BA Thesis Symposium 2023/2024

Speaker: 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 EconomyCultural AnthropologyFinance & 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. 

Speaker: 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). 

Speaker: 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.

Speaker: Orisanmi Burton | American University

Abstract: Grounded in a criminalized tradition of Black radical analysis, this lecture reframes “mass incarceration” as carceral war. In doing so, it demystifies the U.S. prison system as a modality of counter-insurgency. Challenging popular conceptions of “correctional institutions” as inert sites of penological intervention, it illuminates the prison’s hidden technologies of subjugation and charts their relation to global archives of colonial power. By theorizing the prison in this way, this talk foregrounds the complex and protracted formations of Black Revolt against which prisons are constantly mobilized. It demonstrates that the imperative of “neutralizing” the very possibility of Black Revolt is a primary historical driver of prison expansion and innovation. Here “method” takes on a dual meaning, referring not only to the techniques through which scholars can apprehend, theorize, and write about this war, but more importantly, how it is concretely imposed and contested. Without understanding carceral spaces as zones of undeclared domestic war, zones that are inextricably linked to imperial and officially acknowledged wars abroad, we cannot fully understand how and why the United States became the global leader of incarceration that it is today, nor will we be able to effectively fight back.

Biography: Orisanmi Burton is an assistant professor of anthropology at American University. His research employs ethnographic and archival methods to examine historical collisions between Black radical organizations and state repression in the United States. Dr. Burton’s work has been published in North American DialogueThe Black ScholarRadical History ReviewAmerican Anthropologist, among other outlets, and has received support from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and The Margarite Casey Foundation, which selected him as a 2021 Freedom Scholar. Dr. Burton’s first book, entitled Tip of the Spear: Black Radicalism, Prison Repression, and the Long Attica Revolt was published by the University of California Press in October of 2023.

Speaker: Andrea Muehlebach | University of Toronto

Abstract: In this book talk, Andrea Muehlebach explores the political faultlines that have opened up at the frontiers of water utility financialization. As “life” and the infrastructural systems that make it move are transformed into an asset class, Europe’s water movements have articulated their own sets of values — of democracy, social contract, common property, transparency, and just price. The talk focuses specifically on Chapter 1 of the book, which explores water struggles as struggles for democracy and sovereignty. As water movements refuse to submit their water to narrowly economistic and extractivist ways of arranging the world, they throw into relief philosophical and political questions about private versus public financing, the commons, and about the very nature of the political and lawful as such. What appears as a relentless expansion of capital into public utilities is thus met by a relentless and at times also successful proliferation of political organizing, as water movements argue that the sell-off of their water is the most immoral form of theft of all — the theft of life itself.

Biography: Andrea Muehlebach is a Professor of Maritme Anthropology and Cultures of Water at the Department of Anthropology and Cultural Research at the University of Bremen, Germany — a position she took after almost thirteen years at the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto. Before that, she was a William Rainey Harper Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago, where she also received her Ph.D. She is the author of The Moral Neoliberal: Welfare and Citizenship in Italy (Chicago University Press, 2012), and of A Vital Politics: Water Insurgencies in Europe (Duke University Press, 2023). She is currently researching and writing a trade book on the Rights of Nature / Earth law movement.

Speaker: Monica Salas Landa | Lafayette College

Abstract: This talk examines the critical role ethnographic photographs played in actualizing the “indigenous other” as envisioned by midcentury anthropology and state-led developmentalism in Mexico. Drawing on a series of snapshots taken by US anthropologist Isabel T. Kelly, Mónica Salas Landa explores how the circulation and ongoing replication of visual records of the Totonac community in Tajín, located in the lowlands of northern Veracruz, have contributed to establishing an aesthetic order that affects what is and is not visible. A focus on snapshots—records of the ubiquitous and the banal across both intimate and public domains—allows Salas Landa to challenge the scientific overtones traditionally associated with ethnographic visual records. Instead, she highlights how the camera, in the hands of midcentury anthropologists, fabricated the reality it ostensibly merely recorded—a partial vision that, not unlike Kelly’s photographs, continues to be replicated today. This talk is based on Salas Landa’s forthcoming book, Visible Ruins: The Politics of Perception and the Legacies of Mexico’s Revolution (University of Texas Press, 2024).

Biography: Mónica Salas Landa is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Lafayette College. She is a historical and political anthropologist with regional expertise in Latin America. Her work examines the processes of state formation, nation building and the politics of sight in postrevolutionary and contemporary Mexico. Trained as an anthropologist and archaeologist in Mexico, she obtained an MA in Museum Studies from New York University and a PhD in Anthropology with a concentration in Sociocultural Anthropology, Latin American Studies, and Archaeological Anthropology from Cornell University. Prior to joining Lafayette College, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University. Her work has been featured in the Hispanic American Historical Review, the Journal of Latin American StudiesEnvironment and Planning A, and the Geographical Journal. Her first book, Visible Ruins: The Politics of Perception and the Legacies of Mexico’s Revolution, will be published this May by the University of Texas Press.

Speaker: Ryo Morimoto | Princeton University

Abstract: “There is a nuclear ghost in Minamisōma.” This is how one resident describes a mysterious experience following the 2011 nuclear fallout in coastal Fukushima. Investigating the nuclear ghost among the graying population, Morimoto encounters radiation’s shapeshifting effects. What happens if state authorities, scientific experts, and the public disagree about the extent and nature of the harm caused by the accident? In one of the first in-depth ethnographic accounts of coastal Fukushima written in English, Nuclear Ghost tells the stories of a diverse group of residents who aspire to live and die well in their now irradiated homes. Their determination to recover their land, cultures, and histories for future generations provides a compelling case study for reimagining relationality and accountability in the ever-atomizing world.

Biography: Ryo Morimoto is a first-generation college graduate and scholar from Japan and an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University. His scholarly work addresses the planetary impacts of our past and present engagements with nuclear things. His second book project explores the U.S-Japan transnational history of disaster robots and an ethnography of decommissioning robots in coastal Fukushima. Ryo is a facilitator of the Native undergraduate students-led project Nuclear Princeton.

Speaker: Lindsay Martel Montgomery | University of Toronto

Abstract: Archaeologists have typically framed Indigenous migration as a uni-directional process through which new cultural and material traditions emerge. The Kiowa and the Comanche are two contemporary Tribal Nations whose ethnogenesis is tied to their migration onto the southern Plains during the seventeenth century. While there has been considerable scholarly attention paid to the development of sophisticated equestrian hunting, raiding, and trading networks on the Plains among the Kiowa and Comanche, their historical connections to the Western Colorado region have gone largely undocumented. This absence, in part, reflects the tendency of archaeologists to link the emergence of new ethnic identities with the abandonment of previously occupied territories. In this talk, I will discuss iconographic and oral historical evidence of Kiowa and Comanche land use in Western Colorado to disrupt narratives of abandonment which disconnect these Native people from their ancestral places and flatten the complexity of Indigenous engagements with the landscape over time. Throughout this discussion I will draw on the writings of Anishinaabe scholar Gerald Vizenor to present a post-indian historiography that asserts the active presence of Kiowa and Comanche peoples in the region in innovative and liberating ways.  

Biography: Lindsay M. Montgomery is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Centre for Indigenous Studies at the University of Toronto St. George campus. Her work draws on methods in ethnohistory and Indigenous Archaeology to create counter-histories of Indigenous persistence, resistance, and survivance in the North American West. Before joining the University of Toronto faculty, she held positions at the University of Arizona, the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Her current research is part of a multi-institutional project with Barnard College, Southern Methodist University, and Picuris Pueblo in northern New Mexico. This work explores the evolving socio-economic relationship between Picuris Pueblo, other Pueblo communities, the Jicarilla Apache, and Hispano settlers through an investigation of agricultural practices at the Pueblo between 1400 and 1750 CE.


Speaker: Tess Lea | Macquarie University

Abstract: In my quest to answer a simple question about Australian settler social policy as it applies to Indigenous issues—namely, can it be ‘good’—I first had to confront the negative task of interrogating how policy is conventionally approached. In the place of a focus on policy decisions and ramifications, I proposed approaching policy as a wilder configuration, one where every effort needed to be deployed to resist its claims to superior rationality and coherency. I tried to experiment with the writing, and to some extents, succeeded in a monograph called Wild Policy(Stanford, 2020). Since its publication, others wanting to apply an ecological approach to policy ethnography have asked for guidance. Being petitioned for advice on ‘how’ to apply the concepts, I told myself I needed to write a simpler paper explaining what policy ecology means to me, how it can be approached, and what techniques could be handy. But instead of this being an easy task, I stalled for at least two years. This paper gives an account of my journey to explain policy ecology by resorting to policy’s coherency tricks, defying my original desire to write against its deceptions.

Biography: Tess Lea is an anthropologist who specializes in trying to understand late liberal policy formations as they ramify through different lives, with particular emphasis on Indigenous policy unfurlings in Australia. She is Dean of Social Sciences at Macquarie University, following a period as Head of Community, Culture and Global Studies at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan.

Speaker: Alicia Odewale | Rice University

Abstract: Historical Trauma is often hard to see. But for those who feel and experience its lingering effects for generations, it’s impossible to forget. Within the Historic Greenwood District in Tulsa, OK, lives a community that in the aftermath of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, rebuilt their homes, businesses, and churches and never stopped fighting for justice for themselves or healing for their families.

While the nation has been fixated on unearthing evidence of trauma and violence done to this historic community, a new collaborative archaeology project titled “Mapping Historical Trauma in Tulsa from 1921 to 2021” remains focused on finding signs of life and recovery in the aftermath of the massacre. Using restorative justice archaeology and surviving cultural landscapes to bear witness to trauma and erasure that is no longer visible above ground, archaeology has the power to reclaim and reimagine that which was taken by violence. Blending archaeology, history, radical mapping, multivocal storytelling, and digital humanities provides a way to not only visualize the impact of the massacre on the people and landscape of Greenwood but also share a greater story of Black resilience through time.

Biography: As an African Diaspora Archaeologist with a background in Restorative Justice, Antiracist, Black Feminist, and Community-centered Archaeology, Alicia Odewale researches sites of African heritage in the US and Caribbean region. She also leads the archaeological and educational consulting firm, Archaeology Rewritten. In the field, she is the co-director of the research project, Mapping Historical Trauma in Tulsa from 1921-2021, which uses archaeology to understand more about the survivance of Greenwood and Black community resilience after the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Paired with this ongoing research project is an accompanying field school offering free training in archaeological survey and mapping plus paid internships for students who reside in Oklahoma. Dr. Odewale is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Rice University, African Diaspora Archaeologist, and National Geographic Explorer.

Speaker: Scott MacLochlainn | Johns Hopkins University

Abstract: Since 2016, continuing waves of extrajudicial killings, ostensibly as part of the Philippine “War on Drugs,” have drawn attention to how death emerges in its anonymous and abstracted forms—unnamed, unlocated, and decoupled from particular life histories. These killings (EJK) have also become a noted genre of death, foregrounding a particular set of death-ethics and visuality of the dead body. The abstraction and appropriation of these killings for both political and transcendent ends highlights the potential for death to be uniquely malleable to becoming a proxy in everything from state making and divine relationality, to the meaning and intimacies of the self. In this talk, I try to grapple with how dying is often swept up into its wider circulations as a type of death, the ethics of such, and more generally how we ethnographically encounter abstraction.

Biography: Scott MacLochlainn is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of The Copy Generic: How the Nonspecific Makes Our Social Worlds (University of Chicago Press, 2022).

Speaker: Jovan Scott Lewis | University of California, Berkeley

Abstract: In our political present, shaped by the insurgent recognition of the consequences of antiblackness following the murder of George Floyd, but whose influence is quickly expiring, this talk examines the possibilities for African American reparations. Thinking from what I identify as our reparative conjuncture, the talk addresses the societal and ethical limitations of what kind of reparations this moment can produce. Recognizing that the harms against African Americans and Black life in the Americas are generally harms against Black relations, the talk advances a relational framework of reparation. In doing so, the talk resists Blackness’ conception primarily through studying antiblack violence and its related practices of resistance to offer a formula for repair beyond the terms of Black injury.

Biography: Jovan Scott Lewis is Associate Professor and Chair of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on the political economy of racialized poverty in the Caribbean and the United States through analyses of racial capitalism, underdevelopment, and the responding policies and practices for reparations and repair. From 2021-2023, Jovan served as a governor-appointed member of the California State Reparations Task Force. He is the author of Scammer’s Yard: The Crime of Black Repair in Jamaica (University of Minnesota Press, 2020) and Violent Utopia: Dispossession and Black Restoration in Tulsa (Duke University Press, 2022) and co-editor of the Black Geographic: Praxis, Resistance, Futurity (Duke University Press 2023).

Speaker: Cymene Howe | Rice University

Abstract: Everywhere on earth, the elements increasingly imperil people and places, coming in the form of more virulent fires, floods, storms, and toxic exposures. The elements—classically in the form of earth, air, fire, and water, and in the epistemics of western science as the periodic table of elements—are an emergent, sometimes engulfing, set of properties, contexts, and forces affecting human and nonhuman communities everywhere. In this discussion, I make a tentative proposition, or an experimental invitation, to think through elemental ethnography as an anthropological practice. Drawing from my ongoing research on the connectivity of the world hydrosphere—from the melting ice of Iceland and Greenland to the rising seas of Cape Town and Honolulu—I will present a case for watery routes of passage and relation in our times of ecosocial precarity, offering elemental ethnography as an analytic, method, and theoretical mode of engagement.

Biography: Cymene Howe is Professor of Anthropology at Rice University. Her books include Intimate Activism (Duke 2013) and Ecologics: Wind and Power in the Anthropocene (Duke 2019), and the co-edited collections Anthropocene Unseen (Punctum 2020), Solarities: Elemental Encounters and Refractions (Punctum 2023) and The Johns Hopkins Guide to Critical and Cultural Theory. Her current research examines the changing dynamics between people and bodies of ice in the Arctic region and sea level adaptation in coastal cities around the world. She co-created the documentary film Not Ok: A Little Movie about a Small Glacier at the End of the World (2019) and initiated the world’s first memorial to a glacier fallen to climate change. The Okjökull memorial event in Iceland served as a global call to action and in memory of a world rapidly melting away. 

2:30 - 5:00 PM in 315 Haskell Hall

Please join us 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. 

Josh Cheung - Acts of Kindness and Shrugs: How the Discourse of Rights Shapes Perceptions of Self and Society

Malka Schreier - (Memoir)ialized or E(race)d: Evaluating Historical Occlusions in French Literature

Mia Rimmer - I carry my home on my skin: Contemporary Batek in Diaspora

Aleeza Hassan - Daily Searches for the Divine: Religiosity Formed by Attention and Materials in the Private Performances of Salat

Han Jiang - Reconceptualizing Ambiguities in Sex Estimation: A Case Study of the Society for American Archaeology Annual Conference Trends

Layla McDermott - Interpreting Infrastructural Interplay: The Past, Present and Future of Japan's Tokaido Road

Come celebrate our graduates and the end of the year at the Anthropology Department’s spring picnic in the Classics Quad immediately following the symposium.

Speaker: Michael J. Hathaway | Simon Fraser University

3:00 PM in Haskell Hall

Abstract: In this talk, Michael J. Hathaway will introduce us to his new book, What a Mushroom Lives For: Matsutake and the Worlds They Make, which was published last year by Princeton University Press. He will explain how this book, the second in a trilogy by the Matsutake Worlds Research Group, came into being and how the research was carried out. The book draws equally on fieldwork in the mountains of Southwestern China and an anthropological analysis of scientific studies of fungal  lives. In this talk, Hathaway will highlight a few of the major concerns that animated this book, and ask how anthropologists might form critical relationships with the scientists we study and collaborate with? How might anthropologists contribute to new forms of scientific knowledge making in ways that expand our role from critic to interlocutor?

Biography: Dr. Michael J. Hathaway is a Professor of Anthropology at Simon Fraser University (SFU), Associate Member of the School for International Studies, and the Director of SFU's David Lam Centre for Asian Studies. He is a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow and author of What a Mushroom Lives For (2022) and Environmental Winds (2013).

Hathaway is a cultural anthropologist with two central interests. First, he is deeply interested in China’s place in the modern world, looking at how little-known dynamics there have created world-spanning effects in surprising realms such as feminism, environmentalism, and Indigenous rights. His aim is to disrupt the typical assumptions that globalization emerges solely from the West. Second, Hathaway is doing what he can to foster a transformation in scientific understandings based on colonial assumptions of the natural world.

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

3:00 PM in Haskell Hall

Speaker: Dipesh Chakrabarty | University of Chicago

Abstract: In this talk, I will elaborate on the significance of the distinction between "globe" and "planet" as categories of historical thought, a distinction I proposed in my 2021 book, The Climate of History in a Planetary Age

Biography: Dipesh Chakrabarty is a professor of History and South Asian Languages and Civilization at the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Climate of History in a Planetary Age (2021) and One Planet, Many Worlds: The Climate Parallax (forthcoming, 2023). 

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

1:30 - 5:00 p.m.,  Swift Hall, Common Room

Thinking with Nancy: A Celebration of the Life and Work of Nancy Munn

Welcome - Shannon Dawdy

Session 1: Thinking with Books

  • Raffaella Taylor-Seymour
  • Heangjin Park

Session 2: Thinking with Fieldwork

  • Françoise Dussart
  • Robert Foster
  • Deborah Durham
  • Lily Chumley


Session 3: Thinking with Students

  • Mariane Ferme
  • Brad Weiss
  • Julie Chu

Session 4: Thinking with Friends

  • Andrew Lass
  • Judith Farquhar
  • Danilyn Rutherford
  • Jennifer Cole


Closing - Shannon Dawdy

Program to be followed by a high tea reception.

Speaker: Biao Xiang |Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

3:00 PM in Haskell Hall

Aabstract: How has individual ambition—the desire to improve one’s social standing—driven China’s remarkable growth over the last forty years, and subsequently become a source of the widespread feeling of powerlessness, especially among the youths? To address this question, Xiang provides a history of ambition in China with a focus on its “privatization”. Ambition as a widely approved attitude in China emerged as a collective outlook at the end of the 19th century, namely the national ambition for independence and development. This collective ambition resulted in a set of ideologies, for instance those of the inevitable progress of history and the glory of sacrificing short-term benefits for long-term visions. After the 1980s, the desire for collective betterment is turned into individuals’ pursuits for personal interests. But old ideological apparatus and institutional structure remain hegemonic. In this condition individual ambition is construed as part of nationalist endeavor and is channeled to hierarchically organized competition that is often led by the state (e.g. in the rigidly unified education system). This explains why inter-personal competition in China became particularly fierce and all embracing. Young people, especially at lower socioeconomic positions, are often forced into competition for material resources and for basic social recognition. Many feel burnout, but have difficulties in breaking into alternative paths of life. 

Biography: Biao Xiang is director of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle (Germany). He has worked on migration and social change in China, India and other parts of Asia. Currently, he is exploring the “common concerns approach” in social research. More information can be found here

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

Speaker: Steven Feld |VoxLox Media Arts

3:00 PM in Haskell Hall

Abstract: How is anthropocenic climate change audible? Guided by thermosonic cicadas, I explore this question by listening to histories of listening in Papua New Guinea, Japan, and Greece.

BiographySteven Feld is a Lichtstern Distinguished Visiting Professor, Department of Anthropology, at the University of Chicago. A sound and image artist, Dr. Feld is Director of VoxLox Media Arts.

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

Speaker: Beth Semel | Princeton University

3:00 PM via Zoom

Abstract: “AI Can Now Detect Depression From Your Voice,” reads the headline of a 2021 Forbes article, “And It’s Twice As Accurate As Human Practitioners.” This statement emblematizes a growing, primarily US-based subfield called vocal biomarker research, in which engineers, computer scientists, and mental health care professionals collaborate to develop technologies that they hope can identify biological indicators of mental distress expressed involuntarily in the sounds of the voice. The various stakeholders invested in vocal biomarker research tend to classify their technologies as “clinical-decision support tools.” Their aim is to augment administrative, para- and pre-clinical practices of discernment such as screening and triaging, rather than diagnosis or treatment, which they frame as indelibly human interactional arenas that cannot be replicated by machines. Meanwhile, they position screening as American mental health care’s most vexing and viably automatable problem-space because it is too human: too subjective, non-standardized, and sociocultural. This talk unspools the racial and gendered imaginaries animating vocal biomarker research’s multiple “genres” (Wynter 2003) of human and human-like listening subjects. I draw from ethnographic fieldwork with vocal biomarker research labs and human research subjects. Focusing on one lab’s efforts to craft the anthropomorphic user interface of a vocal biomarker technology, I argue that one of the subfield’s social effects is the enactment of a racialized and gendered hierarchy of listening. Nevertheless, research subjects’ subversive interactions with the interface highlight the instability of this hierarchy, while also destabilizing another key premise of vocal biomarker research: the universalizable mentally ill speaking subject. 

Biography: Beth Semel is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University and an ethnographer of science, technology, and language. She studies the sociopolitical life of machine listening technologies in US mental health care research and practice, drawing from feminist science and technology studies, linguistic and medical anthropology, critical algorithm studies, and disability studies. Prior to arriving at Princeton, she co-founded and served as the associate director of the Language and Technology Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she received her PhD in History, Anthropology, Science, Technology and Society in 2019.

Speaker: Nisrin Elamin | University of Toronto

3:00 PM in 315 Haskell Hall

Abstract: This talk focuses ethnographic attention on Emirati land investments in Sudan, to argue that they form part of a project of empire-making, which relies on racialized processes of capital accumulation to reproduce itself. Through an analysis of the social and geopolitical dynamics that shape these investments, it seeks to contribute towards conceptualizations of empire-making as processes aimed at controlling transnational networks and circuits of production and distribution, as opposed to or in addition to territory. I ask: How might we understand the significance of a proposed $6 billion Emirati-financed port project along Sudan’s Red Sea coast, which has long been a site of imperial extraction and accumulation, from the vantage point of the agricultural Gezira region, which constitutes another imperial node of extraction? What else might we learn as Michel Rolph Trouillot argues (1988), by shifting not only the vantage point, but also the scales of our analysis across multiple temporalities and spaces: the plantation, the body, the home, the cash crop to name a few? How might such a multi-scalar analysis enable us to trace the spatialized geography of Emirati power and hegemony in and possibly beyond Sudan, while also paying attention to the dynamics and processes that threaten to destabilize it? 

Biography: Nisrin received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Stanford University in 2020. Her doctoral research was an ethnographic examination of the ways Saudi and Emirati corporate investments in land reconfigured everyday social relations between landless and landholding stakeholders in Sudan's agricultural heartland: the Gezira. Nisrin has published scholarly articles in Critical African Studies and the Project on the Middle East Political Science Journal. She has also published several op-eds for Al Jazeera, the Washington PostOkay Africa, and the Cultural Anthropology Hot Spot Series. Before pursuing her Ph.D., Nisrin spent over a decade working in youth development, community organizing, and resource rights in the US and in Tanzania.

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

Speaker: Alyssa Paredes | University of Michigan

3:00 PM in 315 Haskell Hall

Abstract: Plantation regimes and transnational commodity trading confront a serious challenge in the 21st century. For every commodity that travels long-distance chains, there are multiple externalities that are hidden and unaccounted for—not by accident, but by design. Externalities are the social and environmental costs of production that are considered external because they are not accounted for in its calculus nor in the final price of a product, even as they contribute to value creation in uncompensated ways. Drawing on transnational ethnographic fieldwork between the southern Philippine region of Mindanao and Japan, this paper will argue that industry members depend not only on the externalities themselves, but also on the idea—indeed, the conceit—that externalities remain external, that they can permanently be pushed onto others “downstream” without those elements circling back to haunt them. Focusing on externalities such as rogue pesticide drift, rejected food waste, and soil pathogens, this paper will discuss how, when, and why the doubling back of externalities happens in the context of a powerful, but also desperate plantation industry operating within the increasingly constrained environmental conditions of this century. Ultimately, it seeks to raise a challenge: what if ethnographers wrote about powerful industries with the assumption that their acts of violence, force, and disregard come from a place of weakness rather than strength, and vulnerability rather than hegemony?

Biography: Alyssa Paredes is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is a socio-cultural anthropologist researching plantation agriculture, environmental activism, scientific convention, and transnational trade between the Philippines and Japan. Her work appears in Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, the Journal of Political Ecology, and Food, Culture & Society, as well as in the edited collections The Promise of Multispecies Justice (Duke University Press, 2022) and Feral Atlas: The More-than-Human Anthropocene (Stanford University Press, 2020). She holds a PhD with distinction from Yale University. Before joining as assistant professor, she was LSA Postdoctoral Collegiate Fellow 2020-2022 also at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 

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

Speaker: Maria José de Abreu | Columbia University

3:00 PM in 315 Haskell Hall

Abstract: Contrary to the thought that secular reason displaced feudal comedy, in my talk I introduce Homo Saccharine: an archetype I conceive to address the rationale guiding the mercantile-crusading system of Catholic Renaissance via an alternative route — a southern crossing — and by which to propose that a structural relation existed then, and goes on existing, between comedy and the mechanisms of capitalist ideology.

Biography: De Abreu’s work engages with a range of anthropological debates about religion, personhood, the human senses and their technological extensions. Her first book project, The Charismatic Gymnasium: breath, media and religious revivalism in contemporary Brazilcenters on the role of pneuma (the Greek term for air, breath or spirit) in articulating a form of religious revivalism with neoliberal logics in Brazil. A second project analyzes logics of political and economic reanimation of Portugal in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis by exploring the epistemic forms of waves across economic, political and aesthetic domains (e.g. surfing, mass labor migration, housing market, tourism). De Abreu’s work has also appeared in various academic journals. She serves on the editorial board of Public Culture and co-directs the Center for Comparative Media at Columbia.

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

Speaker: Amira Mittermaier | University of Toronto

3:00 PM in 315 Haskell Hall

Abstract: According to the Islamic tradition, the quintessential human flaw is not sinfulness but forgetfulness. One tool for overcoming this forgetfulness is dhikr, the repeated recitation of God’s ninety-nine names. Yet, the ninety-nine names figure also in other ways: believers actively put them to use, calling on specific attributes of God, such as Healer or All-Powerful, to invite divine intervention, or seeking to emulate God’s attributes to become more God-like. Drawing on fieldwork in Egypt in the post-Arab Spring era, this talk reflects on Allah’s ninety-nine names, on the possibility of approaching God ethnographically, and on the question of what it is to be human.    

Biography: Amira Mittermaier is Professor of Anthropology and the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. She is the author of the award-winning Dreams that Matter: Egyptian Landscapes of the Imagination (University of California Press, 2011) and of Giving to God: Islamic Charity in Revolutionary Times (University of California Press, 2019), and editor of The Afterlife in the Arab Spring (Routledge, 2019). Currently she is working on a book titled Ninety-Nine which weaves together stories about how Egyptian Muslims relate to, think about, and live with (or without) God.  

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

Speaker: Gabriella Soto | Arizona State University

3:00 PM in 315 Haskell Hall

Abstract: What kinds of evidence can scholars produce to provoke substantive political change? For over a decade, my research has revolved around the topic of deaths along the US-Mexico border among undocumented migrants. The majority of writing on this subject begins by listing a death toll (~10,000 deaths) as a call to action. Here, I explore a question introduced by one of the leading Arizona forensic anthropologists investigating such deaths: Is there a magic number of bodies that would provoke policy change?

In groundbreaking legislation passed in 2021, the US government acknowledged a “humanitarian crisis” of migrant deaths for the first time, prioritizing investment in the humanitarian actions of the US Border Patrol towards mitigating this crisis. But scholars and activists have long contested that the deaths are a direct result of Border Patrol policies that explicitly leverage danger as deterrence, using hostile wilderness in remote border zones to inflict a corporeal “cost” on undocumented migrants.

In this lecture, I will propose that if the state rigorously adhered to its own reporting standards for filing death certificates, migrant fatalities would be appropriately classified as homicides. My theory is that there is not necessarily a magic number, but rather a need to contextualize these deaths as products of violence. This would allow us to draw a clear line from policies that cause deaths towards policies that prevent them. 

Biography: Dr. Soto is a contemporary archaeologist who builds from archaeology’s attention to the material world to make sense of contemporary social issues, also drawing from ethnographic methods, GIS technology, and archival research. Her expertise is in the field of migration materialities, with a geographic focus on Latinx migration and border security at the US-Mexico border. Dr. Soto is currently working on a scholarly manuscript entitled Boundary work: Ruination, Forensic Evidence, and Care for the Dead at the US-Mexico Border. The focus of this work is postmortem investigation, forensic evidence, commemoration, and care for undocumented migrants who die during border crossings in the US southwest.

Dr. Soto’s work also appears in numerous refereed journals, including Current AnthropologyAmerican Anthropologist, and the Journal of Social Archaeology. Her article, “Object Afterlives and the Burden of History: Between ‘trash’ and ‘heritage’ in the footsteps of migrants,” was awarded the American Anthropological Association Archaeology Division’s Gordon R. Willey Paper Prize in 2019. She has contributed chapters for the scholarly volumes, The New Nomadic Age: Archaeologies of Forced and Undocumented Migration and Sociopolitics of Migrant Death and Repatriation: Perspectives for Forensic Science. Gabriella also contributes to the online anthropology magazine, Her research has been funded by the Louis Foucar Marshall Foundation and the Wenner Gren Foundation. 

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


Speaker: David Wengrow, University College London

Building on aspects of my earlier work with David Graeber (The Dawn of Everything), this talk will introduce a new collaboration with Forensic Architecture. We suggest an alignment between these two projects, which both seek to query the authority of state narratives by extracting counter-archives of information: respectively from the archaeological record, and from crime scenes. To explore this alignment, I will discuss the case of 6000-year-old settlements identified by archaeologists on the Bug-Dnieper interfluve, in modern Ukraine, which have been used to question the definition of “urbanisation” and the position of the modern state as a telos of human social development.

David Wengrow is Professor of Comparative Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London (UCL) and has been a visiting professor at New York University, the University of Auckland, and the University of Freiburg. His books include What Makes Civilization? The Ancient Near East and the Future of the West (Oxford University Press, 2010), The Origins of Monsters: Image and Cognition in the First Age of Mechanical Reproduction (Princeton University Press, 2013), and The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity (Penguin, 2021, co-authored with David Graeber). More recently, he has edited a series of essays entitled Image, Thought, and the Making of Social Worlds (Heidelberg: Propylaeum, 2022), and embarked on a new collaboration with Forensic Architecture, called Cities against the State.

Speaker: Matei Candea, University of Cambridge

On the 22nd of March 2007, the 17th Chamber of the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance, also known as the Chamber of the Press and of public liberties, published a decision in the case brought by the Union of French Muslim Organisations (UOIF) and the Paris Mosque against Philippe Val, the editor of the magazine Charlie Hebdo, following its re-publication of the so-called 'Danish cartoons'. In what was by French standards an unusually long and detailed decision, the court dismissed the plaintiffs’ claim that the journal had publicly insulted Muslims on account of their religion. “The caricatures ruling”, as it came to be known, took on a life of its own in subsequent legal and public debates in France. Taking the decision itself as an ethnographic object, this paper examines the recursive dynamic through which the form of “the caricatures ruling” recapitulates its substance, in order to explore the interplay of authority, silence and context in both legal “juris-diction” (Richland 2013) and anthropological explanation.

Matei Candea is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Corsican Fragments (Indiana 2010) and Comparison in anthropology (Cambridge 2019), and the editor (with Fedirko, Heywood and Wright) of the forthcoming volume Anthropologies of Free Speech (Toronto University Press).

Speaker: Meredith Palmer, Cornell University

Meredith Alberta Palmer (Tuscarora, Six Nations) is an Indigenous Geographer who explores how US imperial notions and practices of consent and refusal in research data collected about Indigenous peoples engages in a territorial politic and practice. She is currently a Presidential Postdoc at Cornell University, in the Department of Science & Technology Studies and the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program. Her current book project, Imperial Evidence, shows how Indigeneity disrupts core notions of reason, order, and humanism which articulate science, technology, and the US colonial state, and grounds her work in Haudenosaunee homelands. She received her Ph.D. in Geography from UC Berkeley in 2020, and M.P.H. from UC Berkeley's School of Public Health in 2015.

Speaker: Xochitil Marsilli-Vargas, Emory University

Xochitl Marsilli-Vargas is an Assistant Professor in the department of Spanish and Linguistics at Emory University. Dr. Marsilli-Vargas’ work centers on the reception and circulation of mental health discourses, the anthropology of listening, immigration, the politics of vulnerability, and linguistic analysis. She received her PhD in cultural and linguistic anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, and has a Masters in anthropology and semiotics from Columbia University. Her book Genres of Listening: An Ethnography of Psychoanalysis in Buenos Aires is an ethnography of listening practices. It proposes that listening can be categorized into genres: just as there are many ways of speaking, there are many possible ways of listening. The empirical basis of her work has been Argentina, Mexico, and the United States, where she has conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork in rural, institutional and urban contexts including U.S. Latino/a populations. She was a Stanford Humanities Fellow in 2020-2021, and currently she is the recipient of a Mellon New Directions fellowship, studying immigration law in relation to unaccompanied minors petitioning for asylum, for her project on how care is constructed and performed in asylum narratives. 

Speaker: Rob Weller, Boston University

Abstract: This talk rethinks the chronotope approach by examining what happened to religious space-times in a Chinese urban development project that completely transformed what had once been five rural townships. It focuses on those villagers whose families had long occupied this land, but who now live separated from their old neighbors, without their old livelihoods, having lost their old temples, and surrounded by new migrants who are generally wealthier and better educated. Building on Merleau-Ponty, Deleuze, and recent anthropological work, the talk will explore the interrelationships of multiple chronotopes through the idea of the fold. Rather than thinking of chronotopes as structured wholes separated by clear boundaries – much as we also tend to think about “states, “cultures,” or “ontologies” – folding allows us to reconceptualize the kinds of interactions that take place when one space-time touches another. Discussion will highlight three ways in which folding elucidates how chronotopic boundaries can work: they can make the distant near, separate inside from outside, and complicate the boundary by interdigitating. (The work is a collaboration with Keping Wu.)

Bio: Robert P. Weller is Professor of Anthropology at Boston University. His most recent books include Religion and Charity: The Social Life of Goodness in Chinese Societies (co-author, Cambridge, 2018), How Things Count as the Same: Memory, Mimesis, and Metaphor in Social Life (co-author, Oxford, 2019), and It Happens Among People: Resonances and Extensions of the Work of Fredrik Barth (co-editor, Berghahn, 2020). His most recent work on silence has appeared as “Respecting Silence: Longing, Rhythm, and Chinese Temples in an Age of Bulldozers” History & Anthropology, 2021, and "Censorship, Foreclosure, and the Three Deaths of Fengzhen" HAU, 2021.


Speaker: Andrea Ballestero, University of Southern California

Abstract: Financial frontiers are often conceptualized as “expansive waves” whereby financialization moves outwards from an energetic center— usually a global center of finance—arriving at sites where it was presumed absent. Instead of presuming it an expansive wave, I show the financial frontier as a flickering arrangement that changes form and goes dormant before reigniting with intensity. This temporal dynamic becomes apparent by tracing specific techno-legal devices. I focus on the financial trust, an instrument that despite its prominence in financial circles has received comparatively little attention beyond legal scholarship. A trust is a legal-financial instrument that (a) creates a tripartite property relation between grantor, trustee, and beneficiary, and (b) makes possible property in equity. I chart three historical moments in Costa Rica when the trust opens the nature of property, enables the transformation of ecological processes into sources of rent, and is enrolled to redraw relations between public and private actors interested in water protection. At these flickering frontiers, the trust does much more than channel and shield financial wealth. It makes fundamental assumptions about what social life is explicit and, by doing so, opens the possibility for their transformation.

Bio: Andrea Ballestero is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Southern California. She is also Director of the Ethnography Studio  Her book A Future History of Water (Duke University Press, 2019), examines how government officials and NGOs in Costa Rica and Northeast Brazil differentiate between water as a human right and water as a commodity. She proposes the notion of a techno-legal device as a site for future-making. She is also co-editor of Experimenting with Ethnography: A Companion to Analysis (Duke University Press 2021), a collection of experimental protocols that expand the meaning of ethnographic analysis. Dr. Ballestero is currently writing a book that explores cultural imaginaries of the underground in Costa Rica, focusing on how the emergence of aquifers into the public sphere is expanding the social world downwards into subterranean space.  Her works can be found at

Speaker: Danilyn Rutherford, Wenner Gren Foundation

Abstract: The ability to see what another is seeing is the first step towards understanding what another is saying, according to most accounts of normal language development.  A long tradition of western theory has built its account of the emergence of sociality on sight: language, and social life more generally, begins with the visual ability to imagine the world from another’s point of view. An equally long tradition of western theory privileges the sonic: speech fosters reflexivity to the degree we can hear ourselves talk. But there are other ways of sharing senses, which become particularly apparent among people who don’t use their minds and bodies in typical ways. In this paper, I explore some of the ways in which touch becomes social by focusing on “proprioception,” the feeling of one’s own body in space.  A close look at this capacity in situations that bring it into sharp relief, puts a new spin on what George Herbert Mead called the conversation of gestures. In sensing the self as another, participants in the interactions I consider develop a sense of the other as a self.   

Bio: Danilyn Rutherford is the president of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. Previously, she was associate professor of anthropology at the University of Chicago and professor and chair of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.   She is the author of Raiding the Land of the Foreigners: The Limits of the Nation on an Indonesian Frontier (Princeton University Press 2003), Laughing at Leviathan: Sovereignty and Audience in West Papua (University of Chicago Press, 2012), and Living in the Stone Age: Reflections on the Origins of a Colonial Fantasy (University of Chicago Press, 2018).  She is currently working on an ethnographic memoir on cognitive mystery and the making of her daughter’s social world.

Speaker: Fernando Domínguez Rubio, UC San Diego

Fernando Domínguez Rubio is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication, University of California, San Diego who situates his research around the outer rims of sociology, science and technology studies, anthropology, art, design and architecture.

His recent book, Still Life: Ecologies of the Modern Imagination at the Art Museum (University of Chicago Press, 2020), was the 2021 Winner of Mary Douglas Prize, awarded by the Culture Section of the American Sociological Association, the 2021 Winner of the Annual Book Award of the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present (ASAP)’s book prize and received  and Honorary Mention for the 2021 Robert K. Merton Award, awarded by the Science, Technology and Society section of the American Sociological Association.

Still Life offers a comprehensive and intriguing ethnographic account of the conundrums that museum workers face when artworks are posed with the possibility of disintegration, disappearance and other “slowly unfolding disasters.” Going behind the scenes at MoMA (Museum of Modern Art, New York), Domínguez Rubio provides a rare view of the vast technological apparatus—from climatic infrastructures and storage facilities, to conservation labs and machine rooms—and teams of workers—from conservators and engineers to guards and couriers—who fight to hold artworks still.

He has also written numerous articles on material culture, art, and urban infrastructures. Additionally, he is the co-editor of The Politics of Knowledge (Routledge 2012) and  is currently working on a number of projects, including an edited volume with Jérôme Denis and David Pontille entitled Fragilities: Essays On The Politics, Ethics And Aesthetics Of Maintenance And Repair (MIT Press, forthcoming), and an experimental volume based on the Encounters at the Edge series that he has co-curated with the anthropologist Marisol de la Cadena, the architect Uriel Fogué and the artist Orkan Telhan.

Please join us on Monday, May 16 from 3:00 - 4:30 PM CDT 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. Presentations will take place in Haskell 315, but will also be streamed over Zoom.

Speaker: Lucas Bessire, University of Oklahoma

Lucas Bessire is a writer, filmmaker, and anthropologist. His work, which explores the social worlds emerging along extractive frontiers, has appeared in various academic and popular venues, including LitHub and The Atlantic. He is the author of Behold the Black Caiman: a Chronicle of Ayoreo Life (U Chicago Press, 2014), winner of the 2015 Gregory Bateson Prize. Lucas has been a member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and a fellow at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. His most recent book, Running Out: In Search of Water on the High Plains (Princeton UP, 2021), won the 2022 George Perkins Marsh prize from the American Society of Environmental History and was a finalist for the 2021 National Book Award in nonfiction. A fifth-generation Kansan, he is currently a professor of anthropology at the University of Oklahoma.

Speaker: Aisha Ghani, University of Minnesota

Aisha Ghani is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and Program in Religious Studies at the University of Minnesota. Her ethnographic work in the United States is focused at the intersections of Islam, law, violence and secularity.  She is currently working on two book projects. The first, About Islam(?): An Ethnography of Terrorism in American Secularity, is a courtroom ethnography that explores the role and status of Islam in terrorism trials in order to theorize the relation between religion and American secularity. Her first publication based on the book, "Islamic Translations of Violence in Terrorism Trials," is forthcoming this year with the journal Comparative Studies in Society and History. Her second project, The Science of Islamophobia, turns to a series of recent U.S. religious discrimination cases in which scientific discourses have been activated to argue that Islamic practices are unsafe, unsanitary, unhygienic, or environmentally corrosive. These legal contestations - around Muslim cemeteries, wudu (ablution), and workplace safety - will be explored as "scientific frontiers" in the evolution of Islamophobia. Aisha was a 2020-21 Member in the School of Social Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, as well as a 2020 fellowship recipient at the University of Minnesota's Institute for Advanced Study.

Speaker: Jemima Pierre, UCLA

Jemima Pierre (Ph.D.) is Associate Professor at UCLA, jointly appointed in the Department of African American Studies and the Department of Anthropology. She is also a Research Associate at the inaugural Centre for the Study of Race, Gender and Class at the University of Johannesburg. Her research and teaching interests are located in the overlaps between African Studies and African Diaspora Studies and engage three broad areas: 1) race and political economy; 2) transnationalism and diaspora and; 3) the cultural politics of knowledge production. She is the author of The Predicament of Blackness: Postcolonial Ghana and the Politics of Race (Winner of the 2014 Elliot Skinner Book Award in Africanist Anthropology; long listed for the 2013 OCM - BOCAS Literary Prize; Recipient for the 2012 Bevington Fund First Book Grant).

Dr. Pierre is currently completing a book manuscript – Of Natives, Ethnics, and True Negroes: Race and the Anthropology of Africa, on the discipline of anthropology’s epistemological and racial legacies in and about the African continent, while continuing a longitudinal archival and ethnographic study of resource extraction in West Africa through the frameworks of coloniality and racial capitalism. Dr. Pierre’s essays on global racial formation, Ghana, Haitian studies, immigration, and African diaspora theory and politics
have appeared in a number of academic journals including, Current Anthropology, Anthurium, Journal of Anthropological Sciences, Cultural Anthropology, Feminist Review, Social Text, Identities, Cultural Dynamics, Transforming Anthropology, Current Anthropology, Journal of Haitian Studies, Latin American Perspective, American Anthropologist, Philosophia Africana, Politique Africaine, Black Scholar, and Boom California.

Dr. Pierre is also the Haiti/Americas Coordinator for the Black Alliance for Peace, as well as the co-editor of the Black Agenda Review, a weekly supplement to the weekly news magazine, Black Agenda Report.

Speaker: Thomas Finan, St. Louis University

Thomas Finan is Associate Professor in and Chair of the Department of History at Saint Louis University.  For the last ten years he has been conducting survey and excavations in the 13th century MacDermot lordship of Moylurg in north County Roscommon, Ireland.  His 2019 excavations on the Rock of Lough Key were featured in the February, 2020 issue of Archaeology Magazine.

Haskell Hall 315

Videos are now available for the morning session and the afternoon session.

Morning Session: Life and Works 

10:00 AM - 12:30 PM 

Marshall's Newest Book: The New Science of the Enchanted Universe

Fred Henry - Marshall's Career Works to Culture and Practical Reason

Alex Golub and Danny Rosenblatt - Apologies to Thucydides

Greg Schrempp - What Kinship Is -- And Is Not

Susan McKinnon - Anahulu

Patrick Kirch
Afternoon Session: Marshall's Interlocutors and Debates -- What's Next for Marshall's Arguments?

2:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Marshall's Historical Anthropology

Martha Kaplan - Marshall's Anthropology of Capitalism

Grant McCracken - Marshall and China

Michael Puett - Marshall, Classicism, and Modernism

Emily Vogt - Marshall, Scholarship, and Activism

Keith Hart

Reception on the Mezzanine following the Symposium

-Sponsored by the Department of Anthropology and the Social Sciences Division-

Speaker: Graham Jones and Jamie Wong, MIT

Graham Jones is Professor of Anthropology at MIT. He is a cultural and linguistic anthropologist who explores how people use language and other media to enact expertise in practice, performance, and interaction. He is the author of two monographs, Trade of the Tricks: Inside the Magician's Craft, which describes day-to-day life and everyday talk within the insular subculture of contemporary French illusionists, and Magic's Reason: An Anthropology of Analogy, which examines the meaning of magic in Western modernity, shuttling between the intellectual history of anthropology and the cultural history of popular entertainment. He directs the Language and Technology Lab, where he is currently conducting collaborative research projects on evidentiality in English and Mandarin social media using a combination of qualitative and computational approaches.

Jamie Wong is a PhD Candidate at the History, Anthropology, Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS) program at MIT. She specializes in the anthropology of the economy, business, technology, and trust. Through ethnographic research among venture capitalists (VCs), startup founders, and their corporate and government partners in China, her research demonstrates how finance, industry, and the Chinese state work together to leverage scale to generate outsized returns. In particular, she examines the emergent synergy between VCs' approach to business and the Chinese state’s use of the nation’s vast scale as a policy resource, exploring how nested logics of growth, accumulation, and acceleration habituate Chinese publics to new experiences of risk and failure.


Speaker: Kisha Supernant, University of Alberta

Dr. Kisha Supernant (Métis/Papaschase/British) is the Director of the Institute of Prairie and Indigenous Archaeology and an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alberta.  An award-winning teacher, researcher, and writer, her research interests include the relationship between cultural identities, landscapes, and the use of space, Métis archaeology, and heart-centered archaeological practice. Her research with Indigenous communities (including Métis and First Nations) in western Canada explores how archaeologists and communities can build collaborative research relationships. She leads the Exploring Métis Identity Through Archaeology (EMITA), a collaborative research project which takes a relational approach to exploring the material past of Métis communities, including her own family, in western Canada.  Recently, she has been increasingly engaged in using remote sensing technologies to locate and protect unmarked burials at the request of First Nations communities in Alberta and Saskatchewan. She has published in local and international journals on GIS in archaeology, collaborative archaeological practice, Métis archaeology, and indigenous archaeology in the post-TRC era. She was recently elected to the Royal Society of Canada's New College of Scholars, Scientists, and Artists. In 2020, Dr. Supernant was co-editor on two volumes: Archaeologies of the Heart with Springer and Blurring Timescapes, Subverting Erasure: Remembering Ghosts on the Margins of History with Berghahn Books.

Speaker: Charles Zuckerman, University of Sydney

Dr. Charles Zuckerman (2018 PhD, University of Michigan, Good Gambling: Meaning and Moral Economy in Late-Socialist Laos) is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Sydney. Dr. Zuckerman’s first-book project centers on late-socialist Laos, analyzing how concepts of ethical personhood, gendered identity, and moral reputation are transformed as the nation’s most ambitious socialist undertakings have faded. Focusing in particular on gambling, this work looks at how ethical stances of various kinds and forms of social typification are enacted and negotiated in and by real-time gambling activity. Using ethnography, video-recordings of interaction, and quantitative data, Dr. Zuckerman’s second project is a collaborative study of multilingual indigenous Laos, documenting both the linguistic diversity of the Nam Noi watershed as well as the semiotic and political processes by which ethnic identity is rendered porous.

Selected Publications
- Charles Zuckerman. 2022. “When Ethics Goes Absent: Evaluative Gaps in Ordinary Life,” Cultural Anthropology 37(3).
- Charles Zuckerman and N. J. Enfield. 2022. “The Unbearable Heaviness of Being Kri: House Construction and Ethnolinguistic Transformation in Upland Laos.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 28(1).
- Charles Zuckerman and John Mathias. 2022. “The Limits of Bodies: Gatherings and the Problem of Collective Presence” American Anthropologist.
- Charles Zuckerman. 2021. “Figure Composition.” Signs and Society 9(3).
- Charles Zuckerman. 2021. “On the Unity of Types: Lao Gambling, Ethno-Metapragmatics, and Generic and Specific Modes of Typification.’” Language in Society 50(4):557–82.
- Charles Zuckerman. 2020, “‘Don’t gamble for money with friends’: Moral Economic Types and their Uses.” American Ethnologist 47 (4): 432–46.
- Charles Zuckerman. 2017. “Disrupting Agents, Distributing Agency.” In Distributed Agency. Nick Enfield and Paul Kockelman, eds. Pp. 253–69. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Charles Zuckerman. 2016, “Phatic Violence? Gambling and the Arts of Distraction in Laos.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 26 (3): 294–314.

Speaker: Kamala Russell, UCLA

Dr. Kamala Russell (2021 PhD, University of California – Berkeley, thesis: Accessible Ethics in Dhofar, Oman: Practices of Concealment between This World and the Next) is currently a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA. Her research is grounded in long-term fieldwork residing with Muslim families in the rural highlands of Dhofar, Oman, who speak an endangered Semitic language called Śẖerēt Modern South Arabian. Focusing on the interactional ethics among this formerly nomadic community as they are progressively settled and incorporated into the state, this research rethinks the spatiality of social interaction, practices of protecting and concealing the self, and the relationship of everyday talk as ethical action within a wider Islamic cosmology. Dr. Russell’s research also touches on how gendered attunements to contact, presence, and public visibility are remediated through new digital platforms (text- and audio-visually based), transforming the ecology of Śẖerēt interaction and speakers’ engagement with this previously unwritten language. This concern with mediation and design is also part of Dr. Russell’s ongoing and future collaborative projects centered on participatory digital media in virtual museum exhibitions (with the Danish National Museum) and in the management of natural resources under conditions of anthropogenic climate change in Oman.

Publications (available here)
- Russell, Kamala. "The surface of politesse: Acting murtah in Dhofar, Oman." In Duranti, Alessandro, ed. Rethinking Politesse with Henri Bergson. Oxford University Press, Spring 2022.
- Russell, Kamala. 2021. "Facing another: The attenuation of contact as space in Dhofar, Oman." Signs in Society 8(2):290–318.
- Russell, Kamala. 2020. "Turning quarantine inside out." Space and Culture 23(3).
- Russell, Kamala. "Social Distancing is more than standing 6 feet away." Medical Anthropology Quarterly Blog. April 8, 2020.
- Russell, Kamala. 2019. "Mistrusting Knowledge: Comment on Carey, Matthew. 2017. Mistrust." HAU: The Journal of Ethnographic Theory 9(2):257-260.
- Russell, Kamala. Sept 30, 2019. "Contiguity." Theorizing the Contemporary, Fieldsights: Cultural Anthropology.
- Gros, Stéphane, Kamala Russell, and William F. Stafford, Jr. Sept 30, 2019. "Introduction: Topology as Method." Theorizing the Contemporary, Fieldsights: Cultural Anthropology.


Speaker: Andrea Flores, Brown University

Andrea Flores is Assistant Professor in the Department of Education at Brown University. She is a cultural anthropologist who conducts her research in the United States. Broadly, she examines how education shapes immigrant and immigrant descendants’ sense of self, transitions to adulthood, and social belonging. Her work has been supported by grants and fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fund, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation. Her book, The Succeeders: How Immigrant Youth Are Transforming What it Means to Belong in America was published this year with the University of California Press. The Succeeders identifies how Latino youth who participated in a college readiness program conceptualized the value of higher education for themselves, their families, and their communities in light of nativist hostility. She is now developing a research project on the migration and professional decision-making of foreign-born of foreign-born students enrolled in American bioscience graduate programs.

Speaker: Matthew Spellberg, Outer Coast College

Matthew Spellberg’s major topic of study is the comparative history of dreaming—how dreams are experienced, shared, and made use of in different cultures. His research focuses especially on the Indigenous Pacific Northwest and Europe, and he is a student of languages from those two regions. He has published essays on Tlingit oral literature and visual art; on the philosophy of perception; on the European novel; and on the imagination in conditions of solitude. He is co-founder and co-chair of the Native Cultures of the Americas Seminar at Harvard, and the creator of the Dream Parliament, an experimental protocol for reimagining dreams in a communal setting. He holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from Princeton, and for six years taught in New Jersey prisons with the Princeton University Prison Teaching Initiative. He was a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows from 2017 to 2021. As of Fall, 2021, he is President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in Santa Barbara, California. In 2022, he will also serve as faculty at Outer Coast College in Sitka, Alaska. He is currently co-editing, with Ishmael Hope, a book of stories by Tlingit storyteller Robert Zuboff, forthcoming from Dumbarton Oaks.

Speaker: Erica Lagalisse, London School of Economics

Abstract: Marx studied anthropology in his project to historicize capitalism.  By mid-20th century, Marxist theory itself had influenced anthropology in turn.  No longer was the anthropological notion of society the integrated whole imagined within functionalism, but rather one characterized by conflict and struggle. Following experiments in material and ecological determinisms, it was ultimately feminist and postcolonial revisionings of the “class consciousness” concept that sparked an epistemological debate that informs the politics of ethnography to the present day:  Insights of the poststructuralist turn may transcend those of Marx, but they also contain them (to evoke the dialectic once more).  Today’s anthropologists have integrated aspects of historical materialist analysis to the extent that these are taken for granted, yet 21st century anthropologists may continue to learn from Marxists and vice versa:  philosophical idealism continues to interfere in efforts to build grounded ethnographic theory, yet ethnography remains a uniquely useful tool to unsettle idealist abstractions that limit Marxist debate itself. In this lecture I summarize my own ethnographic research on contemporary anarchist social movements in North America to illustrate the importance of ethnography in developing (post)Marxist thought, whereas the content of the same ethnographic research suggests the continuing importance of Marxist forms of analysis for anthropology.  Insofar as this work is staged as an intervention, it is to remind the anthropologist the importance of knowing his (disciplinary) history, and to challenge the Marxist who still considers identity politics a conundrum to consider applying the materialist methods of anthropology.

Bio: Erica Lagalisse is a postdoctoral fellow at the International Inequalities Institute of the London School of Economics, where she is engaged in multi-sited ethnographic research on classed dynamics surrounding “conspiracy theory” in left social movement spaces, and editor at The Sociological Review. She is the author of Occult Features of Anarchism – With Attention to the Conspiracy of Kings and the Conspiracy of the Peoples (2019) and guest researcher at the Anarchism Research Group at Loughborough University. More information about her research and publications can be found at:

Speaker: Brent Crosson, University of Texas at Austin

Brent Crosson is an anthropologist of religion and secularism who works in the Caribbean. His research has focused on contestations over the limits of legal power, science, and religion in the Americas. Prior to joining the faculty at UT Austin, he was an ACLS/Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellow at UC Santa Cruz and a Ruth Landes Memorial postdoctoral fellow in cultural anthropology at NYU. His first book Experiments with Power:  Obeah and the Remaking of Religion is published with the University of Chicago Press (2020).  His research on Caribbean practices of healing and legal intervention - known as obeah, spiritual work, or science - has been published in a number of journals, including Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, Ethnos, The Journal of Africana Religions, Cosmologics, and Cultural Anthropology's Fieldnotes. His special issue in the journal Ethnos - "What Possessed You?" - explores the relationship between spirit possession, material possessions, and conceptions of self.  His work on race relations and solidarity has appeared in Anthropological Quarterly and the Duke University Press journal Small Axe. His current research focuses on climate change, religion, and conceptions of energy, with chapters on these issues forthcoming in the edited volumes Mediality on Trial (De Gruyter Press), Climate Politics and the Power of Religion (Indiana Univ. Press), and Critical Approaches to Science and Religion (Cambridge Univ. Press).

Speaker: Stephan Palmié, University of Chicago

Stephan Palmié conducts ethnographic and historical research on Afro-Caribbean cultures, with an emphasis on Afro-Cuban religious formations and their relations to the history and cultures of a wider Atlantic world. His many publications on these topics include two books, Wizards and Scientists: Explorations in Afro-Cuban Modernity and Tradition and The Cooking of History: How Not to Study “Afro”-“Cuban” “Religion.” His other interests include practices of historical representation and knowledge production, systems of slavery and unfree labor, constructions of race and ethnicity, conceptions of embodiment and moral personhood, medical anthropology, and the anthropology of food and cuisine. He is currently working on a critically annotated edition of the 1812 records from the trial of José Antonio Aponte: An Early Nineteenth Century Afro-Cuban Visionary Artist: José Antonio Aponte and his “libro de pinturas."

Speaker: Shannon Dawdy, University of Chicago

Research Interests: Transdisciplinary anthropology; archaeology of the contemporary; historical anthropology; cities; colonialism and capitalism; informal economies; sex; death; disaster; temporality; utopia; filmmaking; the Americas.

Bio: My fieldwork combines archival, ethnographic, and archaeological methods in the U.S. and Latin America. I am especially interested in how landscapes and material objects mediate human relationships and how shared cultural experiences affect our perceptions of time (past, present, future). Topically, my research has focused on death, disaster, sensuality, and histories of colonialism and capitalism. Also, pirates. I have written a couple of quite different books on New Orleans (one on its peculiar French colonial past and another on the city's relationship to old things, before and after Katrina). My latest project, which takes the form of both a film (I Like Dirt.) and a book (American Afterlives), focuses on rapidly changing death practices in the U.S., particularly around disposition and transformation of the body. The next venture will be an exploration of deep future archives in the arctic and elsewhere. I believe that, at its best, intellectualism is the human spirit calling itself, and that academia is just one tent where this might happen. In my free time, I grow things, play fiddle, and bike. I am grateful for having received support from the MacArthur Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the ACLS, among others.

Fatima Mojaddedi, UC Davis

Research interests: Theories of subjectivity, cultural memory and the unconscious, the political, violence, language (translation), representation, economy and value, aesthetics, modernity, Afghanistan and the Islamic World, critical and social theory, psychoanalysis, literature, political economy, and archival histories.


Speaker: Anne-Maria Makhulu, Duke University

Bio: Anne-Maria Makhulu is an Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology and African and African American Studies and Core Faculty in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Duke University. Her research interests cover: Africa and more specifically South Africa, cities, space, globalization, political economy, neoliberalism, the anthropology of finance and corporations, as well as questions of aesthetics, including the literature of South Africa. Makhulu is co-editor of Hard Work, Hard Times: Global Volatility and African Subjectivities (2010) and the author of Making Freedom: Apartheid, Squatter Politics, and the Struggle for Home (2015). She is a contributor to Producing African Futures: Ritual and Reproduction in a Neoliberal Age (2004), New Ethnographies of Neoliberalism (2010), author of articles in Anthropological Quarterly and PMLA, special issue guest editor for South Atlantic Quarterly (115(1)) and special theme section guest editor for Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East (36(2)). A new project, South Africa After the Rainbow (in preparation), examines the relationship between race and mobility in postapartheid South Africa and has been supported with an award from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Speaker: Jessica Greenberg, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Research interests: Anthropology of democracy, legal studies, youth, social movements, revolution, Serbia/Balkans, Europe, Human Rights

Bio: Jessica Greenberg is an associate professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Prior to coming toUIUC, Greenberg was an Academy Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, and an assistant professor in Communication Studies at Northwestern University. She recently earned a Master of Studies in Law at the College of Law, University of Illinois. She is also currently the Co-Editor of the Political and Legal Anthropology Review (PoLAR).

Speaker: Valerie Olson, UC Irvine

Bio: I research contemporary sociocultural processes that remake what count as environments. My current projects focus on how social groups use the system concept to perceive, organize, and control spatial relations, particularly on large scales. This focus allows me to follow the ways people relate to sites, things, and processes they do not experience directly and which are categorized as outlying or beyond human.

I serve on UCI interdisciplinary research teams and campus initiatives such as Water UCI , the Salton Sea Initiative, the UCI OCEANS Initiative, and the UCI Community Resilience program.

Speaker: Jessica Cattelino, UCLA

Bio: I study and teach about sociocultural life in the contemporary United States. My research focuses on economy, nature, indigeneity, and settler colonialism. My book, High Stakes: Florida Seminole Gaming and Sovereignty (Duke University Press, 2008; winner of the Delmos Jones and Jagna Sharff Memorial Book Prize from the Society for the Anthropology of North America), examines the cultural, political, and economic stakes of tribal casinos for Florida Seminoles. Currently, I’m writing an ethnography about the cultural value of water in the Florida Everglades, with focus on the Seminole Big Cypress Reservation and the nearby agricultural town of Clewiston. This project tells the human story of Everglades restoration and theorizes the co-production of nature and indigeneity in settler societies like the United States. Additionally, I lead a research team at the Center for the Study of Women that is completing an ethnographic study of gender and everyday household water use in Los Angeles. The study is funded by the UCLA Grand Challenge on Sustainable Los Angeles. I write about indigeneity and money, the anthropology of the United States, and indigenous sovereignty, and I am collaborating with photographer Adam Nadel on a museum exhibition about the inextricability of people and nature in the Everglades.

My work is influenced by scholarship in American Indian Studies and Gender Studies, and I hold faculty affiliations in both programs at UCLA. My current research is funded by the National Science Foundation (Law and Social Sciences), the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the Howard Foundation. Additionally, I am funded through participation in a National Science Foundation Long Term Ecological Network on the Florida Coastal Everglades, for which I am undertaking wildly interdisciplinary collaboration as a co-author of a paper on phosphorus and will conduct ethnographic research on the social life of a stormwater treatment area. Recently I was a Visiting Associate Professor of American Studies at Yale University.

Speaker: Samar Al-Bulushi, UC Irvine

Research interests: Geopolitics; militarism; policing; Kenya, East Africa, Horn of Africa, Indian Ocean; Islam, race, and citizenship; transnationalism & South-South solidarities.

Bio: My current work is broadly concerned with surveillance, policing, and militarized urbanisms in the context of the so-called ‘War on Terror’ in East Africa. My book project, Citizen-Suspect: Militarism, Race, and Geopolitics in the East African Warscape, explores Kenya’s entanglement in the ongoing war against the militant group Al-Shabaab. Drawing on ethnographic research with politicians, diplomats, human rights activists, and young people in the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa, it grapples with the relationship between the imaginative and grounded geographies of the so-called War on Terror in East Africa today.

I joined the Department of Anthropology in 2019 following two years as a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow (2017-2019). Prior to pursuing my PhD, I worked for a number of international human rights organizations, including the Center for Economic and Social Rights, Parliamentarians for Global Action, and the International Center for Transitional Justice. I am a contributing editor at Africa is a Country, and I have published in a variety of public outlets on topics ranging from the International Criminal Court to the militarization of U.S. policy in Africa.

Speaker: Shiri Pasternak Ryerson

Research interests: Her current research interests involves studying the risk of Indigenous rights in the natural resource extraction economy. She is a Principle Investigator with scholars at York University and Carleton University, as well as community partners Mining Watch and the Indigenous Network in Economies and Trade, in a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant called, “Reconciling Sovereignties: New Techniques for ‘Authorizing’ Extraction on Indigenous Territories.”

Bio: Shiri Pasternak is Assistant Professor in Criminology at Ryerson University in Toronto. She joined the faculty in July 2017. She is the author of Grounded Authority: the Algonquins of Barriere Lake Against the State, published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2017.

Shiri received her PhD from the Department of Planning and Geography at the University of Toronto in 2013. She then held a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at Osgoode Law (2015-2016) and in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia University in New York City (2013-2015). From 2016-2017, she held a post as Assistant Professor in the School for the Study of Canada at Trent University.

Shiri teaches courses in the Indigenous Justice stream and her research interests involve interdisciplinary approaches to Indigenous jurisdiction, resource economies, and Crown-First Nations’ relations. She publishes in the fields of legal and historical geography, settler colonial studies, political economy, and critical legal studies.

Speaker: Darryl Wilkinson, Dartmouth

Bio: Darryl Wilkinson studies the indigenous religious traditions of the Americas, focusing on two main areas: 1) the ancient Andes and 2) the colonial Southwestern United States. His work critically explores the concept of "animism," particularly as a category for framing the metaphysical commitments of indigenous peoples across the globe. Wilkinson regularly conducts field research in Peru, where he directs excavations alongside a number of South American collaborators. He is currently completing a book manuscript on the Inka Empire, which examines how power is realized in an ancient state where mountains and rocks were treated as sentient, living actors. Wilkinson's primary methodological training is in archaeology, and is therefore grounded in the study of material and visual culture, especially the analysis of iconography, landscapes and ceramic artifacts. His work also deals with ethnohistoric and ethnographic materials, and emphasizes the importance of interdisciplinary approaches. Wilkinson's research has been published in a number of venues, including the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and the Cambridge Archaeological Journal. He completed his undergraduate studies in Archaeology and Anthropology at Oxford, followed by a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia. Before joining the faculty at Dartmouth he held a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and was also a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Cambridge.

Speaker: Shanya Cordis, Spelman College

Bio: Shanya Cordis, Ph.D., an assistant professor of sociocultural anthropology, has been published in the peer-reviewed Small Axe journal. Her article, "Forging Relational Difference: Racial Gendered Violence and Dispossession in Guyana," traces the specificity of indigenous and Black dispossession and antiblackness as integral to Guyanese nation formation and the Caribbean more broadly. It ultimately calls for an expansive Caribbean feminist politics that reckons with indigenous political subjectivities and Black place-making beyond statist framings toward mutual liberation.


Speaker: David Marriott, Penn State

Research interests: Literary theory; psychoanalysis; black cultural theory and philosophies of race; the literary and visual cultures of modernism

Bio: Poet and critic, David Marriott, was born and educated in England and received his Ph.D. in literature from the University of Sussex. His first book, On Black Men (Edinburgh University Press, 2000; Columbia University Press, 2000), was an interdisciplinary study of how models of selfhood come to acquire cultural recognition through the aberrant fictions of race. His second book, Haunted Life (forthcoming Rutgers University Press), extends this meditation on discourses of inwardness and the paradigmatic aberrations of race into a comparative study of black atlantic modernism. Incognegro (Salt Publications, 2006) is his most recent book of poetry. His present project, The Two Freedoms, is a critical study of C.L.R. James and Jules Marcel Monnerot.

Speaker: Duana Fullwiley, Stanford University

Research interests: The Anthropology of science; Medical anthropology; Genetics and identity; Ethics; Economic anthropology; Global health politics; Anthropology of Africa; Race and racism; Health disparities; Environmental resource scarcity as a source of ethnic conflict, Senegal, West Africa, France, and the United States

Bio: I am an anthropologist of science and medicine interested in how social identities, health outcomes, and molecular genetic findings increasingly intersect. In my first book, The Enculturated Gene: Sickle Cell Health Politics and Biological Difference in West Africa (Princeton, 2011), I draw on over a decade of ethnographic fieldwork in the US, France and Senegal. By bringing the lives of people with sickle cell anemia together with how the science about them has been made, The Enculturated Gene examines postcolonial genetic science, the effects of structural adjustment on health resources, and patient activism between Senegal and France to show how African sickle cell has been ordered in ethnic-national terms at the level of the gene. This work is situated within a larger conversation on ethics, power, and the ways that human biological material, within the context of culture, is rarely apolitical. The Enculturated Gene has won the Royal Anthropological Institute’s 2011 Amaury Talbot Prize for the most valuable work of African Anthropology and the American Anthropological Association’s 2014 Robert B. Textor and Family Prize for Excellence in Anticipatory Anthropology.

Since 2003, I have also conducted multi-sited field research in the United States on emergent technologies that measure human genetic diversity among populations and between individuals. As an outgrowth of this research, I have become particularly interested in how scientists promote civic ideas of “genetic citizenship,” how they enlist participant involvement in specific disease research problems, and how they also contribute to social movements of historical reckoning. In its detail, this second book project explores how U.S. political concepts of diversity, usually glossed as “race,” function in genetic recruitment protocols and study designs for research on complex diseases, “tailored medicine,” ancestry tracing, forensics, and personal genomics. This project will also examine the fraught relationship between private property and personal privacy with regards to biogenetic data, as well as issues of racial justice and civil rights.

My work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the Andrew and Florence White Fellows program in Medicine and the Humanities, the Ford Foundation, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. I have also been an invited scholar at the Centre de Sociologie de l'Innovation in Paris (1997-1998, 2000 and 2002), a USIA Fulbright Scholar to Senegal, a fellow at the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (2004-2005), and a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar at the Harvard School of Public Health (2005-2007). I recently completed a Scholars Award in NSF's Science & Society Program to research my second book called Tabula Raza: Mapping Race and Human Diversity in American Genome Science.

Speaker: Matthew Kohrman, Stanford University

Research interests: Medical anthropology, governmentality, illness experience, gender, China

Bio: Matthew Kohrman joined Stanford’s faculty in 1999. His research and writing bring anthropological methods to bear on the ways health, culture, and politics are interrelated. Focusing on the People's Republic of China, he engages various intellectual terrains such as governmentality, gender theory, political economy, critical science studies, narrativity, and embodiment. His first monograph, Bodies of Difference: Experiences of Disability and Institutional Advocacy in the Making of Modern China, examines links between the emergence of a state-sponsored disability-advocacy organization and the lives of Chinese men who have trouble walking. Recently, Prof. Kohrman has been involved in research aimed at analyzing and intervening in the biopolitics of cigarette smoking among Chinese citizens. This work expands upon heuristic themes of his earlier disability research and engages in novel ways techniques of public health, political philosophy, and spatial history.

Speaker: Carolyn Rouse, Princeton University

Research interests: development, medical anthropology, visual anthropology, resistance, critical race theory, consciousness, North America, Ghana

Bio: Carolyn Rouse is a professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology at Princeton University. Her work explores the use of evidence to make particular claims about race and social inequality. She is the author of Engaged Surrender: African American Women and Islam, Uncertain Suffering: Racial Healthcare Disparities and Sickle Cell Disease and Televised Redemption: Black Religious Media and Racial Empowerment. Her manuscript Development Hubris: Adventures Trying to Save the World examines discourses of charity and development and is tied to her own project building a high school in a fishing village in Ghana. In the summer of 2016 she began studying declining white life expectancies in rural California as a follow-up to her research on racial health disparities. In addition to being an anthropologist, Rouse is also a filmmaker. She has produced, directed, and/or edited a number of documentaries including Chicks in White Satin (1994), Purification to Prozac: Treating Mental Illness in Bali (1998), and Listening as a Radical Act: World Anthropologies and the Decentering of Western Thought (2015). As an extension of her commitment and training in visual anthropology, in the summer of 2016 she created the Ethnographic Data Visualization Lab (VizE Lab) to work with students and colleagues on ways to visualize complex ethnographic data. One project she is currently working on through the lab brings together 60 years of biological data with 60 years of social scientific data to study epigenetic effects on physical development.

Speaker: Clint Carroll, University Colorado Boulder

Research interests: Contemporary and historical American Indian environmental knowledge, practices, and struggles; political ecology; Indigenous ethnography; American Indian tribal governance; tribal natural resource management; social and political theory; social dimensions of American Indian environmental health; Cherokee studies; Indigenous land education

Bio: Clint Carroll is Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. He received his doctorate from the University of California Berkeley in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona in Anthropology, with a minor in American Indian Studies. A citizen of the Cherokee Nation, he works closely with Cherokee people in Oklahoma on issues of land conservation and the perpetuation of land-based knowledge and ways of life. His book, Roots of Our Renewal: Ethnobotany and Cherokee Environmental Governance (2015, University of Minnesota Press), explores how tribal natural resource managers navigate the material and structural conditions of settler colonialism, as well as how recent efforts in cultural revitalization are informing such practices through traditional forms of decision-making and local environmental knowledge.

Dr. Carroll has received fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Udall Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Science Foundation. He was also a 2014-2016 Fellow of the Native Investigator Development Program, funded by the National Institutes of Health. His work has been published in Ethnohistory, Geoforum, Environmental Research, EcoHealth, and two edited collections. He is an active member of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association and the Society for Applied Anthropology.

Speaker: Max Liboiron, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Max Liboiron is a feminist environmental scientist, science and technology studies (STS) scholar, and activist. As an Assistant Professor in Geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Liboiron directs Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR), a feminist, anti-colonial laboratory that specializes in grassroots environmental monitoring of marine plastic pollution. Liboiron’s STS work focuses on how invisible yet harmful emerging phenomena such as toxicants from marine plastics become apparent in science and activism, and how these methods of representation relate to action. Liboiron also runs Discard Studies, an interdisciplinary hub for research on waste and wasting. An in-progress manuscript builds on this related work to articulate pollution as a form of colonialism.

Speaker: Eve Troutt Powell, University of Pennsylvania

Bio: Eve Troutt Powell is Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Tell This in My Name: Stories of Enslavement from Egypt, Sudan, and the Ottoman Empire (2012, Stanford University Press). She teaches the history of the modern Middle East and the history of slavery in the Nile Valley and the Ottoman Empire. Troutt Powell is now working on a book about the visual culture of slavery in the Middle East which will explore the painting and photography about African and Circassian slavery in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Eve Troutt Powell earned her Ph.D. and Master of Arts degrees in History from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Radcliffe College.

Speaker: Hi’ilei Hobart, University of Texas

Bio: Hiʻilei Julia Hobart is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. She received her doctorate from New York University Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, and holds additional degrees in Material Culture Studies and Rare Books Librarianship. Her teaching and research focuses on Indigeneity and race, settler colonialism, food, and the Pacific. She is currently writing a book on the social history of ice in Hawaiʻi from 1850-1980, which examines how cold temperature emerged as a taste quality of colonial power and leisure within the tropics. She has published articles in Food, Culture, and Society, Global Food History, NAIS, and others, has edited a volume on the Foodways of Hawai'i for Routledge, and, most recently, co-edited a volume of Social Text on the topic of Radical Care, which identifies care as a praxis of radical politics.

Speaker: Eric Plemons, University of Arizona

Bio: I am a medical anthropologist focused on surgical practice and the production, circulation and application of expert knowledge on gendered bodies. My first book, The Look of a Woman (2017, Duke University Press), examines facial feminization surgery, a series of bone and soft tissue reconstructive surgeries intended to feminize the faces of trans- women. My current projects include multisited ethnographic research investigating how US institutions are responding to a growing demand for trans- healthcare, and a literature-based analysis of how trans- surgical outcomes are studied and clinically assessed. I am also developing a book project on genital injury and rehabilitation. Focused on knowledge and how it moves in the form of embodied and institutional practices, my research has been problem- rather than place-based. Working on expertise as it shapes practices of gender-making medicine, I have conducted ethnographic work in surgical clinics in the US, Northern Europe, and South America.

My research engages theories of sex and gender, the critical study of science and medicine, political economies of medicine and medical innovation, trans- studies, anthropological theories of practice, and the studies of technology and technique. I am the Director of the Medical Anthropology Concentration and Certificate Programs, and Co-chair of the UA Transgender Studies Research Cluster. I am a faculty affiliate of the Institute for LGBT Studies, the Department of Gender & Women's Studies, and the Graduate Interdisciplinary Degree Program in Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory.

Speaker: Matthew Hull, University of Michigan

Research interests: Semiotics, bureaucracy and governance, corporations, urban planning, material culture, science and technology, South Asia.

Bio: Matthew Hull is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on the nexus of representation, technology, and institutions. His book, Government of Paper: The Materiality of Bureaucracy in Urban Pakistan (University of California Press, May 2012), examines governance as a semiotic and material practice through an account of the role of writing and written artifacts in the operations of city government in Islamabad. He has also worked on the deployment of American technologies of democracy in urban India from the late 1950s and early 1960s.

He is currently working on the history and theory of the modern corporation and lotteries in India.

In the Department of Anthropology he is associated with both the Social-Cultural and the Linguistic Anthropology subfields. His other affiliations include the Interdisciplinary Program in Anthropology and History, the Program in Science, Technology and Society, and the Center for South Asian Studies.

He received his PhD in anthropology from The University of Chicago in 2003. He was a Fellow of the Michigan Society of Fellows from 2003-04 and taught for several years at the University of North Carolina before returning to the University of Michigan. He teaches courses on corporations, technology and materiality, language, South Asia, and social theory.


Speaker: Knut Christian Myhre, University of Oslo

I currently lead a research project entitled Forms of Ethics, Shapes of Finance: Ethnographic Explorations of the Limits of Contemporary Capital. The project is funded by the Research Council of Norway and explores how ethical notions and consideration are used to shape international finance flows, and how financial forms entail ethical considerations. The project centres on the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (better known as the 'oil fund'), which currently is the world's largest sovereign wealth fund. 
My previous work has primarily been conducted in Tanzania, where I have conducted long-term fieldwork in rural areas of Kilimanjaro Region, and in urban environments in Dar es Salaam and its surroundings. This has resulted in publications on a range of topics, such as kinship and marriage, witchcraft, ritual, modes of exchange, forms of knowledge, and cross-cultural comparison.

Speaker: Terra Edwards, Saint Louis University

Research Interests: Edwards’ research is concerned with the many ways that language reflects and is shaped by our experiences in the world. For the past 10 years, she has been pursuing this interest in DeafBlind communities in the United States, where a new, tactile language is emerging. She has published articles on language emergence, re-channeling language, sign-creation, and intention-attribution, and is currently writing a book about language and life in DeafBlind communities titled, “Going Tactile: Life at the Limits of Language.”

Speaker: Marshall Sahlins, University of Chicago

Marshall Sahlins is presently doing research focused on the intersection of culture and history, especially as those play out in early-modern Pacific societies. He recently published a book of his anthropological and political essays ranging from the 60s through the 90s, and is working on two others: a set of studies in history and historiography and a multi-volume work on “The Polynesian War,” a history of the great Fijian War, 1843-1855. From time to time he drops these ethnographic particularities for high-flying cultural theory. (Retired June 1997; still teaching.)

Speaker: Sarah Muir, City College of New York

Bio: Sarah Muir (Ph.D., University of Chicago 2011) examines the practical logics of economic investment, ethical evaluation, and political critique, with a particular focus on social class and financial crisis. Situated at the intersection of semiotic, political-economic, and historical anthropology, her research is grounded in ethnographic fieldwork and archival research in Argentina. She is currently finishing a book manuscript entitled Exhaustion: Critique in an Era of Routinized Crisis, which examines everyday middle-class Argentine politics in the wake of a century of financial crises. She is also researching a new project called Accounting for Kith and Kin: Pension Politics, Financial Ethics, and the Space-Time of Obligation, which interrogates struggles over the restructuring of pension plans, conceptualized as key institutions of intergenerational investment and social obligation. Dr. Muir has presented and published scholarship on monetary policy and currency devaluation, the circulation of psychoanalytic and conspiracy theories, and narratives and practices of corruption. Her work has appeared in Cultural Anthropology, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Current Anthropology, and ANUAC: Journal of the Italian Association of Anthropology, and she is Co-Editor (with Akhil Gupta, University of California, Los Angeles) of a special issue of Current Anthropology called “The Anthropology of Corruption” (forthcoming). She is also Co-Director (with Frances Negrón-Muntaner, Columbia University) of the Unpayable Debt: Capital, Violence, and the New Global Economy working group. At City College, she teaches core classes in international studies and serves as Director of International Studies.

Speaker: Carlo Caduff, King’s College London

Carlo's work explores global health at the intersection of science, medicine, media and the state. His first book, The Pandemic Perhaps, shows how pandemic influenza became a global threat. Articles on biomedicine, bioscience and biosecurity have appeared in journals such as Cultural Anthropology, Current Anthropology, Critical Inquiry, BioSocieties, Annual Review of Anthropology, Cambridge Anthropology and Anthropological Theory. He is the co-editor of a Current Anthropology special issue on new media. More recently, he started work on a new project on cancer in India. This work examines experiments with accessible and affordable care in public cancer centres. For his research, he received funding by the Wenner Gren Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Speaker: Stefania Pandolfo, UC Berkeley

Research interests: Cultural Anthropology, theories of subjectivity, postcolonial criticism, anthropology and literature, Islam, Middle East and the Maghreb

Bio: Stefania Pandolfo studies theories and forms of subjectivity, and their contemporary predicaments in the Middle Eastern and Muslim world, investigating narrative, trauma, psychoanalysis and the unconscious, memory, historicity and the hermeneutics of disjuncture, language and poetics, experimental ethnographic writing, anthropology and literature, dreaming and the anthropological study of the imagination, intercultural approaches to different ontologies and systems of knowledge, modernity, colonialism and postcolonialism, madness and mental illness. Her current project is a study of emergent forms of subjectivity in Moroccan modernity at the interface of "traditional therapies" and psychiatry/psychoanalysis, exploring theoretical ways to think existence, possibility and creation in a context of referential and institutional instability and in the aftermath of trauma, based on ethnographic research on spirit possession and the "cures of the jinn", and on the experience of madness in a psychiatric hospital setting.