February Profile – Emma Quilty

Emma is currently writing up on her fieldwork as part of PhD in Anthropology at the University of Newcastle. Her research is focused on witchcraft and on the shifting constructions of religion and young Australians. She is also involved in an ongoing research project in the school of education at the University of Newcastle as a senior researcher. This project aims to contribute to the capacity of educators to reason morally, to demonstrate phronetic judgement and moral imagination about day to day dilemmas they experience, especially those concerned with questions of pedagogical practice and professional action about what it means to be socially just.

 

 

ANSA speaks to… Emma Quilty

1. What first attracted you to anthropology?Henna. Back in high school for my year twelve Society and Culture final project I researched the cultural practice of henna. Historically, henna was found to be used in the Arabian Peninsula, South Asia, India and parts of North Africa. Henna has been used to adorn young women’s bodies as part of social and holiday celebrations since the late Bronze Age in the eastern Mediterranean – originally to celebrate and honour the myth cycle of Baal and Anath.
I turned to my teacher and lamented about how I wished I could ‘do this as a job’. ‘This’ referring to the study pf cultural and religious practices – delving deep into them and discovering the rich history and complex layers of meaning. She turned to me said yes you can – google Anthropology.

I turned to my teacher and lamented about how I wished I could ‘do this as a job’. ‘This’ referring to the study pf cultural and religious practices – delving deep into them and discovering the rich history and complex layers of meaning. She turned to me said yes you can – google Anthropology.

2. In a few sentences outline your research. 

My PhD focuses on the experiences and perspectives of young Australian women involved in witchcraft. My PhD is based on fieldwork (January 2015-January 2016) exploring identity, belonging and ritual in witchcraft. Looking at these experiences through an anthropological lens, I examine how young witches use ritual as a socially constituted practice, and the implications for their sense of identity and belonging.

3. How would you describe Anthropology to someone you met at a party, and/or how do you use anthropology at a party or social event (think: meeting the in-laws for Christmas, a house warming, a festival, etc.)

This is a common question I am asked when I tell people I am an anthropologist. The simplest response I give is:
“Have you seen the TV show called Bones? Well Bones – the anthropologist starring in the show – studies forensic anthropology. So she studies humanity through their skeletal remains. A cultural anthropologist studies humanity through their social, cultural and religious practices and traditions.

4. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received about doing anthropology and/or ethnography?
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Keep in mind that uncertainty will haunt you during the whole process of writing. Even after numerous revisions, you will likely fail to live up to the ideal of what you hoped to be able to write. When you finish, admit to yourself it’s flawed, but feel blessed that you told a story that was yours alone to tell.

McGranahan, C. 2015 Read More, Write Less, accessed 4/1/17 <http://savageminds.org/2015/02/02/read-more-write-less/>

5. What’s your favourite saying, phrase, or quote?

I want to say: we come from difference, Jonas,
you have been taught to grow out,
I have been taught to grow in.
You learned from our father how to emit, how to produce, to roll each thought off your tongue with confidence, you used to lose your voice every other week from shouting so much.
I learned to absorb.

(…….)
I asked five questions in genetics class today and all of them started with the word “sorry.”
Shrinking Women – Lily Myers
6. What book are you currently reading (academic or otherwise)?

The Empty Seashell by Nils Bubandt
The Autobiography of Malcolm X – As told to Alex Haley