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

The KISS School of Anthropology Sciences organized the second 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, in partnership with the United Indian Anthropology Forum (UIAF) and in collaboration with Departments of Anthropology, Utkal University, University of Delhi, and Sambalpur University.

The speaker was Professor Christine R. Finnan, Professor of Anthropology, University of Charleston, South Carolina, USA. Professor Finnan was a Fulbright Scholar with a long history of research and activism for social justice in schools in the USA and India. She has eventually 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 Finnan emphasized environmental, economic and social sustainability to counter climate change, economic inequality, and ensure social justice through incorporating the concept of sustainability in our study of culture. She pointed out the three different ways of ensuring cultural sustainability in the discussions about sustainability. According to her, the first way is to protect and preserve the artefacts and revival as well as 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, the third way is about efforts to be made on a universal scale to create an equitable and sustainable planet amid sweeping changes in the global culture. She added that the three approaches can address the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and urged anthropologists to reformulate the key concepts, methods, and commitments in order to emphasize sustainability from local to global levels. Speaking in the context of the application of such concepts at KISS-DU, Prof Finnan was hopeful that this institution is best suited to accomplish this task since it is built on an indigenous knowledge base constituted by the students. In addition, it possesses the expertise of the content of the faculties, and it stands committed to developing the learning skills, conducts research, collaborates with communities, agencies, and organizations, and advocates for equity and sustainable growth on the local, state, national, and international stage.

Professor Kamal Kant Misra introduced Professor Finnan as a Fulbright Scholar and spoke about his pedagogic emphasis on cultural sustainability. He also praised Professor Singh as an academic leader in the areas of UN Sustainable Development Goals, Applied Anthropology, and Indian Diaspora.

Professor Anand Singh outlined the concept of culture and sustainability. He also cited some of the research work by Professor Finnan. Professor Singh also 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). He expressed his hope that KISS and Odisha will develop as the anthropological and sociological knowledge hub and feature prominently on the world map with the success of the World Anthropological Congress.

Dr Prashanta Kumar Routray, Registrar, KISS-DU enumerated various recent achievements of KISS and its growth as an academic institution since its inception. The achievements included students’ progression, national and international achievements in sports, activities, and initiatives undertaken by KISS during the Covid-19 pandemic to spread awareness among the people, promoting the  SDGs. In fact, these activities and achievements have won KISS glory and many Humanitarian Awards to 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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