelligence' and 'physical thinking' in Contemporary dance practice in Europe and Australia through an emergent genre of digital adjuncts to dance making that we call choreographic objects. The second focus is on ecological and cultural knowledge on the Rai Coast of Papua New Guinea. This involves experimenting with ways to comprehend and present the effectiveness of indigenous knowledge practices that do not distort, appropriate, or devalue it.
Two significant aspects link the sites. The first is a desire by people in both situations to communicate the value of what they do as a kind of knowledge, and to receive recognition for holding or making this knowledge. New technologies such as interactive adjuncts to dance making or hybrid digital/paper notebooks offer the opportunity for people to communicate what they do to others. They also suggest the possibility for the transfer of this knowledge out of the domain in which it is generated. These opportunities are increasingly stimulated by interest in what indigenous ecological knowledge, or indeed, the bodily intelligence of choreographers and dancers, might offer our environmental practices, our scientific research, or our economies. The second aspect linking the sites are the complex social, ethical and epistemic trajectories created when ‘knowledge’ is abstracted from the relationships in which it emerged, and in which it has its specific effects. It is all too common in such instances for distortions and misunderstandings to result. I seek both a theoretical understanding and critique of such instances, and to turn this understanding to the service of practical experiments in modes of presenting ‘process based’ knowledge. Examples of these experiments are given in the links above.
My long term research trajectory, of which this research project is part, has focussed on creativity, knowledge production, and ownership; on art, science, and collaboration; and on the development of new technologies and their implications for social form (see Activities for a selection and read more about me).
Atomos Programme, Sadler's Wells. Wayne McGregor | Random Dance. Download PDF
Work with the Contemporary dance company Wayne McGregor | Random Dance forms a part of the Wellcome Collections Exhibition ‘Thinking with the Body’, opening 18th September 2013 in London.
Public Seminar with choreographer Wayne McGregor, digital artists Marc Downie and Nick Rothwell, and R-Research director Scott deLahunta at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, Thursday 3rd October.
Forthcoming with MIT Press in 2014: Subversion, Conversion, Development. Cross Cultural Knowledge Encounter and the Politics of Design. Edited by James Leach and Lee Wilson. See more in BOOKS
ARC Linkage Grant to work with Cognitive Psychologist Catherine Stevens (UWS) and Australian Dance Theatre on distributed aspects of choreographic creativity. Thinking Brains and Bodies (PDF).