NYAS Lecture 10/29: Sick of Race: How Racism Harms Health and Misleads Medicine

Dr. Clarence Gravlee

As October wraps up we’re thrilled to announce another great installment of the New York Academy of Sciences lecture series on October 29th at 5:45 PM at its new location, Roosevelt House, 47-49 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065. Clarence C. Gravlee, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Florida will be presenting, “Sick of Race: How Racism Harms Health and Misleads Medicine”. Ida Susser, professor of anthropology at Hunter College and CUNY Graduate Center 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.

Again please note that the NYAS lecture series is no longer being held at the offices of The Wenner-Gren FoundationAll talks in this series take place at Roosevelt House, 47-49 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065.

Social scientists commonly assert that race is a cultural construct, not a biological reality. This refrain is correct in spirit, but it has proven to be an ineffective response to the persistence of racial-genetic determinism in medicine, science, and everyday life. What’s more, it creates a blind spot: deflecting attention away from the biological consequences of cultural constructs like race. We will explore how hidden assumptions about race, genes, and biology infect contemporary medicine and how integrating methods from the social and biological sciences clarifies the health effects of systemic racism.

About the Speakers:

Clarence C. Gravlee is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Florida. The central goal of Dr. Gravlee’s research is to identify and address the social and cultural causes of racial inequities in health. His work is grounded in a biocultural approach to health and human development, drawing on methods from the social and biological sciences. His current primary project, funded by the National Science Foundation, focuses on the health effects of racism among African Americans in Tallahassee, FL. Using a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach, the project integrates conventional ethnographic methods, formal social network analysis, and epidemiologic methods. Gravlee has co-edited The Handbook of Methods in Cultural Anthropology with Russell Bernard, now in its second edition, and has co-authored numerous articles.

Ida Susser is professor of anthropology at Hunter College and CUNY Graduate Center and has conducted ethnographic research in the U.S., Southern Africa and Puerto Rico on urban social movements and the urban commons. She has studied gender, the global AIDS epidemic and environmental movements. Her book AIDS, Sex and Culture: Global Politics and Survival in Southern Africa (Wiley-Blackwell 2009), which was awarded the Eileen Basker Memorial Prize for research in women and health by the Society for Medical Anthropology (2012), draws on medical anthropology, science studies, global studies, as well as research on class, gender and race. It discusses the ways in which women mobilized, from small group meetings to major demonstrations, to prevent and treat AIDS in Southern Africa

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.

NYAS Lecture 9/24: The Inner Lives of Passively Suicidal Americans: Why Racism Isn’t Just Bad for Black People

Dr. Carolyn Rouse

The Wenner-Gren Foundation is excited to announce the return of the New York Academy of Sciences lecture series which will be kicking off on September 24th at 5:45 PM at its new location, Roosevelt House, 47-49 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065. Carolyn Rouse, Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology at Princeton University will be presenting, “The Inner Lives of Passively Suicidal Americans: Why Racism Isn’t Just Bad for Black People”. Julie Livingston, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and History 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. You may also register by phone, 212-298-8640 or 212-298-8600. 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.

Again please also note that the NYAS lecture series is no longer being held at the offices of The Wenner-Gren FoundationAll talks in this series take place at Roosevelt House, 47-49 E 65th St, New York, NY 10065.

Inequalities are increasing locally and globally on a vast scale. At the same time that these disparities, which are experienced by racialized groups, certain nationalities, by women, poor people, immigrants and the elderly, are explained by media and politicians as the natural and unavoidable order of things.  How are we to understand these relationships between untold wealth and growing immiseration?  How do we understand the way the stories about inequality are told? Who has access to information about the production of inequality? Who is able to contest its production?

Often inequality and equality are researched and discussed in isolation. Yet, anthropological research in archeology, linguistics, human biology, and socio-cultural anthropology has the capacity to both document the grim actualities of the current conjuncture and to show how inequality is linked to systems of production, distribution and domination. Both in the past and present the issues of the equality and inequality are inextricably linked and connected to the way the way disparities are explained, legitimated, and turned into the taken-for-granted.

This lecture series takes a global perspective on the entanglements of wealth, poverty, and inequality as well as the popularization of narratives of inevitable disparity and the silencing of struggles for social justice and equality. Speakers will explore these entanglement including the human experience and materiality of equality, their mediation through different channels of communication, their ideological justifications through concepts of race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, hereditary, class and status, and the punitive power to enforce these ideas through incarceration, surveillance, criminalization. We ask how knowledge about power and inequality empowers resistance and struggle.

About the Speakers:

Carolyn Rouse is a professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology at Princeton University whose work explores how evidence is used to make particular claims about race and social inequality. She is the author of Engaged Surrender: African American Women and Islam (Univ.of California Press 2004) Uncertain Suffering: Racial Healthcare Disparities and Sickle Cell Disease  (Univ. of California Press 2009) and Televised Redemption: Black Religious Media and Racial Empowerment (NYU Press 2016). In 2016 she created the Ethnographic Data Visualization Lab (VizE Lab): a medium for examining complex ethnographic data.  One current project brings together 60 years of biological data with 60 years of social scientific data to study epigenetic effects on physical development. In addition, Rouse is a filmmaker who has produced, directed, and/or edited a number of documentaries including Chicks in White Satin (1994), Purification to Prozac: Treating Mental Illness in Bali (1998), and Listening as a Radical Act: World Anthropologies and the Decentering of Western Thought (2015).

 

Julie Livingston is Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and History at New York University, where she is also affiliated with the Anthropology Department. She is interested in the human body as a moral condition and mode of consciousness, in care as a social practice, and in taxonomy and relationships that upend or complicate it. Her work is at the intersection of history, anthropology, and public health. A MacArthur fellow, Julie Livingston is the author of Improvising Medicine: An African Oncology Ward in an Emerging Cancer Epidemic(Duke University Press, 2012), Debility and the Moral Imagination in Botswana (Indiana University Press 2005), and numerous articles and essays on topics including aging, disability, disgust, suicide, and medical photography. She is currently working on two new projects. The first deals with the problem of growth and consumption as seen from southern Africa. The second is an ethnographic project on co-morbidity and aging in New York.

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.

4/19 @ WGF: Society for Cultural Anthropology Virtual Conference, Displacements

Join the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the Anthropology Section of NYAS on April 19th for a New York City viewing party of the plenary session of the 2018 Society for Cultural Anthropology Virtual Conference, Displacements.  We’ll gather at 3:30pm for light refreshments. From 4-6pm we’ll watch the David Schneider Memorial Panel, featuring new work by Jason De Leon, Stephanie Spray, Eduardo Kohn and Lisa Stevenson. Following the panel, we’ll refill our glasses and continue the discussion.

Please Register:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/society-for-cultural-anthropology-virtual-conference-plenary-viewing-node-tickets-44339832633

The Event:

The David Schneider Memorial Plenary

4 p.m., 4/19

Era Un Lunes (It Was a Monday)

Eduardo Kohn & Lisa Stevenson (McGill University)

The Photoethnographer’s Eye: On Picture-Making, Fieldwork, and the Indecisive Moment

Jason De Leon (University of Michigan)

Digital Ethnography on Time and the Labor of Science at Sea

Stephanie Spray (University of Colorado)

Presenters in conversation, moderated by Anand Pandian (Johns Hopkins University)

The Conference:

The Displacements Program includes 28 hours of engaging and evocative multimedia presentations from anthropologists, film makers, social scientists, artists, and activists from and featuring almost every region in the world.  Beginning at 8 a.m. EST on Thursday, April 19, and concluding at 7 p.m. EST on Saturday, April 21, the conference will live stream a continuous sequence of panels and films, webcasting each panel twice within that span.  Chat boxes and social media will facilitate conversation.

For information on the conference theme: https://displacements.jhu.edu/displacements/

For more information on the viewing party, contact Danilyn Rutherford (drutherford@wennergren.org).

NYAS @ WGF 3/26: Is Extreme Inequality Inevitable?: What Archaeology Can Tell Us about the 99 Percent.

Dr. Rosemary Joyce

Join us at the Wenner-Gren Foundation on March 26th at 5:45 PM for another great installment of the New York Academy of Sciences lecture series. Rosemary Joyce, Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, will be presenting “Is Extreme Inequality Inevitable?: What Archaeology Can Tell Us about the 99 Percent”. Robert Preucel, Director, Haffenreffer Museum and James Manning Professor of Anthropology at Brown 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.

Event Registration:  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.

You can also register by phone, 212-298-8640 or 212-298-8600.  Early Registration is strongly recommended since seating is limited. 

In many people’s minds archaeology is about the search for kings and queens, for treasure and luxuries. It seems as if archaeologists are on the side of rulers, at the expense of the everyday farmer and laborer. And so archaeological theories about social complexity are interpreted to say that human societies are on an implacable universal road toward exaggerated inequality: extreme inequality is inevitable. But is this true? Or can archaeologists illuminate places and times when society did not spiral into ever-widening inequality?

In this talk, I critically examine the need for archaeology to contest the representation of a global rise in inequality as inevitable, arguing that we have let the allure of certain things enchant us, leading to an over-emphasis on the wealthy and powerful. I draw on my decades-long research on prehispanic Honduras, where for centuries people in towns and villages sustained a lower level of inequality than archaeologists see in the city-states of their Classic Maya neighbors.

Using this case study as a beginning point, I address how archaeology can be and is being used to illuminate the long term persistence and social contributions of a far more varied range of actors than the few leaders who have often received the greatest attention in our analyses. I sketch out an alternative place for archaeology in the world today, as an ally of new visions of social life that we can say are viable because they have worked already.

About the Speakers:

Rosemary Joyce is Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley.  Professor Joyce is a major figure in contemporary archaeology, whose fieldwork focuses on Honduras and Mexico. Professor Joyce works on the archaeology of inequality, gender, and materiality. Her research in Honduras explored social histories “in which economic inequality was never as extreme as among neighboring Maya societies, leading me to consider how archaeologists might combat the common assumption that ever-increasing inequality is somehow inevitable.” As a museum anthropologist, Joyce has engaged in collections management and exhibition work at Harvard’s Peabody Museum, the Wellesley College Museum and Cultural Center, the Heritage Plantation at Sandwich, Massachusetts, the Museo de Antropología e Historia in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution. Her published work includes Ancient Bodies, Ancient Lives (2008),The Languages of Archaeology: Dialogue, Narrative, and Writing (2002), and Gender and Power in Prehispanic Mesoamerica (2001).

Robert Preucel is Director, Haffenreffer Museum and James Manning Professor of Anthropology at Brown University.  Professor Preucel received his doctorate from UCLA in 1988. He was a member of Jim Hill’s Pajarito Archaeological Research Project and wrote his dissertation on seasonal agricultural circulation. He was the 6th Annual CAI Visiting Scholar at SIU Carbondale in 1989 and organized a conference on the Processual/Postprocessual debate. In 1990, he took an Assistant Professor position at Harvard University. In 1995, he left Harvard for an Associate Professor position at the University of Pennsylvania. He was made Sally and Alvin V. Shoemaker Professor of Anthropology in 2009 and served as Chair of the Department (2009-2012) and Gregory Annenberg Weingarten Curator-in-charge of the American Section at University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology (2010-2012).

Buffet Dinner at 5:45 pm ($20 contribution for dinner guests / free for students).

Lecture begins at 6:30 pm and are free and open to the public.

Pre-registration is required for entry into the building.

All talks in this series take place at the Wenner-Gren Foundation Building, 470 Park Avenue South, 8th Floor, New York (at 32nd Street).

NYAS @ WGF 2/26: Passions for Interests: Water and Rural Political Belonging in America

Join us at the Wenner-Gren Foundation on February 26th at 5:45 PM for another great installment of the New York Academy of Sciences lecture series. Jessica Cattelino, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies, associate director of the Center for the Study Women, University of California, Los Angeles, will be presenting, “Passions for Interests: Water and Rural Political Belonging in America”. Paige West, Claire Tow Professor of Anthropology at Barnard College and Columbia 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.

Event Registration:  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.

You can also register by phone, 212-298-8640 or 212-298-8600.  Early Registration is strongly recommended since seating is limited. 

The world faces a water crisis, with the United Nations predicting a 40% global water deficit by 2030. Recent water struggles in the United States, from Standing Rock to Flint to California’s droughts, exemplify a broader cultural politics whereby group s come to understand and assess one another through their relations to water. In the Florida Everglades, the world’s largest ecosystem restoration project is underway and has as its policy goal “getting the water right.” There, as across America, political analysis focus on so-called stakeholders and interest groups (such as agriculture and environment). Such passion for interests—as, purportedly, the forces that unite and explain political collectivities—stunts understandings about political belonging in rural America.

This presentation brings together two twenty-first-century examples of everyday politics in a mostly-drained rural region of the Florida Everglades: the headline-grabbing proposed buyout of a major sugar corporation by the State of Florida for purposes of Everglades restoration; and a major Seminole Tribe of Florida water conservation project. The economist A.O. Hirschman, in his influential book The Passions and the Interests (1977), explained how early proponents of capitalism struggled to reconcile the relationship of passions to interests. The political anthropology of interests presented in this lecture highlights their production and (in)commensuration in relation to water and capitalism. The goal is to think through and, hopefully, beyond the passion for “interests” in scholarly and popular understandings of American political life.

 

About the Speakers:

Jessica Cattelino’s research focuses on economy, nature, indigeneity, and settler colonialism. Her book, High Stakes: Florida Seminole Gaming and Sovereignty (Duke University Press, 2008) won the Delmos Jones and Jagna Sharff  Memorial Book Prize from the Society for the Anthropology of North America.  Her current book project addresses Everglades restoration and theorizes the co-production of nature and indigeneity in settler societies like the United States.  She speaks to the current concerns about environmental degradation and indigenous people’s roles in sparking struggles against the pollution of water sources and the destruction of precious resources such as the Everglades. Cattelino’s current research is funded by the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the Howard Foundation.

Paige West’s scholarly interest is the relationship between societies and their environments. She has written about the intersections between indigenous epistemic practices and conservation science, the linkages between environmental conservation and international development, the material and symbolic ways in which the natural world is understood and produced, the aesthetics and poetics of human social relations with nature, and the creation of commodities and practices of consumption.  Recent books include Dispossession and The Environment: Rhetoric and Inequality in Papua New Guinea (2016), From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive: The World of Coffee from Papua New Guinea (2012) (2013 runner up for the Julian Steward Award from the American Anthropological Association) and, co-edited with James G. Carrier, Virtualism, Governance, and Practice: Vision and Execution in Environmental Conservation (2009). Dr. West is a past president of the Anthropology and Environment Section of the American Anthropological Association, past chair of the Association of Social Anthropology in Oceania, and past chair of the Department of Anthropology at Barnard College. She is founder and co-editor of the journal Environment and Society: Advances in Research.  In 2017 / 2018 she is a distinguished national speaker for Phi Beta Kappa.  Dr. West is a co-founder of the PNG Institute of Biological Research in Papua New Guineans. She is the volunteer anthropologist for the PNG NGO Ailan Awareness (AA), a marine-focused organization that works with communities in New Ireland and New Hanover to facilitate the conservation of their traditions, languages, and natural resources.

Buffet Dinner at 5:45 pm ($20 contribution for dinner guests / free for students).

Lecture begins at 6:30 pm and are free and open to the public.

Pre-registration is required for entry into the building.

All talks in this series take place at the Wenner-Gren Foundation Building, 470 Park Avenue South, 8th Floor, New York (at 32nd Street).

NYAS @ WGF 1/29: Will Humans Survive our Assault on the Earth? A Message from Madagascar

Join us at the Wenner-Gren Foundation on January 29th at 5:45 as we kick off the first New York Academy of Sciences lecture of the year. Patricia Wright, Distinguished Professor, Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University will be presenting, “Will Humans Survive our Assault on the Earth? A Message from Madagascar”. Joel E. Cohen, Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of Populations and Director of the Laboratory of Laboratory of Populations at the Rockefeller University and Columbia 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.

Event Registration:  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.

You can also register by phone, 212-298-8640 or 212-298-8600.  Early Registration is strongly recommended since seating is limited.

Anthropologists are well aware that there are wars in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, areas where humans have existed the longest. But rarely do we suggest that the roots of these conflicts are competition for natural resources, ie, fighting for access to farming and grazing land and access to water. Madagascar has been populated by humans for only a few thousand years, yet a shocking portion of its natural resources has been destroyed. Today it is the 6th poorest country on Earth. This grinding human poverty, where 70% of the population is malnourished, is partially caused by destruction of natural resources by fires since human arrival. I will discuss the current political and economic situation in Madagascar and offer two possible predictions for Madagascar of the future. These predictions could apply globally.

About the Speakers:

Patricia Wright is best known for her extensive study of social and family interactions of wild lemurs in Madagascar. She is Distinguished Professor, Department of Anthropology, Stony Brook University, where she also established the Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments. Wright  contributed to the establishment of the Ranomafana National Park in Madagascar, a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Books include For the Love of Lemurs: My Life in the Wilds of Madagascar (2014) and High Moon Over the Amazon: My Quest to Understand the Monkeys of the Night (2013).  She was the first woman to receive the Indianapolis Prize for Animal Conservation (2014), and is the recipient of three medals of honor from the Malagasy Government (Knight, Officer, Commander) for her work in Madagascar. She has won numerous awards and fellowships including being made a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow (1989). Her research is highlighted in the National Geographic Magazine, by the BBC Natural History Unit, in Natural History magazine, in several films and TV series, and in the IMAX film, Island of Lemurs: Madagascar (2014).

Joel E. Cohen is the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of Populations and Director of the Laboratory of Laboratory of Populations at the Rockefeller University and Columbia University. At Columbia University, Cohen holds appointments as Professor of Populations in the Earth Institute, and as Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, in Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, and in the Department of International and Public Affairs. His research deals with the demography, ecology, epidemiology and social organization of human and non-human populations and with mathematical concepts useful in these fields. Books include Casual Groups of Monkeys and Men (1966), Food Webs and Niche Space (1971), Forecasting Product Liability Claims: Epidemiology and Modeling in the Manville Asbestos Case (2005), and International Perspectives on the Goals of Universal Basic and Secondary Education (with Martin Malin, 2010). Cohen received the Golden Goose Award at the Library of Congress (2015), and has been a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation (1981-82) and of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (1981-86).

Buffet Dinner at 5:45 pm ($20 contribution for dinner guests / free for students).

Lecture begins at 6:30 pm and are free and open to the public.

Pre-registration is required for entry into the building.

All talks in this series take place at the Wenner-Gren Foundation Building, 470 Park Avenue South, 8th Floor, New York (at 32nd Street).

 

NYAS @ WGF 11/13: Are Racism, Violence, and Inequality Part of “Human Nature”? Why Understanding Human Evolution Matters

Dr. Agustin Fuentes

Join us at the Wenner-Gren Foundation on November 13th at 5:45 PM for another great installment of the New York Academy of Sciences lecture series. Agustin Fuentes, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame will be presenting, “Are Racism, Violence, and Inequality Part of ‘Human Nature’? Why Understanding Human Evolution Matters”. Susan Anton, Professor, Dept. of Anthropology, 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.

Event Registration:  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.

You can also register by phone, 212-298-8640 or 212-298-8600.  Early Registration is strongly recommended since seating is limited. 

Many popular accounts of human evolution do a great job of conveying interpretations and perspectives which are entertaining, but often wrong. Such accounts offer incomplete, and at times toxic, portrayals of human biology and evolution that can be used to promulgate and perpetuate racist, misogynistic, and ill-informed views of “human nature.” We are left with perceptions and policies of what is “natural” in contemporary society that damage our capacity to challenge inequity, discrimination, and bias.

Human evolution is ongoing and human populations continue to grow in size and complexity. Getting a handle on “the human” in the Anthropocene is no easy matter and getting the science of human evolution right is important. It turns out that meaning, imagination, and hope are as central to the human story as are bones, genes, and ecologies. Neither selfish aggression nor peaceful altruism dominates human behavior as a whole. We are a species distinguished by our extraordinary capacity for creative cooperation, our simultaneously extreme biological diversity and homogeneity, and our ability to imagine possibilities and to make them material reality.

In the 21st century significant shifts in our understanding of evolutionary biology and theory and of genetics, plus radical expansions in the archeological and fossil records, have led to increasing collaboration across multiple fields of inquiry. Collaboration and expansion of knowledge are altering our capacities to investigate and to understand our history and our future(s). This lecture offers a glimpse, via specific examples, of our past and present to illustrate why, and how, the science of human evolution—far from being dead or outdated–is relevant today

Buffet Dinner at 5:45 pm ($20 contribution for dinner guests / free for students).
Lecture begins at 6:30 pm and are free and open to the public.

Pre-registration is required for entry into the building.

 

NYAS @ WGF 10/23: Getting Talked into (and out of) Whiteness

Dr. Mary Bucholtz

Join us at the Wenner-Gren Foundation on October 23rd at 5:45 PM for another installment of the New York Academy of Sciences lecture series. Mary Bucholtz, Professor of sociocultural linguistics at University of California, Santa Barbara will be presenting, “Getting Talked into (and out of) Whiteness”. Dr. Angela Reyes, Professor and Deputy Chair, English Department, Hunter College 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.

Event Registration:  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.

You can also register by phone, 212-298-8640 or 212-298-8600.  Early Registration is strongly recommended since seating is limited. 

It has long been recognized by social scientists that race is a socially, culturally, and politically constructed system for producing and reproducing inequality (Goodman, Moses, & Jones 2012; Harrison 1995; Omi & Winant 1994). Crucially, the racial system is sustained in large part through language (Bonilla-Silva 2003; Domingúez 1986; Hill 2008; Rosa forthcoming) by creating marked social categories that can then be targeted for material and ideological control. At the center of the process of racialization is whiteness, which constitutes the foundation of the entire racial system precisely because it is the often invisible and unmarked hegemonic norm as well as the apex of the racial hierarchy (Harris 1995; Lipsitz 1998; Twine & Gallagher 2008). In recent decades the growing political power of racialized groups has unsettled the hegemonic position of whiteness, leading to the linguistic repositioning of whiteness—as visible and vulnerable rather than unmarked and dominant—as a strategy for maintaining racial privilege (Bucholtz 2011).

This presentation examines the linguistic strategies that uphold whiteness as the linchpin of the racial system as well as the counterstrategies that work to undo this system of power. The analysis considers two forms of racializing language: talk about race, or racially referential language, and talk that enacts race, or racially indexical language. Focusing on the uneasy racial positioning of white youth in California both in the 1990s and in the present day, I argue that a political critique of the language of whiteness must be at the center of any effort to challenge white supremacy.

Buffet Dinner at 5:45 pm ($20 contribution for dinner guests / free for students).
Lecture begins at 6:30 pm and are free and open to the public.

Pre-registration is required to attend the lecture.

 

NYAS @ WGF 9/25: The Refugee as a Political Figure for our Time

Dr. Ilana Feldman

Join us at the Wenner-Gren Foundation on September 25th at 5:45 PM as we kick off the first New York Academy of Sciences lecture of the fall series. Ilana Feldman, Professor of Anthropology at George Washington University will be presenting, “The Refugee as a Political Figure for our Time”. Dr. Miriam Ticktin, Associate Professor and Chair at the New School for Social Research 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.

Event Registration:  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.

You can also register by phone, 212-298-8640 or 212-298-8600.  Early Registration is strongly recommended since seating is limited. 

Recent years have been marked by both tremendous population movement and incredible anxiety in refugee receiving countries and in relatively non-receiving countries. The moment seems apt to reconsider the refugee as a political figure, following a line of discussion first opened by a previous generations of scholars who examined earlier periods of large-scale human displacement and dislocation. In 1943 Hannah Arendt published an essay entitled “We Refugees,” a reflection on the position shared by herself and other Jewish exiles from Europe as they lived with displacement. In 1995 Giorgio Agamben published a short piece with the same title, commenting both on Arendt’s earlier piece and on the configurations of borders, movement, and population control that were defining the post-cold war European landscape. What does the current refugee “crisis” tell us about politics in the twenty-first century. Drawing from the Palestinian refugee experience, this paper explores the refugee as an enduring figure, one central to the existing, and persisting, political order. It also considers refugees as political actors, who struggle within and against this political order to create livable lives.

Buffet Dinner at 5:45 pm ($20 contribution for dinner guests / free for students).
Lecture begins at 6:30 pm and are free and open to the public.

Pre-registration is required to attend the lecture.

Missed the lecture? Listen to it here!

 

NYAS @ WGF Returns! Fall 2017/Spring 2018 Monday Evening Lecture Series: “Angers, Aggressions, and Aspirations: Anthropologists Speak Out About Repression, Democracy, and Empowerment”

The current political tide around the world including in the US has been one of populist angers. The dispossessed, those whose lives have been made increasingly precarious have been mobilized to voice their anger and distrust of government in ways that are often racist, anti-immigrant, anti-women, anti-gay. At the same time, new movements for social justice and equality are arising. What can anthropologists, who speak to the nature and scope of the human experience across time and space, contribute to understanding the current moment?  What do archaeology and physical anthropology tell us about human relationships that foster empowerment and disempowerment? How can we build on anthropological understanding of the human past, human evolution, language and meaning, and social and cultural relationships to forge democratic social systems that combat all forms of oppression? What would democracy mean in this context?

Time of Lectures: 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.

Place: Wenner-Gren Foundation offices

470 Park Avenue South, 8th Floor

New York, NY 10016

Preregistration through the New York Academy of Sciences at customerservice@nyas.org or by phone (212-298-8640 or 212-298-8600) is strongly recommended since seating is limited.

 

FALL SCHEDULE

 

September 25, 2017

Ilana Feldman

Professor of Anthropology, History, and International Affairs  

George Washington University

“The Refugee as a Political Figure for our Time”

Recent years have been marked by both tremendous population movement and incredible anxiety in refugee receiving countries and in relatively non-receiving countries.  The moment seems apt to reconsider the refugee as a political figure, following a line of discussion first opened by a previous generations of scholars who examined earlier periods of large-scale human displacement and dislocation.  In 1943 Hannah Arendt published an essay entitled “We Refugees,” a reflection on the position shared by herself and other Jewish exiles from Europe as they lived with displacement. In 1995 Giorgio Agamben published a short piece with the same title, commenting both on Arendt’s earlier piece and on the configurations of borders, movement, and population control that were defining the post-cold war European landscape.  What does the current refugee “crisis” tell us about politics in the twenty-first century? Drawing from the Palestinian refugee experience, this paper explores the refugee as an enduring figure, one central to the existing, and persisting, political order. It also considers refugees as political actors, who struggle within and against this political order to create livable lives.

Ilana Feldman is a Professor of Anthropology at George Washington University. Her research has focused on the Palestinian experience, both inside and outside of historic Palestine, examining practices of government, humanitarianism, policing, displacement, and citizenship. She has received funding from: the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH); the 2017-18 American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS); Institute for Advanced Study, Friends of the Institute Member, School of Social Science; National Science Foundation, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. Her books include Police Encounters: Security and Surveillance in Gaza under Egyptian Rule (Stanford University Press, 2015); In the Name of Humanity: The Government of Threat and Care (Duke University Press, 2010) and Governing Gaza (Duke University Press, 2008).

Discussant: Miriam Ticktin, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, New School for Social Research 

 

October 23, 2017

Mary Bucholtz

Professor, Department of Linguistics

University of California, Santa Barbara

“Getting Talked into (and out of) Whiteness”

It has long been recognized by social scientists that race is a socially, culturally, and politically constructed system for producing and reproducing inequality (Goodman, Moses, & Jones 2012; Harrison 1995; Omi & Winant 1994). Crucially, the racial system is sustained in large part through language (Bonilla-Silva 2003; Domingúez 1986; Hill 2008; Rosa forthcoming) by creating marked social categories that can then be targeted for material and ideological control. At the center of the process of racialization is whiteness, which constitutes the foundation of the entire racial system precisely because it is the often invisible and unmarked hegemonic norm as well as the apex of the racial hierarchy (Harris 1995; Lipsitz 1998; Twine & Gallagher 2008). In recent decades the growing political power of racialized groups has unsettled the hegemonic position of whiteness, leading to the linguistic repositioning of whiteness—as visible and vulnerable rather than unmarked and dominant—as a strategy for maintaining racial privilege (Bucholtz 2011).

This presentation examines the linguistic strategies that uphold whiteness as the linchpin of the racial system as well as the counterstrategies that work to undo this system of power. The analysis considers two forms of racializing language: talk about race, or racially referential language, and talk that enacts race, or racially indexical language. Focusing on the uneasy racial positioning of white youth in California both in the 1990s and in the present day, I argue that a political critique of the language of whiteness must be at the center of any effort to challenge white supremacy.

Mary Bucholtz is a Professor of sociocultural linguistics, who has worked on whiteness, youth and language. She is integrating high school student, undergrad, and grad students to work together researching languages and linguistic change in California. Her research focuses primarily on how social identities and cultural practices are brought into being through linguistic interaction, investigating this question in relation to race, gender, and youth  Her publications include: White Kids: Language, Race, and Styles of Youth Identity, Cambridge University Press, (2011); Language and Woman’s Place: Text and Commentaries,( original text by Robin Tolmach Lakoff, edited by Mary Bucholtz, revised and expanded edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 2004); Reinventing Identities: The Gendered Self in Discourse, Oxford University Press, (1999 with A. C. Liang and Laurel Sutton);  Gender Articulated: Language and the Socially Constructed Self, Routledge (1995 with Kira Hall) and  “Discourses of Whiteness,” special issue of Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 11(1), 2001 (with Sara Trechter). Her current research seeks to explore the diverse forms of language and culture within California.

Discussant: Angela Reyes, Professor and Deputy Chair, English Department, Hunter College, CUNY and member of doctoral faculty in Anthropology, CUNY Graduate Center

 

Nov 13, 2017

Agustin Fuentes

Professor and Chair Department of Anthropology

University of Notre Dame

“Are racism, violence, and inequality part of “human nature”? Why understanding human evolution matters.”

Many popular accounts of human evolution do a great job of conveying interpretations and perspectives which are entertaining, but often wrong. Such accounts offer incomplete, and at times toxic, portrayals of human biology and evolution that can be used to promulgate and perpetuate racist, misogynistic, and ill-informed views of “human nature.” We are left with perceptions and policies of what is “natural” in contemporary society that damage our capacity to challenge inequity, discrimination, and bias.

Human evolution is ongoing and human populations continue to grow in size and complexity. Getting a handle on “the human” in the Anthropocene is no easy matter and getting the science of human evolution right is important. It turns out that meaning, imagination, and hope are as central to the human story as are bones, genes, and ecologies. Neither selfish aggression nor peaceful altruism dominates human behavior as a whole. We are a species distinguished by our extraordinary capacity for creative cooperation, our simultaneously extreme biological diversity and homogeneity, and our ability to imagine possibilities and to make them material reality.

In the 21st century significant shifts in our understanding of evolutionary biology and theory and of genetics, plus radical expansions in the archaeological and fossil records, have led to increasing collaboration across multiple fields of inquiry. Collaboration and expansion of knowledge are altering our capacities to investigate and to understand our history and our future(s). This lecture offers a glimpse, via specific examples, of our past and present to illustrate why, and how, the science of human evolution—far from being dead or outdated–is relevant today.

Agustín Fuentes is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame. His current foci include cooperation and bonding in human evolution, ethnoprimatology and multispecies anthropology, evolutionary theory, and public perceptions of, and interdisciplinary approaches to, human nature(s). Fuentes examines human evolution from several perspectives, and his research sheds light on some of the most common misconceptions about human nature, specifically in the areas of race, sex and aggression.  He has authored multiple books, including, The Creative Spark (2017), Race, Monogamy and Other Lies They Told You: Busting myths about human behavior (2012), Evolution of Human Behavior (2008), Health, Risk and Adversity (2008), Core Concepts in Biological Anthropology (2006) and has  co-authored and coedited several others.  His articles have been published in notable journals, including, American Journal of Primatology, American Anthropologist, and Theology and Science.

Discussant: Susan Antón, Professor, Department of Anthropology, New York University

 

SPRING 2018 SCHEDULE

 

January 29, 2018

Patricia Wright

Distinguished Professor, Department of Anthropology

SUNY Stony Brook and founder of environmental organization Centre Val Bio

“Will humans survive our assault on the Earth?”  A  Message from Madagascar

Anthropologists are well aware that there are wars in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, areas where humans have existed the longest. But rarely do we suggest that the roots of these conflicts are competition for natural resources, ie, fighting for access to farming and grazing land and access to water. Madagascar has been populated by humans for only a few thousand years, yet a shocking portion of its natural resources has been destroyed. Today it is the 6th poorest country on Earth. This grinding human poverty, where 70% of the population is malnourished, is partially caused by destruction of natural resources by fires since human arrival. I will discuss the current political and economic situation in Madagascar and offer two possible predictions for Madagascar of the future. These predictions could apply globally.

Patricia Wright is a primatologist, anthropologist, and conservationist. Wright is best known for her extensive study of social and family interactions of wild lemurs in Madagascar. She established the Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments at Stony Brook University. She worked extensively on conservation and contributed to the establishment of the Ranomafana National Park in Madagascar.  She was the first woman to receive the Indianapolis Prize for Animal Conservation in 2014, as well as receiving three medals of honor from the Malagasy Government (Knight, Officer, Commander) for her work in Madagascar. Professor Wright has honorary degrees from the University of Antananarivo and the University of Fianarantsoa.  Her recent books include, For the Love of Lemurs: My Life in the Wilds of Madagascar (2014) and High Moon Over the Amazon: My Quest to Understand the Monkeys of the Night (2013). Her research has been highlighted in the National Geographic Magazine, by the BBC Natural History Unit, the National History Magazine and in several films and TV series, including an IMAX film, Island of Lemurs: Madagascar. She has won numerous award and fellowships including being made a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow in 1989.

Discussant:  Joel Cohen,  Director, Laboratory of Populations, Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences and International & Public Affairs, Rockefeller University & Columbia University

 

February 26, 2018

Jessica Cattelino

Associate Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies, associate director of the Center for the Study of Women

University of California, Los Angeles

“Passions for Interests: Water and Rural Political Belonging in America”

The world faces a water crisis, with the United Nations predicting a 40% global water deficit by 2030. Recent water struggles in the United States, from Standing Rock to Flint to California’s droughts, exemplify a broader cultural politics whereby group s come to understand and assess one another through their relations to water. In the Florida Everglades, the world’s largest ecosystem restoration project is underway and has as its policy goal “getting the water right.” There, as across America, political analysis focus on so-called stakeholders and interest groups (such as agriculture and environment). Such passion for interests—as, purportedly, the forces that unite and explain political collectivities—stunts understandings about political belonging in rural America.

This presentation brings together two twenty-first-century examples of everyday politics in a mostly-drained rural region of the Florida Everglades: the headline-grabbing proposed buyout of a major sugar corporation by the State of Florida for purposes of Everglades restoration; and a major Seminole Tribe of Florida water conservation project. The economist A.O. Hirschman, in his influential book The Passions and the Interests (1977), explained how early proponents of capitalism struggled to reconcile the relationship of passions to interests. The political anthropology of interests presented in this lecture highlights their production and (in)commensuration in relation to water and capitalism. The goal is to think through and, hopefully, beyond the passion for “interests” in scholarly and popular understandings of American political life.

Jessica Cattelino’s research focuses on economy, nature, indigeneity, and settler colonialism. Her book, High Stakes: Florida Seminole Gaming and Sovereignty (Duke University Press, 2008) won the Delmos Jones and Jagna Sharff  Memorial Book Prize from the Society for the Anthropology of North America.  Her current book project addresses Everglades restoration and theorizes the co-production of nature and indigeneity in settler societies like the United States.  She speaks to the current concerns about environmental degradation and indigenous people’s roles in sparking struggles against the pollution of water sources and the destruction of precious resources such as the Everglades. Cattelino’s current research is funded by the National Science Foundation (Law and Social Sciences), the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Howard Foundation and a National Science Foundation Long Term Ecological Network on the Florida Coastal Everglades

Discussant: Paige West, Professor of Anthropology, Barnard College and Colombia University

 

March 26, 2018

Rosemary Joyce

Professor, Department of Anthropology

University of California, Berkeley

“Is Extreme Inequality Inevitable?: What archaeology can tell us about the 99 percent.”

In many people’s minds archaeology is about the search for kings and queens, for treasure and luxuries. It seems as if archaeologists are on the side of rulers, at the expense of the everyday farmer and laborer. And so archaeological theories about social complexity are interpreted to say that human societies are on an implacable universal road toward exaggerated inequality: extreme inequality is inevitable. But is this true? Or can archaeologists illuminate places and times when society did not spiral into ever-widening inequality?

In this talk, I critically examine the need for archaeology to contest the representation of a global rise in inequality as inevitable, arguing that we have let the allure of certain things enchant us, leading to an over-emphasis on the wealthy and powerful. I draw on my decades-long research on prehispanic Honduras, where for centuries people in towns and villages sustained a lower level of inequality than archaeologists see in the city-states of their Classic Maya neighbors.

Using this case study as a beginning point, I address how archaeology can be and is being used to illuminate the long term persistence and social contributions of a far more varied range of actors than the few leaders who have often received the greatest attention in our analyses. I sketch out an alternative place for archaeology in the world today, as an ally of new visions of social life that we can say are viable because they have worked already.

Rosemary Joyce is a major figure in contemporary archaeology, whose fieldwork focuses on Honduras and Mexico. Professor Joyce works on the archaeology of inequality, gender, and materiality. Her research in Honduras explored social histories “in which economic inequality was never as extreme as among neighboring Maya societies, leading me to consider how archaeologists might combat the common assumption that ever-increasing inequality is somehow inevitable.” As a museum anthropologist, Joyce has engaged in collections management and exhibition work at Harvard’s Peabody Museum, the Wellesley College Museum and Cultural Center, the Heritage Plantation at Sandwich, Massachusetts, the Museo de Antropología e Historia in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution. Her published work includes Ancient Bodies, Ancient Lives (2008),The Languages of Archaeology: Dialogue, Narrative, and Writing (2002), and Gender and Power in Prehispanic Mesoamerica (2001).

Discussant:   TBC

 

April 16, 2018

Mica Pollock

Professor, University of California, San Diego, Director of CREATE (Center for Research on Educational Equity, Assessment, and Teaching Excellence)

“Flipping Scripts in an Angry Nation: Putting the Anthropological Project to Work for Change Via Everyday Talk (in Schools)”

In this talk, Pollock applies lessons from her new book Schooltalk to the current political climate and discusses talk’s potential for changing us all. Before and since the 2016 election, U.S. residents have seen a spike in explicit hate speech – cruel comments that denigrate and distort types of people. Such speech has spiked in schools as well. It’s a moment when we need civil discourse and dialogue against hate more than ever. But in the United States, we also need to be thinking about whether our most routine talk distorts and denigrates people. Drawing on decades of work about how people talk every day about students and in schools, Pollock offers a vision of schooltalk for equity – that is, talk that accurately describes people as individuals and members of communities (including lives in opportunity contexts), and then actively supports the full human talent development of every person and all groups of people. At root, schooltalk for equity leverages the anthropological learning project for social change via schools. Speakers seek to flip under-informed “scripts” about types of people by learning accurate information about people’s actual lives. While many scholars today frame such learning as unlikely and even cognitively impossible, Pollock argues that such learning can and must happen in the daily activity of schools. Pollock thus frames schooltalk as critical work putting today’s educators and students on the front lines of social change.

Mica Pollock is an anthropologist and author of the new book Schooltalk: Rethinking What We Say About –and To – Students Every Day (The New Press). Pollock’s work explores educators’ key role in immediate and long-haul efforts against racism and inequality; she pinpoints the key role of language in educators’ everyday work. Pollock’s first book, Colormute: Race Talk Dilemmas in an American School (winner of the 2005 AERA Outstanding Book Award), helped readers navigate six core U.S. struggles over talking (and not talking) in racial terms in schools. Her other books include Because of Race, Everyday Antiracism, and Companion to the Anthropology of Education. Her newest work at UC San Diego explores how networks of conversation partners can leverage a university to share opportunities to learn in a diverse community.

Discussant:  TBC