Faculty News and Highlights

image of river

November 29, 2021

New research led by Charles Golden and Professor Andrew Scherer of Brown University, with help from Brandeis graduate student Van Kollias and undergraduate Alex Bazarsky ('23), suggests the truth may not be so simple. The team of researchers found signs that communities in the Western Maya Lowlands were not merely victims of climate change, struggling for agricultural resources in the midst of a drought when Maya civilization fell between the 8th and 9th centuries. Instead, the residents of the three ancient kingdoms in the study region met the challenges of climate change and conflict in very different ways.

image of mayan city

August 10, 2021

Professor Golden, a Mesoamerican archeologist who's closely studied the Maya since 1993, says it wasn't climate alone that led to the so-called collapse. Political issues, such as loss of trust in the government, may have also played a role, along with issues of succession.

photo of Elizabeth Ferry

July 19, 2021

Profs. Ferry and Plotz talk with Dr. Laurence Ralph, professor of anthropology at Princeton University. Dr. Ralph is the author of Renegade Dreams: Living through Injury in Gangland Chicago (2014) and The Torture Letters: Reckoning with Police Violence (2020). The latter book discusses the history of the open secret of police torture in Chicago. 

photo of Anita Hannig

June 1, 2021

Anita Hannig shares her thoughts on the connection between Covid-19 and a culturally embedded avoidance of our mortality.

photo of Elizabeth Ferry

May 25, 2021

Reading poetry over the phone, Prof. Ferry with her brother and her father, renowned poet David Ferry, find an antidote to loneliness dring the Pandemic.

photo Jon Anjaria
Jon Anjaria will soon begin as Faculty Director of Professional Development at GSAS

April 21, 2021

Starting on July 1 2021, Prof. Anjaria will take on the newly created role of Faculty Director of Professional Development at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for a three-year term. He will be re-imagining and re-building the career infrastructure for the graduate school, and serving as the primary faculty point person for graduate student professional development. His work will help create and implement a new vision for the PhD experience at Brandeis that ensures students are prepared to take advantage of a variety of professional opportunities after graduation.

crowd on the mall

April 15, 2021

Janet McIntosh discusses the relationship between fascistic fantasies and cryptic signalling in the age of QAnon, as part of a collection of essays on 'American Fascism' for Cultural Anthropology's Fieldsights series

Book Cover

March 25, 2021

Ancient Civilizations offers a comprehensive and straightforward account of the world’s first civilizations and how they were discovered, drawing on many avenues of inquiry including archaeological excavations, surveys, laboratory work, highly specialized scientific investigations, and both historical and ethnohistorical records.
geo thumbnail

March 25, 2021

Elizabeth Ferry reflects on recent anthropological approaches to inorganic worlds as part of a collective submission to Cultural Anthropology's Fieldsights series, and proposes the concept of "the inorganic slot" (adapted from Michel-Rolph Trouillot's famous work on "the savage slot") to think about the earth sciences in histories of extractive racial capitalism.

morning delivery

March 25, 2021

Prof. Jon Anjaria's article for the website Ethno Marginalia describes his research on cycling in Mumbai.

February 24, 2021

In a discussion of the Biden administration's emphasis on an inclusive lexicon, the New York Times quotes Prof. Janet McIntosh on how Donald Trump sought to refashion the relationship between words and reality.


January 13, 2021

Before a crowd of thousands marched to the Capitol and violently breached the building, they listened to a speech from President Donald Trump outside the White House for more than an hour.

It was a culmination of communication for Trump and his most fanatical supporters since the presidential election on Nov. 6. 

What had they been saying? Why are these words important? Janet McIntosh, professor of linguistic anthropology, and co-editor of the book “Language in the Trump Era: Scandals and Emergencies,” discussed these questions with BrandeisNow.

Anita Hannig
Anita Hannig secures a two-book deal with Sourcebooks, at auction, for narrative nonfiction books on assisted dying in America, for publication in 2022.

November 24, 2020

Professor Hannig is now working on the first book in the two part series, The Day I Die: The Troubled Quest for a Medically Assisted Death in America, an expose of the state of assisted dying. This book will touch on the law, the medicine, and the social and emotional components of an assisted death, culminating in a seamless call for legislative change. The second publication will be a prescriptive book that outlines the considerations and hurdles for those directly facing end of life decisions.

Wuhan Airport

November 24, 2020

Professor Uretsky's research suggests that the control of the virus in China is not the result of authoritarian policy, but of a national prioritization of health. China learned a tough lesson with SARS, the first coronavirus pandemic of the 21st century.
The Torture Letters book cover

October 30, 2020

“People are always reckoning. People are always trying, no matter how overwhelming the odds may be, people are always trying to fight back.”
Elizabeth Ferry and John Plotz speak with anthropologist Laurence Ralph about his 2020 book The Torture Letters: Reckoning with Police Violence. The book relates the decades-long history in which hundreds of people (mostly Black men) were tortured by the Chicago Police. It is framed as a series of open letters that explore the layers of silence and complicity that enabled torture and the activist movements that have helped to uncover this history and implement forms of collective redress and repair.

October 20, 2020

All language is “code” of sorts, but Donald Trump and his base often act as if they have their own signals, interpreting the same presidential utterances in very different ways from his critics. The subject of this article is explained in greater detail "Language in the Trump Era: Scandals and Emergencies" in chapters including: “Language and Trump’s White Nationalist Strongman Politics” by Janet McIntosh.
China and US

October 13, 2020

In the run-up to the presidential election, BrandeisNOW asked faculty to provide analysis and insight into some of the most pressing issues facing the country. This article is part of the series.  Infectious disease specialists warned for years of the ‘Big One,’ likely an influenza pandemic, that lurked on the horizon. But despite these looming concerns, we were still not prepared for the current outbreak. 
Graveyard of Clerics

September 15, 2020

In the book, he tells the stories of the people actively countering the Saudi state and highlights how people can organize and protest even amid increasingly intense police repression. Menoret explains, “Basically what happens in the suburbs is that it’s a fixed place where people could congregate and create mass movements by the presence or the co presence of their bodies. On the street what you have is moving entities-moving devices-moving tools, automobiles that can be used to reconstitute movements to protest sometimes and to create that effect of mass that might change the political dynamic in the country.”
book cover

September 8, 2020

Professors McIntosh and Mendoza-Denton co-authored and co-edited this volume, which Judith Irvine (Edward Sapir Distinguished University Professor at University of Michigan) has called "An indispensable resource for anyone troubled by the polarizing and demagogic political discourse of the Trump era."
photo of Janet McIntosh

August 7, 2020

An article in Scientific American about language ideologies mentions Professor McIntosh’s work on language and essentialism, focusing on her theoretical concept of “linguistic transfer”: the problematic ideology that by speaking a new language, a person may—perhaps suddenly and somewhat mystically—take on the psychic properties of other people who speak that language.
Precious Metals Book Cover

Why do people single out gold, sapphires, diamonds, and other minerals as particularly “precious”? What makes precious minerals “precious”? Drawing from ethnographic and cross-cultural research, this collection of anthropological essays and case studies answers these questions by exploring humans’ multifaceted relationships with the minerals they deem “precious.”

The Anthropology of Precious Minerals addresses the entanglement of humans and minerals, with a particular focus on the practices of scrappers, miners, and hunters as they work to extract value. The editors draw from history, archaeology, and ethnography, and remind us that “preciousness” must always be understood in relation to complex cultural, political-economic, and semiotic systems of value.

Elizabeth Ferry

July 27, 2020

Recall This Book is a podcast that explores contemporary issues by looking at books that shaped the world we inherited. Each episode involves a conversation with a guest that focuses on books that shed light on a contemporary issue or event. The podcast is now being produced remotely, via Zoom, and the episodes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic have shared a common theme: “Books in Dark Times.”

Book Cover Pascal Menoret

July 21, 2020

Based on four years of living and conducting fieldwork in Saudi Arabia, Graveyard of Clerics takes up two global phenomena intimately linked in Saudi Arabia: urban sprawl and religious activism.

July 15, 2020

The uneasy nature of white Kenyans’ sense of belonging in the country is unraveled and analyzed in Janet McIntosh’s fascinating book Unsettled: Denial and Belonging Among White Kenyans. Based on extensive in-depth interviews, and structured poetically into different themes which explore varying components of the white Kenyan experience, McIntosh’s book reveals the complex and often ambivalent positions of white Kenyan subjectivities in contemporary Kenya.
Art Beyond Quarantine

June 22, 2020

Art Beyond Quarantine explores artistic responses to Covid-19 the world over, with particular attention to dynamics of social justice, cultural difference, and the ritual dimensions of image-making. Founding editor Mark Auslander (Visiting Research Scholar in the Department) and contributing editor Associate Professor Ellen Schattschneider emphasize anthropological perspectives and social theory as they explore how artists around the world are engaging with the pandemic and its complex local impacts.  Further commentaries, as well as suggestions about new relevant works of art, are most welcome from Brandeis faculty and students!

Sarah Lamb

June 22, 2020

This appointment recognizes "exemplary accomplishment" as a scholar in the humanities and humanistic social sciences, as well as a commitment to teaching and mentorship that has inspired countless Brandeis students and served as a model for our colleagues across the university.
Cultural Majils

June 6, 2020

He presents the research that led to the writing of Joyriding in Riyadh (2014) and Graveyard of Clerics (2020), and speaks about the undergrad research behind the Abu Dhabi Guide that he edited in 2014. 

Pascal Menoret

May 29, 2020

We are pleased to announce our colleague Pascal Menoret has been promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in the Anthropology Department. Pascal also has a joint appointment at the Crown Center, as Renée and Lester Crown Professor of Modern Middle East Studies. Congratulations, Pascal!
Janet McIntosh

May 15, 2020

Professor Janet McIntosh blogs about Trump's use of language, particulary as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic, in advance of her upcoming anthology, "Language in the Trump Era: Scandals and Emergencies."

Anita Hannig

May 4, 2020

The unfolding COVID-19 pandemic magnifies a fact that usually dwells in the basement of our consciousness: We spend our entire lives under the shadow of mortality. Just in this moment, all of us are being made acutely aware of it. Culturally, we work so hard to uphold the boundary between life and death, and the events of the last few weeks are making that line appear unnervingly thin. Might we use the shock of this reality check to embrace our limited time here?  Read more here.

March 28, 2020

In an interview published in The Atlantic, anthropology professor Elanah Uretsky suggests cooperation on health projects between the U.S. and China that existed before the Trump presidency could have helped uncover coronavirus sooner.  Professor Uretsky was also interviewed on WCVB as part of a panel of experts on coping with COVID-19.

February 27, 2020

In Fieldsights, published by the Society of Cultural Anthropology, Brandeis MA alum Scott Schnur (now a doctoral student at Emory) interviews Professor Elizabeth Ferry about her approach to teaching anthropological theory to graduate students.
Professor Luis smiling

August 24, 2019

“Women were really, really trying to get away from a capitalist-minded mentality,” Dr. Luis said. “But it does come down to the fundamental problem of, how do you get the land in the first place? That kind of thing shapes the kind of end result of the community that you’ve got.”


A photo of Professor Elizabeth Ferry

August 8, 2019

A joint project with her brother Stephen Ferry, Professor Ferry's book La Batea: Impressions of Gold in Colombia won first place in the Society for Humanistic Anthropology's 2019 writing contest.

The front cover of the book La Batea

May 13, 2019

La Batea won first place in the category of Best Photography Book from POY Latam (Pictures of the Year Latin America)


Comedy in archive in library

April 12, 2019

In Professor Michael Prentice's fall course “Language in American Life,” the class explored topics ranging from playground politics to law school lectures, from monoglot standards to media neutrality with a focus on linguistic anthropology. For the students’ mid-term essay, Professor Prentice wanted them to think through some new empirical material.

A book cover with silhouettes of people being active with the title Successful Aging as a Contemporary Obsession

February 27, 2019

Edited by Professor Sarah Lamb, Successful Aging as a Contemporary Obsession was reviewed by the Anthropology News. The book is a timely, thought-provoking collection of sociological and anthropological studies that critically tackles the neoliberal, Global North paradigm of healthy-active-successful aging.
Black flowers next to the words Recall This Book

Professors Elizabeth Ferry (Anthropology) and John Plotz (English) launch an interdisciplinary podcast. Recall this Book explores contemporary issues by looking at books that shaped the world we inherited.


A book cover featuring a woman in a headcovering with the words Beyond Surgery: Injury, Healing, and Religion at an Ethiopian Hospital Anita Hannig

November 15, 2018

"The Prize is awarded to the work judged to be the most courageous, significant, and potentially influential contribution to this area of scholarship." Read more about the prize here and Professor Hannig's book here.

Anthropology professor Sarah Lamb reviews research notes with Gianna Petrillo

Anthropology professor Sarah Lamb (left) reviews research notes with Gianna Petrillo '19.

Professor McIntosh smiling

June 14, 2018

Professor McIntosh contributes to conversation around kofia in "World on the Horizon: Swahili Arts Across the Indian Ocean."
a photo of Anita Hannig

April 22, 2018

"Students who nominated Hannig said:

Professor Hannig's course 'Medicine, Body, and Culture' challenged me to think about medicine and healing through cross-cultural lenses. Professor Hannig fosters student participation through discussion questions and is patient as students negotiate their own experience with other cultures' experiences and explanations of illness and disease. She encourages students to meet with her in office hours and provides guidance for assignments and research. Outside of the classroom, Professor Hannig is involved with anthropology student events and promotes anthropology to students."

Jonathan Anjaria stands in front of a chalkboard, teaching

Jonathan Anjaria

A car kicks up dust while group of people look on in Saudi Arabia

Photo Credit: The National