NYAS Lecture 3/28: Racial Capitalism, Chemical Kin

On March 28th 6:30 PM EST, the New York Academy of Sciences will host, “Racial Capitalism, Chemical Kin”, presented by Dr. Vanessa Agard-Jones.

To register for this event please click here. This event will also be livestreamed on YouTube.

Chlordécone/kepone (C10Cl10O) was an organocholorine pesticide produced in the United States from 1951-1975. Called an “insecticide of the poor,” the synthetic chemical was used primarily in tropical agriculture in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. In the French Antilles, the compound saw widespread use on banana plantations only after its interdiction in France, the United States, and in other countries of the global North. The United Nations Environment Programme considers kepone to be a persistent organic pollutant (POP), and it has been posited that it would take between 150 and 600 years for the chemical to break down naturally in the environment. Thus it is in the land—and in people’s bodies—to stay. Further, kepone is both a carcinogen and an endocrine disruptor—a compound that produces estrogen-mimicking and anti-androgenic effects in both human and non-human animal bodies. Claims about the sexual and reproductive consequences of exposure are thus at the heart of concerns about its afterlives in human bodies, bodies of land and bodies of water, and these in turn rely upon ideas about a “natural” body, its optimum health, and its “natural” genders, sexes, and sexualities. Kepone moves many to ask: what does toxicity (have to) do with reproductive futurity? What might detox have to do with a radical politics of care?

Inspired by M. Jacqui Alexander’s insistence that transnational feminist scholarship plumb how ideologies traffic across multiple sites, I track racialized and gendered discourses about kepone exposure across a trans-imperial Atlantic terrain, offering this commodity story as one way to understand the enduring entanglements of toxicity and care, reproduction and generation-making in the worlds wrought by racial capitalism.

Featured Speaker

Vanessa Agard-Jones is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University. At its most expansive, Agard-Jones’ work asks how coloniality is made material: in social forms, in human and nonhuman bodies, and in the landscapes in which we live. With a focus on Black life in the Atlantic world, she conducts historical and ethnographic research on racialization, environmental crisis and the politics of gender and sexuality.

In Body Burdens: Toxic Endurance and Decolonial Desire in the French Atlantic (in preparation), Agard-Jones reframes the toxicological concept of “body burden” to account for the accretion of toxicities in Martinique, a French territory in the Caribbean. Focused on material exposures to an endocrine-disrupting pesticide called kepone/chlordécone and on immaterial exposures to racism, sexism, and homophobia, Body Burdens asks how contemporary debates about sovereignty on the island are articulated through the prism of ideas about porosity and chemical contamination.


Jafari Sinclaire Allen is currently the Director of Africana Studies and Inaugural Co-Director of the University of Miami Center for Global Black Studies, at the University of Miami. His second monograph, There’s a disco ball between us: a theory of Black gay life, was released by Duke University Press this year.

Dr. Allen’s scholarship and teaching has opened new lines of inquiry and offered re‐invigorated methods of Black feminist narrative theorizing in anthropology, Black studies, and queer studies. This work has been funded and recognized by, for example, the National Science Foundation, Yale Center for the Humanities, the Social Science Research Council, MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, Morehouse College SafeSpace, and mostly recently by the Andrew A. Mellon Foundation, for his ‘Miami Initiative on Global Black Studies,’ which catalyzed the founding of the Center for Global Black Studies.  An Associate Professor in University of Miami’s Department of Anthropology, he is a former Associate Professor of African American Studies and Anthropology, and the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program Director of Graduate Studies, at Yale University.

Professor Allen is the author of ¡Venceremos?: The Erotics of Black Self-Making in Cuba; editor of Black/Queer/Diaspora; and a number of other publications in, for example: American Ethnologist; Cultural Anthropology; GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies; Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society; Current Anthropology; Small Axe: A Caribbean Platform of Criticism; Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power; and Anthurium. Engaged in ethnographic research in Cuba and the Caribbean for more than twenty years, recent research has also taken him to East Africa, Brazil and Western Europe.

Professor Allen is currently at work on two monographs: Marooned in Miami: Ecologies of Black Life on an Edge; and Structural Adjustments: Global Black Survival in the 1980s.

Call for Applications: Residential Fellowships for senior and early-career scholars in the humanities and social sciences in the academic year 2023-24

The Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study is announcing a call of applications! Application deadline is July 1, 2022.

The General Fellowship Programme – For this programme, candidates may come from any discipline within the humanities and social sciences.

The Barbro Klein Fellowship Programme – This fellowship is open to scholars from across disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, with an emphasis on research on cultural and social diversity, cultural heritage and creativity, societal structures and public resistance, in local and global perspective.

The Global Horizons Fellowship Programme – This programme is open to scholars engaged in research in the field of global governance in the thematic areas of Global Knowledge Cultures and Regimes; Global Political Predicaments; and Global Futures.

The eligibility criteria differ between programmes, and between senior/early-career positions.
For full details about the programmes, the eligibility criteria and how to apply, please see: http://www.swedishcollegium.se/


Call for Applications: Doctoral and postdoctoral positions in REVENANT – Revivals of Empire: Nostalgia, Amnesia Tribulation

Announcing a call for three doctoral and three postdoctoral positions for the upcoming research group, REVENANT – Revivals of Empire: Nostalgia, Amnesia Tribulation, which will be based at the Faculty of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Rijeka.

For doctoral applications click here.

For postdoctoral applications click here.

The due date for the applications is 27 March. Applicants should send their materials to the email address: revenantCFA@ffri.uniri.hr.


NYAS Lecture 2/28: Imagining Care at the End of the World

The New York Academy of Sciences Distinguished Lecture Series continues on February 28th, 6:30 PM EST, when Dr. Robin G. Nelson presents, “Imagining Care at the End of the World”.

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

Anthropology’s fascination with kinship and sociality developed at the very origins of the discipline, and has resulted in studies of all manner of topics ranging from the evolution of modern human interbirth intervals to food sharing. Taken together, this research reveals that familial configurations are fluid, and responsive to individual desires and needs, cultural practices, and socio-economic pressures. In my research, I explore core concepts in evolutionary studies of the family, including parental investment and extended kin care in the contemporary contexts of urban and migrating populations living in industrialized spaces. In March of 2020, one submicroscopic intracellular obligate parasite – a virus – began unraveling the social fabric upon which we all so heavily rely. In this talk, I will discuss the evolutionary mandate for deeply engaged human social interactions and the ways that these relationships both structure our everyday lives and render us vulnerable when isolated or neglected. The on-going syndemics of COVID19, structural inequality, and the climate crisis compel us to identify ways to recreate community for our survival, and be willing and able to imagine and implement care models at all levels of relations from our neighbors and kin to our states and federal governments. Evolutionary theory provides insight into the necessity of engaged and supportive network building even at the end of the world.


Robin G. Nelson is an associate professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University. With a focus on critical periods of growth and development, she investigates the relationship between familial dynamics, culturally salient forms of social and financial capital, and the health of Black Caribbean families. Her work engages with research in cultural anthropology, public health, gender studies, and Black feminist studies. She also investigates equity in science and the legacy of racism on theory building in biological anthropology. She received her doctorate from the University of Michigan in 2008, and then completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Northwestern University in the Laboratory for Human Biology Research. Dr. Nelson was most recently a faculty member at Santa Clara University before arriving at ASU this Fall.


Dr. Luseadra McKerracher is currently a Junior Research Fellow at the Aarhus Institute for Advanced Studies and an incoming Assistant Professor at the Department of Public Health, both at Aarhus University in Denmark. In Denmark, she is leading a community-based health promotion project called Supporting Pregnancy fOOd and Nutrition Security (SPOONS) in Denmark’s most Marginalized Neighbourhoods. SPOONS focuses on identifying and measuring household food insecurity (real or perceived lack of affordable, healthy, socially-appropriate food) in social housing blocks with primarily new-immigrant populations. SPOONS also aims to work with local organizations to mitigate food insecurity for households with pregnant people or with parents likely to start a pregnancy in the near future. In addition to SPOONS, she is involved in a number of other health equity-related studies in Canada and Denmark, all focused on investing ­– through care — in pre-conceptional, pregnancy, and infant health to support equity in health and wellbeing in the next generations.

Dr. Aunchalee Palmquist is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Maternal and Child Health, Gillings School of Global Public Health, UNC-Chapel Hill. She earned a doctoral degree in Medical Anthropology at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Dr. Palmquist is affiliate faculty of the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute (CGBI) and is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Dr. Palmquist’s breastfeeding research focuses on the intersectionality of perinatal health equity, cooperative lactation, human milk sharing and banking, breastfeeding in emergencies, bioethics, human rights, and the ethical, legal, and social implications of human milk science. She is co-editor (with C. Tomori and EA Quinn) of Breastfeeding: New Anthropological Approaches (Routledge, 2018). Dr. Palmquist is a CGBI representative to the WHO/UNICEF Global Breastfeeding Collective and the ENN Infant Feeding in Emergencies Core Group. Since 2020, Dr. Palmquist has served the United States Breastfeeding Committee as a Co-Steward of the COVID-19 Infant and Young Child Feeding Constellation. Dr. Palmquist is the 2021 recipient of the Gillings Faculty Award for Excellence in Health Equity Research.

NYAS Lecture 1/31: Choreographies of Care in Family and Community

On January 31st, 6:30 PM, Eastern Time, the New York Academy of Sciences will host, “Choreographies of Care in Family and Community”.

To register for this event click here.

Caring involves acting with affection and regard for another to enhance the well being of the party cared for. The ethics of care is based on receptivity, relatedness, and responsiveness. Within an American context, as a linguistic anthropologist, by making use of audio and video- recorded interaction, I examine the moment-to-moment practices through which care is instantiated in interactions within families, between doctor and patient, and between a dying patient and his students and colleagues. Routinely parents participate in forms of embodied care work using touch amidst a range of interactions including grooming, comforting, play, apology and salutations. Practices of greetings and farewells, overlaid with bodily inter-twinings, punctuate various parts of the family’s daily round — displaying forms of rich attunement.

We (Raia, Goodwin, and Deng) next consider how a doctor who practices Relational Medicine (Raia and Deng 2014) cares for and socializes his advanced heart care patient (later diagnosed with terminal cancer) in the process of “living towards death.” Through narrative exchange the doctor guides his patient in how to approach death with equanimity. Through email exchanges and informal speeches, the patient (a professor) becomes a “mentor on dying” for his students. A Mexican colleague’s story about how her comadre’s process of dying became a practical guide for choreographing the patient’s own death. The presence and vision of the now-deceased teacher continues in weekly Co-operative Action zoom labs where students and colleagues from five continents present their work for commentary.


Marjorie Goodwin

Dr. Goodwin is a linguistic anthropologist concerned with the embodied language practices human beings use to construct in concert with each other the social, cultural and cognitive worlds they inhabit. Much of her work has focused on the organization of language and interaction in children’s peer groups, families, and workplace settings.

She investigates how children in boys’ and girls’ peer groups elaborate and dispute their notions about moral behavior, including inequality, as they play or work together. Her most recent work deals with how forms of human sociality, intimacy and familial integration, are achieved through a range of coordinated, mutually elaborating modalities, including language, touch, prosody, and structure in the environment.


Asta Cekaite 

Asta Cekaite is a Professor in Child Studies, Thematic Research Unit, Linköping University, Sweden. Her research involves an interdisciplinary approach to language, culture, and social interaction. Specific foci include social perspectives on embodiment, touch, emotion, and moral socialization. Empirical fields cover adult-child and children’s peer group interactions in educational settings, and family in various cultural contexts (Sweden, USA, Japan, Finland).

She has published in Language in Society, Annual Review of Anthropology, Linguistics and Education, Text & Talk, etc. With M. H. Goodwin she has co-authored Embodied family choreography: Practices of control, care and mundane creativity (Routledge, 2018). She has co-edited (with L. Mondada) Touch in social interaction: Touch, language and body (Routledge, 2021); with Blum-Kulka, S., Gröver, V. & Teubal, E.  Children’s peer talk: Learning from each other (Cambridge University Press, 2014). She has also co-edited special issues in journals: Cekaite, A. & Evaldsson, A-C. (2020). The moral character of emotion work in adult-child interactions. Text & Talk; Cekaite, A. & Burdelski, M. (Eds.) (2021). Pragmatics of crying in adult-child interactions. Journal of Pragmatics.

Maryville University Releases Victim Advocacy: Guide to Supporting Survivors of Domestic Violence

We’d like to share that Maryville University has recently released its Victim Advocacy: Guide to Supporting Survivors of Domestic Violence.

This guide provides detailed insights and resources on the following topics:

  • Domestic Violence Victim Advocate Roles and Responsibilities
  • Types of Domestic Violence
  • Warning Signs of Domestic Violence
  • Domestic Violence Facts and Statistics
  • Where to Find Victim Advocate Training
  • Tips on Helping and Supporting Victims and Survivors
  • And much more!

“SAPIENS Talk Back” Podcast Series Starting January 26th!

Mark your calendar for January 26th when the Archaeology Centers Coalition and RadioCIAMS present “SAPIENS Talk Back”: eight conversations with students and scholars that expand upon the insights of Season 4 of the SAPIENS podcast. In extended discussions, we explore new perspectives on how Black and Indigenous voices are changing how archaeology tells its stories, and just as importantly, who tells them.

Episodes of “SAPIENS Talk Back” will be available on Spotify and Soundcloud upon release.

Episodes of the SAPIENS podcast are available on the SAPIENS website, Spotify, Stitcher, and iTunes.