Organized Session, Workshop or Roundtable Title

Poster Sesssion: Saturday Morning

Participation Type

Poster

Participant Type

Individual

Type of Session

Poster

Presentation #1 Title

Kula Creations: Analyzing Material Culture in a Kula Trade Simulation

Presentation #1 Abstract

The Trobriand Islanders in Micronesia are known for their trading of shell and twine red necklaces and white armbands for hundreds of miles around islands over difficult ocean waters to establish prestige. In simulations of this trade since 2010, students from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga have explored the Kula exchange by forming small ‘island tribes,’ and creating and trading jewelry to form partnerships and gain Kula prestige. In a 2015 class, 146 necklaces and armbands were produced by approximately 75 students in a trading session. Students utilized over 25 different natural and manufactured materials and produced varied and distinctive jewelry. Necklaces included one of a bicycle chain and old iron tub claw foot; large green leaves and sticks, and red beads and human teeth. Armband included one of braided rawhide, silk flowers, rhinestones, shells, and stones; and one of green beads, leather, and plastic bottle caps. The jewelry was categorized as: 1) Minimal: small constructions of store-bought items; 2) Basic: simple constructions of beads and twine/rawhide; 3) Intermediate: patterns of knots and beads requiring planning; 4) Advanced: incorporation of found art objects and natural items in complex constructions; and 5) Kula: designs emulating Trobriand jewelry with large shells, feathers, and extensive knotting. The jewelry designs resulted in a blend of western and Trobriand styles. Kula trade simulations provide active learning opportunities to illustrate anthropological concepts and provide insight into other cultures (instructions available on request).

At-A-Glance Bios- Participant #1

Dr. H. Lyn Miles is a biocultural anthropologist interested in the evolution of human symbol systems, how cutural processes interact with language and evolution, and what orangutans can tell use about language and intelligence. Through her experience as a scientific researcher as well as Chantek’s cross-foster mother, she is convinced of the personhood of enculturated apes and seeks to find them legal protection. She has also conducted preliminary field research with orangutans in Borneo at the Wanariset Research Center, and in the Meratus Forest. Her research is featured in the PBS NOVA program “Signs of the Apes, Songs of the Whales,” and in the Animal Planet production “They Call Him Chantek.”

Keywords

Art and Material Culture, Pedagogy

Start Date

4-9-2016 9:30 AM

End Date

4-9-2016 10:30 AM

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Apr 9th, 9:30 AM Apr 9th, 10:30 AM

Kula Creations: Analyzing Material Culture in a Kula Trade Simulation

Big Sandy Conference Center

The Trobriand Islanders in Micronesia are known for their trading of shell and twine red necklaces and white armbands for hundreds of miles around islands over difficult ocean waters to establish prestige. In simulations of this trade since 2010, students from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga have explored the Kula exchange by forming small ‘island tribes,’ and creating and trading jewelry to form partnerships and gain Kula prestige. In a 2015 class, 146 necklaces and armbands were produced by approximately 75 students in a trading session. Students utilized over 25 different natural and manufactured materials and produced varied and distinctive jewelry. Necklaces included one of a bicycle chain and old iron tub claw foot; large green leaves and sticks, and red beads and human teeth. Armband included one of braided rawhide, silk flowers, rhinestones, shells, and stones; and one of green beads, leather, and plastic bottle caps. The jewelry was categorized as: 1) Minimal: small constructions of store-bought items; 2) Basic: simple constructions of beads and twine/rawhide; 3) Intermediate: patterns of knots and beads requiring planning; 4) Advanced: incorporation of found art objects and natural items in complex constructions; and 5) Kula: designs emulating Trobriand jewelry with large shells, feathers, and extensive knotting. The jewelry designs resulted in a blend of western and Trobriand styles. Kula trade simulations provide active learning opportunities to illustrate anthropological concepts and provide insight into other cultures (instructions available on request).