Anthropology Graduate Student Collaboration Group

Hello fellow grad students!

I just wanted to let everyone know that we’ve started a collaborative study/writing group open to all anthropology grad students regardless of where you are in the program – all MA as well PhD students are welcomed. We meet every other Tuesday in AnSo 1305 from 9am to about 11am. Our first meeting yesterday was a success – thanks to all who participated! Our next meeting will be on February 10, 2015. Feel free to just drop by to see if this is something you could benefit from.

For more information contact Martina at mvolfova@alumni.ubc.ca

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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.

“I wish I had known” – Some advice on how to plan your study

Hello everyone! 

Ana Vivaldi and Brenda Fitzpatrik – both 4 + PhD candidates in our department, have kindly put together a document to share their experiences and lessons learned  about how to best plan our study to avoid unnecessary hardships as we get further along in our academic paths. This document is a work in progress and we welcome any comments and any other advice that might be missing. Thank you Ana and Brenda!

What I Wish I Had Known

Notes on Financing and Professional development for Graduate Studies in Arts

Based on the personal experience of a PhD student in the Social Sciences

Your own situation may differ, depending on your discipline and other circumstances, so not all of these recommendations may apply, but in general, I recommend that you:

Be aware that financial support after the fourth year is virtually non-existent for Arts students, so plan accordingly:

  1. Make a financial plan along with your academic plan

Get both the department and your committee involved in that plan. Discuss with your committee a budget to cover your studies from start to finish, including at least one additional year to completion (over what you project in your academic plan). Project worst-case scenarios, look at your sources of funding (bank, family, etc.) and how much each can provide, consider how much debt you are willing to take on, and where you would turn in a financial emergency. Plan for inflation, and increases in cost of living (at least 2% a year) and tuition, and bear in mind that salary and fellowships may not increase with inflation. Plan how you will support yourself during summers. Go back to this plan, just as you go back to your grad program.

  1. Maximize your funding applications

Use the support your department provides in funding applications in the first two years. Prioritize these applications over being an overly obsessive student. (To be blunt, good grades won’t pay your research or living expenses. Which is not to suggest that you neglect your coursework, but only that you set priorities.) Work on your applications with other students; read and edit your work together. Research what type of projects are getting funding, plan a strategy to match those criteria (taking into account your own interests, of course). Do your own research for funding opportunities (ask for help at the library); there are many funding sources that most students do not know about (IDRC, Soros Foundation, and others).

  1. Save money in the early years of your program for later years

Do not expect that your financial situation will improve throughout your program; it is actually the opposite–funding after the 4th year is almost non-existent. Any time you have funding or other income, prioritize and make a monthly budget that allows you to save as much as you can for when your funding runs out.

  1. Consider the following income-generating options
  1. a) Teaching Assistant-ships: You will be eligible for 5 years (6 if you take fieldwork or other types of leave; read the union agreement carefully).
  1. b) Sessional work: If there is an opening in your area of expertise, this is great experience, and worth doing at least once during your program, but take this work knowing that it will likely leave you no time to work on your thesis, and progress will be nearly stopped during that time. (Teaching the same course twice is very good because you have all the preparation done, but this is not usually possible).
  1. c) Teaching work outside the department or university: Consider teaching or TA-ing in a related department, or at other universities and colleges (SFU, Capilano, Langara, etc.)   For this you will need: to find out about the calls for sessionals and TAs, to get permission from the department to teach, and to show your teaching evaluations from any TA position(s) you have held, so keep those (they are all on-line now). (International students do not need an off campus work permit anymore but are limited to part-time work)
  1. d) Research Assistant-ships: It may be difficult to find an RA-ship with anyone other than your supervisor or committee members, but occasionally RA-ships may be available, even if not advertised. Contact professors and ask them if they need an RA.
  1. e) Jobs at UBC: As well as decent wages and benefits, any administration position over 50% time provides a tuition waiver. This option is much unexplored among students and gives you work experience, connections and much more financial stability.
  1. f) GSS jobs. gss.jobs (they come up from time to time)
  1. g) Resources for Jobs

→ At UBC Administration http://www.hr.ubc.ca/careers-postings/staff.php

→ UBC Campus jobs (the Bookstore, the Library, Food Services, etc.) http://students.ubc.ca/career/campus-experiences/other-campus-jobs

and http://students.ubc.ca/career , go to “Careers Online”—they have links to various jobs

→ Staff finders: They provide temporary staffing to UBC units. Wages start at about $19/hour. Their positions tend to be full-time, though temporary, so this may be a good option for the summer.

http://www.hr.ubc.ca/staff-finders/apply/ for information

  1. f) Other jobs. Ask Oralia about job listservs. UBC Career Services
  1. g) Loans: If you need to take on debt, plan ahead for it as much as possible. Do not wait until you are in financial difficulties, but find out in advance what types of loans you are eligible for, and the maximum amounts.
  1. h) GSS Emergency Fund: This is a one-time emergency hardship fund for students in financial distress. There are specific conditions to be met, and the maximum is normally not more than $2,000 so it is never going to save your semester, but it may help if you are truly facing an emergency.
  1. i) Take a leave, work intensively outside UBC and then come back. (if you are an international student you need your visa *not* to expire while on leave, otherwise you are unable to renew it and become illegal – this is the type of things International house will not discuss much with you-).

Finally, take leaves of absence if there is any particularly difficult moment. You can take up to 1 year in different portions (a semester each time or several semesters together). You can take a leave for personal reasons with no further explanation (ie no need to show doctors notes or any other document just a written letter and a form). There are also medical leaves. Do not try to hold to the program if you need and can take time off.

Accademic considerations: Streamline your program and prepare to the job market

1) Make your academic program tight in time, not overly ambitious and try to use time wisely as much as you can: use summers, try finishing the course-work in one year (take summer courses, if they are not available in Anth look outside the department), make the comps as short as you can, plan for shorter rather than longer fieldwork (ie 10 months vs 12). Already at proposal – comps stage you can plan to leave a portion of work for the post doc (or the doc if you are MA), for example leave archival work for latter if it is not central. Start writing drafts of your thesis as soon as you can. Use courses for the purpose of your research as much as you can, make final papers be small, draft lit reviews fro your dissertation or Comps project proposal.

2) Bear in mind the program, but also all professors and mentors prepare you to follow an academic path, but only a few of us will get that work. Try developing other skills (this can be software expertise as ATLAS TI, to statistics (SSPS), geographic information systems, health research tools, find out what you may need in your area). Get a job outside the department, get teaching experience. Consider taking any course you need to develop these skills. Consider participating in the following programs.

Graduate Pathways to Success Program: https://www.grad.ubc.ca/current-students/graduate-pathways-success and the Instructional Skills Workshop Program: http://ctlt.ubc.ca/programs/all-our-programs/instructional-skills-workshops/ .

3) Try to get to know people in your sub-field as much as you can, search outside the department, consider applying for the Liu institute (if you fit in it) and – or any other network (RAGA, migration) that is suitable for your work. Search professional organizations and conferences in applied social sciences in your areas of interest. Build your professional as well as an academic profile, as much as you can.

If you are international student:

1) Bear in mind tuition is already much expensive than for local students and may continue to raise. The gap between local and international tuition gets bigger after the 2nd year. There is an international tuition fellowship that attempts to match international tuition with local tuition for grad students, but that fellowship has not risen in many years, what means that you get even more inflation on your tuition each time it rises. Project this raises. Also while domestic tuition gets reduced after 3 semesters, international tuition keeps the same until the end (and you pay tuition even after defense, until the day your final version of the thesis is submitted).

2) Bear in mind you depend on your full time student status to renew your visa. This may be a problem at the end of your program and if you need to take time off.

3) Bear in mind that off campus work-permit you have limitations to work, you can only work a number of hours a week (20?), and you are not in the hiring priority for jobs.

4) Consider you are not eligible to any state help (ie disability, family, other), you can’t apply for loans and bursaries in UBC. You can’t apply to bank loans in Canada.

So it is a good idea as international student you:

1) Consider applying for Permanent Resident as soon as you can (second year), even if you are not planning to stay in Canada. This will make you eligible to more fellowships, much cheaper tuition after your second year, give you possibilities to work full-time and be more eligible to work, be eligible to Ubc bursaries and Ubc loans, and the specific bank loans for students, you will also be eligible to more post docs.

2) Know your rights and the resources available

Read the TA agreement, read FOGPGS policies, navigate the GSS website. You may also find it helpful to consult the GSS Advocacy Office, the UBC Ombuds Office, UBC Equity, or International House if you experience issues related to finances, leave, visas, supervision, (or any other aspect of your relationship with UBC). Bear in mind they are pretty disarticulated, you will have to connect and process the information (ie International house knows about visas but will not know about what happens if you get a debt with UBC as international student).

What I Wish I Had Known Notes on Financing Graduate Studies in Arts – courtesy of Ana Vivaldi

What I Wish I Had Known: Notes on Financing Graduate Studies in Arts

Based on the personal experience of a PhD student in the Social Sciences

Your own situation may differ, depending on your discipline and other circumstances, so not all of these recommendations may apply, but in general, I recommend that you:

Be aware that financial support after the fourth year is virtually non-existent for Arts students, so plan accordingly:

  • Make a financial plan along with your academic plan

Get both the department and your committee involved in that plan. Discuss with your committee a budget to cover your studies from start to finish, including at least one additional year to completion (over what you project in your academic plan). Project worst-case scenarios, look at your sources of funding (bank, family, etc.) and how much each can provide, consider how much debt you are willing to take on, and where you would turn in a financial emergency. Plan for inflation, and increases in cost of living (at least 2% a year) and tuition, and bear in mind that salary and fellowships may not increase with inflation. Plan how you will support yourself during summers. Go back to this plan, just as you go back to your grad program record.

  • Maximize your funding applications

Use the support your department provides in funding applications in the first two years. Prioritize these applications over being an overly obsessive student. (To be blunt, good grades won’t pay your research or living expenses. Which is not to suggest that you neglect your coursework, but only that you set priorities.) Work on your applications with other students; read and edit your work together. Research what type of projects are getting funding, plan a strategy to match those criteria (taking into account your own interests, of course). Do your own research for funding opportunities (ask for help at the library); there are many funding sources that most students do not know about (IDRC, Soros Foundation, and others).

  • Save money in the early years of your program for later years

Do not expect that your financial situation will improve throughout your program; it is actually the opposite–funding after the 4th year is almost non-existent. Any time you have funding or other income, prioritize and make a monthly budget that allows you to save as much as you can for when your funding runs out.

  • Consider the following income-generating options
    • a) Teaching Assistant-ships: You will be eligible for 5 years (6 if you take fieldwork or other types of leave; read the union agreement carefully).
    • b) Sessional work: If there is an opening in your area of expertise, this is great experience, and worth doing at least once during your program, but take this work knowing that it will likely leave you no time to work on your thesis, and progress will be nearly stopped during that time. (Teaching the same course twice is very good because you have all the preparation done, but this is not usually possible).
    • c) Teaching work outside the department or university: Consider teaching or TA-ing in a related department, or at other universities and colleges (SFU, Capilano, Langara, etc.)   For this you will need: to find out about the calls for sessionals and TAs, to get permission from the department to teach, and to show your teaching evaluations from any TA position(s) you have held, so keep those (they are all on-line now). (International students do not need an off campus work permit anymore but are limited to part-time work)
    • d) Research Assistant-ships: It may be difficult to find an RA-ship with anyone other than your supervisor or committee members, but occasionally RA-ships may be available, even if not advertised. Contact professors and ask them if they need an RA.
    • e) Jobs at UBC: As well as decent wages and benefits, any administration position over 50% time provides a tuition waiver. This option is much unexplored among students and gives you work experience, connections and much more financial stability.
    • f) GSS jobs.
    • g) Staff-finders
    • h) Other jobs. Ask Oralia about job listservs. UBC Career Services
    • i) Loans: If you need to take on debt, plan ahead for it as much as possible. Do not wait until you are in financial difficulties, but find out in advance what types of loans you are eligible for, and the maximum amounts.
    • j) GSS Emergency Fund: This is a one-time emergency hardship fund for students in financial distress. There are specific conditions to be met, and the maximum is normally not more than $2,000 so it is never going to save your semester, but it may help if you are truly facing an emergency.
    • k) Take a leave, work intensively outside UBC and then come back. (if you are an international student you need your visa *not* to expire while on leave, otherwise you are unable to renew it and become illegal – this is the type of things International house will not discuss much with you-).

Finally, take leaves of absence if there is any particularly difficult moment. You can take up to 1 year in different portions (a semester each time or several semesters together). You can take a leave for personal reasons with no further explanation (ie no need to show doctors notes or any other document just a written letter and a form). There are also medical leaves. Do not try to hold to the program if you need and can take time off. Academic considerations: Streamline your program and prepare to the job market

1) Make your academic program tight in time, not overly ambitious and try to use time wisely as much as you can: use summers, try finishing the course-work in one year (take summer courses, if they are not available in Anth look outside the department), make the comps as short as you can, plan for shorter rather than longer fieldwork (ie 10 months vs 12). Already at proposal – comps stage you can plan to leave a portion of work for the post doc (or the doc if you are MA), for example leave archival work for latter if it is not central. Start writing drafts of your thesis as soon as you can. Use courses for the purpose of your research as much as you can, make final papers be small, draft lit reviews fro your dissertation or Comps project proposal.

2) Bear in mind the program, but also all professors and mentors prepare you to follow an academic path, but only a few of us will get that work. Try developing other skills (this can be software expertise as ATLAS TI, to statistics (SSPS), geographic information systems, health research tools, find out what you may need in your area). Get a job outside the department, get teaching experience. Consider taking any course you need to develop these skills.

3) Try to get to know people in your sub-field as much as you can, search outside the department, consider applying for the Liu institute (if you fit in it) and – or any other network (RAGA, migration) that is suitable for your work. Search professional organizations and conferences in applied social sciences in your areas of interest. Build your professional as well as an academic profile, as much as you can.

If you are international student:

1) Bear in mind tuition is already much expensive than for local students and may continue to raise. The gap between local and international tuition gets bigger after the 2nd year. There is an international tuition fellowship that attempts to match international tuition with local tuition for grad students, but that fellowship has not risen in many years, what means that you get even more inflation on your tuition each time it rises. Project this raises. Also while domestic tuition gets reduced after 3 semesters, international tuition keeps the same until the end (and you pay tuition even after defense, until the day your final version of the thesis is submitted).

2) Bear in mind you depend on your full time student status to renew your visa. This may be a problem at the end of your program and if you need to take time off.

3) Bear in mind that off campus work-permit you have limitations to work, you can only work a number of hours a week (20?), and you are not in the hiring priority for jobs.

4) Consider you are not eligible to any state help (ie disability, family, other), you can’t apply for loans and bursaries in UBC. You can’t apply to bank loans in Canada.

So it is a good idea as international student you:

1) Consider applying for Permanent Resident as soon as you can (second year), even if you are not planning to stay in Canada. This will make you eligible to more fellowships, much cheaper tuition after your second year, give you possibilities to work full-time and be more eligible to work, be eligible to UBC bursaries and UBC loans, and the specific bank loans for students, you will also be eligible to more post docs.

2) Know your rights and the resources available

Read the TA agreement, read FOGPGS policies, navigate the GSS website. You may also find it helpful to consult the GSS Advocacy Office, the UBC Ombuds Office, UBC Equity, or International House if you experience issues related to finances, leave, visas, supervision, (or any other aspect of your relationship with UBC). Bear in mind they are pretty dis-articulated, you will have to connect and process the information (ie International house knows about visas but will not know about what happens if you get a debt with UBC as international student).

AGSA Meeting Notes: April 17, 2014

Thursday April 17th, 2014 @ 4pm

In attendance: Daniela Oliverio-Lauderdale, Daria Boltokova, Sarah Fessenden, Bryn Letham (total attendance: 9)

Agenda:

  1. Elections-

Positions to fill:

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

Treasurer:

Secretary:

AGSA talks organizers (2):

Department Rep. (2): Cordelia, Danielle as MA rep (need to confirm)

AGSC Rep. (2):

Social Chair(s): Bryn (maybe also Lab Rep)

GSS Rep:

TA Union Rep: Lindsay (need to confirm)

Notes:

Daria here until end of September. President and Vice president positions need to be filled but also good to have space for incoming cohort. Bryn shows interest in president position but hesitant and prefers social committee. Possibly turning AGSA into official club. Bryn in the field until September. Steffan on speaker phone. If AGSA becomes a registered club how much funding is available for graduate clubs? Look into this issue- starting next year. Establishing better relations between undergraduate and graduate students. Forward description of presidential position to Martina and Steffan. Bryn (jokingly) suggests more meetings. Fundraising for treasurer. Polaroid pictures of MA and PhD students on bulletin board during first term? Martina as co-president. Bryn suggests Committee of Personality for Steffan and Martina.

Cordelia: regarding letter: need to take a vote about how GSI (graduate support initiative) money gets allocated. Equally or by national vs. international students. Poll via email.

 

Next meeting: September

AGSA Meeting Notes: February 6, 2014

Thursday February 6th, 2014 @ 2pm

In attendance: Daniela Oliverio-Lauderdale, Daria Boltokova, Sarah Fessenden, Bryn Letham (total attendance: 7)

Agenda:

1. Electing a student representative for the Headship Search Committee. Please email me if you would like to propose your candidacy! As a student rep you will attend meetings at the dean’s office, participate in confidential discussions, solicit students’ opinions. It’s probably not a huge time commitment but something that definitely takes some “dedication and careful thought” (as described by former representative Clayton Whitt who is currently doing his fieldwork);

2. Call for volunteers to help Cordelia to edit the letter to the Department. We are probably looking for 1-2 volunteers. Eventually the letter will be in google docs so that everyone can edit too.

3. Updates from representatives

Notes:

1.     Grad student rep for director for MOA: Rachel

2.     Grad student rep for Headship: Martina

3.     First Tuesday of March 4th next departmental meeting. Number of students admitted every year (18). Raise the issue of cohort number. Sarah volunteers to help Cordelia with letter writing. But Sarah is gone for the presentation of the letter on March 4th so need someone else to be there to support Cordelia.

Next meeting: Feb. 27th @2pm

AGSA Meeting Notes: January 23, 2014

Thursday January 23rd, 2014 @ 1:30pm

In attendance: Daniela Oliverio-Lauderdale, Daria Boltokova, Sarah Fessenden, Bryn Letham

Agenda:

1. Discuss the departmental letter, Cordelia will give a brief summary of your responses

2. Updates from the representatives/committees

3. AGSA talks

4. Bryn will talk about Archaeology Day

5. Call for volunteers for the Grad Student Info Night organized by Anthropology undergraduates.

Meeting Minutes

1)    Department Response to Letter from Grad Students

Cordelia: Happy department sent a response. Thanks for the recommendations etc. Key issues: funding, allocations of TAships, possibility of TAship in 5th year, coursework changes (omitting one or both or have them be more useful- more flexible), credits required for PhD students, possibility of reducing credits to get students finished faster, comps reduction, poor offering of coursework, issues about transparency about finishing time etc, grad workshops- a forum where we can present drafts. Good response- they are on our side. Focus on beneficial structural changes at a departmental level (funding and tuition reduction are not up to them). Prioritizing structural changes- transparency first, encouraging part of comps list to be a directed studies (process change/structural) non-monetary changes, put specific pressure on faculty to be accountable to students about certain things (turn-around times for things and example: directed studies that includes comps list) Issue: Approached as AGSA or via individuals? (decision: as AGSA) Options communicated to students form adviser to advisee.

Cordelia go to faculty department meeting?-Maybe, Yes (Cordelia puts letter together for in two weeks time- start google doc on behalf of AGSA). Convince AGSC first and call meeting for in a week (citing broad themes or particulars)? But this is not a recent issue but an on-going issue, years past. Transparency listed on the website.

2)    Updates:  This point was skipped for today

3)     AGSA Talks

Volunteer to lead ASGA talks to help Madeline. Set up dates for talks and send emails. Prof and students or just students. Bryn volunteers.

4)     Archaeology Day

Bryn: we need speakers and on March 15th. (Theme: Digital Archeology) Low key and fun but it is put on entirely by LOA committee. Day of need half day volunteers. Located in the anthropology building with catered lunch. Pub event afterwards.

5)     Grad Student Info Night organized by Anthropology undergraduates

Need one Canadian and one international student. Bryn volunteers and need an international student. Mascha volunteers.