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AIAS Fellows' Seminar: Ton Otto

Navigating the present: An anthropological study of human agency, design and historicity

Info about event


Monday 18 May 2020,  at 14:15 - 15:15


Online via Zoom

Due to the corona crisis and the physical lockdown of the university and the physical distancing, the seminar will be held online, via Zoom:



When humans imagine their future, they normally also invoke visions of the past. Constructs of history and future are interdependent cultural phenomena from which a sense of human agency can be derived. Notions of agency and orientations towards past, present and future – in short ‘historicity’ - vary considerably across cultural ‘worlds’. My case study of a Melanesian movement for political and religious change, called the Paliau Movement after its leader and prophet, focuses on the movement’s use of imagination and historicity to effect change.

Short bio

Ton Otto is professor of anthropology at Aarhus University. Based on long-term ethnographic field research in Papua New Guinea, he has published on issues of social and cultural change. His interests comprise the epistemology and methodology of ethnographic research, visual and museum anthropology, and their relationship to design. His recent productions include four co-edited volumes on design anthropology, value, and visual anthropology as well as two exhibitions.

See Ton Otto's project at AIAS

What is a Fellows' Seminar?

The AIAS Fellows' Seminar is a session of seminars held by the AIAS fellow or by other speakers proposed by the fellows. In each seminar, one fellow will present and discuss his/her current research and research project, closing off with a question and discussion session.

All seminars are held in English and open to the public. Registration to the seminar is not necessary.