NYAS @ Wenner-Gren: 12/10

After a Thanksgiving Break, the New York Academy of Sciences anthropology section resumes its lecture series this coming Monday, December 10th, with a talk from Silvia Federici, professor emerita at Hofstra University. Federici, feminist scholar, activist and author of Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction and Feminist Struggle, will discuss the ongoing neoliberal restructuring of the global political economy and reproductive labor, focusing on the crises that “new enclosures” are producing in our everyday lives, and the struggles that women internationally are making, in responseto it, to create new forms of social cooperation and reproductive “commons.” Sophie Statzel Bjork-James of the CUNY Graduate Center will act as a discussant following the talk.

The 7:00 PM lecture will be held at the Wenner-Gren office on Park Avenue and will be preceded by a reception at 6:00 PM. Refreshments will be provided. It is free to attend this and all other events in this series, but registration is required in advance; please visit the NYAS website or call 212-298-8600.

NYAS @ Wenner-Gren 10/22 – Audio Now Available!

On Monday evening, we hosted another stimulating installment of the New York Academy of Sciences Anthropology Section lecture series. On this occasion, we welcomed American University’s Dr. Rachel Watkins, to discuss her work on Normative Analytical Frameworks and Studies of Identified Skeletal Collections. 

As promised, a MP3 of the talk is available below, as well as a recording of the Q&A session that immediately followed.

NYAS @ Wenner-Gren 10/22: Dr. Rachel Watkins

NYAS @ Wenner-Gren 10/22: Q&A

NYAS @ Wenner-Gren: 10/22

Image courtesy American University College of Arts and Sciences

As October rolls to a close, we look to continue our young season of New York Academy of Sciences Anthropology Section lectures this coming Monday evening, when we’ll welcome American University’s Dr. Rachel Watkins, associate professor of anthropology, who will discuss “Normative Analytical Frameworks and Studies of Identified Skeletal Collections: Some Considerations”. Watkins aims to shed light on the ways in which physiological data are incorporated into ideas about social theory and its relationship to human biology.

Audio now available!


This paper examines the normative temporal, spatial, ethnoracial and distributional frameworks to which identified skeletal populations are subjected. A brief review of several identified skeletal collections illustrates current efforts toward developing contextualized human biology studies. At the same time, these studies are used to examine how categories in which data continue to be organized are suggestive of static and/or typological classification schemes. In doing so, the discussion addresses how these normativities undermine critical and humanistic approaches to studying human biology. This includes how the continued privileging of normal population distributions obscure the social, political and historical moments reflected in non-random distributions within and between identified skeletal collections. In the broadest context, this paper illustrates how studies of identified human skeletal collections are playing an increasingly prominent role in the integration of social theory into human biology studies.

As always, the evening will begin with a reception with refreshments at 6:00 PM, with the lecture to follow at 7:00 PM. The meeting is free to attend, but registration with NYAS is required. 

NYAS @ Wenner-Gren: 9/24

image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The 24th of September marks the opening of the New York Academy of Sciences’ monthly anthropology section lecture series for the 2012-13 season. To start off a program of talks that we hope will be just as successful as last year’s, we welcome Dr. Sandra Morgen of the University of Oregon to discuss political anthropology and trace the genealogy of American antitax ideology.


This public lecture explores how the concepts of “deKeynesinization” and “taxpayer identity politics” help make sense of the contours and resonance of right-wing politics in the U.S. today. The velocity of Tea Party activism that astonished many observers in 2009 was less surprising to scholars whose research has examined the history and/or varieties of anti-tax activism in the U.S. since the 1970s. I situate the political salience and production of taxpayer resentments and identities in the larger agenda of deKeynesinization. I use this concept to highlight and theorize the destructive dimensions of neoliberalization, i.e., the political project of undermining the assumptions, policies and institutions of the liberal, Keynesian state. Drawing on my and others’ research on tax politics, and on battles over public employee compensation and collective bargaining rights, I demonstrate how both the subject of taxes and taxpayer subjectivities provide valuable lenses through which to understand contested meanings and values about social provisioning, the public sector, and the State in contemporary politics.

As always, the 7:00 PM lecture will be hosted at the Wenner-Gren Foundation offices, preceeded by reception at 6:00 PM. The lecture is free to attend, but registration is required. 

NYAS @ Wenner-Gren: Ben Zimmer and “The New Language Detectives” [AUDIO]

Discussant Melissa Checker (Queens College), Speaker Ben Zimmer (Thinkmap, Inc./Boston Globe), Discussant and section co-chair Rudolf Gaudio (SUNY Purchase), and co-chair Jeff Maskovsky (CUNY Graduate Center)

This past Monday evening brought to a close the 2011/2012 season of New York Academy of Sciences lectures at the Wenner-Gren Foundation. We’ve had a great line-up of speakers all year long, and closing out the order we welcomed Ben Zimmer, former scribe of the “On Language” column in the New York Times, to share his thoughts on investigating linguistic phenomenon in a data-driven age.

Download a MP3 of the talk now!

Listen to Discussants Melissa Checker and Rudolf Guadio.

NYAS @ Wenner-Gren: April 30, 2012

Image courtesy benzimmer.com

The last Monday in April marks the final 2011/2012 meeting of the Anthropology section of the New York Academy of Sciences at the Wenner-Gren Foundation. We’ve had a great range of presenters this season, and for this last session we welcome the first presentation dealing explicitly with linguistic anthropology. Ben Zimmer of ThinkMap, Inc. and the Boston Globe, best known for previously penning the column “On Language” in the New York Times, will discuss the emergent linguistics of digital communication – and the new tools used to study it – with discussants Melissa Checker of Queens College and Rudolf Gaudio of SUNY Purchase.

The New Language Detectives:

Investigating Linguistic Phenomena in a Data-Driven Age

New data-driven techniques of analyzing language have emerged in recent years, opening up lines of inquiry that were previously seen as unapproachable. What linguistic “signatures” do we leave when we open our mouths or type on the keyboard? What subtle cues do we give each other when we change from one style of speaking or writing to another? And how can we plot the large- and small-scale changes in language usage to reveal fresh insights, applicable to fields as diverse as legal investigation, literary analysis, and political marketing? I will tour some of the avenues that researchers are exploring, with powerful new tools at their disposal: both the “microscopes” that can track the smallest shifts in variations in our language and the “telescopes” that can expose the evolution of talk and text over the historical long haul. In their own ways, the “micro” and the “macro” analyses promise to illuminate how we express ourselves and how people come together to build language through social interaction.

As always, the talk will be preceded by a reception and refreshments one hour prior to its commencement at 7:00 PM. Attendance is free, but please contact the New York Academy of Sciences (212-298-8600) in order to register prior to the event.

We will post an audio recording of Mr. Zimmer’s talk in the days after the event. Check out audio from previous NYAS meetings at Wenner-Gren.

Next Monday: NYAS @ Wenner-Gren

This upcoming Monday, March 26th at 7:00 PM, the anthropology section of the New York Academy of Sciences will be holding the penultimate meeting of the spring lecture series at the Wenner-Gren Foundation. This time we welcome medical anthropologist Merrill Singer of the University of Connecticut who will speak on “Syndemics and the Contemporary Global Health Transition” with Brooklyn College’s Patricia Antoniello attending as a discussant.

Epidemiologists and medical anthropologists alike have participated in the construction of historic frameworks designed to characterize broad eras of human disease transition. While the dominance of infectious and chronic diseases, respectively, have been said to characterize the first and second epidemiological transitions, a rapidly changing world has made it difficult to agree upon the prevailing features of the contemporary era of human disease. It is the argument of this presentation that one of the foremost threats to 21st century health is an ever more complex array of adversely interacting diseases, infectious and chronic (including chronic infectious diseases) the spread of which is being driven by the dual (and often interacting) forces of globalism and global warming. To that degree that identifying distinct eras of epidemiological transition remains useful approach to conceiving the history of global health, syndemics—as deleterious disease interactions have been labeled—promise to be a critical component of another alteration in the global health profile of humanity. In this process, human inequality will continue to be a determinant of how this transition is differential experienced and differential produced through human action.

A reception will precede the meeting at 6:00 pm. The meeting is free, but registration is required. Please contact the New York Academy of Sciences to register; the Wenner-Gren Foundation is not responsible for registration.

NYAS @ Wenner-Gren 2/27

Dr. Carolyn White (U. Nevada - Reno) & Dr. Brian Boyd (Center for Archaeology, Columbia U.)

Monday night marked the second packed house in a row for the monthly meeting of the New York Academy of Sciences’ Anthropology section, hosted as always at the Wenner-Gren offices. This time, the hot topic (no pun intended) was Burning Man, the infamous counter-cultural event which metastasizes for months in the Nevadan desert before evaporating without a trace in the early autumn after a week of come-as-you-are celebrations of free expression.

Burning Man devotees make much of the gathering’s commitment to zero impact on their natural surroundings – the grounds, known as “Black Rock City” after the desert they are situated in, are meant to be absolutely scrubbed clean of any evidence of human habitation after Burning Man comes to a close each year, chording with the event’s larger themes of self-reliance and harmony with the environment. Cultural anthropologists have been fascinated by the social structure and practices of “burners” for years. But what can archaeologists, who study traces, add to the story of a phenomenon which is expressly committed to never leaving a trace?

To help answer that question, we welcomed Dr. Carolyn White, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Nevada – Reno, and Dr. Brian Boyd of Columbia University’s Center for Archaeology. The talk was very well-attended – particularly by Burning Man alumni.

Download a MP3 of the talk now!

The Anthropology section of the New York Academy of Sciences will be holding more meetings at our offices through May. Stay tuned to this blog and our twitter feed to get the heads-up for the next session, coming late March.