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The Department of Anthropology convenes diverse seminars, workshops, and other gatherings throughout the academic year. Navigate the categories to the left to learn more. 


Elizabeth A. Davis

April 15, 2024

April 15, 2024 3:00 PM 315 Haskell Hall “A Rubbish Dump of Love”: Artifacts and Historical Experience in Cyprus Dr. Elizabeth A. Davis Princeton University

ABSTRACT: This talk addresses public secrecy and evidence in Cyprus in the context of radical social division that has endured for half a century. I explore how material remains of war such as bones and archival images gather meaning, political force, and orientations to the future in scientific and artistic knowledge production about a shared history of violence. In the context of long-enduring division, and the long-enduring co-existence of incompatible narratives about the past, memory and historical knowledge are especially fragile and falsifiable. I introduce the concept of artifactuality to comprehend how forensic and documentary epistemologies and practices may work to stabilize that knowledge. Artifactuality describes an experience of time, and an interpretation of that experience, anchored by material objects that survived the conflicts and remain available for study, re-use, and re-contextualization. In this talk, I frame bones and archival images as artifacts that play a central role in Cypriots’ knowledge projects about the past as they work to countervail deeply entrenched political secrecy. I pay special attention to the complex operation of recursive time in Cypriot documentary films: in their visualization of ruins and bones, in their incorporation of archival images to represent memories, and in their treatment of archival photographs and film as materials subject to damage, decay, and doctoring. I argue that, when we consider archival images as artifacts in these ways, we may better sense the resonances between forensic and documentary knowledge projects, which entail specific processes of destruction in the very practices by which knowledge is produced; and I consider how ethnographic storytelling may synergize with those practices. 

BIOGRAPHY: Elizabeth Davis is Associate Professor of Anthropology, where she teaches psychological anthropology, sensory and visual anthropology, social theory, and ethnographic methods of research and writing. Her research focuses on the Levant and the eastern Mediterranean: Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey. Her first book, Bad Souls: Madness and Responsibility in Modern Greece (Duke University Press, 2012), is an ethnographic study of responsibility among psychiatric patients and their caregivers in the “multicultural” borderland between Greece and Turkey. Her most recent book, Artifactual: Forensic and Documentary Knowing (Duke University Press, 2023), addresses public secrecy and knowledge projects about the violence of the 1960s-70s that led to the enduring division of the island, including forensic investigations and visual archives. She has another book in press, coming out this fall from Fordham University Press, entitled The Time of the Cannibals: On Conspiracy Theory and Context, addressing conspiracy theory and presidential power in Cyprus and beyond. Beyond these projects, she has written on economic crisis and suicide in Greece, and she is currently studying Orthodox and heterodox death rituals and burial practices in monastic and worldly contexts of “crisis” and austerity. She is also collaborating on a documentary film about the public life of sacred bones in Cyprus.

Please join us for a reception on Haskell’s mezzanine immediately following Dr. Davis’s talk.

Signification, Circulation, Emanations

April 25 - 27, 2024

Signification, Circulation, Emanations April 26 & 27 at the Franke Institute for the Humanities


We are delighted to invite you to Signification, Circulation, Emanations, a two-day conference that reflects and builds on the scholarship of Michael Silverstein (1945–2020), with specific focus on his work on the semiotics of culture in the latter part of his career and the future paths of inquiry it opens.

Register here to attend in-person at the Franke Institute for the Humanities or online via Zoom.

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Accessibility accommodations…

Access UChicago Now provides information and resources for greater inclusion at the University of Chicago.

This event is sponsored by the Department of Anthropology, the Department of Linguistics, the Franke Institute for the Humanities, MAPSS, and the Center for the Study of Communication and Society.

Agustín Fuentes

April 29, 2024

April 29, 2024 3:00 PM 315 Haskell Hall What the hell is biocultural? A productive friction for Anthropology Dr. Agustín Fuentes Princeton University

ABSTRACT: Seeing bodies and evolutionary histories as quantifiable features that can be measured separate from the human cultural experience is an erroneous approach. Seeing cultural perceptions and the human experience as disentangled from biological form and function, and evolutionary history, is equally misguided. Anthropology is the academic field that, arguably, has as its raison d’être the correction and avoidance of these errors. But disagreements and lack of integration and communication within and across anthropologies continue to hinder the quest to achieve such lofty goals. Here I offer a view of the biocultural, with examples from human development and multispecies relations, as productive friction for anthropology. (Re)Engaging the concepts/dynamics of culture and biology, rejecting a bio/cultural binary, and placing them in dialogue as co-constructors of the human I hope to drive home what a biocultural approach is and how it is generative for a 21st century anthropology. Not every anthropological question must touch on the biocultural nor should all anthropologists be doing biocultural work. However, everyone who seriously wants to do an anthropology should know what a biocultural frame is, what the possibilities such a context offers, and why and how it can be integral to serious engagement with the human.

BIOGRAPHY: Agustín Fuentes, a Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University, focuses on the biosocial, delving into the entanglement of biological systems with the social and cultural lives of humans, our ancestors, and a few of the other animals with whom humanity shares close relations. Earning his BA/BS in Anthropology and Zoology and his MA and PhD in Anthropology from UC Berkeley, he has conducted research across four continents, multiple species, and two-million years of human history. His current projects include exploring cooperation, creativity, and belief in human evolution, multispecies anthropologies, evolutionary theory and processes, gender/sex, and engaging race and racism. Fuentes’ books include Race, Monogamy, and other lies they told you: busting myths about human nature (U of California), The Creative Spark: how imagination made humans exceptional (Dutton), and Why We Believe: evolution and the human way of being (Yale). 

Please join us for a reception on Haskell’s mezzanine immediately following Dr. Fuentes’s talk.

Janet Roitman

May 6, 2024

May 6, 2024 3:00 PM 315 Haskell Hall Platform Economies: Beyond the North-South Divide Dr. Janet Roitman RMIT University

ABSTRACT: Platform economies are depicted as the foundation for a new era of economic production. This transpires through the incorporation of digital technologies and algorithmic operations into the heart of economic and financial practices. However, different assumptions are made about the effects of digital platforms depending on geographical location. While digital platforms are approached as inherent to processes of financialization globally, they are reduced to processes of financial inclusion when referencing the ‘Global South.’ Analyses of financialization as a one-way-vector – Global North to Global South – overlook variability and the limits to financialization. In contrast, a focus on market devices illustrates the fault lines of value creation that are obscured by the Global North/Global South frame.

BIOGRAPHY: Janet Roitman is Professor at The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (Australia). She is Co-Director of the Digital Ethnography Research Centre, an associate member of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-making and Society (ADM+S), and founder-director of The Platform Economies Research Network (PERN). Her research focuses on the anthropology of value and emergent forms of the political. She is the author of Fiscal Disobedience: An Anthropology of Economic Regulation in Central Africa (Princeton University Press) and Anti-Crisis (Duke University Press). She serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Cultural Economy, Cultural Anthropology, Finance & Society, and Platforms & Society. Her research has received support from the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, The Institute for Public Knowledge, and The National Science Foundation. 

Please join us for a reception on Haskell’s mezzanine immediately following Dr. Roitman’s talk.

Undergraduate Thesis Symposium

May 20, 2024

Please join us on May 20 in Haskell Hall 315 for this year’s Anthropology Undergraduate Symposium, which will showcase the work of graduating fourth years who have completed a BA Thesis for Departmental Honors.