Hedda Askland

Hedda Askland

Senior Lecturer of Social Anthropology in the School of Humanities and Social Science at UON.

Location Newcastle


  • Hi all - it's been great to read your comments and reflections on these two videos (and the podcast in 3.9). Many of you have picked up on important themes and raised quesitons about what seem to be missing in the approached covered in these videos. You are all right - the perspective of the mining company and those who supported the mine are not included in...

  • Hi @GabrielGrelaMesa - yes, as I said to Cara, these alternative voices are very important and also form part of my project.

  • Hi @CaraMarks - yes, these other voices are very important. Whilst they did not form part of this learning exercise, they are a vital part of my fieldwork and data collection.

  • yes, @AndreaRowe, the voice missing in these clips are those of the mining company and the more general community. There was only so much we could get into these videos and I choose to focus on those living at the coal frontier as this constitutes a specific part of my research. That being said, central to my project is also speaking with those who support the...

  • Hi @StephenEverington - yes, I do. I visit the field on regular intervals and try to catch up with all my participants as often as I can. I also incorporate other modes of communication, such as whatsapp, photo sharing, emails etc to keep the field warm when I am not able to be there in person

  • Ja det må du gjerne!

  • Dear @LynnTucker It's been great to have you part of this journey and I am pleased to hear you have enjoyed the course and that it has given you a taste for more! I hope you enjoy the books - there are many beautiful ethnographies out there to read!!

  • It's been great to have you part of the course @RenateR

  • It's been great to have you part of the course, @NasserSaidAldhawi

  • I am so glad to hear you've been inspired and that a novice anthropologist have entered the realms of our 'graduates'. Hope to see you back here on FL, @GabrielGrelaMesa

  • Thank you @BridgetO'Reilly It has been great to get you know you and have you part of this course these past three weeks!

  • @VictoriaSharpAlgebro Thank you! It has been great to have you part of this course!

  • I hope you can continue your journey into the world of anthropology somehow, Dave. It’s been great to have you part of this course so far!

  • ..

  • Thanks Tamara! It’s been great to have you part of this journey!

  • Thanks Otto! It’s been great to have you part of these three weeks!

  • Thank you Maureen! It’s been great to have you as part of this course!

  • Hi Maureen, enrollments are only open now and you have to apply by the end of the week to be able to follow the rest of the course. UON do not have any other anthropology courses offered on FL at this stage but there may be other FL units offered by different universities. For sure, you can study these other courses alongside this one.

  • Yes - that’s right. It can be a geographically bounded community/culture group or what we can call a community of interest where people may be dispersed across space (physical or virtual)

  • Most certainly!

  • That’s right Shannon! For those of you who are not UON students, you may wonder what the assignment here refers to: the students who are enrolled in the full course are doing a group participant observation exercise this week during which they will be going to a public place and conduct unstructured observations, which will subsequently be compared within the...

  • Hi Shannon. There appears to be a mistake in the link - I’ll check with the library tomorrow. In the meantime you can find the 2015 version of the book through the UON library website (newcat).

  • To FutureLearn students who are not UON enrolled students:

    I do not want this to be a distraction from the great discussion that is unfolding in response to the video, but here is some information that some of you have been asking about:

    1. Certificates for these three weeks: Once you reach the end of this week (Week 3) you'll have the option of...

  • It is one of my favorites!!

  • I love the topics and hypothesis presented so far! Brilliant!

  • Sounds like a very interesting study, Sarah!

  • Sounds like a fascinating study, katelynn! I’d say you’ll find the ethnographies approach introduced here quite different to what yuh did in this project

  • Wow - what a fascinating study, piper!

  • Great reflections, Margaret!

  • It should be available now.
    You can get a certificate by the end of Module 3 or choose to enrol in the full course, which goes for 12 weeks. I'll post information about how to do this later in Week 3

  • Hi all, Thanks for a fantastic conversation this week! Only a few more hours and our ethnography week will get started. We will pick up on where Malinowski left us and try to grapple with what fieldwork and ethnography is today.

  • Hi all, it has been very interesting to follow this conversation and read your thoughts about Hoefstede's classificatory scheme. I would like to clarify that I included the link to Hoefstede here to illustrate how some of the classic theories of cultural variation, such at Tönnies Gemeinschaft and Geselleschaft can be seen in contemporary cultural theory....

  • Early on in my anthropological career when I was doing fieldwork in East Timor, I came to understand how different religions or forms of spirituality are not necessarily exclusive but rather can co-exist and within everyday life gain their own distinct logic and purpose

  • Partly why we start out by looking at our intellectual ancestry is to illustrate how theory evolves and how our explanations of the world today relates to the expansion or critique of previous theories

  • There are many names and many relations. When I did first year, I created my own anthropology ancestry diagram to try to visualise it all. Quite a fun activity!

  • @TedJuniorØstervall your reflections are great!

  • @NicolaConnor I will follow up with the Future Learn team and get information to you all about how to join the full course from Week 4.

  • Hi Maureen - I"m so pleased to hear that you like the course! Would love for you to keep learning with us. There will be more information about how to join the full course next week.

  • As part of my PhD with refugees from East Timor in Australia, I wrote about 'the gift of social life' as something that bestows a sense of continuity and responsibilty on the diapsoras, translating into transnational practices and continued investment in the refugee's country of origin. This is also something that Australian anthropologist Ghassan Hage has...

  • Mauss' theory would be as relevant today as it was 100 years ago. I use his theory in my own work to understand how mining companies seek to (and often fail to) get a so-called social licence to operate. Part of this, I argue, is the failure to understand the nature of the gift within distinct communities; it relates to a 'matter of equivalence and the need...

  • @LynnTucker - great reflections here and you arrive at one of the key lessons from this exercise, which was not to criticize Hoefstede's theory but rather reflect on what type of cultural analysis this is and how this style of macro analysis is different to the more micro analysis conducted by anthropologists. It is important to recognise the value of...

  • Hi Marcus, great analysis and observation of how Hofstede's theory of particular cultures or societies may require update. That would be the case of any society; as any theory, Hofstede's theory can be seen to have two claims: claims that speak to the classification of particular cultures/societies at a particular point in time; and, a more general theory...

  • Interesting observation and, yes, in a way we are looking at 'the evolution of anthropology'. As I have written in one of the steps this week, the presentation of history can be done in many ways. The linear mode we are using here is only one of many ways in which we can present, interpret and discuss the development and transformation of anthropological...

  • Hi Madeline and Marcus - interesting discussion! I would, though, disagree with the claim that anthropology is loosing its relevance, a claim that you will find supported in literature. Indeed, in the contemporary world, anthropology has a distinct role to place in the way it brings forth knowledge and understanding of local lifeworlds (and change as it...

  • Stephen - you make a valid point but I dare say a little prematurely. This week is delving on these ‘grand theories’ but these were - as is suggested by the theme of this activity - the early musings. Critique and reaction emerged from this (see, for example the step about Boas) and the discipline emerged in ‘its modern clothes’ through a critique of these...

  • Have another look at the article above where it is clarified why I have brought in Hoefstede’s theory. Can you see the link to the classics?

  • @OttoBernsen as we are looking at the classics this week, I’ve brought this in as it links with some of the early explanations of cultural variation, including Tönnies Gemeinschaft-Gesellschaft

  • Can you elaborate?

  • Try reading through your peers’ comments and then rewatch the video - let us know how you go!

  • You make some very good pints here. I guess underpinning the phrasing of the question was not a dismissal of the theory (indeed it’s a theory I have used myself in my research and I see a lot of value in it) but an encouragement to think about how generalizations of this kind enable comparisons and understanding of broad cultural patterns but at the same time...

  • Hi mike - see my explanation pinned at the final step in Week 1

  • Great how you bring the non-human into consideration here, Dave!!

  • Hi Lilly, yes this is a good example. How we talk about gender equity (or the lack of it) in the past is a reflection of our current situation - our present is making us interpret the past in a particular way. The critical lease towards patriarchy and the way women have been subdued male dominance is a discourse emerging out of our the time in which we write.

  • Hi all, I noice in your comments some confusion re the 3 versus 11 weeks and the tasks tailored for UON students particularly. To clarify: the course is offered as a MOOK for the first module (first three weeks) and is ‘open to the world’. The course continues for another three modules (9 weeks; 12 in total) for students at the University of Newcastle. You are...

  • Hi @AlanLodge and @LanaRocha - this course is part of a 10 units course the is offered at the University of Newcastle. The course runs for a full semester (12 weeks) over 4 modules. Only the first module is open as a MOOK. If you are interested in continuing, you can enroll as a student at UON and do the full course. You can do this now or at the end of Week...

  • Good point @StephenEverington ! popular could be a better word here as the word limit of our posts do not allow elaboration of why I (and the authors of the article) use the word ‘standard’.

  • Great responses to this step so far - but try to think even further on what Mauss is arguing. An element of gift giving as important as giving is, according to him, receiving and the argument he presents is that it is in the suspension created by the giving of the gift and the expectation of a counter gift that social relations are embedded. In your comments...

  • The Church (or religion) is another good example of a social institution! You are identifying a nested logic of the social institutions, pointing to a relationship between your faith to you being from southern United States. How would it be in other parts of the US? What social institution would there play the role that the Church plays for you?

  • You are pointing to a key social institution in our society that shapes who we are as individuals. Can you bring this further? What is the educational system an extension of?

  • I really like how you phrase your answer to the first question, Piper.

  • We will talk about the consequences of this 'othering' later in the course but consider the following question: if we always make a sense of our self through the reflection of or not-self (other), what implications may this have for how we relate to other(s)? Also, what would you think this means for the discipline of anthropology?

  • Link to Hirsch and Stewart article for those of you interested: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02757200500219289

  • Hi all, and welcome to Week 2! What a great start it was to Week 1 and the course! I look forward to see the discussion continue and go deeper this week. I'm very pleased to see we already have some great responses. In the discussion so far, the emphasis is more on how we have not learnt from our past than how the present shapes the past. What I am referring...

  • @MarcusJames Great spotting and reflection on how this course and FL in itself is culturally positioned!

  • Yes, a certificate will be made available at the end of Week 3 for Upgraded and Unlimited users - see here: https://www.futurelearn.com/proof-of-learning/certificate-of-achievement

  • Hei Sanne! Velkommen!

  • Welcome to the course, Olabode!

  • Great reflections, Margaret! I read Miner's observation about the mothers bewitching their children as a reflection of a particular scholar's work - can you guess who I am thinking of? (once you've progressed to the next step you may see what I mean).

    As @ShannonCattley I like what you write about how they evolve spiritually and physically; how do you...

  • You write: 'I feel like as a society we are lead to believe certain things for certain reasons and we never thing anything of it.' This is indeed one of the objectives of Miner's article: to make us aware of our own practice that we naturalise and come to take for granted.

  • You have picked up on the era in which this article was written, Katelynn. Back in the 1950s America attitudes to the female pregnant body was very different to that of our contemporary society. Well done!

  • When I gave this week's lecture in class, I asked the students to imagine what an alien anthropologist may think if he entered our lecture theatre. In many ways, that is what Miner does in this article - he forces us to think about our own use of potions, powders and pastes the way we (or the early anthropologists) would describe the indigenous people they...

  • Spot on, Katy!

  • I've never heard about the Australian Trench so had to google it. Found this: https://patient.info/forums/discuss/aussie-trench-fillings-566656 I think the similarity you spotted was spot on!

  • Think about how we structure our day around the body and our bodily rituals. This evening, I told my children they had to go and brush their teeth. When my six year old resisted, I told him that if he doesn't, his teeth will decay and they will fall out and the dentist will yell at him. Perhaps a bit of an exaggeration that subsequently led to a laugh, but it...

  • You've picked up on something real here, Sarah! Well spotted and great reflection!

  • Great that you bring forward the idolisation of Notgnishaw, Hannah!

  • Yes, seeing the exotic in the familiarity of the everyday is an important tool for anthropologists in asking questions and gaining knowledge - the source of curiosity and knowledge!