Also on November 6, 2020: 12-1pm EST/9-10am PST, be sure to check out the next installment in the series, “Civil and Civic Manipulations: Activism, Media, and Public Policy”, with Joan Donovan, Research Director, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard University Kennedy School. Click here to register for this event.
On November 9th the New York Academy of Sciences hosted the lecture, “What Is the Utility of Anthropology in This Moment of Emergency?” Watch it now.
Emergencies push people to reflect on what is meaningful, to become clearer about who they are (individually and collectively), and to figure out what they need to survive. They are reckonings. They demarcate who is included and who is excluded, who has access – to rights, to the “good life,” to living at all – and who doesn’t. In this conversation, Deborah Thomas and Bianca Williams will draw from their own experiences in and of the discipline to reflect upon the extent to which anthropology offers tools to make sense of, and find our way out of, emergencies. They will discuss what drew them to the field, what their continued investments are, and how they attempt to make the discipline accountable to who they are. If the urgency of this moment demands that anthropologists use our tools not only “out there” (in some faraway place that is the “field”), but also right here in the places we work, sleep, and eat, then anthropologists must be prepared to turn the lens on themselves, their departments, their professional organizations, and their funding agencies. How might contemporary discussions about white supremacy, anti-Black violence, and class disparity allow us to do deep thinking about estrangement, alienation, and engagement “at home?” Are anthropologists ready for this kind of radical honesty?
Deborah A. Thomas
Jean Brownlee Professor of Anthropology, and Director of the Center for Experimental Ethnography at the University of Pennsylvania
Bianca C. Williams
Associate Professor of Anthropology, Women & Gender Studies, and Critical Psychology at The Graduate Center, CUNY
About the Speakers:
Deborah A. Thomas is the R. Jean Brownlee Professor of Anthropology, and the Director of the Center for Experimental Ethnography at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also a Research Associate with the Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre at the University of Johannesburg. Thomas is the author of Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation: Sovereignty, Witnessing, Repair, Exceptional Violence: Embodied Citizenship in Transnational Jamaica and Modern Blackness: Nationalism, Globalization, and The Politics of Culture in Jamaica; and co-editor of the volume Globalization and Race: Transformations in the Cultural Production of Blackness. Her articles have appeared in a diverse range of journals including Cultural Anthropology, American Anthropologist, Radical History Review, Anthropological Theory, small axe, Identities, Interventions, and Feminist Review. Thomas has also co-directed and co-produced two documentary films: BAD FRIDAY: RASTAFARI AFTER CORAL GARDENS, which chronicles violence in Jamaica through the eyes of its most iconic community; and FOUR DAYS IN MAY: KINGSTON 2010, which explores the effects of the “Tivoli Incursion” in May 2010, when Jamaican security forces entered West Kingston to arrest Christopher Coke, wanted for extradition to the United States, and killed at least 75 civilians. Thomas is also the co-curator of a multi-media installation titled Bearing Witness: Four Days in West Kingston, which opened at the Penn Museum in November 2017. Thomas edited the journal Transforming Anthropology from 2007-2010, and currently sits on the editorial boards of Social and Economic Studies and Anthropological Theory. From 2016-2020, she was the Editor-in-Chief of American Anthropologist, the flagship journal of the American Anthropological Association. She has served on the executive boards of the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD), the Caribbean Studies Association, and the Society for Cultural Anthropology. Prior to Thomas’s life as an academic, she was a professional dancer with the New York-based Urban Bush Women.
Bianca C. Williams (she/her) is an Associate Professor of Anthropology, Women & Gender Studies, and Critical Psychology at The Graduate Center, CUNY. She earned a graduate certificate in African & African American Studies and her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University. Her research interests focus on Black women and emotional wellness; race, gender, and equity in higher education; and Black feminist pedagogical and organizing practices. The investigative thread that binds Williams’ organizing, teaching, and research is the question “How do Black people develop strategies for enduring and resisting the effects of racism and sexism, while attempting to maintain emotional wellness?” In her award-winning book The Pursuit of Happiness: Black Women, Diasporic Dreams, and the Politics of Emotional Transnationalism (Duke University Press, 2018), Williams argues that pursuing happiness is a political project for Black women, while examining how African American women use travel to Jamaica and the Internet as tools for escaping U.S. racism and sexism. She is co-editor of Plantation Politics and Campus Rebellions: Power, Diversity, and the Emancipatory Struggle in Higher Education with Dian Squire and Frank Tuitt (SUNY Press, March 2021). Additionally, Williams has written about “radical honesty” as feminist inclusive pedagogy in the volume Race, Equity, and the Learning Environment, and published in the journals Souls, Cultural Anthropology, Teachers College Record, and on the blogs Anthrodendum and Anthropoliteia. She is a recipient of the American Anthropological Association & Oxford University Press Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching of Anthropology. Finally, Williams is Faculty Lead of the PublicsLab at The Graduate Center, and the Executive Program Chair for the 2021 meetings of the American Anthropological Association.
In response to urgent calls to address systemic racism in all spheres of institutional life, a group of archaeology centers based in the United States have come together to identify avenues for concrete change. Since July, center directors and representatives have been meeting via Zoom to consider ways to move archaeology forward towards greater diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The Archaeology Centers Coalition is also seeking to define avenues of impactful change in four key areas: curriculum and training, administration and finance, the culture of archaeology, and capacity building and community engagement. In the coming months, the group anticipates developing a series of recommendations on best practices for overcoming traditional barriers to inclusion. Through these conversations, the SBA, IAC, and Wenner-Gren will work with archaeology centers to help bring substantive change.
On October 19th the New York Academy of Sciences hosted the lecture, “Migration through the Camera Lens: Ethnography, Film, and the Migration Crisis”. Watch it now.
Building on the long tradition of anthropological research in borderlands, questions of mobility have received heightened attention by scholars in recent years as migration crises make headline news. Alongside new works exploring the political and experiential elements of migration, some anthropologists are turning to filmmaking as an ideal ethnographic method for actively engaging migrant subjects in the research process, raising public awareness about the human rights of migrants, and building on existing theories of individual, group, and national identity construction in borderlands. Distinguished panelists will discuss their experiences documenting migration through the camera lens. Prior to the event, registered guests will have the opportunity to view Border South, which focuses its lens on the border space between the United States and Mexico, and selections from The Burning, which focuses on the southernmost borders to the European Union in North Africa; an email with the links and passwords to view the films will be sent to registered attendees 48 hours before the event. These films will set the stage for an engaging event on film as an ethnographic method, the ethics of doing research with migrant populations, and the politics of mobility in critical border regions with global health and humanitarian crises on the rise. Key questions center on how border crises are created and manipulated by those in power, and how governments use natural barriers, including deserts and seas, to reinforce the violent, traumatic, and even deadly experiences of border crossing.
Jason De León
Professor of Anthropology and Chicana, Chicano, and Central American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles and Executive Director of the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP)
Founder and Executive Director of Small World Films
Raúl O. Paz-Pastrana
Independent Filmmaker and Cinematographer
Filmmaker, Author and Mellon Fellow at Heyman Center, Columbia University
About the Speakers:
Jason De León is Professor of Anthropology and Chicana, Chicano, and Central American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles and Executive Director of the Undocumented Migration Project (UMP) Inc., a 501(c)(3). The UMP is a long-term anthropological study of clandestine migration between Latin America and the United States that uses a combination of ethnographic, visual, archaeological, and forensic approaches to understand this violent social process. He has published numerous academic articles and his work with the UMP has been featured in a variety of popular media outlets. He is the author of the award-winning book “The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail” (featuring photos by Michael Wells) and Head Curator of the forthcoming global exhibition Hostile Terrain 94. De León is President of the Board of Directors for The Colibrí Center for Human Rights and a 2017 MacArthur Foundation fellow.
Dr. Isabella Alexander-Nathani is an award-winning writer, filmmaker, educator, and human rights activist. Trained as a cultural anthropologist, her work is motivated by her belief that storytelling has the power to humanize complex political issues. Her latest book Burning at Europe’s Borders (Oxford University Press, 2020) and related documentary film The Burning (Small World Films, 2020) uncover the human sides of our global migrant and refugee crisis. Alexander-Nathani’s work has been featured on BBC, CNN, NPR, PRI, and Al Jazeera, and she is a regular contributor to SAPIENS, where she writes a monthly column called “Borders.” Her speaking programs have brought her to stages around the world, including the United Nations General Assembly and the Parliament of the World’s Religions, where she has delivered keynote addresses to audiences of more than 10,000. The American Anthropological Association presented her with the “Emerging Leader in Anthropology” award in 2016, and her latest project has been supported by multiple grants from The National Science Foundation. She has held faculty positions in the Departments of Anthropology and Film Studies at Emory University and the Department of Social Sciences at Morocco’s national university. She currently serves as Founder and Executive Director of Small World Films, a non-profit production studio. She uses grounded social science research and storytelling to lift the voices of marginalized populations to the global stage and fight for international policy change.
Raúl O. Paz-Pastrana is a Mexican immigrant filmmaker and cinematographer. His work intersects contemporary art, political documentary, and visual ethnography to explore themes of belonging, alienation, and the concept of “home.” His last feature film Border South follows the migrant routes from southern Mexico to the U.S.-Mexico border. The result is a close-up, nuanced, and highly original view of the migrant experience, one fraught with risk and danger but also camaraderie, ingenuity, and humor. Border South had its world premiere at the 2019 Sheffield Doc/Fest in the U.K., its U.S. premiere at the AFI Docs Film Festival in Washington D.C. and its Latin American premiere at the 2020 Guadalajara International Film Festival (FICG) in Mexico. Raúl is a Princess Grace Awards Special Project Grantee, a Camargo Foundation Cassis France Artist Alumni, a Tribeca Film Institute grant recipient, a 2018 IFP Filmmaker Labs fellow, a 2018 BAVC MediaMaker Fellow, a 2018-20 Firelight Media Documentary Lab Fellow, a 2020 New America National Fellow, a 2018-20 Ford Foundation, JustFilms grantee, a 2020 Colorado Humanities grantee, and a 2020-21 Sundance Institute grantee.
MODERATOR Naeem Mohaiemen makes films and writes essays about rhizomatic families, malleable borders, and socialist utopias – beginning from Bangladesh’s two postcolonial markers (1947, 1971) and then radiating outward to transnational linkages. He is author of Midnight’s Third Child (Nokta, forthcoming) and Prisoners of Shothik Itihash (Kunsthalle Basel, 2014); editor of Chittagong Hill Tracts in the Blind Spot of Bangladesh Nationalism (Drishtipat, 2010); and co-editor with Eszter Szakacs of Solidarity Must be Defended (Tranzit, forthcoming) and with Lorenzo Fusi of System Error: War is a Force that Gives us Meaning (Sylvana, 2007). Naeem is Mellon Fellow at Heyman Center, Columbia University, New York, and Senior Fellow (non-residential) at Lunder Institute of American Art, Colby College, Maine. He is on the board of the Vera List Center for Art & Politics, New School, New York, and the film council of ICA, London.
Organized by Bill Maurer (Dean of the School of Social Sciences, Professor of Anthropology, and Director of the Institute for Money, Technology, and Financial Inclusion, UC Irvine) and Taylor C. Nelms (Senior Director of Research, Filene Research Institute)
With Kim Fernandes (University of Pennsylvania), Nina Medvedeva (University of Minnesota), Nima Yolmo (UC Irvine), and Chris Chan (University of Washington)
That the future of anthropology is up for grabs is not new. Anthropology has always been the outcome of struggle, and anthropologists and their allies have long sought to speak truth to power and to convey their own and others’ stories to address inequality, domination, and violence in all its forms. Our record is mixed, to say the least.
Yet the opportunity for intervention arrives anew, and seizing it requires confronting the methods of knowledge production/dissemination and professional reproduction together. What are the possibilities and limitations of working inside, outside, alongside, against, at the edges, or in the hybrid in-between spaces of anthropology’s multiple and heterogeneous publics? And how ought we imagine and describe the position of “public,” “applied,” or “practicing” anthropologists (all inadequate idioms) vis-a-vis academic anthropology and the organizations with whom they work?
This interview series, supported by a grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, will look to new spaces of inquiry and intervention outside the academy—in tech, finance, and nonprofit worlds, specifically—to explore new forms of knowledge production and dissemination and new kinds of organization and communication. The webinar series will feature anthropologists and other social scientists working across institutional boundaries and with partners outside the academy to put into practice alternative financial and economic arrangements. Speakers will take up what it means to make anthropology—and anthropologists—accountable to its history and to the political economic demands of the moment. And they will investigate what forms critique takes, and what other kinds of intervention are possible, in industries, from finance to tech to philanthropy, that hold concentrated power over the material lives of so many around the world.
SCHEDULE: All webinars will take place Fridays, 12-1pm U.S. Eastern Standard Time/9-10am Pacific.
October 23, 2020: 12-1pm EST/9-10am PST
#1 – Introducing the Series: Theory and Practice at the Edges of Academia
You won’t want to miss reading Ibrahima Thiaw’s recently published article, “Archaeology of Two Pandemics and Teranga Aesthetic”, in the newest issue of African Archaeological Review. In the article Dr. Thiaw shows how “the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed how coloniality and racism are endemic to modern society” and reveals “the relevance of the archives, including the archaeological record, as usable resources for managing the problems of our times”.
Widespread protests against police violence and anti-Black racism have recently swept the globe. In the wake of protests in May and June, specifically, many citizens and communities looked to build new momentum in the fight for civil rights and social justice.
The field of archaeology has its own history to confront. Racism, elitism, and colonialism suffuse the discipline and its practices. Although some scholars have been working to unearth these stories and envision a new future for the field, much work remains to be done.
To advance critical conversations about archaeology, a coalition of organizations created a new webinar series. These public dialogues—intended for both scholars and the larger public—are among academics, artists, and community members.
On Wednesday, October 7th the Wenner-Gren Foundation co-sponsored, “An Archaeology of Redress and Restorative Justice”.
Archaeologists and heritage professionals whose work overlays histories of colonialism, exploitation, collective violence, and genocide are increasingly aware that they cannot simply take refuge in prehistory to avoid troubling pasts; nor is it sufficient to merely acknowledge historical wrongs. And yet scholars often struggle to identify ways that archaeological and heritage work can make a meaningful impact. In this webinar, we explore how archaeology can not only identify the legacies of inequity, injustice, and violence that have shaped historical and contemporary communities, but also to open the possibility of redress for the continuing systemic inequities these legacies reveal (i.e. environmental racism, racialized disenfranchisement, heritage erasure). Panelists will discuss how they blend archaeology and heritage work with principles of redress and restorative justice.
Mary Elliott, Curator of Slavery, Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC)
Sada Mire, PhD, Director, Horn Heritage Organisation
Kisha Supernant, (Métis Nation of Alberta), PhD, Director, Institute of Prairie and Indigenous Archaeology, University of Alberta
Michael Wilcox (Yuman/Quechan descent), PhD, Senior Lecturer in Native American Studies, Stanford University
Moderated by Margaret Bruchac, (Abenaki), PhD, Coordinator, Native American & Indigenous Studies, University of Pennsylvania
CART captioning will be provided by Lori Stavropoulos.
Sponsored by the Society of Black Archaeologists, Indigenous Archaeology Collective, Brown University’s Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and SAPIENS
The Wenner-Gren Foundation, in collaboration with the Social Science Research Council, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, is proud to announce the recipients of Rapid-Response Grants on Covid-19 and the Social Sciences. Below is a list of the projects funded by Wenner-Gren, all of which were proposed by anthropologists and scholars in closely related fields. For a full list of recipients and further information about this program, please visit the SSRC website.
Covid-19 Messaging and Youth Engagements on TikTok
Crystal Abidin, Senior Research Fellow, Internet Studies, Curtin University
Enduring Social Inequalities: Black Communities’ Responses to the “Covid-19 Crisis” in Brazil, Colombia and Kenya
Jaime Alves, Assistant Professor, Department of Black Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
Raquel de Souza, Researcher, Federal University of Bahia
Wangui Kimari, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Cape Town
Amanda Pinheiro, Doctoral Student, University of California, Santa Barbara
Terrance Wooten, Assistant Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara
Humor as a Semiotic Resource: Coping with Covid-19 Stress in Africa
Bassey Antia, Professor, Linguistics, University of the Western Cape
Sinfree Makoni, Associate Professor, Pennsylvania State University
Occupational Diseases in the Context of Pandemic: Managing Risk and Care among the Working-Class Households
Basak Can, Assistant Professor, Sociology Department, Koç University
Zeynel Gul, PhD Candidate, Johns Hopkins University
A People’s History of the Pandemic: Global Households and Covid-19 in Asia
Cathryn Clayton, Associate Professor and Chair, Asian Studies Program, University of Hawaii at Manoa
The Impacts of Covid-19 on Community-Based Maternal Health Projects
Haile Cole, Assistant Professor, University of Connecticut
Containment and Distrust: Impacts of Covid-19 responses and historical containment on city making from below in Nairobi
Anders Ese, Head of Research and Development, Urban-A
Romola Sanyal, Associate Professor of Urban Geography, London School of Economics and Political Science
Joseph Mukeku, Community Design Architect & Affordable Housing Specialist, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology
Benjamin Sidori, Research Assistant, Urban-A
Queering the Surveillance Assemblage: Covid-19 and Homophobia in South Korea
Timothy Gitzen, Postdoctoral Fellow, Society of Fellows in the Humanities, University of Hong Kong
Wonkeun Chun, Research Professor, Sookmyung Women’s University
Re/defining “Essential Work”: The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Venezuelan Migrants in Argentina
Mariya Ivancheva, School of Histories, Languages, and Cultures, University of Liverpool
Jésica Lorena Pla, Permanent Research Fellow, Research Institute Gino Germani, University of Buenos Aires
Lockdown Diaries: Pandemic Stories from the Field
Ann Laudati, Instructor of Human-Environmental Geography, Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley
Charlotte Mertens, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Melbourne
Stephanie Perazzone, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Antwerp
Re-Imagining Social Futures: Lessons from Diverse Household Experiences during a Global Pandemic
Marjorie Faulstich Orellana, Professor, School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles
Well-Being in a Time of Social Distancing: Indonesian Domestic Workers in Singapore and Hong Kong
Dyah Pitaloka, Research Scholar, Ronin Institute for Independent Scholarship
Frenia Nababan, Lecturer, Universitas Multimedia Nusantara
Governing the Pandemic: Relief and Resilience in Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Maya Ratnam, Assistant Professor, School of Arts and Sciences, Ahmedabad University
Stigma Syndemics and End-Stage Kidney Disease in Disenfranchised Urban Communities Fighting Covid-19
Merav Shohet, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences, Boston University
Insa Marie Schmidt, Postdoctoral Researcher, Boston University
Lauren Dana Stern, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Boston University
Mapping Daily Routines, Rituals, and Virtual Emotional Intimacies in Covid-19 Pakistan
Zujaja Wahaj, Assistant Professor, International Business and Marketing, NUST Business School, National University of Sciences and Technology
Oliver Kayas, Senior Lecturer in Business Information Systems, Manchester Metropolitan University Business School
Asfia Obaid, Assistant Professor, National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad
Lubaba Sadaf, Assistant Professor, National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad
“Invisible Monsters”: The Pandemic Imaginary of Infectious Pathogens and Infectious Bodies
Lisa Wynn, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Macquarie University
Thomas Strong, Lecturer, Maynooth University
Susanna Trnka, Associate Professor, University of Auckland
On September 21st the New York Academy of Sciences will be hosting a webinar entitled, “Making your Research Make a Difference: Designing a Strategy to Engage the Public with Social Media”. Kristina Baines, Associate Professor at Guttman Community College, “Director of Anthropology” at Cool Anthropology, and Victoria Costa, Creative Technologist, “Director of Cool” at Cool Anthropology will be speaking. Baird Campbell, Public Scholarship Graduate Assistant at Cool Anthropology, and Hannia Delgado, Social Media Manager at Cool Anthropology will be co-facilitating.
The lecture will begin at 6:30 EST. Click here to register.
Social media platforms can be both a democratizing force and a dismissive space, simultaneously making research accessible and applicable to a wide audience while also rendering it reductive and dangerously generalized. In this workshop participants will develop a step-by-step plan to engage a wide audience with their research and applied projects without compromising rigor or grounded discussion. With the often complicated power dynamics inherent in Anthropology, to remain silent about political matters is, in itself, a political act. It is increasingly urgent that anthropologists think of themselves as engaged citizens, not simply researchers and practitioners. This workshop invites participants to expand their perspective on how their work is relevant to the public, and helps build the toolkit required to reach people outside of our discipline.
About the Speakers:
Kristina Baines is a sociocultural anthropologist with an applied medical/environmental focus. Her research interests include indigenous ecologies, health, and heritage in the context of global change, in addition to publicly engaged research and dissemination practices. She is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the City University of New York (CUNY), Guttman Community College, and the Director of Anthropology for Cool Anthropology.
Victoria Costa is a creative innovator who leverages her skills in design thinking, program management, technology and collective action to build community around projects supporting more just societies. Her interests include social permaculture, rethinking education and breaking down the walls of academia to provide wide access to research ideas. She is co-founder and principal strategist at Cool Anthropology, research scholar at the Ronin Institute, and serves on the advisory board of the Oglala Lakota Economic and Cultural Revitalization Initiative (OLCERI).