Student Talks, Events, and Workshops

Tuesday, May 3 (Study Day)

Schwartz 103 (Time is TBA)

Anthropology Student Research Presentations

Anthropology majors who have completed an independent study or written a senior honors thesis will present on their research.

For more information contact:

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

Upcoming Events

Full Calendar >>


Click to view expanded BARS website.

The Brandeis Anthropology Research Seminar (BARS) is a year-long seminar that meets most Friday afternoons at 2pm in Schwartz 103. 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.

Upcoming Events

Friday, February 5, 2016

2 pm in Schwartz 103

Faris Khan, Brandeis University

Co-sponsored with South Asian Studies, Sexuality and Queer Studies, and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Illegible Bodies: Khwaja Sira Activists, the State and Sex/Gender Regulation in Pakistan

Between 2009 and 2012, the Pakistani Supreme Court granted rights to a category of gender ambiguous and sexually non-normative citizens now commonly known as khwaja siras. The activities surrounding the Court’s deliberations highlight the term’s complicated journey of being institutionalized for legal and regulatory purposes. By focusing on the appropriation of “khwaja sira” in activist and state domains, this paper considers the role of various social actors in the production and perpetuation of ambiguity.

Faris Khan is a Lecturer in Anthropology whose research interests include sexuality and gender, queer and transgender studies, identities and subject positions, globalization and transnationalism, activism and social movements, digital and biotechnologies, Pakistan, South Asia. This spring, Dr. Khan is teaching courses on Activism, Resistance, and Change and Sexualities and Genders in Crosscultural Perspective.

Friday, February 26, 2016

2 pm in Schwartz 103

Archaeology Graduate Student Presentations

Brandeis University archaeology graduate students will present on their summer and fall 2015 fieldwork projects.

Friday, March 4, 2016

2 pm in Schwartz 103

Stephen Silliman, University of Massachusetts, Boston

Professor Stephen Silliman, Director of the Graduate Program in Historical Archaeology at University of Massachusetts, Boston, works primarily on topics pertaining to Indigenous people and colonialism. As a historical archaeologist (and historical anthropologist) he is interested in the interplay of material culture, architecture, documentary, and oral historical data sources as a way to tell more enriched and relevant stories about the past. Favorite sources include mass-produced goods such as ceramics and glass, stone tools, and uses of space, which he uses to try to address the nature of daily cultural practice, identity, labor, gender, and community life for people in the past.

Friday, March 11, 2016

2 pm in Schwartz 103

Angela Zito, New York University

Angela Zito is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Religious Studies, co-director of the Center for Religion and Media, and an Associate Faculty in Cinema Studies. Her research interests include cultural history/historical anthropology; critical theories of religion; religions of China; filaility in China; religion and media; history and anthropology of embodiment; gender; performance and subjectivity; documentary film. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

2 pm in Schwartz 103

Sociocultural Anthropology Graduate Student Presentations

Brandeis University graduate students will present on their current fieldwork projects. This is also the date of our Graduate Open House to welcome accepted students of the next entering graduate class.

Friday, April 1, 2016

2 pm in Schwartz 103

Sasha Newell, North Carolina State University

Sasha Newell is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology. He has conducted fieldwork in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, amongst Congolese and Ivoirian immigrants in Paris, and the U.S. His research interests revolve around the social life of objects and the role of materiality in the production of culture, but include urban social networks and exchange, consumption and postcolonial identity, witchcraft and magic, semiotics, and ideologies of modernity. His book, The Modernity Bluff: Crime, Consumption, and Citizenship in Côte d’Ivoire, describes how urban African youth consume European and U.S. brands in an effort to perform “modern” success. Such performances, involving dance, slang, and conspicuous consumption, are recognized as bluffing, but imitation is appreciated as an art form rather than scorned as artifice. Newell is currently engaged in a new research project on hoarding, storage space, memory, and the role of stored objects in the production of kinship in U.S. culture.

Friday, April 8, 2016

2 pm in Schwartz 103

Caitlin Zaloom, New York University, presents the Hunt Lecture in Economic Anthropology

Caitlin Zaloom is Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis. Her research interests include culture and economy; cities and globalization; financial markets; technology and cities; science and technology studies; and social theory. She is the author of Out of the Pits: Traders and Technology from Chicago to London (University of Chicago Press).

Friday, April 15, 2016

2 pm in Schwartz 103

Daniel Souleles, Brandeis University

Daniel Souleles has research interests in value, time, cosmologies, conversion, finance, wealth, poverty, and exchange theory. At Brandeis this year, he is teaching courses in Business, Culture and Society; Applied Anthropology; Kinship, Families and Households; and Production, Consumption, Exchange.

2015/2016 Past Events:

September 18

Ellen Schattschneider, Brandeis University:  The Will of Objects: Persons, Things, and Distributed Agency in Japan

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.

October 2 

Susan Greenhalgh, Harvard University: Fat-Talk Nation: The Hidden Costs of America's War on Fat

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.

October 16

Graduate Student Research Presentations

The following students presented on their research projects:

  • Laura Broadwater: “Companion Animals, Their Humans, and Veterinary Health in Texas”
  • Scott Schnur: "The Way Life Should Be: Farming, Land, and Futures in Central Maine”
  • Aneil Tripathy: “Assembling a Green Bond Market”
  • Shuyang Su: “Facing Modernity: The Lives of Porcelain Artists and their Works in China”
  • Zhiduo Cheng: "When Hans Meet Whites in the Age of Global Capitalism: From Queer Activism to Racial/Ethnical (Zhongzu/minzu) Sexuality”
  • Sarah Reynolds: “Religion and Medicine: Formulating Meaning in Southern Benin”
  • Nanna Hilm: “Cultivating ‘Healthy Aging’ in Danish Health Promotion to Minorities”

October 23

Laurence Ralph, Harvard University: Wheelchair Politics: Disability and Violence in a Chicago Gang

This paper argues that, while admirable, the focus on assuaging social difference within the disability right’s movement has served to obscure key distinctions within disabled communities along the axes of race, socioeconomic status, and gender. While the larger community of disabled activists tends to use the social model of disability, in which there is multiple ways to view ability and physical capacities are not devalued, disabled ex-gang members rely on a medical model of disability that highlights physical differences rather than diminishing them. Here we see what happens when several wheelchair-bound ex-gang members use their life stories to try and steer other young gang members away from a gang’s reliance on sacrifice and vengeance. The fact that they are willing to insist on the defectiveness of their own bodies as a way to deter gun violence is an example of the sheer magnitude of problems with which poor African Americans must contend, and the sheer burden that violence creates in urban Chicago

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. 


November 13

Ana Mariella Bacigalupo, University of Buffalo: The Potency of Indigenous Bibles and Biography: Mapuche Shamanic Literacy and Historical Consciousness

Ana Mariella Bacigalupo, University of BuffaloThe 15th Annual Saler Lecture in Religious Studies. Co-sponsored by the Programs in Religious Studies and Latin American and Latino Studies

Mapuche oral shamanic biographies and performances—some of which take the form of “bibles” and involve shamanic literacies—play a central role in the production of indigenous history in southern Chile. Bacigalupo explains how and why a mixed-race Mapuche shaman charged her with writing about her life and practice in the form of such a “bible.” This book would become a ritual object and a means of storing her shamanic power by textualizing it, thereby allowing her to speak to a future audience. The realities and powers her “bible” stored could be extracted, transformed, circulated, and actualized for a variety of ends, even to bring about shamanic rebirth. Ultimately, through their use and interpretation of this kind of “bible,” Mapuche shamans expand academic notions of indigenous history and literacy.

Ana Mariella Bacigalupo, Associate Professor of Anthropology at University of Buffalo, 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. Bacigalupo is the author of Shamans of the Foye Tree: Gender, Power and Healing Among Chilean Mapuche and Thunder Shaman: Making History with Mapuche Spirits in Chile and Patagonia.

Friday, December 4

2 pm in Schwartz 103

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.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Asli Zengin: Violent Intimacies: Transgender Embodiment, Medico-Legal World and the State in Contemporary Turkey

In this talk, Zengin will focus on the regulation of transgenderism in Turkey, and explore how this regulation is related to the formation and articulation of state power, a power that she characterizes as “intimate”. Zengin will trace this intimate state power in two ethnographic settings: gender reassignment process and the death and funerals of trans people. Asli Zengin is an Allen-Berenson Fellow in Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Her research interests include sexuality, gender, trans studies, queer theory, the body, intimacy, kinship and relatedness, critical social theory, medical and legal anthropology, anthropology of violence, anthropology of the state, anthropology of space, contemporary issues in Middle East, Turkey. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Toronto.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Gabriele Koch: Producing Iyashi: Healing and Labor in Tokyo’s Sex Industry. Co-sponsored with East Asian Studies.

Gabriele Koch is a cultural anthropologist whose work focuses on how globalizing human rights and labor rights discourses intersect with longstanding histories of gender, labor, and care in urban Japan. She received her Ph.D. and M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Michigan and her B.A. in East Asian Studies from Stanford University.  She is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University.

Dr. Koch’s book project, Human Rights in Japan’s Libidinal Economy, explores contestations over the meaning of labor and rights in Tokyo’s mainstream commercial sex industry. In Japan, female sex workers are ambivalent about their work, not because it involves sexual services, but because it is female care work. At the same time that the short-term employment of young Japanese women in this industry is being normalized, labor and human rights advocates are politicizing these women in new ways. Based on ethnographic fieldwork and archival research, Dr. Koch’s manuscript examines how intimate relations in Tokyo’s sex industry are implicated within recent political-economic transformations to explore why sex workers do not recognize themselves in the advocacy of competing rights movements.