Ex post facto: Ecology, ethnoastronomy and time-systems across the Pacific Rim

Greetings, o ye faithful. 

I’m back. This is a post I should have written three or four weeks back. But oh well. If someone can give me the recipe for revising four postgrad dissertations before 8 March, while taking on the main role in the museum research necessary for a major exhibit only 5 months prior to opening night – with not a single research assistant in sight, prepare two weekly seminars for this term, keep three simultaneous deadlines for different journal editors before the end of February AND participate as co-organizer of this workshop, involvinga dozen participants and international travel, all at the same time…and still find the time to remember to post a proper blog entry, I’ll pay good money for your multitasking recipe.

sigh. The truth is that I do sometimes find myself unable to organize my blogging.

Anyway, on to the post at hand. We – myself and Prof. Fred Damon, UVa, recently held a really fun workshop at the UVa campus. It all started with informal chit chat between Fred and I regarding the state of calendrical studies in the Pacific, and how there is a constant failure to account for long-term ecological fluctuation in these studies. Sound esoteric enough yet? It got worse. Or better. After a year of bouncing ideas around, we managed to enthuse a number of participants from the unlikeliest places and, after much hard work undertaken mostly by Fred (for once, I had the luxury of not being resident in the host institution and country), who managed to pull off a major coup by securing just over 16,000 USD from the NSF and the Vice-Prez for Research at the UVa, it happened.

Herewith an abridged version of programme, participants and themes:

Ecology and Time Systems in Australasia and the Americas:

New approaches to value systems and calendrical transformations across the Pacific Rim

Sunday, Feb 1, PUBLIC LECTURE 1  Clive Ruggles “Encompassing the sky: the last two decades of ‘cultural astronomy’”.

Monday, Feb 2: Session 1: Frederick H. Damon—Melanesia: “‘GO ASK THEM WHAT THE NAMES ARE!’ Structuring Knowledge and Production in the Calendrical Systems of the Northern Arc of the Kula Ring”

Betty Faust –Mayan Yucatan: “Cycles, climate shifts and saints’ days in Pich, Campeche, Mexico”

Johannes Neurath –Northwest Mexico: “THE PRODUCTION OF HUICHOL (RITUAL) TIME—Refocusing Mesoamerican calendrics”

PUBLIC LECTURE 2: Helmer Aslaksen, “The Chinese Calendar for the Humanities and the Social Sciences”

PUBLIC LECTURE 3 Steve Lansing, “Perfect Order: Cyclical Time in Bali”

Tues, Feb 3, Session 2: Erik Pearthree – “Modeling the Settlement of Remote Oceania”

Steve Lansing – “Forwards and Backwards in Time:  Simulated Agents in Love, coalescent models and social life in eastern Indonesia”

Adam Harr –Flores—Eastern Indonesia: “Agricultural time-reckoning in Flores: A comparative overview of systems for an ecologically and ethnolinguistically diverse island in eastern Indonesia”

Session 3:  Xueting Liu— “Acting in the Rhythms of Collective Fortune:  Temple Oracles and Fortune-telling Practices in Southeast China”

Gary Urton—Peruvian Andes: “Ritual and Administrative Calendars in the Andes: Can We Tell Them Apart?  How and Why Were They Different?”

Wed, Feb 4, Session 4: Paul Geraghty —Fiji, “Central Pacific Calendrical Systems” 

Carlos Mondragón –  Eastern Melanesia, “‘Without kava, there is no kastom’”: Long-term seasonal variability and cultural linkages across a Melanesian/Polynesian borderland.

Session 5: Helmer Aslaksen—“The Indian and Chinese Calendars Compared, An Introduction”

Henry ChanThe Punan Vuhang Calendar Synchronized with the Rainforest Environment in the Malaysian State of Sarawak

Clive Ruggles— Hawaii: “Kahikinui, Maui: interpreting Polynesian temples in their landscape.”

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