Student Talks, Events, and Workshops

These events will be held on Fridays at 2 pm in Schwartz 103 unless otherwise noted.

October 9: Fieldwork Debriefing (2 pm in Schwartz 103)

Anthropology graduate students who conducted summer fieldwork will talk informally about their experiences.

October 9: Applied Anthropology Panel (5 pm in Schwartz 103)

Panelists from a variety of applied anthropology setttings will share their experiences.

October 16: Fieldwork Presentations (2 pm in Schwartz 103)

Project presentations by anthropology graduate students who conducted summer fieldwork.

October 30: Grants Workshop (2 pm in Schwartz 103)

Guidance toward successful grant applications.

For more information contact:

Laurel Carpenter
Brown 228
(781) 736-2210
(781) 736-2232 (fax)

Brandeis NOW

BARS: Brandeis Anthropology Research Seminar

All events will be held in Schwartz 103.

The Brandeis Anthropology Research Seminar (BARS) is a year-long seminar that meets most Friday afternoons at 2pm. The series includes anthropology colloquia presented by invited guests and Brandeis anthropology faculty, alternating with workshops, reading groups and presentations by graduate students. This year the seminar series is the recipient of a Brandeis University teaching innovation grant and will incorporate an expanded multimedia presence and links to the graduate and undergraduate curricula. Often we will close the seminar with an opportunity for socializing with the invited speaker and each other.

Friday, October 2 

Fat-Talk Nation: The Hidden Costs of America's War on Fat

Susan Greenhalgh, Harvard University

Susan Greenhalgh, Harvard University

In recent decades, America has been waging a veritable war on fat in which every sector of society is engaged in constant "fat-talk" aimed at educating, badgering, and ridiculing heavy people into shedding pounds. We hear a great deal about the dangers of fatness to the nation, but little about the dangers of today’s epidemic of fat-talk to individuals and society at large. In this talk, and in her book by the same name, Susan Greenhalgh tells the story of today’s fight against excess pounds by giving young people, the campaign’s main target, an opportunity to speak about experiences that have lain hidden in silence and shame. Drawing on over 200 ethnographic narratives, Greenhalgh shows how the war on fat has damaged the bodily and emotional health of young people, disrupted families and intimate relationships, and produced a generation obsessed with their bodies and defined by their size. To unpack today's fat politics, she introduces a cluster of terms—biocitizen, biomyth, biopedagogy, bioabuse, biocop, and fat personhood. Constituting a theory of the workings of our biocitizenship culture, these concepts offer powerful tools for understanding how obesity has come to remake who we are as a nation, and how we might work to reverse course for the next generation.

Susan Greenhalgh is Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University. In addition to Fat-talk Nation, she is author of Under the Medical Gaze: Facts and Fictions of Chronic Pain, and several books on Chinese biopolitics, including Just One Child: Science and Policy in Deng’s China. Before joining Harvard in 2011, she taught for over 15 years at the University of California, Irvine, where this project was born.

Friday, October 23

Laurence Ralph, Harvard University

Laurence Ralph, Harvard UniversityLaurence Ralph is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences in the Departments of Anthropology and African and African American Studies at Harvard University.  He is the author of Renegade Dreams: Living Through Injury in Gangland Chicago (University of Chicago Press). His scholarly work explores how the historical circumstances of police abuse, mass incarceration, and the drug trade naturalize disease, disability, and premature death for urban residents, who are often seen as expendable. 


Friday, November 13

Ana Mariella Bacigalupo, University of Buffalo

Ana Mariella Bacigalupo, University of BuffaloThe Saler Lecture in Religious Studies will be given by Ana Mariella Bacigalupo, Associate Professor of Anthropology at University of Buffalo. She currently holds a fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for Religion and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen, Germany.  Her fellowship project, “Memory, Spirits and Violence in Mapuche Chilean Geographies,” explores the Mapuche belief that violence perpetrated by the Chilean state creates wandering spirits of its victims. These spirits are understood to sometimes replicate the state violence and perpetrate it on community members, and at other times are seen as heroes who sacrificed themselves for the well-being of the community.

Friday, December 4

Ellen Messer, Brandeis University and Tufts University

Ellen Messer will reflect on forty years of anthropological work on Hunger and Human Rights: Theory, Policy, and Practice. Her research areas include cross-cultural perspectives on the human right to food; biocultural determinants of food and nutrition intake; sustainable food systems (with special emphasis on the roles of NGOs); impacts of agrobiotechnology on hunger; and cultural history of nutrition, agriculture, and food science.

Past Events:

Friday, September 18

The Will of Objects: Persons, Things, and Distributed Agency in Japan

Ellen Schattschneider, Brandeis University

Ellen Schaftschneider, Brandeis University

Marshall Sahlins famously defines culture as “a meaningful order of persons and things.” How, in any given sociocultural order, are the relations between persons and things conceptualized and experienced?  It is often asserted in Japan that physical objects, especially those whose shape is modeled on or evocative of the human form, have “spirit” and can exercise will, making demands on persons who must oblige their desires or risk severe consequences. This paper considers how several historical and ethnographic cases, in which a degree of autonomy or volition was assigned to material things, may be understood in reference to long-term themes in Japanese ritual and cosmology and the political aesthetics of capitalism. What abstracted and distilled forms of human labor and exchange value are embedded in physical things, and how are these dynamics channeled, reproduced, or resisted in a range of everyday meaningful practices?

Ellen Schattschneider is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Brandeis with a research focus in Japan and the Pacific. Her interests include gender and popular religion; sacred landscapes; psychoanalytic anthropology; trauma and war memory; disaster and ritual response.