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

NYAS Lecture 3/25: Where Has “Japanese Women’s Language” Gone?

On March 25th the New York Academy of Sciences lecture series returns when Dr. Miyako Inoue, Associate Professor at Stanford University, will present “Where Has ‘Japanese Women’s Language’ Gone? Language and New Forms of Gender Inequality in Post-bubble Japanese Society.” Dr. Jillian Cavanaugh, Professor and Department Chair of Anthropology and Archaeology at Brooklyn College 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.

In this lecture, I will focus on what is called “women’s language” in Japanese, an ideology of a set of speech forms associated with femaleness and its accompanied cultural meanings of womanhood, and will discuss how its modality of reproducing gender inequality has been shifting in post-bubble Japanese society.  During the bubble economy of the mid 1980s through early 1990s, the discourse of women’s language proliferated with public passion, the effect of which was simultaneously to discipline women as mothers, wives, daughters, and laborers, and at the same time to incentivize and to seduce them with the promise of upward mobility and of aestheticized self-making.   In the post-bubble economy, however, public discourse on women’s language  has lost steam in the media.  This does not mean that somehow the reign of the indexicality of language and its ability to mark distinction has been diminishing, or that the population of women—in a demographic sense—who speak “women’s language” has been “decreasing.” Nor is it to be taken as any indication that sexism has eased.  Rather, I will discuss how the modality of power to govern the articulation between language and gender has been shifting in the post-bubble Japanese political and economic context.  Taking a cue from Gilles Deleuze’s notion of control societies, I will ask what has happened to “women’s language” as the society shifts from disciplinary society (Foucault) to control society (Deleuze).  In control society, language re-emerges as a robust site in which, and means by which, gender inequality is performed and reproduced.  We then need to forge a new mode of critique that undermines and disrupts this new mode of linguistic sexism.

About the Speakers:

Miyako Inoue is an Associate Professor At Stanford University where she teaches linguistic anthropology and the anthropology of Japan. Her interest in women’s language dates back to her first book, titled, Vicarious Language: the Political Economy of Gender and Speech in Japan (University of California Press), where she offers a genealogy of women’s language showing its critical linkage to Japan’s national and capitalist modernity. Professor Inoue is currently working on a social history of “verbatim” in Japanese.  She traces the historical development of the Japanese shorthand technique used in the Diet for its proceedings since the late 19th century, and of the stenographic typewriter introduced to the Japanese court for the trial record after WWII, drawing the connections between such technologies and liberal governance. Professor Inoue’s research interest span multiple areas, including linguistic anthropology, sociolinguistics, semiotics, and linguistic modernity.

Jillian Cavanaugh is Professor and Department Chair of Anthropology and Archaeology at Brooklyn College, and Professor in the Anthropology Program at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is a linguistic and cultural anthropologist whose geographical area is northern Italy. She has done extensive field work in Bergamo, Italy, on language shift, language ideology, gender, accent, materiality, food production, and social transformation. She is interested in the ways in which people use the symbolic and material resources at their disposal to live meaningful lives. Her list of publications includes “The Blacksmith’s Feet: Embodied Entextualization in Northern Italian Vernacular Poetry,” in 2017 and “Documenting Subjects: Performativity and Audit Culture in Food Production in Northern Italy,” in 2016.

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 2/25: The Pensioner’s Dilemma: Generations, Class, and Inequality in Southern Europe

The New York Academy of Sciences lecture series continues on February 25th when Susana Narotzky, Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Barcelona, Spain, will present, “The Pensioner’s Dilemma: Generations, Class, and Inequality in Southern Europe.” Jane Schneider, Professor Emeritus, C.U.N.Y Graduate Center will act as discussant. The lecture 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 current crisis in Europe creates new practices and understandings of inter-generational dependencies reaching beyond the intimacy of the home to the reproduction of society as a whole. This talk addresses how older and younger men and women have seen their expectations of stability and wellbeing shattered. In a social context that promotes the entrepreneurial self, autonomy is increasingly difficult to attain and inter-generational forms of care overlap with conflict and resentment.

Neoliberal policy and media discourse present the elderly as a privileged group dispossessing the younger generation from its future. In contrast, my research demonstrates that exchanges of funds, labor, resources, and knowledge between generations within and across households contribute to complex solidarities. Class rather than age is the marker of social differentiation. Important mobilizations in support of public pension systems in Europe challenge a discourse where social security rights are increasingly represented as a form of privilege rather than as a means by which a state more equitably distributes resources.

About the Speakers:

Susana Narotzky is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Barcelona, Spain and a Fellow of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam. She studied at the University of Barcelona and at the New School for Social Research in New York and obtained an M.A. degree in 1984 and a Ph.D. in 1989. In 2011 she was awarded the ICREA-Academia five year Fellowship by the Institut Català de Recerca I Estudis Avançats, Generalitat de Catalunya to support her research. She has served as scientific coordinator of the project “Models and their Effects on Development paths” (MEDEA) (2009-2012) 7th FP, and since 1998 is the head of the Study Group on Reciprocity (GER) at the University of Barcelona. Her main research focus has been on the anthropology of work, with particular attention to unregulated production and care practices within and across generations. The recent global crisis has led her to investigate the articulation between folk models of the economy that inform practices at the micro-sociological level, and expert models of the economy that frame policy, corporative and institutional behavior. Her work is inspired by theories of critical political economy, moral economies, and feminist economics. 

Jane Schneider is Professor Emeritus from C.U.N.Y. Graduate center (2005), where she had been Professor of Anthropology since 1985.  Professor Schneider became an anthropologist after earning a degree in Political Theory from the University of Michigan and continued to straddle the two with her theoretical work and her fieldwork. After an early interest in textiles and in the world-system approach that led to seminal publications, she moved into a career of research on and in Sicily and to a fruitful partnership with Peter Schneider, which culminated in numerous publications, including, Reversible Destiny: Mafia, Antimafia, and the Struggle in Palermo (2003). Currently, Jane Schneider is working on “contraband capitalism”–how this “mode of production” gained momentum from the U.S. “war on drugs,” and how it transformed criminal organizations around the world, with special attention to the Sicilian Mafia.

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 1/28: Urban (In)Equality and Materiality: A Global, Deep Time Perspective

It’s the beginning of a new year and the New York Academy of Sciences is back with another great installment of its lecture series starting on January 28th at 5:45 PM at its new location, Roosevelt House, 47-49 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065. Dean Saitta, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Urban Studies program at the University of Denver will be presenting, “Urban (In)Equality and Materiality: A Global, Deep Time Perspective.” Rita Wright, Professor of Anthropology at New York University, will act as discussant.

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. If you will be registering for an event for the first time, the New York Academy of Sciences will ask you first to set up a user account with them. Registration is free and does not require divulging personal or financial information.

Scholarly research suggests that the more inclusive and equitable a city, the more prosperous and sustainable it is overall.  Today, race and class-based segregations continue to plague cities worldwide. To remedy these inequalities, we need to look for new sources of ideas about urban planning and policy.  This talk considers the 6000-year history of city building as one such source. Ancient cities in Asia, Africa, and the Americas are wellsprings of learning about equitable urbanism. They illustrate collective governance in the distribution of life-sustaining resources.  They demonstrate effective resource sharing across ethnic and ecological boundaries. They show how public space can accommodate the masses, delight the senses, and cultivate a shared identity and destiny.  Together, ancient cities tell some different stories about social being and belonging in urban contexts, and implicate alternative principles and pathways for building the equitable city.

About the Speakers:

Dean Saitta is Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Urban Studies program at the University of Denver. He teaches courses in urban anthropology, archaeology, and evolutionary anthropology. His research interests are in ancient city planning and design, comparative architectural and urban form, and North American archaeology. Professor Saitta is a co-author of “Denver: An Archaeological History.” Currently, he is  researching and writing about issues facing the contemporary city from an archaeological, historical, and intercultural perspective. Specifically, he focuses on how people of different cultural backgrounds interact with, and are shaped by, the urban built environment.  He writes a blog called “Intercultural Urbanism” and is a featured blogger at the public interest urban planning website Planetizen.

Rita Wright is Professor of Anthropology at New York University.  Her research interests include comparative studies of urbanism, state formation, gender, and cycles of change in ancient civilizations.  She has conducted field research in South Asia (Afghanistan and Pakistan) and the Near East (Iran). Her research at Harappa included studies of ceramics and craft production and a regional survey of Harappan Settlement Patterns on the Beas River.  Dr. Wright is founder and editor of Case Studies in Early Societies (Cambridge University Press), editor of Gender and Archaeology, co-editor with Cathy L. Costin of Craft and Social Identity, and author of Ancient Indus: Urbanism, Economy, and Society (2010, Cambridge University Press in UK/US and India.

A dinner and wine reception will precede the talk. Buffet dinner begins 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.