Department of Social Anthropology
the fredrik barth memorial lecture

Celebrating Barth's work on cosmologies

Students, anthropologists and other invited guests had found their way to attend the Fredrik Barth Memorial Lecture 2018, held by Dr. Michael W. Scott.

Dr. Scott and Prof. Smedal in front of Fredrik Barth roll-up
Dr. Michael W. Scott, this year's lecturer, and Prof. Olaf Smedal in front of the founder of the Department of Social Anthropology in Bergen, Fredrik Barth.
Nina B. Dahl

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The annual Fredrik Barth Honorary Lecture was established in 2015 to honour Professor Fredrik Barth, 50 years after he founded the Department of Social Anthropology in Bergen. On October 26, Professor Olaf Smedal, acting Head of the Department, welcomed the audience to the fourth Fredrik Barth Memorial Lecture. 

In his introduction to this year's lecturer, Dr. Michael W. Scott from The London School of Economics, Smedal touched upon similarities between the two scholars:

– Today’s speaker and Fredrik Barth have a couple of things in common. One of them is that they are both graduates of Chicago University: Barth with a Master’s degree; Dr Scott with a doctoral degree. What they also have in common is a strong sense of curiosity, coupled with a high degree of perceptiveness. For an anthropologist, this is a fortunate combination, Smedal said. 

Transforming Temporalities in Melanesia and Anthropology

Another trait Dr. Scott has in common with Prof. Barth is theory building grounded in detailed ethnography. The focal point in which Dr. Scott has returned to again and again throughout his career is the cultural area of the Arosi in Melanesia. This rural postcolonial society has experienced a series of transformations, and Scott has focused on developing analyses of indigenous cosmologies.

In his lecture, Scott drew upon Barth's comparison between the way anthropologists write about cultural others and the way they write about themselves. Guiding the audience through transforming cosmologies and illuminating ethnography, Dr. Scott's lecture aimed to get temporality right by staging a comparison between the thing the Arosi people of Solomon Islands call kastom profesi (traditional prophecy) and contemporary discourses about prophecy in anthropology. 

After the lecture students, staff and the guest of honour was invited to share refreshments and anthropological queries at Muntlig.

We are grateful to Dr. Michael W. Scott for giving The Fredrik Barth Memorial Lecture 2018, and everyone who attended!