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World Gathering Of Anthropologists

World Gathering Of Anthropologists

More than 400 anthropologists from around the world will gather at The University of Auckland in December as the Department of Anthropology hosts the largest anthropology conference to date in the southern hemisphere.

For the first time, members of the Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and the Commonwealth (ASA), the Association of Social Anthropologists of Aotearoa/New Zealand (ASAANZ) and the Australian Anthropological Society (AAS) are combining their individual annual events to gather for a joint five-day conference dedicated to issues of ownership and appropriation

World renowned anthropologist and forthcoming University of Auckland Hood Fellow Dame Marilyn Strathern will deliver the keynote speech, “Sharing, stealing and borrowing simultaneously”.

Professor Strathern’s speech, which doubles as her Hood Fellow public lecture,
focusses on ephemeral forms of ownership, such as 'borrowing', and was partly inspired by the the way in which a particular Pacific Island invention appears to suggest new ways of thinking about property.

The convenors of the conference, University of Auckland anthropologists Professor Veronica Strang and Dr Mark Busse say that its goal is to generate new anthropological insights into ideas about property, by shifting the focus from property and property relations to more fluid notions and acts of owning and appropriating. They suggest that this emphasis is highly relevant in a globalising world in which resources are at once being depleted and increasingly privatised, and ideas about œproperty are expanding.

They note that issues of ownership and appropriation are particularly relevant in New Zealand and Australia, both “settler” societies in which processes of appropriation and claims to ownership are closely linked to issues of identity and belonging.

Professor Strang, whose own research focuses on water resources, observes that the conference also challenges common stereotypes of anthropology as a rather esoteric discipline focused on small communities in far-off locations.

“As the scope of the conference illustrates, anthropology is concerned with issues of immediate contemporary relevance. It is also highly diverse, making contributions to the analysis of human behaviour in many areas.”

Professor Strang suggests that old-fashioned stereotypes of anthropology need to be challenged “because the facts are more interesting than the fiction; because, in an ever more complex world, anthropology has a vital contribution to make; and because, contrary to the stereotypes, anthropological training is immensely applicable in a very wide variety of fields, disciplines and careers.

The Ownership and Appropriation conference will be hosted by The University of Auckland’s Department of Anthropology 7-12 December. For conference and registration details visit or email

Professor Marilyn Strathern will deliver her Hood Fellow lecture “Sharing, stealing and borrowing simultaneously” at 5:30pm on 8 December in the main lecture theatre, room 260-098 of the Owen G. Glenn Building (10 Grafton Rd). The lecture is free and open to the public.

The University of Auckland Hood Fellowships are generously supported by the Lion Foundation.


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