Congratulations to Prof. Gillian Gillison for receiving the 2016 AAS (Australian Anthropological Society) Article Prize in recognition of her article ‘Whatever Happened to the Mother? A New Look at the Old Problem of the Mother’s Brother in Three New Guinea Societies: Gimi, Daribi, and Iatmul’. A panel of three independent anthropologists judged this article to be the best among many strong submissions in terms of theoretical sophistication, ethnographic depth, quality of writing and originality. Prof. Gillison will be awarded the prize at the Anthropocene Transitions AAS Conference December 12-15, 2016 at the University of Sydney.
The following article was posted on Arts & Science News and can also be read at http://news.artsci.utoronto.ca/all-news/breast-cancer-decision-tree-helps-women-navigate-treatment-options/
Breast cancer “decision tree” helps women navigate treatment options
“There is no other tool like this anywhere in North America”
A free information tool largely designed by breast cancer survivors and a University of Toronto medical anthropologist is now available online to explain treatment options for the most common form of cancer in women.
Breast cancer “decision trees” that map out the treatment options for every form of the disease are a key feature of the Be The Choice website, which also includes plain language explanations of medical terminology and the various types of the cancer.
“Everything from the language and graphics to the colours and fonts is informed by patients and survivors.”
Helping patients understand their disease and consider their options
With many patients facing surgical treatment within a few weeks of diagnosis, the site is meant to help them understand their disease and consider their options.
“A lot of people leave their doctor’s office feeling they either got too much information or too little, and they’ve heard medical terms that haven’t been explained,” says Bright, who was at the New York University School of Medicine and Perlmutter Cancer Center before joining U of T.
“When they go into the decision tree, they’ll see a short description, and then they can choose to read more. It’s sort of an iterative design, so you’re not getting too much information at once.”
While the type of breast cancer may dictate certain procedures that must be followed quickly, there will also be decisions the patient has to make, notes Bright.
These include choosing radiation or chemo treatment before or after surgery, and whether to have immediate breast reconstruction or to wait until later.
Designed to empower and spread cancer health literacy
The tool is not intended to be used in isolation but to empower the patient to discuss the information and options with their care providers. Bright says the designers anticipate that at the very least, the site will reduce anxiety and improve communication.
It’s also an important education tool for spreading cancer health literacy.
“In a very diverse population like Toronto, that’s important, because people might have pre-existing ideas or concepts of what a tumor might be.”
Bright recalls a patient she interviewed while in New York who was from Haiti. The woman put off surgery for two years because, like many in her community, she thought the lump in her breast was caused by menopausal blood that would dissipate.
The site is accessible on any browser or mobile device and is still in the testing phase. Bright and a team of advisors and clinicians have been working on the site for two years, and they hope to gather more feedback from visitors that they can incorporate prior to its official launch in June 2017.
The text is written in Eighth Grade English, and it will be translated for a French-language mirror site before the official launch.
Site to grow and develop
As the site grows and develops over time, the designers hope to add information about post-treatment care, survivorship resources, and complementary and alternative care, such as acupuncture, massage and meditation.
Bright also harbours ambitions the site could eventually contribute to existing patient advocacy movements to improve care in underserved areas by raising awareness.
Start-up funding has come from a grant from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA). That money will take them through the launch next year, and then they will be looking for additional funders.
“We’re hoping to spread the word so that people can see that this is often a manageable disease, and there is life after breast cancer,” says Bright.
“I also hope that this tool will help people understand they need to continue monitoring their health, even after treatment.”
Congratulations to PhD Candidate Anna Louise-Crago! She is one of six recipients of the 2016 Governor General’s Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case, which honours Canadians who advance gender equality. Anna-Louise was chosen because of her two decades of work as a human rights advocate, social service-provider and researcher alongside, and as part of, sex worker and street-involved communities. Learn more about the other recipients at http://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/commemoration/gg/recepient-en.html
Below is more on why Anna-Louise is so deserving of this award!
Anna-Louise Crago is dedicated to following an inclusive path toward building gender equality, with courage and integrity, in Canada and abroad. Currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto, she brings her lived experience in sex work to her studies in anthropology and ground-breaking human-rights initiatives. For two decades, she has been a human rights advocate, social service-provider and researcher alongside, and as part of, sex worker and street-involved communities. At Stella, Montréal’s centre for and by sex workers, Ms. Crago served as coordinator of health and social services. Along with her colleagues at Stella, she was co-recipient of the AIDS Action Award in 2006, given by Human Rights Watch. Ms. Crago has worked with sex workers in over 25 countries in many regions to document the human rights violations they face. She was lead author of a report on violence against sex workers by state-actors in Central Eastern Europe and Central Asia that Human Rights Watch called “ground breaking research” that should serve as a “catalyst to the human rights community.” In 2013, she received the prestigious Trudeau Doctoral Scholar Award from the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, to pursue research on sex workers’ experience during armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ms. Crago has been influential in advancing policies on a global level that are key in changing country-level approaches to the HIV epidemic to include thousands of sex workers in access to prevention and treatment while addressing violence against sex workers and the harms of criminalization.
Congratulations to Prof. Susan Pfeiffer! On November 5 she was the first woman to ever be presented with the J. Norman Emerson Silver Medal at the OAS Annual Awards Banquet. The J. Norman Emerson Silver Medal is awarded on occasion to an outstanding Ontario non-professional archaeologist whose life’s work has been consistently of the highest standard, who has made an exceptional contribution to the development of Ontario archaeology and who has earned acclaim for excellence and achievement.
Upcoming events are also listed below.
Friday, October 28, 2016
Prof. Tania Li (Anthropology, U of T)
After the land grab: Infrastructural violence and the mafia system in Indonesia’s oil palm plantation zone
Development Seminar co-sponsored by the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies and the Munk School of Global Affairs.
12:00-2:00pm, AP 246, 19 Russell St. Register here.
Friday, November 25, 2016
Friday, December 2, 2016
Friday, January 13, 2017
Friday, February, 10, 2017
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Friday, March 17, 2016
Friday, March 31, 2017
Details of events are found on the Anthropology website front page, the under the News & Events tab
The following U of T News article by Jennifer Robinson is also available at https://www.utoronto.ca/news/u-t-scholars-join-rsc-college
Top emerging U of T scholars joining Royal Society of Canada’s new college
A physical therapist involved in treating children with disabilities and an anthropologist studying animal activism may not seem to have much in common.
But at the heart of their research is a desire to change perceptions, to deepen discourse and disrupt or expand outmoded ways of thinking.
Today, physical therapist and bioethicist Barbara Gibson and anthropologist Naisargi Dave were among six U of T scholars named by the Royal Society of Canada as members of its College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. See the full list of recipients below.
In 2014, the society decided it needed to create a special college to recognize and foster scholarly leadership and interdisciplinary collaboration among Canada’s “new” generation of scholars, artists and scientists who’ve received their PhD within the last 15 years.
“It means a lot to be a part of it,” said Dave, who is hoping to finish writing her second book this academic year. “I was especially honoured that my senior colleagues sought fit to nominate me for this award.”
“I’m really excited about it. It’s a great honour,” added Gibson.
“The Royal Society of Canada is to be commended for their decision to recognize and support the work of Canada’s emerging scholars,” said Vivek Goel, U of T’s vice-president of research and innovation. “We’re extremely proud of U of T’s newest members of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists and look forward to seeing new collaborations and more exciting work from them as a result.”
Since publishing a book on queer activism in India, Dave (left, photo by Wan Park) has turned her attentions to animal-human relationships in the second most populous country in the world. Her research is challenging the commonly held notion that only upper class Westerners are concerned with animal welfare.
She’s also exploring how clashes between what are seen as normative actions (which value consistency and placing issues in context as “good”) and non-normative actions (contradictions) play out in the animal rights activism sphere.
An example, she said, is how a vegetarian or vegan is often questioned about the contradictions in their conduct, e.g. not eating animals but wearing leather shoes. But “normative values rarely need to account for or explain themselves.”
In Gibson’s case, she’s pushing rehabilitation to expand its thinking beyond the confines of biomedicine to include newer areas of research that see disability less as a medical problem to solve and more of a social problem to tackle, e.g., I am disabled by my society, not by my body.
“Rehabilitation is kind of oblivious to this… What I’m interested in is how do we think, talk and add this to the discussion on everyday practice in rehabilitation?” said Gibson, a U of T associate professor and senior scientist at Bloorview Research Institute at the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital where she directs the Critical Disability and Rehabilitation Studies unit.
Medical professionals can now predict with fairly good accuracy the likelihood of an individual child with cerebral palsy learning how to walk. “But parents are very hopeful and we don’t want to destroy that hope,” she said, even when the odds are not in their children’s favour.
As part of her research, Gibson has interviewed young people with cerebral palsy, aged eight to 19, to hear first-hand how they view their experiences in rehabilitation.
Some recall the time spent with their physical therapists as positive, such as using video games to encourage them to develop the use of their “bad” arm. While other “children are resentful” when they look back, she explained. Time in rehabilitation was painful and took time away from being in class and playing with friends. In some cases, they didn’t mind being in a wheelchair.
“I’m not saying don’t do it [rehabilitation],” Gibson said. “What I’m trying to do is encourage clinicians to think about treatment more broadly and have these conversations with parents and kids.”
The six 2016 U of T members of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists are:
Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering
- Hani Naguib, department of mechanical and industrial engineering
Faculty of Arts & Science
- Naisargi Dave, department of anthropology
- Stephen I. Wright, department of ecology and evolutionary biology
Faculty of Medicine
- Barbara Gibson, department of physical therapy and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
- Wolfgang Kuebler, department of surgery and St. Michael’s Hospital
- Sharon Elizabeth Straus, department of medicine and St. Michael’s Hospital
The following U of T News article by Blake Eligh can also be read at https://www.utoronto.ca/news/hip-hop-handshakes-youth-culture-kenya
From a secret language that parents don’t understand to the complexities of a not-so-simple handshake, U of T Mississauga anthropologist Sarah Hillewaert studies how young Kenyans negotiate the interaction between traditional and global cultures.
The Belgian anthropologist originally considered becoming a professional dancer, but her training with African dances led instead to an undergraduate degree studying African languages and cultures at Belgium’s Ghent University.
A backpacking trip to Kenya to practice Swahili introduced her to Sheng, a youth language that developed in the slums of Nairobi. Hillewaert was intrigued by the way the language, spoken mainly by young Kenyans, crossed ethnic and economic barriers. “I researched the development of Sheng—how it is used and its linguistic structure,” she says. “I also looked at how Sheng was used in underground hip-hop and how it became an identity marker for urban youth. Sheng represented a new identity that moved away from ethnic stereotypes and crossed ethnic lines.”
Hillewaert, who speaks five languages, went on to earn her master’s degree and PhD in linguistics and anthropology at the University of Michigan. Now an assistant professor with UTM’s Department of Anthropology, Hillewaert has become an authority on youth cultures in Kenya.
Her most recent research focuses on youth culture in Lamu, a town of about 10,000 people on an island of the same name just off the coast of Kenya in the Indian Ocean. Hillewaert describes the Muslim community as an “island paradise” with white sand beaches and architecture that dates back to the 1500s. “Lamu was once a prosperous trade centre, trading with the Arab world and India, but in the last few decades, the island’s economy has fallen on hard times,” she says. “The community is very poor. Beautiful mansions are now crumbling because no one has money to look after them, so ex-pats buy the houses, which is turning the area into a haven for Westerners.”
Hillewaert lived in Lamu for three years, documenting how Lamu’s young people are responding to the economic, political and cultural changes in their community. Two generations ago, their conservative Muslim grandmothers lived in total seclusion, Hillewaert says, and many observant women still wear niqabs or cover their faces with a veil, known locally as a buibui, when out in public spaces. But as the younger generation tries to build a future in Lamu, they must interact in new ways with westerners as they take jobs in traditional offices and in the growing tourism trade.
“That contrast fascinates me,” Hillewaert says. “For young women, integration in the employment and education arena is quite recent. They want to contribute financially, but that exposes them to new social interactions, such as working with men,” she says. “Their grandmothers lived in seclusion, and their mothers were also segregated. How do these young women maintain respectability for themselves, and with their family, while at the same time do their job well? They are trying to negotiate that.”
Hillewaert details some of these complex interactions in her recent paper, which describes the intricate semiotics of a simple handshake in Lamu. “How a young woman interacts with people in the office can become the subject of gossip to her community outside of work,” Hillewaert says. “Do you shake hands? You’re not supposed to touch members of the opposite gender, but in a professional work environment, one shakes hands.”
Another recent publication looks at cultural notions of morality and servitude and what those assumptions mean for young Muslim men working in Lamu’s tourism industry as sailors and ‘beach boys.’
“Lamu’s young people are consciously contemplating different aspects of their identity, like religion, fashion choices, employment and relationships with their parents, while being concerned with what it means to be a virtuous person in a rapidly changing society,” Hillewaert says. “It’s exciting to show how they are dealing with very complex issues and dilemmas, as other young people do around the world. Their struggles are recognizable and yet very different.”
Professor Emeritus Shuichi Nagata died peacefully on July 11, 2016. A private cremation service was held on Thursday, July 14, and a full family funeral will be held in November at his ancestral grave in Tokyo. A public memorial service will be held Friday, October 28 from 4-7pm in the Main Lounge of the Faculty Club. Please click here to RSVP. Prof. Nagata served as Chair of the department of Anthropology from 1986 to 1991.
The following was written by Prof. Jane Helleiner (PhD, 1991), one of Prof. Nagata’s former graduate students. Jane is currently a Professor at Brock University.
As a former undergraduate and then graduate student of Prof. Shuichi Nagata, I appreciate the opportunity to share some of my memories of him and I hope that these words will resonate with many other students who have been profoundly and positively shaped by his teaching and scholarship.
In the early 1980s, as a new anthropology major at the University of Toronto, I was fortunate to be a student in Prof. Nagata’s “Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology” (ANT 204) course. For those curious about the reading list of that period, I recall that we covered Mary Douglas’ Purity and Danger as well as several of the then popular Spindler case studies notably The Semai (Dentan), The Huron (Trigger), Hano, A Tewa Indian Community (Dozier), Peasants (Wolf), and Changing Japan (Norbeck). Prof. Nagata’s fieldwork amongst the Hopi Peoples and indigenous people of Malaysia as well as his upbringing in Japan, brought tremendous depth to his lectures on these texts and I was completely captivated! Subsequently I went on to Prof. Nagata’s more advanced “Anthropology of Southeast Asia” and “Political Anthropology” courses where he shared much more of his personal research experiences through stories and slides (in those pre-power point days).
As a graduate student, I was one of many Canadian and international students who benefitted from Prof. Nagata’s strong commitment to the role of MA and Ph.D supervisor. When I was conducting doctoral research in Ireland, for example, Prof. Nagata was doing fieldwork in a region of Malaysia with no mail service (in those pre-internet days). During his brief sojourns in centres where he could access the mail, he always managed to read and respond to my research reports with detailed advice and encouragement. When his research again took him abroad very near the end of my Ph.D program, he ensured a seamless transition of supervisory duties to Prof. Peter Carstens. Prof. Nagata was very generous with his time and scholarly insights. Drafts were returned promptly with extensive typewritten comments and hand written edits. His prioritizing of student needs continued throughout the extended period when he was Chairperson of the Department. During supervisory meetings held in his very busy Chairperson’s office (then in the rather drab ground floor of Sidney Smith), he managed to offer his undivided attention to students such as myself. Later, in his much quieter office in University College, I recall him kindly responding to my expression of concern about the quality of my fieldwork data, by reminding me that it was not so much the quality of the data that mattered but what I would do with it…an important piece of advice that led me to stop worrying and start writing!
Conversations with Prof. Nagata were always stimulating given his eclectic scholarly interests. He read widely and took a keen interest in research that spanned the 4-fields of the discipline represented in the Department. As a result, he was able to effectively engage with, and support students both inside and outside the social/cultural stream. My partner, Bohdan Szuchewycz, working in Linguistic Anthropology, for example, received extensive mentorship from him as a graduate student and then as a fledgling faculty member. Prof. Nagata had a quirky and endearing sense of humour (he memorably for instance, responded to my announcement of my first pregnancy by jokingly asking me not to send him baby pictures because he already had albums full of such photos from former students!). Prof. Nagata modelled scholarly breadth, curiosity and rigour as well as a deep dedication to a broadly defined, humane and grounded global anthropology. He offered inspiration and support to many through his teaching, research, and service to students, colleagues, the Department and the discipline of anthropology. I am very fortunate to have been among his many students.
Dr. Jane Helleiner, August 2016