Out in the Field: Finding Wonder under the Water, in the Ground, and on the Waves

Monday, November 16, 2020 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm

Join us for another virtual Obermann Conversation!

Three researchers whose work takes them into the field reflect on the experience of being far removed from screens, phones, and what many of us associate with everyday work. George Peterson, the Director of Dive Programs at the Monterey Bay Sea Aquarium, shares his love of scuba and the discoveries he makes under the world's oceans as a way to provoke wonder in others and spur them toward conservation. Cynthia Chou, UI professor of Anthropology, has spent three decades on a longitudinal ethnographic research study on sea nomads—in particular, the Orang Suku Laut (People of the Sea) of the Riau Archipelago in Indonesia. She has lived on the water with them for up to fourteen months at a time. And Katina Lillios, UI professor of Anthropology, has spent several decades concentrated on the histories of the people who lived in Portugal and Spain from the Neolithic through the Bronze Age (4000-1000 BC), with considerable amounts of her time spent on archeological digs in the region. 

Together, they will talk about the wonder and joy of being physically connected to these places and how they balance that awe with the need to be in researcher mode—taking in information and safely doing their jobs. They'll consider how being in the field allows for unexpected discoveries that aren't as possible from the safety of an office, and what field-based research suggests for learning practices at this time when students of all ages are increasingly screen-bound. 

Please register to receive the Zoom link. 

More about our speakers:

George Peterson

George Peterson is an alumnus of the University of Iowa with a BA in political science. A native of Sioux City, Iowa, Peterson was interested in biology, but a class with the late Joel Barkan in political science helped him to find the nexus of development and sustainability. As Director of Dive Programs at the Monterey Bay Sea Aquarium, he says, “I have about 4,000 dives in well over 20 countries, but the greatest thing I have done in the water is scuba diving with kids with disabilities. The ocean is the great equalizer. It’s amazing the level of confidence these kids gain from participating in the program.”


Katina Lillios working in the field

Katina Lillios is an anthropological archeologist interested in the ways people used (and use) material culture, the remains of the dead, and monuments to create, enhance, and challenge sociopolitical difference and inequality. She is the author of, most recently, The Archeology of the Iberian Peninsula: From the Paleolithic to the Bronze Age (Cambridge University Press, 2020). She says, "For me, archeology is also the study of how the past (or how we imagine that past) intersects with contemporary life, so I also enjoy projects that examine how, when, and why the past gets enlisted for social, political, or economic purposes."

Cynthia Chou is the C. Maxwell & Elizabeth M. Stanley Family Chair of Asian Studies and a socio-cultural anthropologist with teaching and research interest across Southeast Asia. Her research interests, in addition to the sea nomads, are breast cancer meanings in Asia, and food, identity, and social change. She recently co-organized the webinar Pandemic, State and Society, and is the author of The Orang Suku Laut of Riau, Indonesia: The Inalienable Gift of Territory (Routledge, 2012).

Free and open to all.

This event is co-sponsored by the Iowa City Public Library and the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Erin Hackathorn in advance at erin-hackathorn@uiowa.edu or (319) 335-4034.