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Anthropology Department Colloquium Speaker Series


Upcoming Colloquium Events:



Past Colloquium Events:

2019 - 2020

Becoming successful primates: The development of social competence in infant olive baboons



Monday, February 24 | 3:00 pm | Social Sciences Building 107  

Speaker: Dr. Corinna A. Most, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology, Iowa State University



Among primates, olive baboons (P. anubis) are second only to humans in numbers and geographical distribution. They live in large groups structured by complex rank and kin relationships, which can be cooperative and affiliative as well as competitive and aggressive. These relationships affect every single aspect of a baboon’s daily life, and developing the sophisticated social skills necessary to navigate them is a key requirement to becoming a ‘successful’ baboon. To understand the ontogeny of social competence in infant olive baboons, my research focused on the effects of maternal responsiveness and secondary attachments. I was also able to situate this process within the long-term ecological data available from the field site, the Uaso Ngiro Baboon Project (UNBP) in Laikipia, Kenya. In particular, I examined the effects on maternal behavior and infant development of the spread of an invasive plant food species, the prickly-pear cactus Opuntia stricta. In this talk, I will present the results of my research, as well as the results of two follow-up studies. The first one looked at infant coat-color transition as a marker of physiological development. The second examined grooming behavior in the same study subjects once they became juveniles, to investigate whether the differences in social competency I had observed in infancy persisted at a later life stage. I will also introduce several new collaborative projects that we will pursue over the next few years at the UNBP.

Social Life with Limited Shared Language: Exclusion and Inclusion in a Mainstream Classroom with Three Deaf Students in Iquitos, Peru


Monday, February 10 | 3:00 pm | Social Sciences Building 107  

Speaker: Sara A. Goico, UC President’s and NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Sociology and Department of Anthropology, UCLA



Language is a pervasive part of our everyday lives. Yet around the world, there are many deaf individuals who live without access to an established language. These individuals have not been exposed to an existing sign language, and their deafness and the unavailability of hearing assistive technology precludes access to spoken language. Research with this population has focused on the manual communication systems that these deaf individuals develop in an effort to identify the biological underpinnings of linguistic structure. However, little is published on the communicative competency of these deaf individuals (i.e. their ability to use their communication systems for social aims). In this presentation, I explore the constitution of social groups in a mainstream classroom with three deaf students. From 2013-2015, I conducted ethnographic fieldwork in the homes and schools of deaf youth without access to an established language in Iquitos, Peru. Despite the deaf students being generally excluded from the academic content taught in the classroom, I find that they are engaged in reinforcing bonds of solidarity with peers through explicit acts of classmate exclusion. These processes of exclusion and inclusion are carried out in moments of situated interaction through the deaf children laminating their utterances with a range of semiotic resources to express forms of stance towards the target assessable object or event. In examining the moment-by-moment achievement of the classroom social order, I illustrate how deaf youth without access to an established language are able to accomplish complex social work with limited shared language.




Monday, October 21 | 3:00 pm | Social Sciences Building 107  

Speaker: Bridget Haas, PhD, NIHT32 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Case Western Reserve University




Enduring Limbo: Seeking Asylum in the American Midwest

Asylum claimants in the United States—those who seek protection due to a “well-founded fear of persecution” in their countries of origin—often live for years in a state of limbo, as they may ultimately be granted the right to remain in the US or be forcibly expelled. They are subjected to myriad institutional practices that cast them as criminal or morally suspect. This talk investigates how the system to which vulnerable asylum seekers appeal for protection emerges as one that inflicts new forms of violence and suffering upon them. Drawing on ethnographic research with asylum claimants in the American Midwest, I trace the lived consequences of being embedded in this complex and onerous political-legal system. I discuss how a sense of existential limbo generated by the asylum process evoked particular subjective and affective states, transforming the ways in which asylum claimants inhabited their bodies and social worlds. I also address the inter and intrapersonal strategies that asylum claimants drew upon to actively endure this painful state of being “stuck.”

2018 - 2019

Monday, May 13 | 3:00 pm | Social Sciences Building, Dean's Conference Room 107

Speaker: Erin Debenport, University of California, Los Angeles


The Language of Secrecy and Exposure in the Pueblo Borderlands

This talk examines how Indigenous Pueblo people living in the Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico and Texas use strategic concealments and revelations to constitute community and enact morality, subjectivity, and sovereignty. Drawing on long-term ethnographic and linguistic fieldwork with three Pueblo nations, I move from examples where cultural and linguistic information is tightly controlled to situations where visibility is self-consciously produced to discuss how indigeneity is performed and politics are practiced in this region and in the contemporary U.S. more broadly.

Monday, April 22 | 3:00 pm | Social Sciences Building, Dean's Conference Room 107

Speaker: Dorian Fuller, University College London



Beyond the bread frontier: Sticky rice, millet porridge and grain wines in the definition of a civilizational area

My predominant research focus has been the origins of agriculture and its social and ecological, but I have interests in how we understand later agricultural systems in early states and empires, as well as the plant use systems in hunter-gatherers systems that precede any agriculture. I have a wider interest in human-environment interactions both in terms of climatic constraints but also human modification of environments. I have been actively engaged in fieldwork projects in India, starting from South India. I have subsequently carried out fieldwork in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarnchal, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, as well as Sri Lanka and have studied materials from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala, Nepal and NWFP, Pakistan. My fieldwork has focused on systematic archaeobotanical sampling of archaeological sites aimed to fill in some of the many regional and temporal gaps in direct evidence for past agriculture. While filling gaps in the archaeobotanical record of South Asia has been a particular focus (since my Master’s dissertation in 1996), I take as my mission the larger task of helping to fill the major gaps in knowledge of early agriculture in the Old World throughout Asia and Africa. In this regard, I have always been ready to take on archaeobotanical projects in Africa, either directly or through supervision of students. In this capacity I have worked/ am working on archaeobotanical from Libya, Mali, Mauretania, Morocco, Senegal, Niger, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Sudan. I began research in China in 2004, and have had a particular focus on understanding rice domestication and the evolution of rice cultivation systems in the Lower Yangtze region—especially as part of a NERC-funded Early Rice Project (2009-2012), but also in studies of agriculture in Later Neolithic to Bronze Age China more widely. In recent years I have also become involved is the study of archaeobotany in Thailand. As the integration of archaeology and historical linguistics has become increasingly discussed, I became interested in how the details of archaeology and archaeobotany of South India could be confronted with the details of linguistics in the region, especially of the Dravidian language family. I have contributed a number of paper on this topic, and have recently given some thought to how historical linguistic hypotheses in East and Southeast Asia more broadly might match up with our revised evidence for the origins and spread of rice agriculture

Monday, March 11 | 3:00 pm | Social Sciences Building, Dean's Conference Room 107

Speaker: Thomas E. Levy is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Anthropology at UC San Diego and co-directs the Scripps Center for Marine Archaeology. Levy is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


The Scripps Center for Marine Archaeology Transdisciplinary Research Approach –Geophysics, Environmental Science, Cyber and Underwater Archaeology in the Eastern Mediterranean

To help establish the new Scripps Center for Marine Archaeology (SCMA) within world maritime archaeology studies, SCMA has begun building a research program in the eastern Mediterranean where UC San Diego has a long-term record of engagement with local scholars. Recent projects in Greece and Israel take a deep-time perspective focusing on cultural adaptation to climate change and changing trade networks from the earliest Neolithic agricultural societies to establishment of local kingdoms in the Iron Age and through the international Hellenistic and Roman periods. SCMA research investigates key cultural/historical issues such as the collapse of Late Bronze Age civilization in the eastern Mediterranean (ca. 1200 BCE), Iron Age (ca. 1200 – 500 BCE) sea-level rise, and submerged trading ports in the Hellenistic/Roman periods. Integrated fieldwork includes: marine geophysics to map the sea floor and discover new archaeological sites; coastal sediment coring for geoarchaeological investigations; and underwater archaeological excavation applying a range of cyber-archaeology digital tools for recording and analyses. This seminar presents a snapshot of SCMA’s eastern Mediterranean research.

Tuesday, February 5 | 6:00 pm | Social Sciences Building, Dean's Conference Room 107

Speaker: Rainer Bussman, Co-director of Saving Knowledge, La Paz, Bolivia, as well as Principal Scientist at the Department of Ethnobotany, Institute of Botany, Ilia State University


Twenty-five years of Ethnobotany around the globe -From magic to molecules, conservation and the Nagoya Protocol

Dr. Bussmann earned his M.Sc. (Diploma) in Biology at Universität Tübingen, Germany, in 1993 and his doctorate at Universität Bayreuth, Germany, in 1994. He is an ethnobotanist and vegetation ecologist, and currently Affiliate Scientist at Museo Nacional de Historia Natural in La Paz, Bolivia, and co-director of Saving Knowledge, La Paz, Bolivia, as well as Principal Scientist at the Department of Ethnobotany, Institute of Botany, Ilia State University, both of which which he co-fouded. Before retiring from Missouri Botanical Garden, Dr. Bussmann was director of the William L. Brown Center at Missouri Botanical Garden, William L. Brown Curator of Economic Botany, and Senior Curator. Before accepting the directorship of WLBC, he held academic appointments as Research Fellow in Geography and the Environment at University of Texas at Austin from 2006 to 2007, as Associate Professor of Botany and Scientific Director of Harold Lyon Arboretum at University of Hawaii from 2003 to 2006, and as Assistant Professor at University of Bayreuth from 1997 to 2003, following a postdoc at the same institution from 1994 to 1997. He holds affiliate faculty appointments at Washington University St. Louis, USA; University of Missouri St. Louis, USA; Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, USA; Universidade Federal da Paraíba, Brazil; Universidád Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Perú; and at Ilia State University, Republic of Georgia, and serves as external thesis advisor at multiple other universities worldwide. His work focuses on ethnobotanical research, and the preservation of traditional knowledge, in Bolivia, Peru, Madagascar, the Caucasus, and the Himalayas. To date, Dr. Bussmann has authored over 200 papers, over 175 book chapters, and authored or edited over 30 books.

Thursday, Janurary 31 | 6:00 pm | Sumner Auditorium, Scripps Institute of Oceanography 

Speaker: Gary Paul Nabhan, Agricultural Ecologist, Ethnobotanist, Ecumenical Franciscan Brother


Climate refugees and food insecurity in drought-stricken desert regions: restoring agricultural sustainability and hope

Gary Paul Nabhan is an Agricultural Ecologist, Ethnobotanist Ecumenical Franciscan Brother, and author whose work has focused primarily on the interaction of biodiversity and cultural diversity of the arid binational Southwest. He is considered a pioneer in the local food movement and the heirloom seed saving movement. He co-founded Native Seeds/SEARCH.  Native Seeds is a non-profit conservation organization which works to preserve place-based Southwestern agricultural plants as well as knowledge of their uses. He then became founding director of the Center for Sustainable Environments at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ. He currently serves as the serves as the Kellogg Endowed Chair in Southwestern Borderlands Food and Water Security at the University of Arizona. There, he founded the Center for Regional Food Studies and catalyzed the initiative to have UNESCO designate Tucson as the first City of Gastronomy in the U.S. He is a MacArthur Fellow and has authored over 30 books including The Desert Smells Like Rain (1982), Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land: Lessons from Desert Farmers on Adapting to Climate Uncertainty and Renewing America’s Food Traditions.

Scripps Center for Marine Archaeology

UC San Diego

2019 Lecture Series

Wednesday, Janurary 23 | 3:00 pm | Nierenberg Hall 101, Scripps Institute of Oceanography 

Speaker: Professor Paul Scotton, Chair of Comparative Literature and Classics, California State University Long Beach


The Lechaion Harbor and Settlement Land Project - New Perspectives on Maritime Life In Ancient Greece

Prof. Scotton is currently leading the excavation of the land features of Lechaion Harbor of Ancient Corinth, Greece. This work is being conducted under a cooperative agreement between the American School of Classical Studies Athens and the Corinthian Ephorate of Antiquities.

Lechaion Harbor has long been known as a major hub of ancient commerce for the Mediterranean and the primary harbor for Corinth from at least the late 6th century BCE until the mid to late 5th century CE. In spite of its location having always been known, it has remained largely untouched and unexcavated. The site provides a rare opportunity to investigate an undisturbed harbor in use for over 1400 years. In 2018 the Lechaion Harbor Settlement and Land Project completed the first three years of land excavation and exploration and has produced findings that document a large harbor settlement with habitation dating back to at least the 8th century BCE and perhaps to the Mycenean period and earlier, extensive early Roman remains dating to the 2nd half of the 1st century BCE, fortification walls along the shoreline, what appears to have been the lighthouse depicted on Roman coins, and intriguing anomalies in the inner harbor that may represent sunken ships. These findings indicate the importance of the site and the fact that many years of excavation remain.

Thursday, January 17 | 4:00 pm | Social Sciences Building, Dean's Conference Room 107

Speaker: Lesley Jo Weaver, Department of International Studies, University of Oregon 



Sugar and Tension: The Intersection of Diabetes and Mental Health among Women in India

Women in North India are socialized to care for others, so what do they do when they get a disease like diabetes that requires intensive self-care? Drawing from her new book Sugar and Tension: Diabetes and Gender in Modern India (Rutgers University Press 2019), Dr. Lesley Jo Weaver explores how women’s self-care choices, though at odds with the mandates of biomedical managed disease, do important cultural work that may buffer women’s mental health by fostering social belonging. This calculus raises questions about whose priorities should count in domestic, health, and mental health spheres and underscores that routes to living well or poorly with chronic diseases are not always the ones canonized in biomedical models

2017 - 2018

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.

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.


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