NYAS Lecture 11/9: What Is the Utility of Anthropology in This Moment of Emergency?

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?

SPEAKERS

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.

Watch Now: Migration through the Camera Lens: Ethnography, Film, and the Migration Crisis

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.

 

SPEAKERS

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)

Isabella Alexander-Nathani

Founder and Executive Director of Small World Films

Raúl O. Paz-Pastrana

Independent Filmmaker and Cinematographer

MODERATOR

Naeem Mohaiemen

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.

 

NYAS Lecture 9/21: Making your Research Make a Difference: Designing a Strategy to Engage the Public with Social Media

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.

A live stream will be on Facebook and YouTube.

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).

NYAS Lecture 4/20: COVID-19 and Anthropology: Disease, Social Justice, and Well Being

Image “COVID Message in chalk on pavement” from March 31, 2020 by Ballofstring. File licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Full information on wikimedia commons page for the image.

On April 20th The New York Academy of Sciences will be hosting a webinar entitled “COVID-19 and Anthropology: Disease, Social Justice, and Well Being” featuring the following panelists:

Shirley Lindenbaum

Merrill Singer

James H. Jones

Thurka Sangaramoorthy

Amber Wutich

Tonya Taylor, Assistant Professor, PhD/MS, College of Medicine, SUNY Downstate will serve as moderator.

The lecture will begin at 6:30pm (ET). Webinar access via RSVP, live stream on Facebook.

Join us for a webinar focused on our current pandemic (COVID-19), contextualizing the global comparative, disease and treatment, issues of social and economic inequity, immigrant health, questions of stigma, and policy.

Panelists:

Shirley Lindenbaum (Professor Emerita, Department of Anthropology, The Graduate Center, CUNY), Merrill Singer (Professor Emeritus of Medical Anthropology, The University of Connecticut and in Community Medicine at The University of Connecticut Health Center), James H. Jones (Associate Professor of Earth System Science & Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University), Thurka Sangaramoorthy (Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Maryland), and Amber Wutich (President’s Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Global Health in Arizona State University’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change).

NYAS Lecture 2/24: Forest for the Trees: Spirit, Psychedelic Science, and the Politics of Ecologizing Thought as a Planetary Ethics

On February 24th The New York Academy of Sciences lecture series returns when Dr. Eduardo Kohn, Associate Professor of Anthropology at McGill University, presents, “Forest for the Trees: Spirit, Psychedelic Science, and the Politics of Ecologizing Thought as a Planetary Ethics”. Dr. O. Hugo Benavides, Department Chair and Professor of Anthropology, Fordham University, will act as discussant.

The event will be held at 5:45 PM at the Roosevelt House, 47-49 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065.

Please note: the lecture begins at 6:30 PM, and while the event is free to attend pre-registration is required for entry into the building. Early registration is strongly recommended, since seating is limited. For the buffet supper, registration is also required.

What kind of guidance can those worlds I call forests provide for living well on Earth in times of planetary ecological trouble? I approach this question as an anthropologist. That is, as someone who is committed to cultivating forms of radical listening as I move among modes of being that can, at times, dissolve me in my quest to understand who I am amid a larger flow of life that vastly exceeds me. Reflecting on my ongoing anthropological, and increasingly collaborative, research in and around indigenous communities of Ecuador’s Upper Amazon, and drawing on and distorting immersive ethnographic technologies in the process, my goal is to use what I thus might learn to help find a path that can orient us (humans) in our attempts to live well in relation to the many kinds of others that make and hold us.

About the Speaker:

Eduardo Kohn is Associate Professor of Anthropology at McGill University. He studies the intimate relationships that the indigenous peoples of Ecuador’s Upper Amazon have with one of Earth’s most complex ecosystems. Focusing on how they understand and communicate with rainforest beings through hunting and gathering, as well as through dreams and psychedelic plant use, has led him to the audacious conclusion that complex living systems manifest “mind” at a variety of scales and in a variety of ways.  From this he develops an empirically robust framework to understand our broader relationship to such mind-like phenomena with the goal of rethinking how to live in the face of unprecedented anthropogenic climate change. His prize-winning book How Forests Think has been translated into nine languages and has inspired the planetary ecological imaginary in a surprisingly diverse number of ways ranging from an eponymous symphony premiering at Lincoln Center to international museum exhibits.

All talks in this series take place at Roosevelt House, 47-49 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065. A dinner and wine reception will precede the talk: Buffet dinner at 5:45 PM. ($20 contribution for dinner guests/free for students).  Lectures begin at 6:30 PM and are free and open to the public, but registration is required

 

NYAS Lecture 1/27: On the Infectious Affinities of Viruses, Plants, and Dying Human Bodies: Species’ Shifting Boundaries and Uncertain Futures

The New York Academy of Sciences brings us another great installment of its lecture series on January 27th when Dr. Charles L. Briggs, Alan Dundes Distinguished Professor, Department of Anthropology
University of California, Berkeley, presents, “On the Infectious Affinities of Viruses, Plants, and Dying Human Bodies: Species’ Shifting Boundaries and Uncertain Futures.” Dr. Jennifer Telesca, Assistant Professor of Environmental Justice, Pratt Institute, will act as discussant. The event will be held at 5:45 PM at the Roosevelt House, 47-49 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065.

Please note: the lecture begins at 6:30 PM, and while the event is free to attend pre-registration is required for entry into the building. Early registration is strongly recommended, since seating is limited. For the buffet supper, registration is also required.

This presentation charts the emergence of precarious futures by conjuring a space between medical anthropology, multispecies ethnography, linguistic anthropology, and zoonosis (exchanges of pathogens between humans and nonhumans). Its analytic task is akin to tossing a deck of cards into the air and trying to grasp how different beings would read their novel configuration. Here the entities unpredictably thrown together include humans, plants, bats, chickens, and viruses, and the forces that induce unforeseeable rearrangements include state efforts to turn environmental destruction into social justice, alternative indigenous socialisms that grant plants agency in imagining futures, and climate change. By tracing how assemblages of rabies viruses and human nerve cells occasion more-than-human speech acts and plants sensorily move between healers’ and patients’ bodies, it pushes against boundaries that would isolate species, ontologies, and subdisciplines.

About the Speaker:

Charles L. Briggs is the Alan Dundes Distinguished Professor in the Department of Anthropology, the Co-Director of the Medical Anthropology Program, Co-Director of the Berkeley Center for Social Medicine, and Chair of the Folklore Graduate Program at the University of California, Berkeley. His books include The Wood Carvers of Córdova, New Mexico; Learning How to Ask; Voices of Modernity (with Richard Bauman); Competence in Performance; Stories in the Time of Cholera (with Clara Mantini-Briggs); Making Health Public (with Daniel Hallin); and Tell Me Why My Children Died (with Clara Mantini-Briggs). He has received the James Mooney Award, the Chicago Folklore Prize, Edward Sapir Book Prize, the J. I. Staley Prize, the Américo Paredes Prize, the New Millennium Book Award, the Cultural Horizons Prize, the Robert B. Textor and Family Prize for Excellence in Anticipatory Anthropology, and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Lichtenberg-Kolleg, and the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences.

All talks in this series take place at Roosevelt House, 47-49 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065. A dinner and wine reception will precede the talk: Buffet dinner at 5:45 PM. ($20 contribution for dinner guests/free for students).  Lectures begin at 6:30 PM and are free and open to the public, but registration is required. 

NYAS Lecture 12/2: Ethnoprimatology: Toward the Sustainable Coexistence of Human and Nonhuman Primates in the 21st Century

Mark your calendar for December 2nd as the New York Academy of Sciences lecture series continues with Dr. Erin P. Riley, Professor, Department of Anthropology, San Diego State University, Treasurer on the Board of Directors of the American Society of Primatologists, who will be presenting, “Ethnoprimatology: Toward the Sustainable Coexistence of Human and Nonhuman Primates in the 21st Century.” Dr. Larissa Swedell, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Queens College & CUNY Graduate Center Honorary Research Associate, University of Cape Town, will act as discussent. The event will be held at 5:45 PM at the Roosevelt House, 47-49 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065.

Please note: the lecture begins at 6:30 PM, and while the event is free to attend pre-registration is required for entry into the building. Early registration is strongly recommended, since seating is limited. For the buffet supper, registration is also required.

In the U.S, primatology – the study of our closest living relatives – secured a home within the subfield of biological anthropology as a way to provide insight into human origins and the evolution of human behavior. In recent years, a new research approach – ethnoprimatology – has given primatology an expanded purpose in anthropology. Ethnoprimatology examines the multifaceted ways the histories, ecologies, lives, and livelihoods of humans and primates intersect. Most remaining populations of primates live in environments that have been influenced in some way by humans (e.g., protected forests bisected by major roads, forest-farm edges, and urban centers). Ethnoprimatology considers these environments where humans and other primates interface its primary concern, recognizing the value of studying how humans and other primates behave together, co-shaping each other’s ecology, sociality, and evolutionary trajectories. In this talk, I will explore the field of ethnoprimatology with some examples from my field research on the human-macaque interface in Indonesia to demonstrate the promise the ethnoprimatological approach shows in fostering an integrative anthropology, more pluralistic approaches to scientific inquiry, and the sustainable coexistence of humans and otheprimates in the 21st century and beyond.

About the Speaker:

Erin P. Riley is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at San Diego State University, and is currently serving as Treasurer on the Board of Directors of the American Society of Primatologists. Drawing from primatology, conservation ecology, and sociocultural and environmental anthropology, her research focuses on primate behavioral and ecological flexibility in the face of anthropogenic change and the conservation implications of the ecological and cultural interconnections between human and nonhuman primates. With notable publications in American Anthropologist, Evolutionary Anthropology, American Journal of Primatology, and Oryx, her work spearheaded the field of “ethnoprimatology.”

All talks in this series take place at Roosevelt House, 47-49 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065. A dinner and wine reception will precede the talk: Buffet dinner at 5:45 PM. ($20 contribution for dinner guests/free for students).  Lectures begin at 6:30 PM and are free and open to the public, but registration is required

NYAS Lecture 10/21: Urban Centers: Surprisingly Sustainable?

On October 21st the New York Academy of Sciences lecture series returns when Dr. Monica L. Smith, Dept. of Anthropology, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California, Los Angeles, will present, “Urban Centers: Surprisingly Sustainable?” Dr. Richard M. Leventhal, Executive Director of the Penn Cultural Heritage Center, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania will act as discussant. The event will be held at 5:45 PM at the Roosevelt House, 47-49 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065.

Please note: the lecture begins at 6:30 PM, and while the event is free to attend pre-registration is required for entry into the building. Early registration is strongly recommended, since seating is limited. For the buffet supper, registration is also required.

Cities are paradoxically resilient: even the ones that eventually failed in ancient times were occupied for hundreds of years, and even the most fragile modern ones continue to be inhabited. Using an archaeological perspective, this lecture will examine the many ways in which ancient cities constituted resilient social and economic networks that provide a blueprint for our own sustainable futures. Such futures are not unproblematic, of course, because cities necessarily draw in food, water, and raw materials from the countryside. Urbanites’ comfortable assurance of resiliency can mask a neglect of rural needs and realities, resulting in significant and sometimes deleterious social, economic, and political consequences.

About the Speaker:

Monica L. Smith is a professor in the Department of Anthropology and in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA, where she also holds the Navin and Pratima Doshi Chair in Indian Studies. She is an archaeologist with research experience in India and Bangladesh, as well as Egypt, Italy, and Tunisia. She is the author of A Prehistory of Ordinary People (2010) and Cities: The First 6,000 Years (2019).

All talks in this series take place at Roosevelt House, 47-49 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065. A dinner and wine reception will precede the talk: Buffet dinner at 5:45 PM. ($20 contribution for dinner guests/free for students).  Lectures begin at 6:30 PM and are free and open to the public, but registration is required

NYAS Lecture 10/7: 21st Century Plantations and the Sustainability Fix

On October 7th the New York Academy of Sciences lecture series returns when Dr. Tania Murray Li, University of Toronto, will present “21st Century Plantations and the Sustainability Fix”. Dr. Jerome Whitington, New York University, will act as dissusent. This event will be held at 6:30 PM at its new location, Pratt Manhattan, Lecture Hall Room 213, located on 14th St. between Sixth and Seventh Avenues on the south side of the block, closest to Seventh Avenue.

It is the 21st century and plantations are back. Colonial-style large scale corporate monoculture of industrial crops is again expanding in the global south. The land dimensions of this renewed expansion were thrust into public debate in 2008-9, when there was a spike in transnational land-acquisitions dubbed a global “land-grab.” Plantation proponents stress the need for efficient production to supply food and fuel for expanding populations, and to bring jobs and development to remote regions. Critics highlight the loss of indigenous lands, flexible rural livelihoods, diverse ecosystems, and carbon-absorbing forests. Implementing product-based sustainability standards seems to be favored as a win-win solution that enables plantations to expand but checks their worst excesses. Drawing on ethnographic research on Indonesia’s massively expanding oil palm plantations, this lecture explores the human dimension of 21st century plantation life and explains why sustainability standards cannot fix it.

About the Speaker:

Tania Murray Li teaches in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto, where she holds the Canada Research Chair in the Political Economy and Culture of Asia. Her publications include Land’s End: Capitalist Relations on an Indigenous Frontier (Duke University Press, 2014), Powers of Exclusion: Land Dilemmas in Southeast Asia (with Derek Hall and Philip Hirsch, NUS Press, 2011), The Will to Improve: Governmentality, Development, and the Practice of Politics (Duke University Press, 2007) and many articles on land, labor, development, resource struggles, community, class, and indigeneity with a particular focus on Indonesia.

NYAS Lecture 4/29: Torture Trees: Police Violence from Chicago to the War on Terror

On April 29th the New York Academy of Sciences lecture series returns when Dr. Laurence Ralph,  John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences in the Departments of Anthropology and African and African American Studies at Harvard University, will present “Torture Trees: Police Violence from Chicago to the War on Terror”. Dr. Aimee Cox, Associate Professor in the departments of African American Studies and Anthropology at Yale University will act as discussant. The event will be held at 5:45 PM at the Roosevelt House, 47-49 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065.

Please note: the lecture begins at 6:30 PM, and while the event is free to attend pre-registration is required for entry into the building. Early registration is strongly recommended, since seating is limited. For the buffet supper, registration is also required.

The history of police torture that I will discuss in this talk begins with 125 Black men in Chicago who were suffocated and shocked at Area Two police precinct. The story ends, however, in a much different place—with the torture of terrorism suspects abroad. Many of these torture survivors were eventually exonerated. Some received multi-million dollar payouts as recompense for their torture and confinement. But their exoneration should not reaffirm our faith in the law—quite the contrary.  In this talk I will challenge my audience not to think of the innocent person as the quintessential torture victim. Rather, think about a person who committed a heinous crime. Imagine that person being bagged and suffocated and beaten within an inch of his life. Ask yourself: Can I see enough humanity in him to understand why it is just as wrong to torture him, as it is to torture an innocent man?

About the Speakers:

Laurence Ralph is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences in the Departments of Anthropology and African and African American Studies at Harvard University.  He is the author of Renegade Dreams: Living Through Injury in Gangland Chicago which received the C. Wright Mills Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP) in 2015.  His scholarly work explores how the historical circumstances of police abuse, mass incarceration, and the drug trade naturalize disease, disability, and premature death for urban residents, who are often seen as expendable. Theoretically, his research resides at the nexus of critical medical and political anthropology, African American studies, and the emerging scholarship on disability. He combines these literatures to show how violence and injury play a central role in the daily lives of black urbanites. Laurence Ralph explored these diverse themes through articles published in many journals, including Anthropological TheoryDisability Studies Quarterly, Transition, and Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power.

Aimee Cox is Associate Professor in the departments of African American Studies and Anthropology at Yale University. Her research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of Anthropology, Black Studies, and Performance Studies. Cox’s first monograph, Shapeshifters: Black Girls and the Choreography of Citizenship (Duke 2015), won a 2016 Victor Turner Book Prize in Ethnographic Writing and Honorable Mention from the 2016 Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize, given by the National Women’s Studies Association. She is the editor of the forthcoming volume, Gender: Space (MacMillan). Her next ethnographic project, Living Past Slow Death, explores the creative strategies individuals and communities enact to reclaim Black life in the urban United States. Cox is the recipient of the 2017-18 Virginia C. Gildersleeve Professorship awarded by Barnard College.  Cox is also a former professional dancer. She danced on scholarship with the Dance Theatre of Harlem and toured extensively with Ailey II.

All talks in this series take place at Roosevelt House, 47-49 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065. A dinner and wine reception will precede the talk: Buffet dinner at 5:45 PM. ($20 contribution for dinner guests/free for students).  Lectures begin at 6:30 PM and are free and open to the public, but registration is required