For more information about anthropology department events:

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

BARS | Spring 2017

The Brandeis Anthropology Research Seminar (BARS) is a year-long seminar that meets most Friday afternoons at 2 p.m. in Schwartz 103 (unless otherwise noted). The series includes anthropology colloquia presented by invited guests and Brandeis anthropology faculty, alternating with workshops, reading groups and presentations by graduate students. Often we will close the seminar with an opportunity for socializing with the invited speaker and each other.

Friday, Feb. 3

Pascal MenorahPascal Menoret, Renée and Lester Crown Chair in Modern Middle East Studies, Brandeis University

Graveyard of the Clerics: Islamism in Saudi Suburbia

"Why did many Saudi activists, who live in what claims to be an Islamic state, embrace Islamism? How do they organize and mobilize followers in a highly repressive environment? This talk will look at the 2005 municipal elections, which were won in the major cities by Islamist candidates. What network won the elections? How did Islamists mobilize despite a draconian electoral code? What do these elections mean for the wider Islamist movement?"

Professor Menoret's work focuses on urban history, urban planning, Saudi Arabia, and the Arabian Peninsula. His courses include Infrastructure, Islamism, and Culture and Power in the Middle East.

Friday, Feb. 10

Strategies for Success in Writing Grants for Anthropology

Presented by Charles Golden and Anita Hannig

Tuesday, Feb. 14, 3:30 p.m., in Schwartz 112. Film screening Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 11 a.m. in Olin-Sang 101

Patricia AlvarezPatricia Alvarez Astacio, Rice University

Piece Wages as Ethical Wages: Valuing Peruvian Artisanal Handwork in the Fashion Industry

Patricia Alvarez is an anthropologist and filmmaker whose scholarly research and creative practices develops in the folds between ethnography, critical theory, and the documentary arts. Her more recent works converge on issues of gender and ethnic representation in neoliberal, post-authoritarian Peru. She is working on her book manuscript Moral Fibers: Making Fashion Ethical, which follows the supply chain of high-end alpaca wool garments from indigenous herders and artisanal workshops in the Peruvian Andean highlands to trade and runway events. The book combines the aesthetic concerns of visual and material culture, placing them within an analytic framework that foregrounds questions of political economy and development logics to unpack the parameters and exclusions coded into an "ethical" capitalist industry. Her most recent film, Entretejido, premiered at the Havanna International Film Festival and received an an award from the Society for Visual Anthropology. She completed her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology with a Designated Emphasis in Film and Digital Media, and her BA in from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras. Currently, she is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality at Rice University.

Co-sponsored with the Program in Latin America and Latino Studies, and the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences.

Friday, March 3 

David Carrasco

16th Annual Saler Lecture in Religious Studies

Davíd Carrasco, Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin America, Harvard University

"Digging Myths: Aztec Human Sacrifice and the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan"

Dr. Carrasco is a Mexican-American historian of religions with particular interest in Mesoamerican cities as symbols, and the Mexican-American borderlands. His studies with historians of religions at the University of Chicago inspired him to work on the question, "where is your sacred place," on the challenges of postcolonial ethnography and theory, and on the practices and symbolic nature of ritual violence in comparative perspective. Working with Mexican archaeologists, he has carried out research in the excavations and archives associated with the sites of Teotihuacan and Mexico-Tenochtitlan resulting in Religions of MesoamericaCity of Sacrifice, and Quetzalcoatl and the Irony of Empire.

Co-sponsored by the Program in Latin American and Latino Studies

Friday, March 17

Graduate Student Presentations

Anthropology graduate students who received departmental funding for their research projects will present on their work.

Ilana Cohen: “Health, Wealth, and Change: English-Speaking Tamil Women’s Perceptions of Manjal Neerathu Vizhai [a Tamil menarche ritual]”

Clara Lee: “Anti-Feminism and Men’s Rights: Politics of Imagination in South Korea”.

Sasha Martin: “Reconfiguring Visions of Inevitable Maternity: Examining the Stigma of Infertility and its Impact on Women’s Gender Identity in the United States”

Nina Oria-Louriero: “Huari-Ancash Bioarchaeological Field Project”

Friday, March 24

Liron ShaniLiron Shani, Schusterman Center Postdoctoral Fellow and Department of Anthropology Lecturer, Brandeis University

On peppers, acacias and people: Negotiating boundaries between agriculture and the environment in the Israeli desert

Relations between humans and 'nature' have long been a focus of anthropological inquiry. In recent years, scholars have generally dismissed the distinction between these categories as empirically and conceptually irrelevant. Based on field work in an agricultural community in the Israeli desert (2010-2015), this talk will show that the boundaries between nature and culture remain salient to social and critical analysis that focuses on interpretive aspects of environment and space, as well as the ongoing negotiation of these distinctions. This research demonstrates that some actors in the Arava see environmental preservation as part of 'nature' and agricultural lands as part of ‘culture,’ thereby emphasizing the boundaries between the two. But their relations to the culture/nature complex are dynamic, changing in accordance with personal circumstances, external pressures, and evolving definitions of these categories. And so, despite contemporary anthropology’s prevailing assumption that the nature-culture distinction is empirically irrelevant to research, the distinction is revealed here to be alive and well.

Dr. Shani's work focuses on environmental anthropology, human and non-human relations, environmental and spatial transformations, modern agriculture, and the politics of identity and belonging.

Friday, March 31

Publishing your work in Anthropology

Presented by Elizabeth Ferry and Janet McIntosh. After the workshop, join GSAS staff members at the Stein for a conversation about students' experiences in the anthropology graduate program.

Friday, April 7

Safety in the Field: Safety Planning and Support Services to
Address Gender-Based Violence and Sexual Violence in the Field

Organized by Amy Hanes, Anthropology PhD Candidate

This session, aimed at graduate students, addresses practical issues surrounding gender-based violence and sexual violence in the field. There will be three interactive components:

  • A panel discussion of 3 graduate students sharing first-person accounts of violence in the field
  • A safety planning exercise aimed at helping ethnographers minimize risks in the field. Facilitated by Amy Hanes, doctoral candidate and former domestic violence victims' services and prevention manager
  • Information about local and abroad survivor resources provided by Julia Rickey, LICSW, Survivor Advocate and Education Specialist at the Brandeis Office of Prevention Services. 

Friday, April 28

Sarah BeskySarah Besky, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and International and Public Affairs, Brown University

Dr. Besky received her PhD in anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  From 2012 to 2015, she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Society of Fellows at the University of Michigan, where she completed a project based on fieldwork in Darjeeling, India.  Her book, The Darjeeling Distinction: Labor and Justice on Fair-Trade Tea Plantations in India (University of California Press, 2014) explores how legacies of colonialism intersect with contemporary market reforms to reconfigure notions of value—of labor, of place, and of tea itself.  Her current research explores agrarian and industrial reform in the Indian tea industry through the lenses of taste and masculinity.  

Dr. Besky will deliver the 8th Annual Hunt Lecture in Economic Anthropology, entitled:

Cheap Tea and the Endurance of Monoculture in the Dooars, India

Across the Dooars region of West Bengal, tea plantations are closing at a high rate. Plantation closures, however, might be better understood as a mass abandonment. On these plantations, no formal lock-outs have been declared. Instead, management has simply stopped paying wages, leaving plantation workers stranded, awaiting a possible re-opening. Plantation closure turns landscapes that once kept workers marginally supported and alive into killing fields. Over the last five years, as the number of closed plantations in the Dooars has increased, journalists have reported an alarming increase in starvation deaths across the region. While the active operation of plantations has been seen as exploitative and violent, abandonment highlights the endurance of the plantation landscape. Its power to isolate, its power to kill, its power to render labor immobile and bonded outlasts the active presence of capital.  All the while, tea bushes themselves--particularly in the form of cheap blends sold on the domestic market--persist.

Co-sponsored with the South Asian Studies Program