Past Speakers

Vivekanand Vimal
Ashton Graybiel Spatial Orientation Laboratory, Brandeis University
Sept. 15

Vivekanand VimalVivekanand Pandey Vimal is a neuroscientist who explores the effects of gravitational cues on humans' ability to learn to balance. His research relies on data from experiments using the Multi-Axes Rotation and Tilt Device at the Ashton Graybiel Spatial Orientation Laboratory. He has published findings from this work in the journals Experimental Brain Research and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He has also been recognized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his work in science education, winning an award for his digital media project dedicated to "building bridges between science and human rights." For this workshop, Dr. Vimal discussed ethical dimensions of scientific practice and his recent publication titled "Learning Dynamic Balancing in the Roll Plane with and without Gravitational Cues."

Michael Jackson
Distinguished Professor of World Religions, Harvard University
Oct. 6

Michael D. JacksonMichael D. Jackson is an anthropologist and creative writer who has published over thirty books of ethnography, poetry, and memoir, embracing innovative approaches to fiction and non-fiction alike. Since 1969 he has conducted research among the Kuranko of Sierra Leone, the Warlpiri and Kuku-Yalanji of Australia, and African migrants in Europe. His theoretical contributions involve the application of pragmatist and critical approaches to ethnographic understandings of the human experience, including the development of existential anthropology. In addition to his extensive publication record, he has held teaching positions across the globe at Indiana University, the University of Sydney, the University of Copenhagen, and Harvard University. For more information about his work, visit his website. For our workshop, Professor Jackson shared and discussed with the Brandeis community an upcoming manuscript, entitled "Words and Deeds," concerning the various actions that words and silence can take.

Ashley D. Farmer
Departments of History and African-American Studies, Boston University
Nov. 3

Ashley D. FarmerAshley D. Farmer is a historian of black women's intellectual life and radical politics, particularly contributions to the Black Power movement in the twentieth century. She has published in peer-reviewed academic venues, including the Journal of African American History, but has also made her work available in popular media and blogs. Her first monograph, titled "Remaking Black Power: How Black Women Transformed an Era," will be released in November 2017 from University of North Carolina Press. For this workshop, Professor Farmer shared a manuscript draft titled "'All the Progress to be Made Will Be Made by Maladjusted Negroes': Mae Mallory, Black Women’s Activism, and the Making of the Black Radical Tradition,” which explores the life and activism of Mae Mallory, who organized from the 1930s to the 1980s. More information about Farmer's media appearances and forthcoming scholarship can be found on her website.

Keridwen Luis
Department of Anthropology, Brandeis University
Nov. 17

Keridwen LuisKeridwen Luis is an anthropologist who explores questions around gender, culture theory, fandom, medicine, and nonheteronormative sexualities. She has conducted anthropological research on the roles of race and gender in women’s land movements, and she has made contributions to the scholarship on queerness, body performativity, and cultural negotiation. In addition to ethnographic scholarship, she teaches courses in the anthropology of gender and queerness, social media, and the life course at Brandeis and Harvard University. Here she shared with the Brandeis community a portion of her upcoming book project, tentatively titled "Sensitive Fannish Faces: Affect, Community, Identity, Queerness," which draws on queer theory and critical race theory to consider how people performatively construct identity and community in fan environments.

Jack Cao
Department of Psychology, Harvard University
Feb. 16

Jack CaoJack Cao is a doctoral candidate in social psychology at Harvard University. His research examines how social inequalities shape and are influenced by people's implicit beliefs about group characteristics. He considers the underlying cognitive mechanisms that perpetuate bias, as well as potential avenues for changing such entrenched habits. To answer these questions, he conducts large-scale behavioral experiments in implicit social cognition using Bayesian computational modeling. His work has been funded by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and he is a doctoral fellow in the Inequality & Social Policy program at the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy through the Harvard Kennedy School. Before graduate study at Harvard, he served as an instructor with Teach for America in New Orleans, LA. At this workshop, he presented a manuscript titled "Bayesian Judgments but Egalitarian Preferences" on the use of group averages to make judgments about specific individuals, raising concerns about the psychological dimensions of fair treatment.

Abigail Cooper
Department of History, Brandeis University
April 13

Abigail CooperAbigail Cooper is an assistant professor of history at Brandeis University. She specializes in the American Civil War and its aftermath, in particular on black refugee or "contraband camps." Her work considers the role of ritual and religious revival in understanding the experience of emancipation. This historical research focuses on interactions across racial and regional backgrounds and asks what relevance these narratives hold for contemporary discussions of black freedom. She has received fellowship support from the Boston Athenaeum, the Massachusetts Historical Society, and the American Antiquarian Society, as well as a postdoctoral position at Yale University. Before attending the University of Pennsylvania for graduate study in American history, she was involved in theatre arts education in Mississippi and New York. To learn more about her scholarship, visit her Brandeis faculty page. At this workshop, she shared a draft of her most recent project on nineteenth-century refugee camps.

Christina Simko
Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Williams College
April 17 (Note Different Location: Gerstenzang 124)

Christina SimkoChristina E. Simko is an assistant professor of sociology who teaches and conducts research at Williams College. She explores the historical and contemporary sociology of collective memory and social trauma through the lens of cultural meaning-making. Her work has appeared in the American Sociological Review, and in 2015 she published with Oxford University Press a book titled The Politics of Consolation: Memory and the Meaning of September 11, which was given an honorable mention for the Mary Douglas Prize for Best Book in the Sociology of Culture by the American Sociological Association. In addition to her original scholarship, she teaches courses on social theory, memory, and American social drama. At this workshop, she presented a draft titled "Oprah and the Politics of Consolation," which considers recent social and political events through the perspective of collective trauma, symbolic figures, and national institutions. To learn more about her teaching and scholarship, visit her faculty website.

Anita Hannig
Department of Anthropology, Brandeis University
April 25

Anita HannigAnita Hannig is an assistant professor of anthropology at Brandeis University and is affiliated with the programs in women's, gender, and sexuality studies and health: science, society, and policy (HSSP). She conducts ethnographic research on medicine and cultural ideology in East Africa and North America. Her first project explored the social, aesthetic, and bodily effects of responses to obstetric fistula at an Ethiopian treatment center. She published material from this fieldwork in the Journal of Religion in Africa and American Anthropologist, as well as a monograph published through the University of Chicago Press titled Beyond Surgery: Injury, Healing, and Religion at an Ethiopian Hospital. Her current project is concerned with how patients and caregivers across the United States are navigating the public debate over medical aid-in-dying and challenging culturally-embedded ideas about life and death. At this workshop, she shared a manuscript from this project titled "Author(iz)ing Death: Medical Aid-in-Dying and the Morality of Suicide." To learn more about her ongoing research and her efforts to bring anthropology to new publics, visit her website.