Student and Alumni News and Highlights
November 9, 2023
Doctoral student Gowthaman Ranganathan was invited to give a public talk at a National Endowment for the Humanities-funded event at Framingham State University on November 9, 2023. The talk, "Oral Histories of Queerness in Postwar Sri Lanka," presented Ranganathan's ongoing collaborative oral histories project conducted with the Jaffna Transgender Network (JTN), a trans-led organization in Jaffna, Sri Lanka that works for the rights and livelihood of queer and trans people with a focus on the ethnic minority Tamils. The project seeks to document how Tamil queer people survived, thrived, and resisted the heteronormative gender binary amidst the Sri Lankan civil war and its aftermath. The talk addressed the project's ethical and safety considerations and best practices in conducting archival projects with vulnerable communities.
October 13, 2023
"It’s 3 in the morning. I’m sitting at the end of the hallway of the boomerang-shaped intensive care unit (ICU) where I work, looking into the darkness beyond the unit’s only window. When I’m on the unit, the world outside the hospital transforms into something entirely remote — intangible, imperceptible, inconsequential. I force myself to imagine the scent of the fresh air I will inhale when I leave. It’s hard to remember that the world is pulsing with life outside these walls. The hospital’s resistance to darkness and quiet permeates the boundaries of reality itself. The fluorescent lights transform me into something other than a person, washing out the details that make me Sophie. In here, I can lose myself. In here, I am lost."
— Sophie Katz, MA '23, in Platypus, the official blog of the Committee for the Anthropology of Science, Technology, and Computing.
Sophie Katz is now a doctoral student in anthropology at the University of Michigan.
October 12, 2023
Doctoral student Skyler Inman was awarded Honorable Mention in the graduate category of the Harold K. Schneider student paper prize from the Society for Economic Anthropology (SEA).
From the judges: "This essay provides an astute genealogical analysis of the labor question in the settler colonial context of Israel. Drawing on historical materials and important new anthropological studies on non-Arab foreign guest workers, the author tracks the historical shifts in political circumstances and political economy that have led to the present moment of the prevalence of Thai, Filipina, and other guest workers performing care work and agricultural labor in the country."
October 4, 2023
Beth M. Semel, MA '13, is now an assistant professor in the anthropology department at Princeton University, where she teaches classes on surveillance, the anthropology of AI, and linguistic anthropology. She studies the sensory politics and technopolitics of American mental health care in an era in which artificial intelligence (AI) is called upon to manage increasingly broad arenas of human life. Her ethnographic research traces the labor, care, and communicative practices underpinning computational voice analysis technologies, especially those designed to evaluate and track people experiencing mental distress.
Semel's current book project investigates efforts to utilize voice analysis AI to radically transform the way that people who interface with the American mental health care system are listened to. She exposes how the decontextualizing, actuarial and universalizing ideologies of listening at play in these projects are shaped by the American mental health care system's ever-tightening entanglements with profit and security regimes.
August 18, 2023
Dina Gorelik ’24, a double major in anthropology and linguistics, spent years learning to speak Yiddish as a way to connect with her family’s heritage. So it made sense for her to use a Hiatt Career Center World of Work (WOW) Jewish Service Fellowship to fund a semester-long internship with the Jewish Public Library Archives in Montreal.
The internship had her looking through donated collections, identifying dates, translating information, and updating the online database catalog.
“I spent an entire week going through archival Yiddish correspondence from people around the world,” said Gorelik. “It’s been really cool to see how interconnected Yiddish culture is.”
Steven Gonzalez, MA '17, has made a literary debut under the pen name E.G. Condé with the novella Sordidez (Stelliform Press, 2023). Publishers Weekly listed it as one of their top 10 anticipated titles in genre fiction! From the review: "In a near future Puerto Rico ravaged by climate change, trans journalist Vero is pulled into the orbit of the revolutionary Loba Roja. PW’s starred review called it 'brutal, mystical, and deeply felt.'"
July 25, 2023
From June 26-30, GSAS hosted Brandeis’s inaugural summer Teaching Institute in Reading-Writing Pedagogy, designed to give doctoral students hands-on, intensive training in pedagogy for reading- and writing-heavy courses. While particularly aimed at students who are interested in teaching positions at community colleges and access-oriented institutions, it also prepared students for teaching at other types of colleges and universities.
Eight GSAS PhD students — including anthropology students Medha Asthana and Gowthaman Ranganathan — gathered with eight Middlesex Community College faculty members for the institute, which was initiated by the MLA and supported by the Mellon Foundation, to strengthen reading and writing instruction at access-oriented institutions.
Gowthaman said, “The institute broke down the teaching of writing and reading and discussed different approaches and audiences for the teaching of writing and reading…This institute gave me an opportunity to immerse myself in the everyday workings of a community college by facilitating my interaction with experienced faculty from community colleges.”
Medha said that they “couldn’t pick just one” favorite part of the institute “because every facet and component of it was so intentional and so successful.” They did, however, highly praise the collaboration with the Middlesex faculty, saying, “I think it’s great just to get out of the Brandeis bubble.”
Anthropology Professor Jon Anjaria developed the institute. He noted that many doctoral students have teaching as a professional goal but that “the challenge is that, very often, students are not given rigorous training in pedagogy that is relevant for getting jobs at community colleges and other two-year institutions.”
July 19, 2023
Doctoral student Hui Wen has been admitted into a writing fellowship offered by the Max Planck Research Group, "Ageing in a Time of Mobility." The group hosts a global and interdisciplinary project that investigates the interconnections between two key phenomena in the twenty-first century: aging populations and global migration, and the new social transformations that they jointly shape.
Hui said, "I am excited about the interdisciplinary and global nature of the project, particularly its emphasis on exploring the lived experiences of aging amidst intensified global mobilities and social transformations."
Hui was offered a six-month fellowship starting in April 2024.
July 12, 2023
Aneil Tripathy, PhD '21, was named one of the 2023 "Bold 9," a group of young alumni making change in their fields. Aneil discussed how his doctoral work prepared him for his career:
"What has always excited me about anthropology is the opportunity to do interdisciplinary work with the toolkit that the discipline provides. [The department] trusted me enough to give me the space to take courses at the Heller School, at the International Business School, to be involved in climate activism. [They gave] me a lot of flexibility to do the type of work that I wanted to do."
He now works as an economic anthropologist focused on climate finance at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Climate and Sustainability Consortium (MCSC). He aids companies in addressing climate change and helps them figure out how to utilize financial markets to support climate solutions and business transition plans.
Read more about Aneil's career path.
July 10, 2023
"In bringing together diverse forms of knowledge such as the messy construction of rice paper, black feminist scholarship, and personal memories from her childhood such as learning to cook, eat and serve rice, Nhi’s paper challenges us all to think more expansively about how we seek to understand and represent our relational identities." — Emily Ibrahim, Lecturer in Anthropology AY2023-24.
Nhi Le, MA '23, won a Brandeis Library Award for Research Excellence for her anthropology master's paper, "Ăn cơm chưa?: Thinking With Rice and Embodying Vietnamese American Acts of Relatedness." Read more.
May 9, 2023
Each spring, a group of outstanding sophomores is selected for the Giumette Academic Achievement Award, which provides $5,000 each semester for their remaining two years at Brandeis. The award recognizes students who have distinguished themselves and made a significant contribution to the community during their first two years at Brandeis.
This year, anthropology major Hana Klempnauer Miller is one of the winners! As director of accessibility for the Student Union, she has spearheaded initiatives including the provision of free prescription medication delivery to campus and securing a $100,000 grant to make the Brandeis Counseling Center accessible. Additionally, she works as the advocacy lead for the Brandeis Chapter of Partners in Health Engage, where she helps promote global health legislation, and as an editor on the Brandeis Law Journal.
May 8, 2023
Anthropology major Emily Atieh '23 received a Boren Award, which funds specialized study and increased language proficiency in parts of the world underrepresented in study abroad programs. Emily, who is minoring in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies and Arabic language, literature, and culture, will study Arabic in Jordan.
Read more about undergrads and graduate students who were awarded prestigious fellowships and scholarships this spring. Also on the list is anthropology doctoral student Medha Asthana, who received the Fulbright (see 4/21 item below).
April 26, 2023
Doctoral students Medha Asthana and Gowthaman Ranganathan are two of the eight graduate students (out of 29 applicants) admitted to the MLA Institute on Reading/Writing Pedagogy to be held at Brandeis in June. Their successful applications are a result of their deep commitment to creating equitable and accessible learning environments.
This unique weeklong institute will be a collaboration between Brandeis and Middlesex Community College. There will be one Brandeis facilitator and one Middlesex facilitator. There will 16 participants (eight Brandeis PhD students and eight Middlesex faculty). The Institute is made possible by the Mellon Foundation with additional support from the Mandel Center for the Humanities.
April 25, 2023
Doctoral student Hong Zhang has been awarded a 2023 Graduate Dissertation Innovation Grant from the Mandel Center for Humanities for "Hidden Labor, Hidden Lives: The Everyday Isolation and Stigma Facing Chinese Miners in Colombia." Her dissertation examines the everyday lives of the Chinese miners brought to the camp by the Chinese state-owned mining company Zijin to Buriticá, Colombia, in 2019. Read more about the award and project. The project received a supplemental award from COMPACT because of the depth of the community engaged aspect of the research.
Hong also won a Connected PhD award for the project, "Creating Multimodal (Hi)stories of a Rural Village in Transition: An Art-Based Community Film Project in Wenjiashan." The award will allow her to gain experience in video storytelling, creating interactive documentaries and designing community centered curricula. This project also won the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences PhD Research Award.
April 21, 2023
Doctoral student Medha Asthana has been selected for a Fulbright award for their project, "Lucknow’s Queer Daughters: Everyday Negotiations in Domestic Spaces." Medha will use the award for their fieldwork in India in 2023-24. Their research examines everyday relational dynamics among queer daughters (which includes cisgender women, nonbinary people, and transgender men) and their older female kin (mothers, grandmothers, and aunts) in domestic spaces as they negotiate gendered expectations and narratives of care, exclusion, and belonging. Examining the queer daughter set in the domestic spaces of a non-metropolitan city pushes forth the disciplines of queer studies, kinship studies, and gender and sexuality in North India to illuminate the daily lived realities of sexual and gender minorities in the intimate context of family and home.
April 11, 2023
MA student Julie Scesney came in second place in the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition for the whole shared Social Sciences, Humanities, and Creative Arts division! Her 2nd prize finish comes with a $750 award.
March 30, 2023
Houman Oliaei, PhD '22, has accepted a tenure-track position at Babson College located in Wellesley, MA. Starting in the fall of 2023, Houman will join the Division of History & Society as an Assistant Professor of Anthropology. Houman is a cultural anthropologist with a research focus on statelessness, forced migration, and humanitarianism. His work centers on the lived experiences of displaced Yezidis, an ethnoreligious minority in northern Iraq, in the aftermath of collective violence and mass displacement. Read also about his work on displaced Yezidis' experiences in post-ISIS Iraq.
March 30, 2023
Salvatore Giusto, MA ‘11, earned his PhD in anthropology from the University of Toronto in 2019, and now has a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the University of Amsterdam’s Department of European Studies. He has analyzed state-regulated and organized-crime-sponsored modalities of cultural production, publishing in numerous journals, including Visual Anthropology, PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review, and History and Anthropology. He has also produced content as a digital magazine editor and documentary filmmaker. His current project, entitled Scar-Facebook, explores how legal and illicit processes of digital networking cooperate in the ongoing entrenchment of far-right populist politics in Naples, Italy.
March 29, 2023
Doctoral student Gowthaman Ranganathan has been chosen as the winner of this year’s Robert B. Sherman ’67 Memorial Prize. This award is given to a “student who has demonstrated a strong commitment to enhancing social diversity and cooperation, to promoting social welfare through political thought and activism, and to helping people achieve their rights.” Gowthaman will be celebrated for this achievement at the Prizes & Awards Ceremony on May 4, 2023.
March 28, 2023
Simon Sinek '95 reflected during an event with the Brandeis community on the power of positivity. He cited his cultural anthropology major with teaching him how to cope with uncomfortable situations.
Sinek is a popular TED Talk speaker and author of multiple best-selling books including Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action and The Infinite Game.
March 24, 2023
Anthropology MA student Nhi Le and Undergraduate Departmental Representative Ji Chen '23 have worked the past few years on a project sponsored by Brandeis' Language, Culture and Justice Hub: Multilingual Life on a Monolingual Campus (MLMC). The project, led by department affiliate Leigh Swigart, explores the linguistic experiences of international students in English language-medium universities. Visit the MLMC site to read the project's final report, which was prepared by Nhi, Ji, and Leigh. Meet all the Brandeis students on the MLMC research team.
March 14, 2023
Alex Bazarsky '23 and Professor Charles Golden explore the secrets of the lost Maya city of San Tz'i' and the implications it has for our understanding of the ancient Maya population. Watch the video on BrandeisNOW.
March 10, 2023
The Connected PhD Program has granted doctoral student Deniz Kizildag a fellowship to carry out her project, "Health Ccare on the Move: Skin Cancer Education around the Boston Area." The project will give Deniz hands-on experience in the current state of cancer prevention efforts.
March 6, 2023
"Capital manifests in its most embodied form at the stage of even wanting to desire western education. To dream of studying, to believe, is a luxury for marginalised students." Read more from doctoral student Gowthaman Ranganathan's "Caste capital and myth of merit: What stops Dalits from accessing western education" in The News Minute.
March 2, 2023
Ryo Morimoto, PhD '16, has a new book out, "Nuclear Ghost: Atomic Livelihoods in Fukushima’s Grey Zone." It's based on several years of fieldwork in coastal Fukushima after the triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident and shows how residents of the region live with and through the "nuclear ghost" that resides with them. Learn more about Ryo's work by listening to his conversation with Professors Elizabeth Ferry and John Plotz, co-hosts of the podcast Recall This Book.
January 27, 2023
Holly Walters, PhD '18, publishes in The Journal of Religion about sacred Shaligram fossils viewed primarily as manifestations of Hindu gods. According to her article abstract, "These aniconic deities are obtained by pilgrimage to Himalayan Nepal and are then brought home, to families and communities all over South Asia and the diaspora, to become both deity and kin.
Shaligrams also act as conversants, if inanimate ones, during the course of ritual and everyday talk. Therefore, the semiotic separation of bodies and persons in Shaligram religious practice, discussed here in relation to Tulsi Vivah (the marriage of Tulsi and Shaligram) festivals and in daily puja and darshan rituals, reimagines individuals as represented by but distinct from their physical forms. This practice then links language and ritual objects with broader understandings of human and divine personhood in South Asia as it is conceptualized both within and between physical bodies." Read more.
January 13, 2023
In a GSAS interview about the Connected PhD, Houman Oliaei PhD '22 discusses his summer 2022 work as a researcher and consultant for Yazda, a global Yezidi non-governmental advocacy and relief organization.
"A few months into my Connected PhD experience, Yazda asked me to collaborate on a report on the issue of missing Yezidis; currently, there are 3,000 Yezidis that are missing, abducted, or kidnapped by ISIS, and we don’t know where they are. The report, The Unknown Fate of Missing Yazidis: 8 years on and still waiting, was an evaluation of the efforts of national and transnational stakeholders in responding to this issue, and was published in September 2022. It was a very productive research experience and good introduction for me in learning about NGOs and how they operate. That was a really productive experience!"
December 30, 2022
"They bit the edge of the cane stalk with their molars, getting a grip and ripping the dark bark to reveal the white fibrous juicy inside."
Unfolding over a handful of minutes, "Cane Juice," by doctoral student Gowthaman Ranganathan, leaps between sites — real, virtual and remembered — that hold desire, belonging and anticipation. The story was published in ASAP Connect, an editorially driven application for thinking about lens-based art and media with a focus on South Asia.
The story was written for the class Sugar: Cultivation, Circulation, Power (ANTH/HIS 143b) co-taught by Professors Elizabeth Ferry and Gregory Childs. The first draft emerged from the graduate writing seminar facilitated by Professor Janet McIntosh. The work in progress sketch at right was created in Introduction to Drawing taught by Professor Ariel Freiberg. The sketch is inspired by artists Robyn O'Neil and Firelei Báez. Gowthaman’s work is also influenced by scholar and artist Jordache Ellappen. They are grateful to their friends, faculty, and staff at Brandeis Anthropology for their enthusiastic support for this piece.
December 8, 2022
Doctoral student Gowthaman Ranganathan has been awarded a Samuels Center for Community Partnerships and Civic Transformation (COMPACT) Community Engaged Research Fund. Gowthaman will collaborate with queer organizations in South Asia on archival projects over the winter break.
November 7, 2022
Drawing on over a decade of ethnographic fieldwork in northwest China, Casey James Miller offers a novel, compelling and intimately personal perspective on Chinese queer culture and activism. In "Inside the Circle: Queer Culture and Activism in Northwest China," Casey tells the stories of two courageous and dedicated groups of queer activists in the city of Xi’an: a grassroots gay men's HIV/AIDS organization called Tong’ai and a lesbian women's group named UNITE. Taking inspiration from "the circle," a term used to imagine local, national and global queer communities, Casey shows how everyday people in northwest China are taking part in queer culture and activism while also striving to lead traditionally moral lives in a rapidly changing society. (Order the book at Rutgers University Press and use code RFLR19 for 30% off and free shipping.)
Casey is an assistant professor of anthropology at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
November 4, 2022
Aneil Tripathy PhD '21 has begun his fellowship with the MIT Climate & Sustainability Consortium (MCSC) Impact Fellowship Program, a postdoctoral opportunity for individuals who want to transcend academia and industry to apply their expertise to near-term change for a more sustainable future. MCSC Impact Fellows work with MIT researchers and consortium industry members — in collaboration with external organizations and communities — to implement solutions needed for global economic transformation to address the global climate change and sustainability crisis. Read also about Aneil's position at the University of Bologna European Research Council, and his panels and podcasts on "impact investing."
October 21, 2022
Daivi Rodima-Taylor PhD '08 co-edited "Land and the Mortgage: History, Culture, Belonging" (Berghan). The volume features anthropologists, historians, and economists exploring origins, variations, and meanings of land mortgage, and the risks to homes and livelihoods. Daivi is a researcher and lecturer at the African Studies Center of the Pardee School of Global Studies of Boston University. She has conducted longitudinal field research in East Africa, and co-edited special issues of numerous journals. Her work has been supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. Read the press release.
October 14, 2022
Doctoral student Hui Wen received a Wenner-Gren Foundation Dissertation Fieldwork Grant for "Supplements of Care: Fashioning Self-eldercare in a Care Vacuum amid Historical Discontinuity." Hui's research focuses on Chinese elder self-care across various social, political and economic dimensions and adds to the burgeoning anthropological study of aging. The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research advances anthropological knowledge, amplifies its impact, fosters inclusivity, and addresses the precariousness of anthropology as a career and a field of study. Dissertation Fieldwork Grants fund doctoral or thesis research that advances anthropological knowledge and furthers our understanding of what it means to be human.
August 16, 2022
"When 10,000 Bitcoins were traded for two large Papa Johns pizzas in 2010, no one could have anticipated that it would become one of the legal tenders of El Salvador in 2021." Read more from PhD student Yura Yokoyama in his article, "From money to culture: The practical indeterminacy of Bitcoin's values and temporalities," published in Economic Anthropology.
August 11, 2022
After two years of research funded by the Provost's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, anthropology major Alex Bazarsky joined Prof. Charles Golden on his excavation team in Chiapas, Mexico, in summer 2022. She and the team dug with local Tzeltal community members, uncovering answers about the ancient Maya civilization that inhabited the area.
August 7, 2022
Rebecca Friedlander MA '20 works with the cultural resources department at the civil engineering firm Anderson Perry. The team of archaeologists consults with the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation and with local tribal authorities to dig in sites designated for construction projects. Their task is to preserve remnants from the past before the sites are covered over.
Their work was featured in a recent article in the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin:
"While the garbage of native or colonial peoples might not seem significant, a dead man’s trash is an archaeologist's treasure. Much of what today is known about ancient civilizations — that wasn't contemporaneously carved into a plinth or painted in hieroglyphs — comes from rooting around in long-buried waste."
Doctoral student Medha Asthana has received the following grants to fund preliminary fieldwork research in India for their doctoral research: Brandeis Department of Anthropology Research Grant (GTR), Brandeis–India Fellowship, Mandel Center for the Humanities Dissertation Research Grant, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences PhD Research Award.
This summer fieldwork, which Medha is conducting in New Delhi and Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, is part of their doctoral research, "Daughter Dearest: North Indian Domesticities, Intergenerational Care, and Queer Worldmaking," about North Indian LGBTQ+ people socialized as daughters and their relationships with their mothers and biological kin in and beyond the domestic space.
Medha has also received grants towards their passion for teaching, even outside their direct doctoral research. Last fall they were awarded the university's Provost Innovation Teaching Grant to present guest lectures on the topic of anti-racism in undergraduate courses, seminars and large lectures alike. Medha's guest lecture, "Transforming Our Schools: Class, Race, and Education Justice,” addressed systemic education inequities and presented case studies of racial justice campaigns based on their grassroots community organizing experience with BIPOC high school age youth.
Medha also presented related preliminary research entitled, "Not the Closet but the Door: Indian Women’s Queer Presence in the Natal Home,” at the 2021 Annual Conference on South Asia at the Symposium under the theme of "Mind the Gap: Queer Erasure and Abundance."
July 12, 2022
Recent anthropology alumnae Alissa Fagin and Claire Ogden are teaming up as producers on an independent documentary film, "Hero Camp!" The film explores kids' adventures in the world of "Sidleterra," a LARP (live action role-play) summer camp with its own real-world challenges. It follows both kids and staff as they go through this transformational journey together.
Their team just launched a one-month Kickstarter campaign to fund post-production costs.
Learn more and contribute.
July 7, 2022
Doctoral student Van Kollias has won more than a handful of awards this year! He received a Graduate School of Arts and Sciences PhD Student Dissertation Research Award, the Provost Doctoral Research Award, the PhD Conference Award, and the Connected PhD Student Experience Grant. His research has also been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). He additionally received the GSAS Professional Development Fellowship and attended the Society for American Archaeology conference, where he presented research titled, "Political Boundaries and a Varied Landscape on the Usumacinta."
June 10, 2022
Anthropology doctoral student Douglas Bafford, who successfully defended his dissertation on May 31, will continue instructing this fall at the College of the Holy Cross, now as visiting assistant professor. He teaches courses titled "Anthropology of Law," "Anthropology of Religion," and "The Anthropological Perspective."
June 7, 2022
Anthropology doctoral student Houman Oliaei has been awarded a two-year Mellon funded postdoctoral fellowship in the Kalamazoo College Department of Anthropology and Sociology. Houman will teach one course per quarter while working on his research and publications on displacement, belonging and humanitarian intervention among Yezidis in northern Iraq.
Amy Hanes PhD '20 has accepted a multi-year position as a faculty member in the Harvard College Writing Program. Amy is a cultural anthropologist whose work focuses on multispecies relationships between humans and great apes and the politics of wildlife conservation in Central and West Africa. Read also about her work with orphaned chimpanzees in Cameroon.
May 4, 2022
Professor Emeritus David Jacobson was dedicated to scholarship and teaching. He also was adept at pursuing other interests good for one's self outside of the work sphere, including walking in the woods, many other forms of exercise, photography, cooking and travel. In his honor, the department established an annual award aimed at enlivening the spirits of a graduate recipient among our anthropology community. Doctoral student Van Kollias received the Jacobson award in May 2021. He shares a slideshow illustrating his use of the award for an adventure in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The winner of this year's award is Mariah Morse, and she will present about her experience at the departmental welcome reception in the fall.
Anthropology doctoral student Arantxa Ortiz was awarded the Society for Visual Anthropology Robert Lemelson Fellowship for 2021-22 for "Undocumented Histories Archive." The fellowship provides graduate students working in the field of visual and multimodal anthropology with funding to pursue exploratory research for and/or methods training to prepare for their doctoral dissertation research. Research projects supported by the fellowship have the potential of advancing the field of visual and multimodal anthropologies.
March 23, 2022
No fewer than five Mandel Center for the Humanities Dissertation Research Grants have been awarded to anthropology grad students:
Medha Asthana, Sophie Katz, Houman Oliaei for "Yezidis in Iraq: A Story of Genocide an Resilience," Gowthaman Ranganathan for "Tamil Queerness in Jaffna," and Hui Wen for "Supplements of Care: Fashioning Self-Eldercare In a Care Vacuum Amid Historical Discontinuity."
And read about anthropology faculty members who won Mandel Grants, too!
Anthropology PhD students Moriah King and Changhong Zhang were two of eight doctoral students in the Humanities and Humanistic Social Sciences who were part of a pilot program coordinated by GSAS, the Rabb School, and the Mandel Center for the Humanities that attempted to close the skills gap between doctoral and professional training.
The students each took one of three online courses at The Rabb School for Continuing Education: Cognitive and Social Psychology of User-Centered Design, Principles of Learning Experience Design, and Writing for Digital Environments.
Zhang took the Cognitive and Social Psychology class, which is designed to investigate how psychological and social principles play important roles in influencing human decision making in both physical and digital environments. She said, "We were not simply analyzing anymore; we became designers who have an eye for user experience in terms of cognitive, social, physiological and psychological factors." King said of the experience, "The partnership between GSAS and Rabb gives graduate students an opportunity and a space to confirm, change and explore the connections between their interests, skills, and ever-changing career goals"
Ryan Collins PhD '18 has been offered a position with Southeastern Archaeology Research Incorporated (SEARCH, INC.). He will join as a Principal Investigator and Senior Creative Specialist working with SEARCH teams on a wide variety of projects and initiatives across the United States and globally. Over land and under water, SEARCH deploys the full spectrum of cultural heritage services worldwide.
Olivia Spalletta, PhD '21 has been offered a postdoctoral position at the University of Copenhagen in the Center for Medical Science and Technology Studies and Department of Public Health. She will join the multidisciplinary "MeInWe" research project aimed at critically assessing how genomic medicine draws boundaries around the person (the me) and how it shapes and negotiates collectivities (the we) in creating knowledge about the individual. The project will also contribute to discussions of how personalized medicine introduces new ways of understanding and approaching health and disease.
Maya Dworsky (PhD candidate), Kalie Jamieson (MA candidate), Van Kollias (PhD candidate) and Houman Oliaei (PhD candidate) will present at the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition in March-April 2022, showcasing their research in just three minutes. Learn about the research interests of our MA and PhD students.
February 8, 2022
Anthropology major Alex Bazarsky is working with Professor Charles Golden on his archaeological research into the fall of the ancient Maya. When the research team's trip to Mexico was canceled because of the pandemic, Alex taught herself drone and Lidar technologies, which allow researchers to analyze geographical locations remotely.
"I noticed one area had been less inhabited despite having a suitable area for civilization," she said. "This sparked my curiosity. Why wasn’t anyone living there?" Her research hypothesized that there may have been larger issues resulting in the lack of civilization, such as conflict among societies. Her findings not only contributed to the overall project, but were also part of a paper published in the journal Remote Sensing.
February 7, 2022
The pandemic has made it impossible to take students into the field or underwater, but Professor Charlie Goudge has built three scale models of shipwreck sites to create a mini-research project for students to investigate in ANTH 124a: Maritime Archaeology: The Salty Relationship Between Society and The Sea.
The sites each consist of a historically accurate shipwreck, local landscapes, and artifacts sunk in a transparent acrylic tank. Using the models, students learn skills such as survey and mapping, excavation, GIS and Illustrator, and site photography. A student reported, "I learned how to use new technologies (including the plum bob) that I wouldn’t have another chance to learn unless I actually end up going to field school."
January 25, 2022
Sonia Pavel ’ 20 and recipient of the Betty and Harry S. Shapiro Endowed Award in Anthropology, is now a thriving doctoral student in philosophy at MIT. She has just published an article in Journal of Political Ideologies entitled "Two concepts of meritocracy: telic and procedural."
In her abstract, Sonia writes that "most critics of our contemporary meritocratic practices and institutions believe their arguments speak to the defects of the ideal of meritocracy itself. I argue that this is a misguided generalization because meritocracy can take many forms depending on the conception of the good and broader theory of justice to which the distributive principle of merit is attached."
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Seivan Salim
December 14, 2021
Photo: Tens of thousands of members of Iraq'’s Yazidi religious minority are now living in shelters and camps.
November 18, 2021
Students costumed up and enjoyed Halloween festivities at Cholmondeley's, the student-run coffee shop in the "castle." Our MA and PhD cohorts are a close knit and supportive community!
October 14, 2021
Dr. Hanes' work in primate sanctuaries in Cameroon explores interspecies care and what happens when humans try to help orphaned chimps become chimps. In a 2018 post for Sapiens, she wrote about how our overwhelming similarities make it difficult for humans to know how to care for chimpanzees.
August 30, 2021
Shawn Dunlap has revised his Master's Paper on autoethnographic reflections as a soldier and veteran for publication in the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship. His paper "argues that those who choose to take part in military service exist as a unique, emergent form of life. This form of life often stands at the intersection of nationalistic mythmaking and the lived realities of service members prior to, during, and after their service." Shawn now works as a research coordinator at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
July 13, 2021
Professor Ikeuchi's book also won the 2020 Francis L.K. Hsu Book Prize, sponsored by the American Anthropological Association (AAA) Society for East Asian Anthropology. After earning her degree at Brandeis, Suma went on to earn her PhD at Emory University in 2016. She is currently assistant professor in the Department of East Asian Languages & Cultural Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara.
May 25, 2021
Their poster focused on the excavation and understanding of the Sak Tz’i’-Lacanjá Tzeltal Marketplace
May 21, 2021
Delande Justinvil ’13, MA’18, has published a co-authored article in Nature magazine calling for an African American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Delande is now a a third-year doctoral student in Anthropology at American University.
April 22, 2021
For the 15th year, catchupa, an iconic West African dish, joined charoset on the Passover Seder plate as Boston-area Jews and Cabo Verdeans celebrated the holiday virtually Sunday. "Jews and Cabo Verdeans have much in common," said Aviva Weinstein, a Brandeis University sophomore who helped lead the event. Both have "histories of enslavement and liberation, far-flung diasporas, the challenges of migration to the United States, and heritages prevailing over tremendous hardships."
March 26, 2021
Do you have an idea that can change the world? Focus on converting the innovators and early adopters first.
That was the advice Simon Sinek ’95 delivered March 20 to a group of 155 Brandeis students participating in the DeisHacks 48-hour social good hackathon.
Sinek is a popular TED Talk speaker and author of multiple best-selling books, including Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action and The Infinite Game.
"You actually don't aim your efforts at the majority, which is what most people do," said Sinek, who studied cultural anthropology at Brandeis. "The law of diffusion proposes that if you can hit 15% to 18% market penetration, there's a social phenomenon called a tipping point, and it just goes off from there."
January 13, 2021
Ara, a three year resident of Cambridge, has been involved in a range of volunteer experiences, all of which are related to immigrant concerns. She is fluent in Spanish and English, and proficient in Portuguese. She hopes to contribute to CIRC through outreach to immigrant communities and to help raise awareness of the concerns of those communities. Congratulations, Ara!
December 16, 2020
This article, "Refugee and Internally Displaced Women's Abortion Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices: Addressing the Lack of Research in Low- and Middle-Income Countries," focuses on the need for more research on refugee and displaced women's abortion knowledge, attitudes and practices in low- and middle-income countries.
November 24, 2020
This October, Aneil Tripathy formally joined the University of Bologna European Research Council funded project IMPACT HAU. He also put together two recorded panels entitled "Whose Money? Whose Morals?" for the American Anthropological Association Raising Our Voices event of November 2020. The two-part series investigates "impact investing," a growing phenomenon in global finance that promises to reconcile capitalism with social and environmental sustainability. The panels can be heard at the following links: Whose Money? Whose Morals? Part 1 Whose Money? Whose Morals? Part 2. Additionally, Aneil will be the main editor for the first Mergers & Acquisitions podcast series launched by the Society for Economic Anthropology. Series 1 focuses on economic anthropology and climate change
October 18, 2020
Adam discusses Design, Podcasting, Organizational Culture, Language, and communicating Anthropology's value to Companies.
October 20, 2020
Medha received this honor based on recommendations from faculty and staff. This scholarship is part of the Brandeis named donor fellowhip fund, established by alumni, parents and friends of the university. The scholarship supports a portion of existing financial awards for doctoral students.
September 16, 2020
Ryan has conducted archaeological field research in the northern Maya lowlands since 2011, he graduated with his doctorate in anthropology from Brandeis University in 2018. Currently, Collins' research focuses on the role of ritual and identity in the development of urbanism and complex society in the ancient Maya world with a regional focus in the Northern Lowlands of Eastern Mesoamerica.
Aneil's expertise is economic, urban and environmental anthropology, transportation, anthropology of finance and development, and climate finance and green bonds. He also has an anthropology blog and a radio show. He recently published three articles:
With 19 other anthropologists, both students and faculty, Arantxa will participate in "Write to Change the World" workshops led by five anthropologists with public writing experience. The OpEd Project's mission is to increase the range of voices and quality of ideas we hear in the world. Their "Write to Change the World" workshops are based on time-tested models of transformational learning. Participants will explore the source of credibility, the patterns and elements of persuasion, the difference between being "right" and being effective, and how to think bigger about what they know to have a greater impact in the world.
August 18, 2020
Her 2019 book is titled "Faith and the Pursuit of Health: Cardiometabolic Disorders in Samoa" (Rutgers University Press); she has a 2019 article in American Ethnologist titled " 'Father Released Me': Accelerating Care, Temporal Repair, and Ritualized Friendship among Pentecostal Women in Samoa," and was awarded an NSF.
August 6, 2020
Jessye notes that "2020 has definitely been an intense year for the entire world, but we're proud to present this accomplishment and sliver of excitement. We're excited to be providing community & services in-person as best we are able to!" Outdoor programming at the Center opened on Monday, Aug. 3; in three days, 15 people received 64 different care points ranging from food, material assistance, laptop time and emotional support.
Jessye was recently recognized for her work in the New York Times article, "Legacy Of Suffrage," for contining her great-great-grandmother's advocacy on behalf of women. Good work, Jessye!
August 6, 2020
Katherine is now an assistant professor in the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies; Translation Research and Instruction Program at SUNY Binghamton. She received her PhD in Socio-Cultural Anthropology from the University of Michigan.
July 21, 2020
We are delighted to announce that Casey Golomski (PhD’13) has been promoted to associate professor with tenure at the University of New Hampshire. Casey is the author of "Funeral Culture: AIDS, Work, and Cultural Change in an African Kingdom" (Indiana University Press, 2018) and numerous ethnographic articles and works of poetry.
July 15, 2020
Holly Walters, PhD’18, is now a Visiting Lecturer in Anthropology at Wellesley College. She is a cultural anthropologist whose ethnographic work focuses on pilgrimage and politics in the Nepal Himalayas, as well as material culture, divine personhood and ritual practice in South Asia. Her new book focuses on the veneration of sacred fossil ammonites called Shaligrams, an important part of Hindu and Buddhist ritual practice throughout South Asia and among the global Diaspora for roughly 2,000 years.
Ieva Jusionyte's book, "Threshold: Emergency Responders on the US-Mexico Border," is the product of some of the most rigorous, humane and original fieldwork in the anthropology of work. Jusionyte's firs-hand experiences as an emergency responder at multiple sites along the U.S.-Mexico border inform her compelling narratives of the daily experiences of these workers in the communities they serve.
July 15, 2020
Jonathan's master's thesis is titled "Beyond the Gridiron: Race and the Costs and Benefits of American Football." He has been admitted to the doctoral program at the Heller School and will be returning to Brandeis in Fall 2021 to begin his path toward a PhD in Social Policy.
June 3, 2020
Jessica Priestley received this prestigious fellowship for her project, "And Science Makes Three: Discovering Kin through DNA Testing, a Digital Story Archive." In collaboration with associate professor Anita Hannig, Jessica will develop an audio archive of family experiences with genetic ancestry testing.
January 24, 2020
Jeffrey Dobereiner ’09 is an anthropologist studying the role of cultural diversity in the emergence of social complexity.
Jessica was named the recipient of the Edward A. Schaffer Teaching Fellowship in the Humanities for the 2019-20 academic year based on faculty recommendations.
August 29, 2019
August 8, 2019
Ieva Jusionyte, MA’07, PhD’12, was awarded third place in the Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing, while Steven Gonzalez, MA’17, earned honorable mention for Ethnographic Fiction and Creative Nonfiction, and Casey Golomski, PhD’13, took first place in the society's poetry competition.
March 26, 2019
Anthropology major Alejandra Bonilla speaks to BrandeisNOW.
March 13, 2019
Yiyi Wu was awarded the 2019 Richard Saber Undergraduate Research Grant. Yiyi Wu ’19, is a senior with majors in Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Anthropology and International and Global Studies. The project she was awarded the grant for presents the narratives of a population of heterosexual women, referred to as tongqi (同妻) who marry homosexual men aiming to fulfill their societal obligations of marriage and fatherhood.
Using these narratives, she aims to challenge heterosexual norms in China and trace the impact of civil society in the country. This is a critical issue for the formation to this type of marriage has a lot to do with the stigma against homosexuality in China and an anti-gay agenda in China. The main goal of this project is to understand the motivations for marriages between gay men and homosexual women and the factors that lead to their divorce and separation.
Based on the results drawn from the analyses, this project aims to support the establishment of a non-governmental organization to support tongqi and their civil society. Publication of the results from this project also seeks to promote international awareness about phenomenon that are similar to tongqi and the need for laws permitting gay marriage.
March 1, 2019
In this workshop media producer and podcaster Adam Gamwell, PhD’18, (This Anthro Life, Missing Link Studios) introduced participants to narrative audio and voice styles across public media and podcasting, recording and interview techniques, and crafting narrative audio.Whether to interview a family member for oral history, start a podcast or make one's scholarship more public, this workshop provided the framing and techniques to hit the ground recording.
March 1, 2019
Douglas Bafford's article "Aging and the End Times: Evangelical Eschatology and Experiences of Elderhood in the United States and South Africa" was recently published in Anthropology & Aging 40(1)
February 19, 2019
Aneil's dissertation is tentatively titled "Assembling the Green Bond Market: Work and Personhood in Climate Finance." Aneil's research centers on understanding the development of the green bond market and how investment bankers, policy analysts, and environmental engineers in this market go about making climate change legible in finance. He is fascinated by processes of social change and how people try to make sense of our world. Aneil is a cofounder of the anthropology podcast This Anthro Life.
December 23, 2018
November 17, 2018
November 9, 2018
A book launch event for Threshold: Emergency Responders on the U.S.-Mexico Border will take place at PM on Friday, November 9, at the Harvard Book Store.
November 2, 2018
September 25, 2018
May 17, 2018
Doctoral student Amy Hanes is awarded a Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, the nation's largest and most prestigious award for PhD candidates in the humanities and social sciences addressing questions of ethical and religious values. Amy's project is entitled: Caring for Their Sake: Interspecies Care, Race, and Conservation in Cameroon's Chimpanzee Sanctuaries.
April 21, 2018
Ryan Collins PhD’18 speaks at TEDxBrandeisUniversity.
March 8, 2018
Noam Sienna ’11 is publishing a groundbreaking work with the support of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, tentatively titled: "The LGBTQ Jewish Anthology: a Reader of Primary Sources from the Talmud to Stonewall."
Photo Credit: Megan McClory
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