Posts by gillconq

Plot Twist

Plot Twist

I’m just going to cut to the chase – last week I was diagnosed with cancer. It started in my large bowel and has already managed to sneak its way into my liver. Bowel cancer is 1) very rare in people my age, and 2) notoriously silent until it spreads and starts causing problems, which is why it hasn’t been identified before now. In my case the key problem was the near total obstruction of...

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Moving Forward

Moving Forward

If there is one thing I really wish we’d had a class on when I was a fresh-faced, enthusiastic masters student three dim and distant years ago, it’s exactly how wrong fieldwork can go. They’ve introduced such a thing now in the anthropology department at UCL, giving post-field PhD students the opportunity to talk to those just beginning their MPhils about the moments they thought their...

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Making Mess

Making Mess

Success stories are a powerful trope of international development and conservation work. They structure the way NGOs, governments and companies engage with powerful donors and public opinion. They also smooth over complexities, efface failures, and ignore contradictions. They present ongoing situations as if they are done, dusted, and thus can legitimately stand as a lesson to others who seek to...

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Finding My Forest Feet

Finding My Forest Feet

The beautiful Lefini Reserve The first time I ever walked properly in the Congo Basin rainforest was two years ago. I felt like a huge, clumsy elephant – although that’s a terrible metaphor because elephants are actually pretty competent at walking through the forests here and just smash apart anything that gets in their path. But I got my head and my arms and my legs stuck on bushes and...

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Local Contexts – Licensing and Labelling Traditional Knowledge

Local Contexts – Licensing and Labelling Traditional Knowledge

  I went to a fascinating lunchtime talk last Thursday given by Dr Jane Anderson, a legal anthropologist at NYU who specialises in investigating the relationship between intellectual property law and indigenous knowledges. In her work with Aboriginal communities in Australia, in particular with Aborginal artists, one of the key problems she came across was that current international...

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