Dr Piers LockeCare of captive elephants.


Why study Anthropology?

Anthropology is primarily the study of humanity, and it explores the human condition in multiple ways.  It is about who we are, how we organize ourselves into groups, and the practices and beliefs that give meaning to our lives.

Anthropology is also about the relations we develop with other forms of life; about the ways we respond to crisis and conflict; about forms of identity and belonging; and about the historical legacies that configure the social world.

Social and Cultural Anthropology

Here at the University of Canterbury, we introduce you to social and cultural anthropology.  Related to human geography, history, indigenous studies, linguistics, philosophy, political science, psychology, and sociology, this kind of anthropology is distinctive for a research method called ethnography.  To undertake ethnographic research is to immerse oneself in the activities and relationships of everyday life.

For more information about anthropology and anthropological career paths see:

Postgraduate Study

News and Announcements

Sociology & Anthropology

17 April 2015

Piers Locke has had an article published in Gajah, the journal of the IUCN’s Asian Elephant Specialist Group titled “The Anomalous Elephant: Terminological Dilemmas and The Incalcitrant Domestication Debate”. It considers the constraints of conventional nomenclature through an exploration of theories of domestication as biological intervention and social appropriation, arguing that the boundary between captive and free-ranging elephants is permeable, and that researchers should therefore acknowledge the complexity of social, historical, and ecological relations between humans and elephants.

27 March 2015

Anthropology PhD student Kathleen Harrington-Watt’s has had her article “Photographs as adaptive, transitional objects in Gujarati migrant homes” published in Crossings: Journal of Migration & Culture, Volume 5, Numbers 2-3, 1 September 2014, pp. 273-287(15) this month.

20 March 2015

Piers Locke has had a short article published in the Making Tracks series of the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, titled "Interspecies Ethnography and Human-Elephant Relations in South Asia”. In this series fellows and alumni present their experiences in environmental humanities, retracing the paths that led them to the Rachel Carson Center.

A reminder: Identity Construction in a Han Immigrant Community 12-12:40pm, Friday 20 March Psych-Soci Room 311 the inaugural Sociology and Anthropology seminar. Please bring your lunch.
For queries about this seminar or the series, please contact Alison Loveridge alison.loveridge@canterbury.ac.nz

13 March 2015

Patrick McAllister and Zhifang Song are participating in an international research project on the revival of the interconnections between Southeast Asian overseas Chinese temples, native-place and common surname associations and their founding temples and ancestral halls in coastal Southeast China. With funding from the Max Planck Institute for Ethnic and Religious Diversity in Goettingen, Germany, they will be responsible for  a project entitled  Chinese-Vietnamese Temples: Temple Associations, International Links and Ethnic Identities in Ho Chi Minh City.

The most recent output resulting from Patrick McAllister’s research on the Vietnamese lunar new year (Tet) is an article entitled “The Kitchen God Returns to Heaven: [Ông Táo Về Trời]: Popular Culture, Social Knowledge and Folk Beliefs in Vietnam” co-authored with Thi Cam Tu Luckman and published in the Journal of Vietnamese Studies (UC, Berkley),  Vol. 10, Issue 1, pps. 110-150

6 March 2015

Piers Locke’s ethnographic documentary film Servants of Ganesh, about captive elephant management at the Khorsor Elephant Breeding Centre in the Chitwan National Park, Nepal is now available to watch on You Tube

24 February 2015

Congratulations to Kathy Harrington-Watt (Anthropology) who has had the following article published from her Masters Thesis:

16 February 2015

On January 8 Piers Locke gave a presentation at the weekly colloquium of the Rachel Carson Center, Munich, on the topic of “Humans, Elephants, and Interspecies Intimacy in Nepal”. He spoke about his apprenticeship as a mahout in the elephant stables of the Chitwan National Park, arguing for the need to think through the implications of human exceptionalism in the humanities, the need for more-than-human forms of ethnography, and the possibility of extending personhood to elephants in order to rethink human-elephant relations. Piers also chaired a graduate seminar in which students discussed his work further.

Dr Ruth McManus’s  ground-breaking research  into attitudes to funeral costs in New Zealand gained national media attention over the weekend with a live radio interview on Newstalk ZB, RadioLive, coverage by Maori TV and TV3 an article on p3 of the Press on Monday the 12th January.  Also in the Dominion Post   13th January 2015.  

Basic findings are that: 

  • The  funeral  grants available  don’t cover the cost of  the most  basic funeral.
  • The process of  getting grants is overly complicated  and adds to the stress of the bereaved.
  • People have to ‘make do’ and  that can involve going into  debt formally  (e.g. on the credit card) and or to family and friends.
  • Those who go into funeral debt are  not always those who are on the poverty  line.
  • Those who are on the poverty line more likely to do  as much of the preparation  work themselves / informally as they can. Funeral directors are willing to help customers achieve a good funeral without bursting the bank.  Increase in DIY and no funerals for those reasons - even though they may not be how the bereaved want to send off their loved ones.
  • On an annual basis, we estimated that  approximately 2800 could feasibly experience financial hardship over the costs of a funeral in NZ. Though a small number relative to the overall population, it’s important to recognise that financial hardship is concentrated in vulnerable groups in NZ that include for instance the old, (especially elderly women), and those who are experiencing difficult life events such as illness. Government administrated (and means tested) funeral grants: WINZ, ACC. Informally: RSA, Lions Club and there are links to Veterans Affairs as there is a small grant for a memorial for  veterans, which also sometimes covers repatriation of remains costs.  Average cost of a basic funeral in 2008 was $6,500 – Funeral  grant was $1,760.57. Average cost 2014/5,  $7500 - maximum funeral grant is $1,998.57.
  • While this research project finished a few years ago before the earthquakes, currently and in collaboration with CEISMIC, we have a summer studentship working on a project called Transitional Memorialisation comparing online memorials for Chch earthquake and Pike River  Disaster.

Mike Grimshaw has been asked to guest edit a special issue on radical theologies for the open access journal Palgrave Communications.


Sports has inspired people after the earthquakes

Sports has inspired people after the earthquakes

27 January 2015

A University of Canterbury postgraduate student says sports inspired people in Christchurch after the earthquakes. (read article)

Greater understanding of women needed

Greater understanding of women needed

16 January 2015

A University of Canterbury sociology graduate researcher has identified a need for a greater understanding of the ways unintended childlessness impacts on women's lives. (read article)

Previous news