AGSA September 2014 Meeting Minutes

September 11, 2014 AGSA Meeting

Convened at 1:10

In attendance: Steffan, Bryn, Joe, Sultan, Anastasia, Michelle, Cordelia, Lindsay, Ezra, Jordan, Jasmine, Katie, Eva, Martina, Collen, Heather, Megan


  1. Welcome and intro to AGSA and events
  1. Filling open positions
  1. Brief intro on last year’s letter to the AGSC and response (these will be made available after the meeting for discussion and possible action in the next meeting).
  1. Undergraduate Research Opportunities (URO) club – Intro (Adam)
  1. Brainstorming possible fundraising ideas and objectives

2014/15 AGSA Officers

AGSA Pres/Vice Pres or Co-Presidents: Steffan Gordon, Martina Volfova

Treasurer: Jasmine Sacharuk

Secretary: Megan Wong

AGSA talks organizers: Heather Robertson; Bryn Letham

Department Rep.: Cordelia Frewan (PhD); Colleen Parsley (MA)

AGSC Rep.: Lauren Harding (PhD); Joe Hepburn (MA)

Social Chair: Bryn Letham

LoA Reps: Bryn Letham and Katie Roth

GSS Rep: Michelle Hepburn

TA Union Rep: Lindsay Moore

Undergraduate Liaison: Jordan Handley

Social Media Coordinator: Jasmine Sacharuk


-introductions of those in attendance

-described positions and called for candidates

– Sultan had to leave but volunteered for any position that wasn’t filled

-short presentation by Undergraduate research Opportunities representative (Adam)

-will be providing follow-up info to Martina for interested gradstudents

-some discussion of AGSA positions

-Lindsay suggested that Undergrad liaison duties could potentially be handled by Department reps, since Undergrads would also have a rep at the meetings; ultimately there were enough volunteers to fill the position

-Martina contacted by Undergrad president regarding organizing Undergrad arch day and Grad school; following up

-decision to have a social media coordinator

-main concerns of last year’s two letters to the department outlined; letters and response will be emailed to AGSA by Steffan

-travel/conference attendance grant raised by Steffan as an example of a possible item to fundraise for

-Lindsay raised concern that fundraising should be for things that will benefit both PhD and MA students

-possible fundraisers include soup/chili sales on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, when undergrads take most of their classes; T-shirts, requiring deposits before they are ordered

-Bryn reminded everyone of pubnight this evening; still to be determined if will regularly be on Wednesdays or Thursdays

Meeting adjourned 2:10


AGSA Meeting Minutes October 2014

AGSA Meeting: Oct 20th minutes

In attendance: Steffan Gordon, Martina Volfova, Joe Hepburn, Jordan Handley, Cordelia Fewren, Bryn Letham, Heather Robertson, Eva Marley, Lindsay Moore

  1. Cordelia – updates from Departmental meeting

Important: We must keep our Academic Records updates – especially new MA students

The Departmental website is being redone and restructured. There is a website committee: All graduate students (MA and PhD) will be in one location “graduate students”–The suggestion from the department is to have someone from the AGSA responsible for keeping it current and consistent – photos, short bios, and other info we want there. We as a student body can decide how we want to structure it.

Heather and Joe– volunteered for this task, we need to discuss what kinds of things we want to have on the website – this will be brought up at the next AGSA meeting – suggestion of researching what other departments include on their websites.

Developing an institute for critical indigenous studies; First student intake 2017/2018

  1. TA Union: election of new executive; chief bargaining agent reelected.
  1. Joint SFU and UBC party – Halloween party at Jordan’s place. Heather has started a preliminary planning – mainly inviting SFU people.
  2. We need to start organizing Christmas party – either the very end of November or the first few days of December. (AAA meeting in December) Set for Friday, November 28th.

Heather – will get the liquor licence. Bryn will check with Ali to see what was purchased last year, which worked out great.

  1. Discussed how to better engage graduate students in our department in departmental and AGSA activities.

Some ideas include: better advertising for AGSA Talks to encourage people to not only sign up for the Talks, but also attend them. Martina will try to organize something like “Anthropology Café”- where students could meet informally to discuss their current work – projects, papers, thoughts on specific topics… Martina will also prepare a little speech about grad student engagement and will try to give a little talk to the new cohort at 506.

Steffan has been looking into AGSA becoming a club. Will continue to do that and will give us more updates at the next AGSA meeting.

Come and join us for the next AGSA Talk – Wednesday Nov 5, 2014 12PM to 1PM

AGSA talks poster

Full Abstracts:

The Authority of Orthography: Or How to Choose a Script

Dr Mark Turin

Chair, First Nations Languages Program

Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology

The much cited political aphorism that a language is a “dialect with an army, a navy and a flag” still resonates in many locations across the world. Yet in the context of contemporary India and Nepal, where I have worked for over two decades with speech communities whose languages are at risk, the statement might be modified to position language as a “dialect with a library and its own unique writing system,” preferably accompanied by a distinct Unicode font.

For complex historical reasons dovetailing with systems of state recognition that reward Indigenous distinctiveness, there is a widespread (and increasingly instrumentalized) belief across many parts of South Asia that a one-to-one correlation between a language and unique writing system should, and can even be made to, exist.

In this brief presentation, I reflect on aspects of a longstanding research partnership with members of the Thangmi-speaking community in Nepal and India. Thangmi lexicographers and community linguists are working hard to both protect and revitalize their previously unwritten language, and are confronting complex questions about orthographic choice, alphabetical order and standardization in the process.

Unsettled Stories: Language Revitalization in Places that Insist on Speaking

Martina Volfova

PhD Student

Department of Anthropology

Much of recent research on landscape, memory, and place has focused on how relationships of political and social power influence the representation of historical events (Foote and Azaryahu 2007). Historical narratives are continually reconstructed to do work in the present and while some narratives become enshrined, others get marginalized or erased (Cruikshank 1998). “Collective histories and sentiments are interactively formed as people variously learn, argue over, celebrate, and resist representations of the past” (White 1999:507).

This paper draws on my experience conducting an ethnographic research project at the University of Utah’s Shoshone/Goshute Youth Language Apprentice Program. Language revitalization efforts aim primarily at addressing severe alterations of sociolinguistic landscapes resulting from colonial practices and policies (Meek 2010). However, the historical and symbolic significance of physical landscapes and locations where revitalization efforts are carried out remain largely unexamined and outside of the scope of these efforts. Meanings, memories, and narratives continuously emerge in these complex spaces, often “disrupting” the sediments of the official history.

I explore the positions from which different people, both Shoshone and non-Shoshone, articulate their stories, memories and understandings of history of the traditional Shoshone territory. I also address silence and argue that silence must be examined as an integral part of communicative strategies (Basso 1990; Gomez Pereira 2008). I demonstrate how material reminders of troubled past continue to resurface, not necessarily by a person’s explicit articulation of the past, but by simply physically being present on the land. Two separate, but intimately connected localities are central to this paper: the Bear River Massacre site in Southeastern Idaho, and the historic Fort Douglas military complex on the University of Utah campus.