Lecture on ‘Cultural Sustainability and Anthropology’ at KISS-DU

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The KISS School of Anthropology Sciences, in partnership with United Indian Anthropology Forum (UIAF) and collaboration with Departments of Anthropology, Utkal University, University of Delhi, and Sambalpur University, organized a lecture on ‘Cultural Sustainability and Anthropology’ under the banner of Pre-World Anthropology Congress – 2023 Distinguished Invited Online Lecture Series (PDIOLS) on 27th August 2021. The second lecture under the series was delivered by Professor Christine R. Finnan, Professor of Anthropology, University of Charleston, South Carolina, USA. Professor Finnan is a Fulbright Scholar with a long history of research and advocacy for social justice in schools in the USA and India, and recently broadened her research interests to encompass the intersection of social justice and sustainability. The session was chaired by Professor Anand Singh, Professor of Anthropology, Howard College Campus, University of KwaZulu-Natal Durban, Republic of South Africa. Professor Kamal Kant Misra, former Vice-Chancellor, Utkal University of Culture, Bhubaneswar introduced the distinguished speaker and the chair. 

In her lecture, Professor Christine R. Finnan said: “As we become increasingly concerned about sustainability issues (e.g., climate change, social justice, economic inequality, human migration) around the world, it is important to consider how culture fits within conceptualizations of sustainable development that typically emphasize three pillars of sustainability: environment, economic and social. Recently, cultural sustainability has been included in sustainability discussions in three different ways. One way is as a fourth pillar. As such, the focus is on sustaining culture through protecting artefacts and encouraging the use and revitalization of vulnerable traditions, languages, and arts. The second way is to focus on how culture interacts with environmental, economic, and social forces and institutions in sustainable development efforts. Finally, cultural sustainability can also be seen more universally to emphasize the global culture changes that need to occur to ensure a sustainable planet and just societies.” In her presentation, she focused on the three approaches to cultural sustainability, illustrated how they fit with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and challenged anthropologists to use key concepts, methods, and commitments to advance efforts to address the challenges of sustainability from local to the global levels. Speaking in the context of application to KISS-DU, she added that the university is built on indigenous knowledge, possesses content expertise, develops skills, conducts research, collaborates with communities, agencies, and organizations, and advocates on the local, state, national, and international stage, concluded Professor Finnan.

Professor Kamal Kant Misra said: “Professor Finnan is a Fulbright Scholar and has worked on school and classroom culture and cultural sustainability and Professor Singh is an ace in the areas of UN Sustainable Development Goals, Applied Anthropology, and Indian Diaspora.” Earlier, introducing the topic, Professor Anand Singh presented the concept of culture and sustainability. He also cited some of the research work by Professor Finnan with emphasis on language. Professor Singh appreciated the initiatives and activities undertaken by KISS since its inception.  

Professor Deepak Kumar Behera, Vice-Chancellor, KISS-DU, in his welcome address, spoke about the relevance and significance of organizing the prestigious World Anthropology Congress in 2023 (WAC-2023). Together we will put Odisha and India on the world map by making the congress a roaring success, he added. Dr. Prashanta Kumar Routray, Registrar, KISS-DU spoke about the recent achievements of KISS and its journey since its inception. It included students’ progression, national and international achievements in sports, activities, and initiatives during the Covid-19 pandemic, KISS addressing SDGs, areas which make KISS unique, recipients of Humanitarian Awards till date. Dr. Routray concluded his deliberation by sharing the details of the previous Pre-WAC online lecture series.

Professor S. Gregory, Member Secretary, United Indian Anthropology Forum proposed the formal vote of thanks on the occasion.

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