Research Seminar Series


Friday, January 16 at 3:00 pm

Anita Hannig, Brandeis University

Professor Hannig's research investigates a set of specialized hospitals in Ethiopia dedicated to treating women who suffer from obstetric fistula, a maternal childbirth injury that leads to chronic incontinence. Her most recent scholarship includes  "Spiritual Border Crossings: Childbirth, Postpartum Seclusion, and Religious Alterity in Amhara, Ethiopia." Africa 84. 2 (2014): 294-313. and "The Pure and the Pious: Corporeality, Flow, and Transgression in Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity." Journal of Religion in Africa 43. 3 (2013): 297-328. At Brandeis Hannig teaches Medicine, Body, and Culture; The Anthropology of Gender; Dirt, Disgust, and Contagion: The Anthropology of Pollution; Medicine and Religion; and Integrative Seminar on Health.

Past Events: 

Friday, November 21 at 3:00 pm

AAA Practice Talks

Friday, November 14 at 3:00 pm


Hiro Miyazaki, Hunt Lecture in Economic Anthropology, Cornell University

Miyazaki's recent work has been driven by a very simple question: how do we keep hope alive? He is interested in this question because of ongoing efforts to claim and even instrumentalize the category of hope in a wide spectrum of genres of knowledge from psychotherapy to conservative and progressive political thought. He has investigated the question in two radically different field sites, a peri-urban village in Suva, Fiji and a trading room of a major Japanese securities firm in Tokyo. In 2013 Professor Miyazaki published the text, Arbitraging Japan: Dreams of Capitalism at the End of Finance, and his study The Economy of Hope is forthcoming. For more information on Professor Miyazaki's research and publications, please see his website.


Friday, November 7 at 3:00 pm

Karen Strassler, Queens College

Karen Strassler is Associate Professor at Queens College. Her research interests include cultural anthropology; visual and media culture; photography and new media technologies; history and memory; post-colonial literature, film and art; and Indonesia, Southeast Asia, and Asian diasporas. At Queens College Professor Strassler teaches Intro to Cultural Anthropology, Essentials of Cultural Anthropology, and Visual Anthropology. For more information on Professor Strassler's research and publications, please see her website.

Friday, October 31 at 3:00 pm

moisesFieldwork workshop: Moises Lino e Silva, Brandeis University

Professor Lino e Silva holds a joint lecturer appointment with Anthropology and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Brandeis University. His areas of expertise include Brazilian urban life; favelas; and the question of freedom in its relationship to wider topics such as poverty, sexuality, religion, violence, social justice, globalization, and linguistic practices. Lino e Silva's most recent publications include "Queer Sex Vignettes from a Brazilian Favela: An Ethnographic Striptease." Ethnography (2014) and a review of "Urban Encounters: Affirmative Action and Black Identity in Brazil. André Cicalo. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. American Ethnologist 41. 2 (2014). For more information on his research, publications, and courses taught, please see his website.

Friday, October 24 at 3:00 pm

"Brandeis Vinography of Israel Project: Rediscovering the sublime wines of old"


Andrew Koh, Brandeis University

This talk explores the origins and nature of viticulture in the ancient Mediterranean. Thanks to the discovery of the oldest and largest scientifically identified palatial wine cellar in the Mediterranean at Tel Kabri in Israel, the Vinography of Israel Project strives to advance our knowledge of both the trade and consumption of ancient wine. We know that marzeahs, ritual feasts involving heavy wine drinking, were a central part of ancient Near Eastern culture. After the 7th century Muslim conquest of the Levant, the famed vineyards of Phoenicia gradually vanished. In the 19th century, noted Zionist Baron Edmond de Rothschild imported grape varieties from his chateaus in Bordeaux, which remain the basis of Israeli viticulture to this day.  By isolating grape DNA at Kabri and conducting GIS and ecological studies to identify feral grapes that might have descended from these ancient cultivars, we hope to rediscover the heralded wines of old.

Professor Koh is the Florence Levy Kay Fellow in Classical Art, Archeology, and Chemistry. His areas of expertise include Greek art & archaeology; Aegean prehistory; Bronze & Iron Age Mediterranean; archaeological & conservation science; GIS; cultural heritage & ethnoarchaeology of Crete; Silk Road; ancient craftsmanship & commodities; and cultural hybridity. For additional information on Professor Koh's research, publications, and courses taught, please see his website.

Friday, October 17 at 3:00 pm

Graduate Student Fieldwork Presentations Part 2

Ryan Collins will speak on archaeological fieldwork at Yaxuná in Yucatan, Mexico, Jessica Bray will discuss queer activism in Mumbai, and Paige Henderson will cover cyberstalking in India.

Friday, October 10 at 3:00 pm

"The Life of Cheese: Negotiating the Values of American Artisanal Production"

Heather Paxson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cheese is a perishable good, alive with microorganisms. The “the life” of artisanal cheese is as various — as unstandardized — as are the lives and livelihoods of the people who make it. Elaborating on both elements of the life of cheese — its lively materiality and the vocation it affords — in this talk I lay out the challenges that American artisan producers face, and the worth they derive, in handcrafting cheese for commercial sale.
Anthropologist Heather Paxson is William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she serves as Director of Graduate Studies for the PhD Program in History, Anthropology & STS. Her second book, *The Life of Cheese: Crafting Food and Value in America* (University of California, 2013), won the Diana Forsythe Prize in 2013.


Friday, October 3 at 3:00 pm 

"Christianity, curative ritual, and newly emergent Kalinga traditions in highland Luzon, Philippines"

Rikardo Shedden, Brandeis University

Recent research undertaken in upland Kalinga, Philippines, shows that convert populations identify as Christian yet participate also in local religious and curative rituals. This participation across religious boundaries has allowed for the development over the last two decades of a newly emergent tradition in the form of a Christianized healing mass. The paper asks how people engage in co-occurring yet doctrinally and cosmologically distinct religious practices, seemingly without a sense of contradiction. Building in part on Rappaport (1999), I offer an answer to this question by proposing a new conceptual framework which considers the relations between competing and complementary aspects of juxtaposed religious traditions.  

Rikardo Shedden holds a PhD in Anthropology from the Australian National University, Canberra, and has conducted 15 months of fieldwork in southern Kalinga Province, Philippines, focusing primarily on the emergence of a new religious tradition that incorporates aspects of Christianity and traditional healing practices. He has research interests that include the anthropology of Christianity, syncretic religions, morality, performativity in ritual, and culturally informed notions of sickness and healing. He is currently a visiting research scholar at Brandeis University.

Friday, September 19 at 3:00 pm

Graduate Student Fieldwork Presentations Part 1

Doug Bafford will speak on discourse of creationism among Kentuckian evangelical Christians, Lauren Bader will discuss folk narrative in Dresden, Germany, and Holly Doerflinger will cover undocumented immigrants in Providence, RI.

Friday, September 12 at 3:00 pm

mcintosh"Linguistic reconciliation? Moral nationalism and language essentialisms from post-apartheid South Africa"

Janet McIntosh, Brandeis University

This talk explores the cross-cutting motives behind and commentaries on a distinctive genre of YouTube videos showcasing South African whites speaking indigenous African languages. Professor McIntosh will explore some ironic reversals of colonial- and apartheid- era language ideologies and analyze the language essentialisms embedded in both enthusiastic and critical commentaries on these videos. She will suggest the commentaries point to divergent notions of which moral stances might rectify the nation's past. Professor McIntosh, Associate Professor of Anthropology, is a cultural anthropologist whose work focuses on linguistic anthropology, psychological anthropology, language ideology, narrative and discourse, personhood, essentialism, religion, ritual, Islam, ethnic identity, colonialism and postcoloniality, and East Africa. Download the poster here. (PDF)

Tuesday April 8th, 2014 4:00 p.m. International Lounge, Usdan

Sarah Lamb

Ageless Aging or Meaningful Decline? A Critical Anthropology of "Successful Aging"

Sarah Lamb, professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University will give the Women's and Gender Studies Distinguished Faculty Lecture this year. Her talk, titled Ageless Aging or Meaningful Decline? A Critical Anthropology of "Successful Aging," will occur on Tuesday April 8, at 4:00 p.m. in the International Lounge in Usdan. This even is free and open to the public. Click here for additional information on this event.

Monday March 31st, 2014 12:00 p.m. Shiffman 217

"Cognitive Influences on Cultural Transmission:  Memory and Religious Ritual"

Robert N. McCauleyThe Anthropology Department is pleased to host William Rand Kenan Jr. University Professor of Philosophy Robert N. McCauley of Emory University to deliver the annual Saler Lecture this March. Professor McCauley is the author of Why Religion Is Natural and Science Is Not and the co-author with E. Thomas Lawson of both Bringing Ritual to Mind: Psychological Foundations of Cultural Forms and Rethinking Religion: Connecting Cognition and Culture. McCauley is also the editor of The Churchlands and Their Critics and the co-editor with Harvey Whitehouse of Mind and Religion. In addition, he is the author of more than 75 articles, chapters, and reviews in a variety of journals in philosophy, religion, anthropology, psychology, and cognitive science. He has taught courses at Emory University in all of those fields as well as in linguistics and neuroscience and behavioral biology. McCauley has lectured at colleges and universities as well as national and international conferences and professional meetings across North America, Europe, and Africa.  For more information, please visit his website.

Monday March 31st, 2014 5:00 pm. Wasserman Cinematheque

Preceding her talk on April 1st, 2014, Christine Walley will screen her and Chris Boebel's in-progress documentary film Exit Zero. The film begins at 5:00 pm in Wasserman Cinematheque.

Tuesday April 1st, 2014 11:00 am - 12:20 pm. Lown 301

exit zeroChristine Walley discusses her most recent book, Exit Zero: Family and Class in Post-Industrial Chicago.

In 1980, Christine Walley’s world was turned upside down when the steel mill in Southeast Chicago where her father worked abruptly closed.  In the ensuing years, thousands of other area residents would also lose their jobs in the mills—just one example of the vast scale of deindustrialization occurring across the United States.  The disruption of this event propelled Walley into a career as a cultural anthropologist.In Exit Zero, she brings her anthropological perspective home, examining the fate of her family and that of blue-collar America at large.

RubinFriday April 4, 2014 12:30 p.m. Shiffman 219

A Conversation with Gayle S. Rubin

As the second event in the Sexuality and Queer Studies 2014 Speaker Series, Professor Gayle S. Rubin, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan will speak on Friday, April 4th, at 12:30 pm in Shiffman 219.  Rubin is a cultural anthropologist and activist whose work has been influential in the areas of sex and gender studies. Rubin was a "pro-sex" activist during the Feminist Sex Wars of the 80's and she co-founded the first known lesbian SM group, Samois. Click here for additional information on the series.

Tuesday March 4th, 2014 2:00-5:00 pm

Global Protests, Local Realities: Understanding the Massive Brazilian Street Protests of 2013

The symposium will provide a unique opportunity to discuss and analyze the recent popular uprisings in Brazil from a multidisciplinary lens: social, political, economic, environmental, human rights, etc.  There will be a discussion of  the large-scale issues being faced by Brazilians as they prepare to host the Soccer World Cup in June, 2014, and elect a new President in October, 2014. For more information please see Global Protests, Local Realities: Understanding the Massive Brazilian Street Protests of 2013.

Monday March 3rd, 2014 6:00-7:30 pm

The Crisis in South Sudan: Origins, Analysis, and Prospects for the Future (and Mangok Bol update)

The recent tragedy experienced by the families of Mr. Mangok Bol and others here at Brandeis has called attention to the unfolding humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, the world's youngest nation. Panelists will discuss the causes of the recent hostilities in South Sudan, the scope of the humanitarian emergency, and prospects for peace- building and reconciliation within South Sudan. For more information please see The Crisis in South Sudan: Origins, Analysis and Prospects for the Future

Wednesday, November 13th, 2:00 pm in Brown 316

"Classic Maya Bodies and Souls in Bioarchaeological Perspective."

Andrew SchererThe Anthropology Department will host a colloquium featuring Andrew Scherer, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology at Brown University, on Wednesday, November 13th, at 2:00pm. Scherer is an anthropological archaeologist and biological anthropologist with a geographic focus in Mesoamerica (Maya). He co-directs an interdisciplinary archaeological research project that is exploring Classic Maya polities along the Usumacinta River in Mexico. Scherer has conducted bioarchaeological research at Maya sites throughout Mexico and Guatemala, including Piedras Negras, Yaxha, and El Zotz. Scherer's research interests include mortuary archaeology, warfare and violence, ritual practice, political organization, diet and subsistence, bioarchaeology, and landscape archaeology.

Tuesday, November 12th - 5:00 pm Pearlman Lounge 113

Neil HertzAs Professor Neil Hertz explains, "For decades, Israel and Palestine have been locked in ongoing conflict over land that each claims as its own. The conflict is often considered a calculated landgrab, but this characterization does little to take into account the myriad motivations that have shaped it in ways that make it seem intractable, from powerful nationalist and theological ideologies to the more practical concerns of the people who live there and just want to carry out their lives without the constant threat of war."

In 2011, Neil Hertz lived in Ramallah in Palestine’s occupied West Bank and taught in Abu Dis, just outside Jerusalem. His book, Pastoral in Palestine, offers a personal take on the conflict. Though the situation has resulted in the erosion of both societies, Hertz could find no one in either Israel or Palestine who expressed much hope for a solution. Instead, they are resigned to find ways to live with the situation. Illustrated throughout with full-color photographs taken by the author, Pastoral in Palestine puts a human face to politics in the Middle East.

Neil Hertz is a longtime literature professor at Johns Hopkins and Cornell University, and he spent two semesters teaching at Al-Quds University in Palestine. He will be speaking and giving a slide show at Brandeis on November 12th. This event is co-sponsored by the  Anthropology Department, the English Department, and the Ethics Center.

Friday, November 8th, 11:00-12:20 pm, Mandel G03

"Applied Anthropology in the 'New Economy': How the localization movement could bring anthropologists to mainstream economic development policy in the U.S."

jessicaJessica Meissner '05 will be giving an open lecture to Prof. Elizabeth Ferry's class "Consumption, Production, Exchange." Jessica has a degree in economic anthropology, and she is currently on a fellowship at University of Michigan, studying global corporate structure and practice. She will be speaking about her recent work in Washtenaw County, MI to study the needs of non-venture capital funded entrepreneurs. In particular, Jessica is interested in creating meaningful employment for communities through worker-owned and multi-stakeholder cooperatives as a way to finance startups that would employ under/unemployed workers and transform traditionally low-wage work into viable long-term careers.

Friday, October 25th, 11:00am, Mandel G03

"Cooperation and Competition among Oaxacan Wood Carvers"

chibnikThe Anthropology Department is pleased to host Michael Chibnik, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Iowa and editor-in-chief of the American Anthropologist. Professor Chibnik will deliver the annual Hunt Lecture in Economic Anthropology on October 25th.  Providing a background for his talk, Professor Chibnik explains, "in recent years, some economic anthropologists have become increasingly interested in measuring the extent to which different groups of people cooperate and compete with one another.  Such efforts have often foundered because of complexities associated with defining 'cooperation' and 'competition.'  This talk illustrates the multidimensional nature of 'cooperation' and "competition' through an examination of changes in the economic behavior of wood carving families from the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico. These artisans sell brightly colored, elaborately carved pieces in the international folk art market. Over the past several decades, the carvers have become considerably more willing to share information about their techniques and have formed cooperative organizations that promote and market their pieces. Nonetheless, they continue to compete strongly with one another for customers."

For more information on Chibnik's research interests and publications, please see his website.

Brandeis hosts events in conjunction with Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at Museum of Science

For additional information, please visit:

Dead Sea Scrolls: Life in Ancient Times Graduate Symposium

Brandeis information on the Dead Sea Scrolls events

Read the Brandeis Now story on the Dead Sea Scrolls