This year our speaker series “Framing” highlights the multiple and contested processes of cultural construction, critique, and analysis that are part of the anthropological project. Framing can apply to the way in which a research problem is addressed, categories are delimited, theory is understood, and boundaries are drawn or transgressed. Framing can also be a way of exploring the way we come to see their world in a particular place and time. In all instances to raise the question of framing is to raise the question of the power, stance, and social position of anthropologists in relationship efforts to understand and explain what it means to be human.
September 26, 2016
Faye Ginsburg and Ruben Rayna
Department of Anthropology, New York University
“Making Accessible Futures: from ramps to #cripthevote”
Since the late 20th century, American medical, legal and cultural institutions have embraced a recognition of disability as a form of life worth living, in contrast to earlier 20th century eugenic ideologies that often removed people with disabilities from public space and from life itself. In NYC locations as diverse as schools, medical laboratories, film festivals, homes and religious institutions, we have learned how families form new kinship imaginaries around the fact of disability; how disability publics emerge through a variety of media forms and activism; how scientists are rethinking cognitive diversity; how schools engage with and too often fail in launching students with disabilities into the world. The number of disabled citizens, currently estimated at almost 20% of the US population, is predicted to increase significantly over the next decade. In our talk, we consider how these materialities place “accessible futures” in constant negotiation, most recently with the unexpected emergence of disability activism as an incendiary issue in the current presidential campaign.
October 24, 2016
Didier Fassin, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
Discussant, Andrea Barrow, Black Lives Matter
Punishment has been studied for centuries by moral philosophers and legal scholars, with a particular emphasis on its definition (notably to distinguish it from vengeance) and justification (with the classic opposition between utilitarianism and retributivism). Based on ethnographic research conducted over the past ten years in France on policing, justice and prison, the lecture will challenge the normative and idealist approach, trying to analyze what punishment is and how it is justified in actual interactions between officers, judges and guards with their respective publics while illuminating what is often the blind spot of the traditional approach: the distribution of sanctions. This inductive method thus makes possible a critique of punishment that resonates with contemporary issues about law enforcement, the penal system and mass incarceration in the United States, and more broadly the punitive turn in most contemporary societies.
December 5, 2016
University of Kansas
“Ancient Genomes, Paleoenvironments, Archaeology and the Peopling of the Americas”
Traditionally, indigenous American populations have been viewed as descendants of a small subset of the Eurasian population that migrated to the Western Hemisphere less than 15,000 years ago from Asia via the Bering Land Bridge. Recent archeological discoveries indicate that humans occupied high-latitude regions in Northeast Asia and Western Beringia before 30,000 years ago, prior to the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). The early settlement of Beringia now appears part of the broader dispersal of modern humans out of Africa and across Eurasia. Recent metagenomic evidence suggests the earliest migrants south of the glaciers likely followed a coastal route rather than an interior continental path between retreating glacial masses. The merging of the increasingly rich and robust genomic (both ancient and modern), archaeological, and paleoecological records is proving to be challenging in elucidating the origin of a distinctive Native American genome in both time and space.
January 30, 2017
Saint Martin’s University
“Notes on a CIA Funding Front Autopsy: Using Archives and the Freedom of Information Act to Understand How the CIA Shaped Cold War Social Science”
Drawing on two decades of archival and several hundred Freedom of Information Act requests, David Price analyzes specific impacts from the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of funding fronts to influence social science research during the 1950s and 60s. While most of the known two dozen CIA funding fronts were identified between 1965 and 1975 by investigative journalists and congressional investigations, relatively little scholarly work since then has focused on tracing the specific ways that these CIA fronts shaped the production and consumption of social science knowledge. The passage of time now allows access to CIA records as well as archival collections showing which projects were selected or rejected for funding, and establishing how these fronts connected witting and unwitting scholars with larger projects of interest to the CIA and defense establishment during the Cold War. The discussion of these materials sheds light on how the production of specific scientific knowledge was linked to the political economic systems in which it was embedded.
February 27, 2017
Timothy R. Pauketat
University of Illinois
“Water and the Big History of the Pre-Columbian Mississippi Valley”
In rethinking the ontological bases of pre-Columbian North America, water emerges as the primary substance through which people lived their histories. Simplistic climate change and flood-event scenarios aside, the atmospheric water cycle enmeshed peoples in ways that explain Mississippi Valley agriculture, astronomy, religious practice, political development, and historical ties to Mesoamerica. The linchpin of such arguments is the greater Cahokia phenomenon (AD 1000s-1300s). Beginning with new large-scale archaeological excavations and a refined chronology in that region, I trace water-human relationships through local-to-continent-wide genealogies of maize cultivation, mussel shell use, and American Indian sweat lodges and other “water shrines.” There are theoretical implications for how we understand history and humanity.
March 27, 2017
April 24, 2017
Department of Anthropology, University of California-Berkeley
“Unraveling Disciplinary Mind-sets”
The study of disciplinary mind-sets was in part stimulated by Thomas Kuhn’s book on paradigm shifts- The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) in which he distinguishes “normal science” from non-hegemonic science paradigm free science. The study of paradigm science revolution is a rich academic subject for contemporary anthropology as well as for philosophers and historians of science.
Location of the lectures:
470 Park Avenue South, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10016
Buffet dinner at 6PM. ($20 contribution for dinner guests/ free for students).
Lectures begin at 7PM and are free and open to the public.