Research Seminar Series

Friday, September 5th at 3:00 pm in the Faculty Club

Welcome Reception

This fall, we are excited to inaugurate the Brandeis Anthropology Research Seminar (BARS). This year-long seminar will meet most Friday afternoons at 3 pm, and will include our anthropology colloquia presented by invited guests as well as presentations by Brandeis anthropology faculty and graduate students. Moises Lino e Silva, curator of the Anthropology Research Seminar for the coming year, describes the seminar as “a venue for rigorous and creative intellectual engagement with current anthropological research.” Often we will close the Friday afternoon seminar with an opportunity for socializing with the invited speaker and each other, sometimes off campus at a nearby pub or other gathering place. 

McINtoshFriday, September 12 at 3:00 pm

Janet McIntosh, Brandeis University

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. After earning a BA at Harvard University (summa cum laude) and a second BA at Oxford University (first class honors), she undertook graduate training at the University of Michigan, earning her Ph.D in 2002 and winning a Distinguished Dissertation Award. Dr. McIntosh has published in such journals as American Ethnologist, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Journal of Pragmatics, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Africa, Journal of Religion in Africa, and Language and Communication. Her book "The Edge of Islam: Power, Personhood, and Ethnoreligious Boundaries on the Kenya Coast" (Duke University Press, 2009) won the 2010 Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of Religion. Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, she is currently in the late stages of a project on the narrated dilemmas of former colonial settlers and their descendants in Kenya. 

Friday, September 19 at 3:00 pm

Graduate Student Fieldwork Presentations Part 1

Friday, October 3 at 3:00 pm 

Rikardo Shedden, Brandeis University

Professor Shedden is a Visiting Research Scholar at Brandeis University. His research interests include Anthropology of religion and morality, with a focus on vernacularized Christianity; healing and culturally informed notions of medicine; performativity in ritual; syncretism and emergent religious traditions.

PaxonFriday, October 10 at 3:00 pm

Heather Paxson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Heather Paxson is interested in how people craft a sense of themselves as moral beings through everyday practices, especially those activities having to do with family and food. She is the author of two ethnographic monographs: Making Modern Mothers: Ethics and Family Planning in Urban Greece (University of California Press, 2004) and The Life of Cheese: Crafting Food and Value in America (University of California Press, 2012). Her recent work explores domestic artisanal cheese and the people who make it, analyzing how craftwork has become a new source of cultural and economic value within American landscapes of production and consumption. At MIT, Heather teaches courses on craft, ethnographic research, food, and gender. In 2010-11, with colleague Stefan Helmreich she co-directed a Sawyer Seminar on the Comparative Study of Cultures entitled "Sensing the Unseen." 

Friday, October 17 at 3:00 pm

Graduate Student Fieldwork Presentations Part 2

kohFriday, October 24 at 3:00 pm

Andrew Koh, Brandeis University

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.

moisesFriday, October 31 at 3:00 pm

Fieldwork 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, 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.

MiyazakiFriday, 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 21 at 3:00 pm

AAA Practice Talks

Friday, December 12 at 3:00 pm

Dissertation Proposal Defense


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: 

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

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