Anthropology Department Colloquium Speaker Series

 

Upcoming Colloquium Events:

 

Monday, April 30 | 3:00 pm | Social Sciences Building, Dean's Conference Room 107

Speaker:  Catherine, Panter-Brick, MA, Professor of Anthropology, Health, and Global Affairs,Senior Editor, Medical Anthropology, Social Science & Medicine, Head of Morse College, Yale University, Director, Program on Stress and Family Resilience, Anthropology, Director, Conflict, Resilience & Health Program, MacMillan Center

 

Forced Displacement and Humanitarian Action: A Case Study with Syria Refugees

In the wake of the Syria crisis, we see numerous reports documenting the trauma, loss, and stress of communities affected by war and forced displacement; a few also highlight evidence of resilience as Syrian refugees rebuild their lives in new communities.  In the Middle East region, the No Lost Generation initiative is one example of a platform grouping together humanitarian programs focused on issues of protection, wellbeing, and social cohesion.  While interfacing with donors and the public, such programs embrace a well-articulated narrative of risk and resilience, one in which notions of social justice and human rights surface more or less explicitly. Over the past two years, I directed an research partnership to engage interdisciplinary scholars with the No Lost Generation programming in Jordan.  I helped to assess a humanitarian program, evaluating how the impacts of stress can be measured over time and what resilience means for young Syrian refugees and Jordanian hosts living side-by-side in communities heavily impacted by the Syrian crisis.  In this presentation, I examine how anthropologists can partner with other scholars and humanitarians to engage in more critical discussions of fairness, dignity, and accountability.

Past Colloquium Events:

2017 - 2018

Monday, April 23 | 3:00 pm | Social Sciences Building, Dean's Conference Room 107

Speaker: Katie Hinde, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Center for Evolution and Medicine, Arizona State University 

 

Mother's Milk: Anthropological Investigations at the Intersection of the Life and Social Sciences

Public health efforts promote the first 1000 days of life as influential for health and well-being across the lifespan. This developmental period has both vulnerability and opportunity for the integration of infant physical, behavioral, and microbial systems. Previous research of this developmental stage has remained primarily physiological before birth and behavioral during infancy, but mammals produce milk extending physiological investment for the neonate. Unlike adults in Westernized, Educated, Industrial, Rich, Democratic nations, far removed from the ancestral conditions that shaped our bodies, the breastfed infant develops within an “adaptively relevant environment.” Cross-cultural investigations combined with an evolutionary viewpoint yield new perspectives of mothers, milk, and infants. For example, breast milk nourishes, protects, and informs the developing neonate through nutrients, defenses, and hormones. Milk varies across evolutionary time, human populations, individuals within populations, and within mother across time. In this way mother’s milk reflects the “here and now” and the “there and then.” Biomedical and social scientific research on this topic can directly translate to culturally-sensitive, personalized clinical recommendations and health optimization for mothers and their infants as well as substantiate the importance of infrastructure and institutional support for breastfeeding. Further, a better understanding of the composition and function of milk informs the design of more representative infant formulas for those mothers facing obstacles or contraindications to breastfeeding. Lastly, decoding mother’s milk will allow for enhanced precision medicine for the most fragile infants and children in neonatal and pediatric intensive care units. Transdisciplinary approaches to mother’s milk research, along with public engagement, facilitate discoveries at the bench and their translation to applications at the bedside.


Monday, April 16 | 3:00 pm | Social Sciences Building, Dean's Conference Room 107

Speaker: Cleo Woelfle-Erskine, Assistant Professor of Equity and Environmental Justice, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs University of Washington, Seattle

 

Queer Politics for Field Ecologists? Mourning Other Species in Damaged Landscapes

There’s something queer about relations between field ecologists and their study organisms, on the frontlines of the sixth mass extinction, as more than human intimates die at alarming rates. What radical politics and transformative potentials can arise from witnessing these transgressive intimacies, even or especially among more-than-human others dying because of human (in)action? I search for signs of resistant ‘world making’ (Muñoz) in ephemeral moments where scientists were able to speak their grief at extinction and love for their study species—in the field, in a twitter #cuteoff, and in response to earlier versions of this talk. I look to queer politics—ACT UP’s street protests during the height of the AIDS crisis in the U.S.—as a model for how ecologists might tap grief and rage as a source for social connection and political action.What was unbearable as individual grief became cathartic public performances of mourning and rage demanding research, antidiscrimination legislation, and above all visibility and an end to homophobic erasure. Through autoethnography of my own queer field encounters with dead and dying salmon, I argue that such public mourning for interspecies relations could bring new fire to environmental activism, replacing affectless terms like ‘species loss’ and ‘biodiversity’ with ‘death of beloved kin’.


 

Monday, April 9| 3:00 pm | Social Sciences Building, Dean's Conference Room 107

Speaker: Anatoly M. Khazanov, Ernest Gellner Professor of Anthropology (Emeritus), Fellow of the British Academy, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Department of Anthropology


Contemporary Pastoralism in Central Asia: Problems of Social and Environmental justice.

Contemporary pastoralism in Central Asia is an outcome of three developments, all of which affected it in a negative way. The first one had happened in the late 1920s and in the early 1930s.  The pastoralists were forced to become laborers on the state-owned or the so-called collective farms and were divorced from the possession of pastures and most of livestock. The outcome was a very sharp decrease in stock numbers and in pastoralist population in the whole. The second development took place in the late Soviet period, when some efforts were made to modernize pastoralism and to make it more mobile again. But this was done in a characteristically Soviet inefficient and erroneous way.  Pastoralism had lost its traditional character but was never organized on rational economic principles. In the late Soviet period, a prime goal was to increase stock numbers by any means. This was achieved by large state subsidies, a disregard for production cost, and by complete neglection of environmental factors.  The next, post-Soviet period of drastic changes in Central Asian pastoralism can be characterized as a period of its de-modernization. All subsidies and other support of pastoralism ceased to exist. The two most important reforms were the dissolution of the Soviet state- and collective farms and the privatization of livestock. However, this privatization was accompanied by widespread embezzlement by those in power. Social justice was the least concern of the reformers. In all Central Asian countries, the majority of pastoralists have become non-commercial, subsistence-oriented, and impoverished peasants.   Pastoralism has also become less mobile. While pastures near settlements are overused, distance pastures, remain underutilized, or even are completely abandoned. One is witnessing now desertification and degradation of vegetation, soil, and water. It is clear that In addition to the negative climatic change, the contemporary sociopolitical and economic changes are also implicated in the progressive decline of arid pasturelands.  Whether it rains or shines, these things will not go away by themselves.


Monday, March 12 | 3:00 pm | Institute of the Americas Deutz Room

Speaker: Jonathan Rosa, Ph.D. Department of Anthropology Stanford University

 

 

Looking like a Language, Sounding like a Race: Raciolinguistic Ideologies and the Learning of Latinidad

Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in a Chicago public high school and its surrounding communities, this presentation examines borders delimiting Latinx and American identities on the one hand, and co-naturalizations of language and race on the other. My analysis of these dynamics in relation to racialized anxieties regarding the implications of an increasing U.S. Latinx population attends to the construction of language as a sign of Americanness, and especially of its potential undoing. I argue that these “raciolinguistic” phenomena are emblematic of broader global processes that result in the profound social fact that populations come to look like a language and sound like a race across societal contexts.


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Monday, October 30 | 3:00 pm | Social Sciences Building, Dean's Conference Room

Speaker: Sara Ayers-Rigsby, MA, RPA Director, Southeast/Southwest Regions, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Florida Atlantic University

 

 

On the Front Lines-Sea Level Rise and Archaeology

With 3 feet of sea level rise, over 16,000 cultural sites in Florida will be destroyed. How do we document these sites before they are gone? What are the best steps we can take to engage the local community? In this talk, we will explore the Florida Public Archaeology Network’s citizen science initiative, Heritage Monitoring Scouts (HMS) Florida, as well as practical approaches to engage local leaders in this important issue. A major success story in southeast Florida was the inclusion of archaeological resources in the Southeast Regional Climate Compact, a four county agreement between Palm Beach County, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties that details recommendations to cope with climate change in these counties.Resiliency is also a social justice issue—natural disasters such as hurricanes like Harvey and Irma illustrate how marginalized communities suffer disproportionately. Additionally, too often cultural heritage is overlooked in resiliency discussions, but it is a critical part of helping communities engage with the space around them. Pride in historic sites and local archaeological should be accessible to everyone. Although destructive, natural disasters can also galvanize the local community to protect cemeteries or submerged resources under threat that they may not have been previously aware of. In this discussion we will use examples from various communities throughout Florida, such as the fishing village of Matlacha, and recent events to illustrate the need for people to get involved in protecting coastal heritage.

2016 - 2017

"Saving the World's Most Peaceful Primates"

Karen B. Strier Vilas, Research Professor and Irven DeVore Professor of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Monday, May 15, 2017 | 3:00-4:30pm | SSB 107

My main research interests are to understand the behavioral ecology of primates from a comparative perspective, and to contribute to conservation efforts on their behalf. The northern muriqui ( Brachyteles hypoxanthus ), which I have been studying in Brazil’s Atlantic forest since 1982, are a model for comparisons with other primates as well as one of the most critically endangered primates in the world. One of the current priorities of my long-term field study is to understand how stochastic demographic fluctuations and individual life histories affect population viabilities and behavior. I am also interested in understanding population-level variation and its relevance to basic research in biological anthropology.


"Modeling, Combining, Containing: Making meaning in the Aegean Bronze Age"

Carl Knappett, Professor of History of Art, University of Toronto

Monday, April 17, 2017 | 3:00-4:30pm | SSB 107

The Bronze Age societies of the Aegean produced an array of artifacts so striking that they are commonly, if problematically, labeled “artworks”, Yet, these objects are rarely subject to the anthropological approaches that have contributed so much to our understanding of these societies. In this talk I will address some of the reasons for this oversight, and attempt to “rehabilitate” Aegean art from a perspective that combines insights from art history anthropology and archaeology. The focus will fall principally on technologies of modeling, combining, and containing, with an examination of the semiotic resources that these processes offered ancient artisans and consumers in their creative engagement with the material world.


"Discerning the Spirits of South Korean Glossolalia"

Nicholas Harkness, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences Department of Anthropology, Harvard University

Monday, March 13, 2017 | 3:30-5:30pm | SSB 107

In Christian traditions of glossolalia ("speaking in tongues"), speech-like behavior without discernible denotation can be an explicitly linguistic form of involvement with the deity. In South Korea, glossolalia is practiced widely across Protestant denominations and congregations, from Pentecostals to Presbyterians. This paper focuses on the problem of spiritual discernment, when South Korean Christians doubt the work of the deity and speculate on the source and character of the forms, forces, and feelings that they confront when they speak in tongues. I link this problem of discernment to the processes through which glossolalia suppresses "normal" linguistic functions while reinforcing ideological commitments to language itself.


"Ties that Bind: Churches, Youth Gangs, and the Management of Everyday Life in the Urban Latin Amercia"

Brendan Jamal Thorton, Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Monday, October 24, 2016 | 3:00-4:30pm | SSB 107

Pentecostal churches and transnational youth gangs have more in common than simply their increasing popularity in urban neighborhoods across Latin America and the Caribbean.  Indeed, in a remarkably short period of time these emergent institutions have become regular fixtures in the social and cultural life of urban communities throughout the region.  This talk considers these institutions as similar and related with two goals in mind: first, to reflect on the simultaneous popularity of two seemingly irreconcilably different institutions; and second, to probe what this shared popularity might say about contemporary social life in urban barrios today.

2015 - 2016

"Origins of Agriculture and Plant Use in Neolithic North China: Evidence from Stone Tools"

Li Liu, Professor of Archaeology, Stanford University

Monday, May 16, 2016 | 3:00pm | SSB 107

In China, grinding stones first appeared during the Upper Paleolithic period, and were one of the dominant tool types in many early Neolithic sites. Grinding stones were primarily used for processing plant foods and other materials. They gradually disappear in the archaeological record after 5000 BC in the Yellow River region at the time when millet-based agriculture intensified. However, grinding stones were continuously used by people throughout the entire Neolithic period in the Liao River region of Northeast China. The different trajectories in food processing methods (with or without grinding stones) in the two regions are likely related to diverse types of plants exploited; and we need to understand what plants were involved. By employing residue (starch and phytoliths) and usewear analyses, this study investigates the functions of grinding stones recovered at several sites in the Liao River region, dating to ca. 6000-3000 BC. The results suggest that the people utilized a broad-spectrum subsistence strategy throughout the entire Neolithic, using various wild, cultivated, and domesticated plants, including tubers/roots, cereals, beans, and nuts. The earliest domesticates in the Xinglongwa period include millets and Job’s tears. Rice may have been introduced to the region for the first time during the Hongshan period, coinciding with the rise of regional elite and intensified interactions with other Neolithic cultures in the south. This study sheds new light on the plant-use strategies of the grinding-stone users who developed complex societies in the Neolithic Liao River region.


"Geographies of Tolerance: State, Space, and Jewish-Muslim Ligatures in Morocco"

Aomar Boum, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles.

Monday, May 9, 2016 | 3:00pm | SSB 107

In the last decades, the Moroccan state has used Andalusian sonic geographies and materialities in aesthetically designed urban festivals to produce an official discourse of Jewish-Muslim understanding. Based on a set of ethnographic interviews with youth and members of the political elite in Morocco and drawing on religious and sound studies, I argue that the urban space is deployed to create a national feeling of a Jewish-Muslim entente channeled through the political and symbolic power of a political and economic Jewish elite in Morocco. In this context, Medieval Islamic Spain is selectively used as a moral past to entertain the possibilities of Jewish-Muslim relations and religious toleration in the modern times of interfaith violence. The Moroccan state deployment of soft Andalusian soundscapes is meant to speak to the hope of Palestinian-Israeli entente. Underlying these musical events of toleration and Andalusian Convivencia is an official and nostalgic re-imagination of a historical Jewish-Muslim symbiosis. This re-imagining is used to market a distinct and unique Moroccan Islam of tolerance in a global market of religious violence.


"Earthquakes and Emergencies in Nepal: Building Sustainable Mental Health Systems amid Political, Structural, and Seismic Violence"

Brandon Kohrt, MD, PhD. Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Global Health and Cultural Anthropology
Duke University

Monday, May 2, 2016 | 3:30pm | SSB 107

Two large 7.8 and 7.3 magnitude earthquakes and more than 500 aftershocks greater than 4.0 magnitude struck Nepal in 2015 resulting in 8,600 deaths, displacement of 450,000 people, and 8.5 million people deprived of access to shelter, food, healthcare, and education. The international community donated millions of dollars to health efforts, including $17 million from Facebook, with a substantial investment in mental health services. However, prior international mental health responses to humanitarian emergencies have been criticized widely, including in detailed ethnographic research, for short-term services, lack of sustainable mental healthcare, an exclusive focus on trauma to the neglect of other mental health and psychosocial needs, stigmatizing survivors of disasters, and undermining existing recovery and support structures. Therefore, to minimize risk of these unintended consequences, governmental and non-governmental organizations strove for collaborative, sustainable efforts building upon a decade of mental health systems strengthening and anthropological research following Nepal’s civil war. Approaches to diagnosis and psychological treatment ranging from WHO programs to school counseling integrated Nepali ethnopsychological frameworks to promote effectiveness and reduce stigma. Transculturally adapted instruments revealed that earthquake-related PTSD rates were low (5.2%) whereas chronic mental health problems related to depression, anxiety, and alcohol use problems affected 1 out of 5 adults. This work demonstrates the opportunities and challenges for integrating anthropological theory and methods into global mental health interventions during humanitarian emergencies.


"Adventures in Epigenetics: Investigating the Long Term Effects of Environments in Infancy on the Regulation of Inflammation in the Philippines"

Thomas McDade, Professor. Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University.

Monday, April 18th, 2016 | 3:00pm | SSB 107

Environments in infancy have lasting effects on human physiological systems that influence health and well-being in adulthood.  Chronic inflammation is involved in many diseases of aging, and it is a potentially important mechanism linking environments and health over the life course.  But this understanding is based almost exclusively on research in affluent industrialized populations, which are epidemiologically and ecologically unique in comparison with most populations globally, and historically.  Comparative studies challenge key assumptions of the chronic inflammation paradigm, and point toward early life microbial and nutritional factors as important determinants of inflammatory phenotypes.  A developmental ecological model of inflammation has potentially important implications for understanding the complex associations among ecology, inflammation, and disease.


"The Ethics of Intelligibility: Understanding Deaf-Hearing Interactions in Nepal"

Mara Green. University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow, UCSD

Monday, April 11th, 2016 | 3:00pm | SSB 107

This talk focuses on deaf Nepalis’ experiences to argue that intelligibility is ultimately an ethical as well as a semiotic phenomenon. Drawing on extensive fieldwork with signers of Nepali Sign Language (a young but conventional language) and “natural sign” (more limited signed repertoires), I explore how understanding others depends not only on shared social and semiotic conventions, but also, and more critically, on the willingness of interlocutors to engage.

 

 

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2013-2014

Steps Toward an Anthropology of the Human Subject in Experimental Psychology

Emily Martin, Professor, Department of Anthropology, New York University (NYU)

Monday, June 2nd | 3:30-5:30PM | HSS 3027

Historians of psychology have described how the “introspection” of early Wundtian psychology largely came to be ruled out of experimental settings by the mid 20th century. In this paper I take a fresh look at the years before this process was complete -- from the vantage point of early anthropological and psychological field expeditions. The psychological research conducted during and after the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to the Torres Straits Islands (CAETS) in 1898 had a certain impact on Ludwig Wittgenstein, who, among other things, became an important commentator on experimental psychology. In his later writings, Wittgenstein frequently referred to “anthropological facts” and “anthropological phenomena.” He articulated some of the central tenets of cultural anthropological analysis. His efforts to move the ground of analysis from philosophy to anthropology take on greater force in the light of his acquaintance with the early history of anthropology. I will take this opportunity to reconsider the importance of the CAETS in the history of anthropology and to explore some possible ways of approaching experimental psychology ethnographically.


Senior Research Fellow Presentation: Homelessness and Mental Illness in India

Inserm Cermes, University of Paris Descartes-Ecoles des Hautes Etudes en Science Sociales

Monday, March 10th | 3:00PM | SSB 107


"Speaking for the Voiceless: Metaphors of Power and Agency in American Political Discourse".

Elise Kramer, Department of Anthropology, University of California San Diego

Monday, February 24th | 3:00PM | SSB 107