Could you introduce yourself in a few words?
My name is Lisa Renard. I’m an anthropologist working at the University of Strasbourg and I’m currently finishing my Ph.D. thesis dealing with the life circle of ancestral treasures (taonga) in the māori society of New Zealand.
What inspired you to choose this research topic?
I’ve always been fascinated by how people can relate to other generation through artifacts and how important in the life of the community some of these can be, in order for exemple to remember important moments, members of the groups, customs and traditions and so on.
What’s a typical day at work like in your lab/office ? / What are your specific roles in your lab?
Working in social and cultural anthropology implies a different kind of involvement in what we might call a « Lab ». For us, a lab is more a community of researchers with whom we can exchange. We do not pursue experiences next to one other in a Lab, but we can conduct some studies together sometimes. Most of the time we work on our own and then share the state or results of our research in seminars, conferences, colloquium, etc. It enables us to exchange our views about the latest discoveries and listen to what others can say about our work in order to take our analysis further.
A typical day at work is a day shared between a lot of scientifically readings, research, writing, and teaching. I teach social and cultural anthropology for seven years, to students of social sciences at the University of Strasbourg. It can be in front of an audience within the campus of our university, 20 students to 250 students at a time, but also, thanks to the Internet, with classes online. That’s a typical day but what makes me able to write and reflect on all of these questions is what we call fieldwork in social and cultural anthropology. So as often as possible, I try to go and work alongside groups of people.
I can spend a couple of months in New Zealand and share the daily life of people engaged in the creation and the guardianship of ancestral treasures. Or I can work in museums in Europe to observe how people interact with such artifacts. And sometimes, because in anthropology we like to diverse our point of views, I do work from Strasbourg in France and engage in different fieldworks on other matters, such as taking care of a newborn, living within an urban habitat such as Strasbourg, etc. At the end of the day, I tend to reach a better understanding of how people relate and interact with each other, and how their past experiences can enable, help or challenge these relationships.
What will be the theme of your "conference" ? Tell us more about it !
It will be the second time for me to get the opportunity to share my current research during a « Pint of science » event. I’m very happy about it. Last time, I talked about how one can create an ancestral treasure and make it circulate from one generation to another. The questions of the audience and their testimonies were very refreshing and interesting.
This time, I’ll present one of the roles of such ancestral treasure, which is to carry and give strength to the person or the group they are created and worn by. In other words, I’ll try to show how in Maoridom one does not wear a cloak (kākahu) or a māori tattooing (moko) but one is worn by such ancestral treasure and what it means. I’m looking forward to the feedback of the audience on such matter because at the end of the day it can virtually speak to anyone.
I do enjoy very much to share my research during these kinds of events. I believe that research always gains from being widely shared and should not be kept solely within the academic realm.
What's your vision on democratizing science ? How/why it is important for you ?
I’m a strong advocate of democratizing science. I have the chance to research human representations of the world and I believe that it can be interesting for a lot of people. I think that reflecting on the different roles of human creations (a tattoo or a cloak, for example) is something that a lot of us can feel concerned by and be interested in. What is deeply interesting for me is that from one end of the world to the other we do not talk about this in the same way.
Trying to find out why it is sometimes different or similar is at the core of my enthusiasm for social and cultural anthropology. Therefore the more broadly I speak about it, the more I’ll get the chance to hear what others have to say about it. What they have themselves experienced on such topic is always very interesting for my research and it helps to go beyond what I, what we, originally thought.
Do you follow any online scientific personalities (youtube channel/researchers/specific blog…)?
Do you recommend any scientific events?
I highly recommend Pint of science - an intriguing event for everyone who’s interested in science around the world. This year, during 2 days in 24 different countries including France, talented scientists gather around and discuss amazing topics while sharing drinks.
Curious about others Pints of Science’s talented speakers, just here to read our exceptional interview with Rose Marie ARBOGAST and know more about archaeozoology.