Social Anthropology
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2012 - STAR 2

Post-fieldwork training: May 14th - 17th 2012

The Burn, Glenesk, Brechin

The sixth annual post-fieldwork course in Scottish Training in Anthropological Research (STAR), took place from 14-17th May, 2012 at the Burn, Glenesk, Brechin. The event was attended by 21 students from the universities of Edinburgh, St. Andrews and Aberdeen and led by three members of staff: Janet Carsten, Mark Harris, and Maggie Bolton. Over the course of four days, students, from a variety of research backgrounds, were guided by two distinguished guests and several eminent guest presenters on a range of relevant topics relating to the writing-up process and first stages in a career in academic and applied anthropology.

STAR 2 is uniquely structured around a programme of three ‘masterclasses’ during which students are assigned a relevant master-class leader who guides and encourages them to discuss their own and others work, the obstacles they may have faced and the solutions that got them through. In this way, STAR 2 carries on the ethos of the distinctively collective yet wholly personal STAR research programme, providing a platform for students from a range of writing-up stages to meet with their peers, share their experiences and learn from more practiced ‘old hands’ what an anthropological approach can bring to a life lived at the cutting edge of contemporary research possibilities.

The masterclasses this year were led by the distinguished guests Penny Harvey, professor of anthropology at the University of Manchester and Susana Narotzky, professor of anthropology at the University of Barcelona. Students introduced and discussed their work in front of peers, drawing out possibilities and comparisons, under the learned eye of their guest leader who contributed and provided support from their own considerable body of expertise. This culminated in a highly enjoyable and valuable panel preparation exercise during which students were allotted groups and charged with presenting a hypothetical conference panel to the rest of the assembled gathering.

Interspersed with the masterclasses, students also had the opportunity to hear from more experienced members, the practicalities of engaging with a career in anthropology. Talks covered a variety of issues from working in the public sector, to obtaining grants, and getting published. These were supplemented by presentations and dialogues from guest presenters on front-line research.

A STAR week of course would not be complete without the added benefit of numerous leisure activities. In addition to all the intellectual engagements, students found time to make use of the grounds croquet lawn and games room, to enjoy the extensive and picturesque surroundings, and for a plucky few, to take a dip in the bracing waters of the nearby loch Lee. For students and staff alike, the week left a lasting impression of intellectual boundaries pushed, new relationships forged and brighter futures mapped out.

STAR would like to thank Penny Harvey, Susanna Narotzky, Tim Ingold, Richard Whitecross, Ian Harper, Janet Carsten and Mark Harris for their invaluable contributions in making the 2012, STAR 2 event a resounding success.

Stewart Allen

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