Events Calendar

Prof Michael Banton Day
Thursday 10 October 2019
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Prof Michael Banton Day

10 October 2019
at the Royal Anthropological Institute

A one-day conference exploring his works and career.

There will be no conference fee, and refreshments will be provided on the day, but tickets must be booked. To book tickets please got to https://michaelbanton.eventbrite.co.uk.

9.30 TEA AND COFFEE

9.50 WELCOME

10.00 Dr Christopher Husbands (LSE)
'Michael Banton: from Sub-Lieutenant, to Student, to Researcher, 1947-1950'

10.40 Prof Paul Basu (SOAS)
‘West African City: Michael Banton in Freetown’

11.20 Prof Joan Abbott-Chapman (University of Tasmania)
‘The Edinburgh Connection: Personal reflections on the influence of Michael Banton’s teaching and research on my own research in the field of Sociology of Education.

12.00 Prof Susanne MacGregor (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)
‘The Edinburgh Connection: Insights from Michael Banton’s teaching on Race Relations for research on drugs, drink, homelessness and public health.’

12.40 LUNCH

1.30 Prof Anne Murcott (University of Nottingham, SOAS, London South Bank University)
‘The Edinburgh Connection: a key influence of Michael Banton’s teaching’

2.10 Prof Sandy Robertson (University of Cambridge)
‘The Edinburgh Connection: Michael Banton, Sociology, Anthropology, and Africa’

2.50 Dr Salma Siddique (University of Aberdeen)
‘The Policeman in the classroom and therapy room: Transformative places for empowerment and expression in counselling training and psychotherapy supervision.’

3.30 TEA AND COFFEE

4.00 Prof Martin Bulmer (University of Surrey)
‘Michael Banton and Ethnic and Racial Studies.’

4.40 Prof Verena Stolcke (UAB – Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona)
‘What has race to do with sex/gender?’

5.20 Dr David Shankland (RAI)
‘Darwin's and Paradise Lost: thoughts on Banton's approach to the history of anthropology and the RAI.’

6.00 Closing Discussion

Followed by drinks


Dr Christopher Husbands (LSE)
'Michael Banton: from Sub-Lieutenant, to Student, to Researcher, 1947-1950'

This contribution concentrates on Michael Banton’s career as an undergraduate at the London School of Economics [LSE] between 1947 and 1950.

It discusses how, having been demobilized early in 1947 as a Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, where he had been engaged in mine-sweeping duties, he came to LSE to enrol in the general social-science degree, the BSc (Econ); then, having considered majoring in anthropology, he finally settled on sociology as the special subject of the degree.

The contribution reviews the intellectual influences upon him at this period, such as from Karl Popper and particularly from Edward Shils (who was his academic tutor). It also reviews how he came to the attention of Kenneth Little and, after graduating from LSE with a 2(ii) degree, decided to follow Little to Edinburgh to pursue graduate work there rather than at LSE – leading to the doctoral  research that was later published as The Coloured Quarter.

The contribution draws on information from Banton’s LSE student file, copies of his late-life correspondence with Jean Floud, and some autobiographical articles that he wrote about his intellectual career.

Prof Paul Basu (SOAS)
‘West African City: Michael Banton in Freetown’

In November 1952, soon after submitting his PhD thesis, later to be published as The Coloured Quarter (1955), Michael Banton and his wife, Marianne, set sail for Sierra Leone. His erstwhile supervisor, Kenneth Little, had obtained a Nuffield Foundation grant for him to make a study of rural-urban migration to Freetown. In the event, the original project was somewhat ill-conceived and Michael focused instead on what he termed ‘tribal life in the city’. Although, in later years, Michael was dismissive of the research, feeling that it could have been better planned, better supervised and more ambitious in its analysis, reviewers of the resultant book, West African City (1957), recognized that it was a significant contribution to the literature on urbanization and the maintenance of ethnic identity. Based on an interview I conducted with Michael in 2013, I reflect on this episode in his distinguished career.

Prof Joan Abbott-Chapman (University of Tasmania)
‘The Edinburgh Connection: Personal reflections on the influence of Michael Banton’s teaching and research on my own research in the field of Sociology of Education.’

Michael Banton had a formative influence on my thinking about the study of social relations as Edinburgh University lecturer, my Ph.D. supervisor and later Director of the SSRC Research Unit on Ethnic Relations. I found particularly insightful his elucidation of the nature of racial and social class inequality and discrimination in theory, policy and practice; his stress on the importance of rigorous analysis of both qualitative and quantitative research evidence; his examination of the meaning of social action for the individual, and the importance of spatial and geographical distance in the analysis of social distance. These concepts are reflected in my research on improving educational access and equity of disadvantaged students to further and higher education.

Prof Susanne MacGregor (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)
‘Insights from Michael Banton’s teaching on Race Relations for research on drugs, drink, homelessness and public health.’

The Edinburgh University Department of Social Anthropology in the 1960s was an exceptional place. Foundational learning acquired as an undergraduate has informed the way I have approached my research since then.  Michael Banton’s teaching on the concepts of roles and role signs has stayed with me: his lectures on prejudice, discrimination and stereotypes were illuminating, along with discussions of social distance. This talk will consider how these key concepts can aid understanding of contemporary situations relating to drugs, drink, homelessness and other key issues in public health.  

Prof Anne Murcott (University of Nottingham, SOAS, London South Bank University)
‘The Edinburgh connection: a key influence of Michael Banton’s teaching’

With examples from my own work on the sociology of food & eating, this talk illustrates the lasting influence of Michael Banton’s undergraduate teaching by selecting just one key feature of the many that comprise his intellectual bequest.  This is his injunction that other people’s concepts are not sociologists’ concepts.  Perhaps the most recent incarnation of his point is found in his final book where he insists that the term ‘ethnic group’ belongs to the practical world of policy and cannot serve as a term in the analytic world of the social sciences.  

Prof Sandy Robertson (University of Cambridge)
‘Michael Banton, Sociology, Anthropology, and Africa’    

For me as a student in a refreshingly heterodox Social Anthropology department at Edinburgh in the 1960s, Michael Banton forged vital links between ‘sociology-proper’, West African ethnography, and the study of ‘social change’.  Along with his contemporaries Clyde Mitchell, Kenneth Little, Jaap Van Velsen and others, he drew attention to the creative – even redemptive – dynamics of social (inter)action, the weakening imperial premises of ethnic homogeneity, and new pressures of ecological, demographic, and political circumstance.  A master of the seminar and an authoritative lecturer, Bristol’s gain was our loss, but his attachment to former students and colleagues remained constant.

Dr Salma Siddique (University of Aberdeen)
‘The Policeman in the classroom and therapy room: Transformative places for empowerment and expression in counselling training and psychotherapy supervision.’

Banton’s (1964; 1967; 2002) work on race, ethnicity and colonialism offers an analytical lens that challenges the way the dominate discourse places value judgments on communities. This presentation will explore the radical shift of thinking from accommodation to navigating transgression and resistance through the pedagogy and policy lens of othering as "colour-blind” racism and show how the concept of policing is around in the therapy room for practitioners aware of the challenges of political correctness with implicit and explicit racism. The presentation will consider how training and clinical supervision can work with these dilemmas.

Prof Martin Bulmer (University of Surrey)
‘Michael Banton and Ethnic and Racial Studies.’

The journal ETHNIC AND RACIAL STUDIES was founded by John Stone (now of Boston University) and Norman Franklin of Routledge in 1978. Michael Banton was a member of the Editorial Board from the outset, and remained a member of the Board until his death. When I became editor in 1992 and since, he provided support to the Editor and reviewed submitted articles with incisiveness and commitment. He regularly attended Board meetings and challenged some of the policies of the editors (myself and John Solomos).

His approach was grounded in his sociological approach to the subject and in the Popperian principles he had imbibed as a student at LSE in the 1940s.

Prof Verena Stolcke (UNAM Barcelona)
'What has race to do with sex/gender?'
“The uterus is to the race what the heart is to the individual: it is the organ of circulation of the species.” (W. Tyler Smith, Manual of Obstetrics, 1847)

In April of 1684 an anonymous traveler sent an article to the French Journal des Sçavans in which he used a category that came close to the modern idea of race. As he wrote, “there are above all four or five species or races of man whose differences are so notable that they can serve as a basis for a new division of the earth.” These races differed above all in what is now technically called their phenotype which, according to the author, does not change in different climates (M.T. Hodgen, Early Anthropology in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, Pennsylvania UP, 1964).  Roger Bastide, the French anthropologist who in the 20th century spent many years in Brazil came to the conclusion that “the question about race always incites the answer… sex” (R. Bastide, “Colour, Racism and Christianity,” Daedalus Spring 1967.) Still, though the notion of intersectionality has become quite fashionable of late to explain the relation between race and sex, pertinent ethnographic accounts are so far scarce.  In this presentation I will challenge Western modern common sense which dissociates nature from culture as two self-evidently distinct aspects of human experience. My aim will be twofold. As long as they are not endowed with social meaning, nature and culture might be conceived as two distinct realms. Often, however, unequal social orders are justified as natural facts. In this presentation I will explore how, in colonial and class society, socio-political inequalities tend to be marked and legitimated by attributing them to natural deficiencies. This is not a one-way ideological procedure. It is this complex socio-ideological process which in class society roots gender subordination in sex differences and morality and interprets socio-cultural diversity as due to racial inequality.  However, this ‘naturalization’ does not go uncontested because the liberal idea of the free and equal subject is a constitutive element of modernity and hence persistent inequality and subordination, needs controlling.

Dr David Shankland (RAI)
‘Darwin's and Paradise Lost: thoughts on Banton's approach to the history of anthropology and the RAI.’

Michael Banton's last home was at Downe, very close by to Darwin's house, where he took great pleasure in taking visitors. Also at this time, he became once more active at the RAI, this time as a key contributor to our deliberations about the history of the institute and its relations with anthropology more widely.  He was fond of making two points in this connection: he was excoriating as to the quality of Penniman's A Hundred Years of Anthropology (1935), which he held up as all that could be wrong in writing history, and he suggested that we should concentrate on trying to understand why Darwin took a copy of Paradise Lost with him whilst voyaging. These two remarks have remained long in my mind, and my paper will attempt to present the history of the institute accordingly.

 

Prof Michael Banton's book What we know about Race and Ethncity is available online at https://www.berghahnbooks.com/title/BantonWhat by clicking "Full Test".

 

Location : Royal Anthropological Institute
50 Fitzroy Street
London
W1T 5BT
United Kingdom
http://www.therai.org.uk