NYAS Lecture 11/8: Building Strong Bonds: Lessons from Baboons

On November 8th, 6:30 PM, EDT, the New York Academy of Sciences will host, “Building Strong Bonds: Lessons from Baboons.”

To register for this event click here. This event will also be streamed live on YouTube.

Sociality has evolved in many animal taxa, and reflects a balance between the benefits of living in groups (such as lower risk of predation and greater success in contests with other groups) and costs (greater competition over resources and exposure to infectious disease). Evolution has favored traits that enable individuals to increase the benefit/cost ratio. In some species, close social bonds may have evolved because they provide a means for individuals to increase the benefits and reduce the costs of social life. Baboon females form strong, equitable, supportive, tolerant, and stable social relationships with selected partners, particularly close kin, peers, and the sires of their offspring. These social ties help females cope with various sources of short-term stress, and females with close social bonds also reproduce more successfully and live longer than other females. I will discuss these findings and their implications for understanding the importance of social connections in humans.


Joan Silk moved to ASU’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change in 2012, from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is interested in how natural selection shapes the evolution of social behavior in primates.

Most of Silk’s empirical work has focused on the behavioral and reproductive strategies of female baboon. She recently initiated a comparative study of the structure and function of close social bonds in four baboon species (anubis, hamadryas, gelada, and chacma).

In particular, Silk is interested in questions that explicitly link studies of nonhuman primates to humans. Experimental work she conducts with chimpanzees and children focuses on the phylogenetic origins and ontogenetic development of prosocial preferences.

Silk received her doctorate from University of California at Davis in 1981, and spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow in the Altmann’s lab at the University of Chicago. She then joined the Department of Anthropology at Emory University.

Silk moved to UCLA in 1986, where she remained until 2012. At UCLA, she was a founding member of the Center of Behavior, Evolution, and Culture and served as department chair for six years.


Jacinta C. Beenher is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. She is broadly interested in hormones and behavior, specifically as they relate to reproductive success. She founded and currently directs two field sites focused on wild primates: the Simien Mountains Gelada Research Project in Ethiopia (studying geladas) and the Capuchins at Taboga Research Project in Costa Rica (studying white-faced capuchins). She also directs two hormone laboratories – one at the University of Michigan (Beehner Endocrine Laboratory) and one at the Capuchins at Taboga field site (TREX Endocrine Laboratory).


Oct 28th: Always Already Active: A Conversation with Johnnetta B. Cole

On Thursday, October 28th, 7:00 PM EDT, the Association of Black Anthropologists will be hosting a conversation with Dr. Johnnette B. Cole.

Come join us in an inter-generational conversation about the impact and importance of Dr. Johnnette B. Cole’s new book Racism in American Public Life: A Call to Action. This event will feature graduate student Lexi Ligon and Professors Riché Barnes and Lynn Bolles. Everyone is welcome, even if you haven’t read the book.

To register to for this event click here.


Webinar Nov. 4th: Beyond Extractivism: Toward New Collaborative Futures in Anthropology

On November 4th, 12:00 PM EDT, the Wenner-Gren Foundation will be hosting, “Beyond Extractivism: Toward New Collaborative Futures in Anthropology”.

To register for this even click here.

This webinar explores collaborative knowledge production in relation to a stance of responsibility and accountability to the communities with whom we work (including scholarly communities), and to the communities that surround our institutional spaces, cities, territories and regions. What kind of anthropology emerges when collaboration, rather than individualist extraction is upheld as a model?


Carmen Rial, PhD, Professor, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina

Ndukuyakhe Ndlovu, PhD, Manager for Archaeology at South African National Parks and Senior Lecturer at the University of Pretoria

Yasmeen Arif, PhD, Professor, Shiv Nadar University

Christen Smith, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Texas at Austin

Justin Hosbey, PhD, Assistant Professor, Emory University

Moderated by:

Gustavo Lins Ribeiro, PhD, Professor, Metropolitan Autonomous University

CART captioning will be provided.

Organized by the Association of Black Anthropologists, Anthropology Southern Africa, and the Center for Experimental Ethnography

Oct. 27th: Graduate School Application Workshop

Could graduate school be for you? What makes a strong application? On October 27th at 4:00 PM ET, come join our Zoom Workshop on applying to graduate school in archaeology. To register for this event click here.

Topics covered will include:

Thinking about graduate school: Where? What type of program? How do I apply?

Preparing for graduate school: Courses to take, how to get fieldwork experience.

Money matters: How do you pay for graduate school?

Panelists include professors Zoë Crossland (Columbia), Andrew Bauer (Stanford), Peter van Dommelen (Brown) and Michael Galaty (Michigan).

Webinar Sept. 23rd: Toward Radical Humanism in Anthropology: Ethnographic Praxis, Relationality, Multi-Modality

On September 23rd, 12:00 PM Eastern Time, the Wenner-Gren Foundation will be hosting, “Toward Radical Humanism in Anthropology: Ethnographic Praxis, Relationality, Multi-Modality”.

To register for this event click here.

In this panel, we explore artistic modalities and co-laboring as ways of knowing that offer a multi-modal attunement without pinning down or leaning on a redemptive ‘truth’. The panelists offer reflections and performances that attend to institutional and epistemic violence reproduced in the academy, state or extra/judicial systems. We look to spaces and ways of making knowledge differently that challenge us to reimagine ways of being together and collaborate in research; modes of knowing that refuse and unsettle the ‘comforts’ provided by established canons of what constitutes ‘good’ research methods, conceptual conceits and community entanglements. We reflect on praxis, reciprocity, and esthetic engagements as ways of being and knowing in this particular moment of reckoning with liberal academic discourses on anti-racism and decolonization.


Aimee Cox, PhD, Associate Professor, Yale University

Peter Morin (Tahltan Nation), Associate Professor, OCAD University

Ayumi Goto, PhD, Adjunct professor, OCAD University

Marlon Swai, PhD, Lecturer, University of Cape Town

Dara Culhane, PhD, Professor, Simon Fraser University

Moderated by:

Erin Baines, PhD, Associate Professor, Transformative Memory Project, University of British Columbia

Pilar Riaño-Alcalá, PhD, Professor, Social Justice Institute, University of British Columbia

CART captioning will be provided.

Organized by the Association of Black Anthropologists, Anthropology Southern Africa, the Center for Experimental Ethnography, and the Transformative Memory Network

Webinar June 24th and 25th: Patchwork Ethnography

On Thursday, June 24th, and Friday, June 25th, at 9:30 AM Central Time (U.S. and Canada), be sure to check out the Patchwork Ethnography webinar. For more information about this webinar click here.

To register for this event click here.

Patchwork ethnography seeks to bring blackboxed and delegitimized ethnographic practices out of the closet. Working against the masculinist and ableist assumptions that undergird fieldwork, patchwork ethnography recognizes that researchers — particularly women, BIPOC, queer, trans, and disabed folx — have always constructed their ethnographic work through patchwork, whether due to personal obligations, issues of accessibility, or the neoliberal, precarious academic labor market. In this virtual conference, we seek to understand patchwork ethnography as the product of what feminist anthropologists have described as “intersecting responsibilities” in relation to the structural constraints of racism, sexism, and classism that researchers are entangled in and which shape our choices.

Patchwork ethnography acknowledges the multiple subject positions, positionalities, and complexities of researchers. Rather than imagining the researcher as a sovereign subject, patchwork ethnography allows us to think honestly about the vulnerabilities of researchers, and how we may produce anthropological knowledge that pushes against demands of mastery and control. The goal of this two-day conference is to generate a collective conversation about patchwork ethnography as theory, method, and/or as an advocacy tool for funding agencies.

This webinar is part of the Webinars on the Future of Anthropological Research initiative, supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.

Program Committee: Gökçe Günel, Saiba Varma, Chika Watanabe, Alexia Arani and Katie Ulrich.

While Wenner-Gren is proud to be providing a platform for this event, the views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Foundation.

Save the Date! June 1st: Proposal Writing for the Wenner-Gren Foundation: Introducing the Engaged Research Grant Program

The events of 2020 have forced anthropologists to reckon with their discipline’s history and the nature of the relationships they forge through their research. They are finding themselves asking themselves hard questions about the ethical implications of the work they do.

The best way to advance knowledge in anthropology is to draw on new sources of insight. The best way to ensure anthropological research has an impact is to make sure projects are meaningful for everyone involved. By supporting projects that are collaborative from the get-go, the Wenner-Gren Foundation hopes to demonstrate the value of this new approach to research for the field more generally.

Join the Foundation’s president, Danilyn Rutherford, for a discussion of the Engaged Research Grant program. Danilyn will describe the program’s objectives, go over the criteria of evaluation, and offer tips on writing a winning proposal. There will be lots of time for questions.

This workshop will have CART captioning.

Tuesday, June 1 from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM (Eastern). Click here to register for this event.

Tuesday, June 1 from 9:00-10:30 PM (Eastern). Click here to register for this event.


Webinar 5/26: Narrating the Ineffable: How Does Inequality Get Reproduced?

If you missed it the first time now you can check out the archive of, “Narrating the Ineffable: How Does Inequality Get Reproduced?”

To solve a problem, it must first be defined. When it comes to enduring and endemic socio-economic inequality, this seems to be particularly the case. But in a post-truth world, we have become unmoored from any “arbiter” that could convincingly establish the measures of vital pillars of the economy, such as “inflation” and “growth.” All the more so for something as complex, multi-varied, and intersectional as “inequality.” Measurements of inequality and the tactics for reducing it (or even, hopefully, eliminating it) abound across our two disciplines of Anthropology and Economics, forestalling our ability to find helpful pathways forward. In short, could agreeing upon a specific definition for socio-economic inequality be a worthy step toward better solving the problem? Or would clarifying the definition do more harm than good, elevating some forms of inequality as meriting solutions while devaluing others?

A first step might be for anthropologists and economists to come together and develop a shared language that traverses their commonly divided domains. Classically, anthropology relies on qualitative data, while economics relies on quantitative data. How can we make these domains more commensurable, and thus, less ineffable to both ourselves and the publics with whom we hope to converse? Could our stories become more powerful if we transcended the qualitative/quantitative domains that divide our disciplines?

To investigate these possibilities, we will hear from three anthropologists and an economist, all of whom will discuss their own strategies for reaching various publics through their research, and how they continually attempt to define and circumscribe the meaning of “inequality”.

Panelists: Gustav Peebles, Isabelle Guérin, Caroline Schuster, and Sylvia Yanagisako

While Wenner-Gren is proud to be providing a platform for this event, the views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Foundation.


Webinar 5/20: “Skeletons in the Anthropological Closet” Museum Collections and the Demand for Principles of Accountability

On Thursday, May 20th, the Wenner-Gren Foundation hosted, “Skeletons in the Anthropological Closet”: Museum Collections and the Demand for Principles of Accountability. Watch it now!

The recent controversy surrounding the existence of the remains of two black children killed in the 1985 police bombing of the MOVE revolutionary collective in Philadelphia that were thought to be repatriated and buried by their family members have ignited new questions about anthropology’s use of those remains in museums and teaching forums.  Many questions abound about why contemporary museums still hold the skeletal remains of people who never consented to their use and what responsibilities universities and funding agencies have to ensure that their researchers are in compliance with moral, ethical and political standards.

This panel serves to open a series of conversations dedicated to exploring the possibilities of an anthropology grounded in a commitment to “radical humanism.”   In a radically humanist anthropology, equality, connection, and becoming serve as guiding principles that (1) disrupt predominant conceptualizations of a stable, knowable, liberal subject in “the field,” (2) recognize the many ways that humans and non-humans are entangled, and (3) center justice, equity, and the reduction of harm as key aims of the anthropological project.  The goal is to not only understand the histories that shape this development but to also ponder a new way forward in considering the foundational basis upon which we rethink anthropological work.


Rachel Watkins, PhD, Associate Professor, American University

Chip Colwell, PhD, Editor-in-Chief, SAPIENS

Carlina de la Cova, PhD, Associate Professor, University of South Carolina

Ciraj Rassool, PhD, Senior Professor of History, University of the Western Cape

Michael Blakey, PhD, NEH Professor, College of William and Mary

Moderated by Justin Dunnavant, PhD, Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow at Vanderbilt University and Co-founder/President of the Society of Black Archaeologists

CART captioning – Joshua Edwards

Hosted by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research

Organized by the Association of Black Anthropologists, Anthropology Southern Africa, and the Center for Experimental Ethnography

While Wenner-Gren is proud to be providing a platform for this event, the views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Foundation.

Save the Date! May 6th: WCAA- World Council of Anthropological Associations 9th Webinar Debate/Roundtable

On Thursday, May 6th, 12:30pm UTC, be sure to check out the WCAA-World Council of Anthropological Associations 9th webinar debate/roundtable.

8:30 pm in Taipei; 3:30 pm in Nairobi; 1:30 pm in Lisbon; 9:30 am in Florianópolis; 8:30 am in New York; 8:30 in Québec; 5:30 am in Vancouver.


North-South relations in Anthropology

Convenor: Clara Saraiva, WCAA

Web Mediator: Michel Bouchard, WCAA


Kerim Friedman, National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan

Mwenda Ntarangwi, Commission for University Education, Kenya

Francine Saillant, Laval University, Canada

Carmen Rial. Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina,  Brazil

Danilyn Rutherford- Wenner-Gren Foundation, USA

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 659 6735 5582
Passcode: 452690