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Daniel Rosenblatt: “Secrets of Success in Aoteara/New Zealand: Indigenous Reality Television and the Moral Economy of Identity” Research-in-Progress Series

November 12, 2015 at 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM

Location:B742 (Department Lounge) Loeb Building
Cost:Free
Audience:null

In this talk, Daniel Rosenblatt will workshop with the audience a paper he’ll be presenting at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting.

This talk is part of the Research-in-Progress series, the Department’s brown bag talk series featuring the research in progress of faculty and graduate students. These sessions offer a space for working through still-in-process ideas in a welcoming setting and an opportunity to hear what everyone is up to. Please bring your lunch and join us!

Description of the talk: As many have noted, issues of class mobility, class culture, and success have been a preoccupation of reality television. “Competition” shows, one major genre, often dramatize the struggle to “make it” in the kinds of “artistic” careers (fashion, cooking, singing) that offer the possibility of bypassing an educational system in which access is heavily biased in favor of the already privileged. “Makeover” shows try to help people become better versions of themselves, in the process promoting normative middle class approaches to life. New Zealand’s “Maori Television” also features a range of shows concerned with “making it,” and these have interesting differences and similarities with those on “mainstream” Anglo-world channels. Notably absent on Maori television is the class shaming and class discipline that features prominently on mainstream “Anglo-world” shows. Competition shows are popular, often with a Maori “twist”—not only pop singing but karaoke (a popular Maori pastime) and “ta moko” (tattooing). Also very popular are “profile” shows that produce short portraits of individuals, ranging from people in the horse world (“Hoiho”) to people who work with food (“Kai Time on the Road”), to youth (“Swagger”). This paper focuses on “Te Iti Kahurangi” a show that focuses on “successful” people in a variety of fields. Like other profile shows, one area of interest to the producers is the relationship between people’s career pursuits and their “Maori side.” The paper looks at how this relationship is understood, and more broadly at what success is said to mean. The paper is part of a larger project concerned with bringing together the study of the “modern subject” with the “anthropology of indignity.”