Faculty News and Highlights
November 3, 2022
Ariel Ludwig, Florence Levy Kay Fellow in Machine Learning, Law and Racial Justice, published an op-ed on her conscientious objection to jury duty in The Baltimore Sun (Nov 3, 2022).
"Potential jurors are asked a series of questions in a process called voir dire. These are often questions such as whether you know anyone involved in the case, have strong prejudices, have survived violent crime or are willing to find someone guilty. Potential jurors are excluded based on their responses, despite the supposed representativeness of juries. Abolitionists like me are routinely excluded because of questions about “prejudices” or reticence to find someone guilty because of the consequences."
November 3, 2022
Prof. Janet McIntosh's current book project on language in the military has prompted thoughts about the "implausible deniability" of "Let's Go Brandon"--a phrase that "mocks the idea we have to mince words." Professors Elizabeth Ferry and John Plotz, hosts of the podcast Recall This Book, talk with Prof. McIntosh about the language of US alt-right movements. Listen here.
October 18, 2022
Professor Sarah Lamb had an article published in Opting Out: Women Messing with Marriage Around the World. This volume was co-edited by Professor Joanna Davidson of Boston University, and the cover art is by Professor Emily Williamson Ibrahim.
Opting Out offers ethnographic portrayals of women in Africa, Asia, and Latin America who are quietly opting out of marriage. Across these diverse geographic contexts, the volume shows that women are the (often unwitting, mostly unacknowledged) protagonists of profound changes in marriage, gender, and kinship.
September 20, 2022
The Associated Press quotes Professor Janet McIntosh on Trump's new enthusiasm for QAnon, expressed on his "Truth Social" platform. McIntosh also has a new essay in Anthropology News about the barbed humor, obvious pretense, and intimations of violence in the 'Let's Go Brandon' slogan.
September 13, 2022
Professor Charles Golden was featured on the front page of the Science section of the September 13, 2022 issue of the New York Times. The article is called "Unearthing a Maya Civilization That 'Punched Above its Weight'" and was written by Franz Lidz. The piece follows Professor Golden's work with the "long-sought ruins" of San Tz'i'.
August 25, 2022
"If a pregnancy is unintended, undesired, unsupported or unviable, it can spell the prospect of a future in which neither the parent nor the child will flourish. Releasing that life is a painful, excruciating choice — and sometimes not even a choice at all," says Professor Anita Hannig. Read more from wbur.
August 24, 2022
Professor Charles Golden has received funding from the Alphawood Foundation for "Revealing Landscapes of the Upper Usumacinta: Lidar Data Collection and Ground Verification in Chiapas, Mexico and Peten, Guatemala." Read more about some of Professor Golden's archaeological research.
July 13, 2022
Professor Jonathan Anjaria was featured in an Inside Higher Ed article about Brandeis' Connected PhD program, which gives funding to doctoral students for professional development. Prof. Anjaria is Brandeis' first faculty director of professional development for the graduate school, and had a lot to say about the value in PhD students thinking beyond university careers.
“It’s assumed that that the two grad school tracks are the academic [job] track or non-academic track, but what I’ve seen is that the two tracks are actually going through grad school thinking about jobs versus going to graduate school not thinking about jobs.”
Read the article and learn about anthropology doctoral students' participation in the Connected PhD.
July 6, 2022
"Equating assisted dying with suicide isn’t only antiquated or misleading – it’s actually harmful. I have spent five years shadowing patients, families and physicians involved with assisted dying in America, and I saw how damaging this conflation can be. In my new book, The Day I Die: The Untold Story of Assisted Dying in America, I explore the complexities and constraints of the choices that people who pursue an assisted death face."
June 15, 2022
Professor Sarah Lamb's new book is out from University of California Press. Being Single in India: Stories of Gender, Exclusion, and Possibility explores what makes living outside marriage increasingly possible but still incredibly challenging for women living in India. From the publisher: "Arguing that never-married women are able to illuminate their society's broader social-cultural values, Lamb offers a new and startling look at prevailing systems of gender, sexuality, kinship, freedom, and social belonging in India today." Order the book.
May 9, 2022
Professor Anita Hannig published commentary in WBUR’s "Cognoscenti" and was interviewed in Next Avenue. In her WBUR commentary, "On my first Mother's Day, I'm honoring the profound link between birth and death," she explores our culture's preference for births to deaths, and points out the sacred similarities between the two. In the Next Avenue interview titled, "We Have to Make a Concerted Effort to Be Less Alienated from Death and Dying," Professor Hannig discusses the barriers to assisted dying. "We have all the technology now, but our ethical and moral compass hasn't really caught up with how we should use it."
Professor Hannig's recently published book is called, The Day I Die: The Untold Story of Assisted Dying in America (Sourcebooks, May 2022). In this groundbreaking work, Hannig brings readers into the lives of ordinary Americans who go to extraordinary lengths to set the terms of their own death. Faced with a terminal diagnosis and unbearable suffering, they decide to seek medical assistance in dying―a legal option now available to one in five Americans. Read more and order today. Read an excerpt in Sapiens.
May 2, 2022
"What does it mean that we write about people's lives, while completely excising the searches for desire, for pleasure, for fun, for intimacy that people have. What does it mean that we often reduce people's lives to the precarity that they experience?"
-Prof. Brian Horton in the Mandel Center for the Humanities Faculty Spotlight series, which aims to spotlight the exciting work being done by Brandeis faculty in the humanities and humanities-adjacent fields.
April 26, 2022
Funded by the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation and the Program in Latin American, Caribbean and Latinx Studies, Patricia Alvarez Astacio, Greg Childs (HIST) and Elizabeth Ferry will travel to 4 Caribbean island nations (Jamaica, Haiti, Puerto Rico and Cuba) in January 2023 to collect materials and make documentary short films on the afterlives of sugar plantations.
April 14, 2022
Professor Lamb has been awarded the School of Arts and Sciences Faculty Service Award. The award recognizes outstanding service contributions to departments, programs and the University by members of the School of Arts & Sciences faculty.
Department Chair Charles Golden writes, "To say that this award is richly deserved is an understatement. Sarah has filled every role possible in our department, worked tirelessly on behalf of the Social Sciences as Division Head, plays central roles in SAS, HSSP, WGS, and has served on committees and working groups across campus. All the while she makes our community a better place with her teaching, mentorship, scholarship, collegiality, and kindness."
April 13, 2022
The Brandeis Board of Trustees voted to promote Charles Golden to the rank of Full Professor, "effective immediately." Congratulations, Charles! (P.S. - Subsequent to the release of this news story, Professor Golden was also named Social Sciences Division Head!)
April 6, 2022
Professor McIntosh has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Faculty Fellowship for Fall semester 2022. NEH fellowships, awarded to 80 scholars out of over 1100 yearly applicants, are designed to support “individuals pursuing projects that embody exceptional research, rigorous analysis, and clear writing.” Professor McIntosh will take the fellowship time to work on a book about language and militarization in the USA.
April 4, 2022
Professor Anita Hannig has written an opinion piece for The Seattle Times, entitled, "Allow terminally ill patients from out of state to access aid-in-dying." She discusses the move by the state of Oregon to eliminate a residency requirement for medical assistance in dying. "As a cultural anthropologist, I spent five years shadowing patients, families and physicians at the front lines of assisted dying, mostly in the Pacific Northwest. I have seen firsthand the tremendous relief an assisted death can bring. I also met very sick patients who lived in states without access to aid-in-dying, from Massachusetts to Texas, who had neither the time nor the resources to upend their lives and establish residency in a different state. At a time of great need and despair, they were shut out of accessing what they saw as a compassionate death." Read the article.
March 31, 2022
Professor Brian Horton has been awarded an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Fellowship for his project, "Shimmers of the Fabulous: Public Sex and Intimate Touch in Queer and Trans Bombay."
The ACLS Fellowship Program supports exceptional scholarship in the humanities and interpretive social sciences that has the potential to make significant contributions within and beyond their fields. This year the program will support 60 scholars selected from nearly 1,000 applicants through a rigorous, multi-stage peer review process.
"Shimmers" is a multi-sited ethnography of queer sexpublics — spaces for queer and trans intimacies, desire, and touch—across Bombay. Drawing on over 28 months of fieldwork, each of the manuscript’s five chapters unfolds a different site — nightlife, the police station, pride, virtual worlds, and home. Through interviews, participant observation, archival research, and virtual ethnography across each of these sites, Horton's book explores how queer and trans lives might be lived outside of and against the reaches of cultural intelligibility and legal recognition. A core project in this book is to retrain scholarly gazes toward sexual and gender minorities in the global South. By moving from courtrooms and clinics — which have emphasized queer and trans emergence in India through law, rights, and identity categories — to queer sexpublics, the project explores desires to touch and be touched as crucial to queer and trans worldmaking.
March 23, 2022
Professor Ferry was awarded a Mandel Center for the Humanities Public Humanities Grant for a collaborative project with the Bogotá-based non-profit organization OjoRojo Fábrica Visual to facilitate and document dialogue around the War of Villarrica (1954-1957) in rural areas of Colombia most affected by these events. While this war has largely been erased from the collective memory, the objective of this project is to build on and fortify efforts in Villarrica to inform the Colombian public about this censored history. The planned exhibition is designed as a “wall newspaper” that functions both as a large-format newspaper and can unfold and attach to the wall easily, creating a versatile and inexpensive exhibit that works in all sorts of public spaces, including schools, community centers and libraries. The project will involve organizing informal small-group discussions about the exhibition and the war in Villarrica and to document responses to them. These discussions will amplify the effect of the exhibitions and will aid OjoRojo in planning future events.
Public Humanities Grants support Brandeis faculty working on experimental and/or publicly engaged projects in the humanities, the arts and the humanistic social sciences. These include projects that have audiences beyond the academy, projects in the experimental or digital humanities, applied humanities work, and/or collaborative projects that create and sustain mutually beneficial partnerships with community organizations, museums, libraries or other cultural spaces or media.
Professor Chaudhry was awarded a Mandel Center for the Humanities Faculty Research Grant for his book project, “Incorporating Transgender: Race and Resources in the Fight for Trans Justice.” The book maps how transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) communities of color and their allies identify and garner resources from nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. Amidst ongoing calls from academics and activists to abandon or abolish state institutions, the book reveals how TGNC communities of color are navigating these flawed institutions to better sustain their lives.
Faculty Research Grants support research projects in the humanities, the arts or the humanistic social sciences.
And read about anthropology grad students who swept the category of Mandel Dissertation Research Grants!
February 8, 2022
In this UK-based anthropology magazine, Professor McIntosh describes the verbal art with which the mysterious and oracular figure of 'Q' managed to enlist millions of enthusiasts through the Internet. Supporters felt empowered to engage in high-stakes interpretive work, while Q solidified their confidence that an alt-right state waits in the wings.
Photo Credit: Irene Lusztig and Helki Frantzen / The Asia-Pacific Journal
January 1, 2022
From The Asia-Pacific Journal:
In August 2021, Yukiyo Kawano, a third generation Hiroshima hibakusha, was refused permission to install her sculptural evocation of the Nagasaki bombing, at the first commemoration of the atomic bombings within the National Park Service’s Manhattan Project National Historical Park at Hanford, Washington, where plutonium for the “Fat Man” device was produced. The artist nonetheless raised the piece near the restricted Hanford zone. Schattschneider and Auslander consider the work’s complex ritual symbolism and the Park’s resistance to interpreting the impact of nuclear weapons and the legacies of environmental toxicity associated with plutonium production at Hanford during WWII and the Cold War.
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.
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.
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.
June 1, 2021
Anita Hannig shares her thoughts on the connection between Covid-19 and a culturally embedded avoidance of our mortality.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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."
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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."
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
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.
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.”
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.
May 13, 2019
La Batea won first place in the category of Best Photography Book from POY Latam (Pictures of the Year Latin America)
April 23, 2019
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.
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.
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 and Professor Hannig's book.
August 2, 2018
June 14, 2018
Professor McIntosh contributes to conversation around kofia in "World on the Horizon: Swahili Arts Across the Indian Ocean."
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."
Photo Credit: Stephen Ferry
October 3, 2017
September 16, 2017
April 10, 2017
Find the prize-winning article on Anthrosource.
January 24, 2017
September 22, 2016
July 10, 2015
Photo Credit: The National
March 10, 2014