Monday, November 27, 2017
Associate Professor of Anthropology &
Associate Adjunct Professor of American Studies,
Olin, Room 102 6:00 pm EDT/GMT-4
Americans know their dominant national story centers on ideals of freedom, social mobility, and progress. But those ideals are constantly shadowed by the counter-figures of captivity and immobility. This talk is going to muse on different ways we talk about hard-to-articulate feelings of captivity and containment, from the inner subjective states of neurodivergence, to stories of uncanny captivity in UFO abduction. I will think about how idiosyncratic individual experiences and public narratives of captivity resonate with each other. How do these narratives move from the margins to the center of political discourse – and to what effect? This talk will touch on neurodiversity forums on tumblr, the medicalized idea of the monster, and UFO abduction stories. In the second half of the talk, I will invite members of the audience to tell their own stories of captivity, in both uncanny or ordinary registers. Come with a story to tell!
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Kline French Room 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm EDT/GMT-4
Kali Rubaii is Charlotte Newcomb Fellow at University of California, Santa Cruz. Her dissertation, Counterinsurgency and the Ethical Life of Material Things in Anbar Iraq, documents the impacts of the Global War on Terror on farming families in Iraq.
In 2014 and 2015, at the height of militia struggles among ISIS and other subnational militias over Anbar province, Kali lived and travelled with farming families as they traversed war-pocked landscapes to access their crops and livestock; sought alternative methods of conceiving children, fertilizing date trees, and supplementing soil; and interacted with militias, drones, and toxic military waste. She later conducted fieldwork with counterinsurgency operatives in the United States, Jordan, Denmark, and Kurdistan, who work frequently in Iraq.
In approaching the Global War on Terror as a concerted effort to preempt organized armed resistance by making Anbar’s social and physical landscapes docile, Kali’s ethnographic methods highlight the turmoil underlying a study of violence and harm. When we begin to examine a concept like war or counterterrorism, where do we find ourselves looking for answers? What does participant observation mean in a study of harm: to what degree does an ethnographer participate in harming and being harmed? What kind of conversation happens when we speak to people who kill the people we love? What is the role of fear in limiting our capacities to know things? And what are our obligations to distant or even unknown others over a lifetime?
The workshop will be informal, so students, faculty and staff interested are welcome to come (and bring your lunch!) for any amount of time they can. See you there!
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Laurence Ralph, Ph.D.
John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences Harvard University
Olin, Room 102 5:30 pm EDT/GMT-4
My talk details the manhunt, arrest, and torture of a convicted cop killer named Andrew Wilson. Wilson was one of approximately 125 Black men who, between 1972 and 1991, were tortured by various means at Chicago’s Area Two police precinct. Beyond these specific dates and outside of this particular location, journalists place the total number of torture survivors at roughly 200.
Given the history of police torture in Chicago, this talk explores the twinned meanings of both the object and concept referred to as the Black Box. Doing so will reveal how the mysterious interworkings of a police torture operation somehow became accepted. Throughout this talk, the Black Box will reference the name of a torture device used to send electronic currents through a person’s body for the purpose of coercing a confession; and it will also refer to the label I give for the conventional agreement, among a group of police officers, to stop trying to understand how and why torture is taking place in their very own precinct. That is to say, during Wilson’s ordeal, the Black Box served as an implicit agreement between police officers that their activity should remain concealed. That is, in attempting to hide the grisly details of their torture operation, these officers designed for themselves a conceptual Black Box. Contained in this box were sweeping, unexamined stereotypes about good and evil, about where and how the evil people live, about the color of the skin of those evil people, and about what it is permissible to do to protect against them.
Thursday, October 19, 2017
Professor of Geography & Asian Studies
Simon's Rock College
Campus Center, Weis Cinema 4:40 pm EDT/GMT-4
Animism and vitalism have captured the imagination of post-structural theorists, ontologically-inclined ethnographers, and several cultural geographers. This presentation draws on works by scholars who have explored the divide, or dialectic, between sacred and secular space (Lefebvre, Foucault, Viveiros de Castro, and others) to explore the contemporary political ecology of Tibetan sacred mountains (gzhi bdag) and Han sacred forests (fengshuilin) as China strives to build a post-industrial Ecological Civilization (Shengtai Wenming).
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Professor of Anthropology, Reed College
Preston 6:30 pm EDT/GMT-4
In this talk, we travel upriver from the famous Tibetan Buddhist town of Rebgong in southeastern Qinghai province, China to the small and marginalized Tibetan community of Langmo. Here we explore the stakes and consequences of village history-making as a dialogic process in the context of increasing state-led pressures on rural land use. I had met Langmo elders back in 2005 when I was first looking for highland communities to research. Langmo elders, it turned out, had their own goals for our collaboration. Their counter-development plans for the village meant "capturing" foreign donors and converting them to village patrons. Thus my naive offer in 2008 to help fund Langmo's primary school roof repair drew me into deepening relationships with villagers I had never anticipated. And that meant taking a role as a key listener and medium for elders' oppositional accounts of Langmo history. In the face of resettlement pressures, elders insisted that Langmo's Buddhist history grounded the community's sovereign right to their former lands.
Thursday, September 28, 2017
Architect and Deputy Mayor of Red Hook, NY
Olin, Room 102 4:40 pm EDT/GMT-4
The Village of Red Hook’s Municipal Sewer Project has been developing for over seventy years. Countless planning documents, initiatives, two failed referendums and the path to final completion will be explored. The project addresses the Village’s economic development future and protection of drinking water supplies for residents and institutions that rely on the Saw Kill Watershed’s aquifer, tributaries and streams for their own needs.
Through the example of a municipal infrastructure project, we will discuss the work involved with gathering and documenting the research, finding the necessary funding, advocating for its necessity, and navigating the bureaucratic and regulatory paperwork required to realize this most important project.
Thursday, September 28, 2017
Associate Dean of Faculty & Academic Affairs
Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies, Harvard Divinity School
Hegeman 102 4:30 pm EDT/GMT-4
This talk will present the speaker’s perceptions and experiences at the recent nuns ordination ceremony, held at the Bodhgaya Mahabodhi Temple in India in March 2017, under the direction of the current H. H. Gyalwa Karmapa. It will contextualize this exciting event in light of the larger female ordination movement in contemporary Buddhism.
Thursday, September 14, 2017
James D. Dinan Professor of Decision Sciences and Policy
Co-Director of Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center
Wharton School University of Pennsylvania
Campus Center, Weis Cinema 4:40 pm EDT/GMT-4
We face challenges in dealing with potentially catastrophic events associated with climate change. Most individuals do not think about investing in energy efficient measures to reduce global warming or undertaking protective actions to reduce damage to their homes from future floods or hurricanes until after a disaster occurs. I will use concepts from behavioral economics and psychology to highlight why we ignore these risks and recommend public-private sector partnerships that provide economic incentives for taking steps now rather than waiting until it is too late.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Kline, Faculty Dining Room 5:00 pm EDT/GMT-4
Come celebrate the end of the year with fellow MESers. Meet faculty, hear about exciting new courses, study abroad programs, senior projects, and a number of incredible iniatives MES students are working on. Snacks will be served. All are welcome.
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Yellow Room in the campus center and RKC 103 1:15 pm – 7:30 pm EDT/GMT-4
I. New Connections: The Talmud and the Contemporary Humanities - a Workshop
Location: The Yellow Room in the Campus Center (1:15-4:45pm)
Featuring leading scholars of Jewish studies in dialogue with Bard students and faculty.
II. "Make it New": Classical Jewish Texts and Artistic Imagination
Location: RKC 103 (4:45-6:15pm)
Nicole Krass: Novelist, author of The History of Love (2005) and Great House (2010)
Adam Kirsh: Poet and critic
Galit-Hasan-Rokem: Scholar, poet, and translator.
III. Jewish Studies and the Liberal Arts: Institutional Possibilities
Location: RKC 103 (6:30-7:30pm)
Featuring President Leon Botstein, Bruce Chilton, and Alan Avery-Peck.
Monday, April 24, 2017
a Film by
Katie Detwiler and Anna Niedermeyer
Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium 6:00 pm EDT/GMT-4
The Atacama Desert in northern Chile contains nearly two-thirds of the world’s infrastructure for astronomical data production. In 2012, the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA), was under construction. Documenting the extraordinary process of building a radio telescope composed of sixty-six 100-ton antennae, spread out across eighteen kilometers at 16,500 feet in altitude on a plateau in the Chilean Andes-- an anthropologist, a designer, and a camera man spent three weeks filming at ALMA. We will discuss the challenges that emerged in filming and in the subsequent experiments with the collected footage: around the interdisciplinary crafting of narrative; about the limits and possibilities of a range of ethnographic tools; and about the aesthetics of anthropology.
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Visiting Scholar, Anthropology
at New York University
Olin, Room 202 6:00 pm EDT/GMT-4
A decade ago, social media—that is, social network sites like MySpace and Facebook—were taking off among teens and fan communities. News consumption in the US was shifting as well, as cable news outstripped network shows and print circulation declined. Only a few years later, Facebook and Twitter became widespread, perhaps losing their cool among young people. As social media coalesce into a new mass medium, these platforms integrate news stories into spaces previously envisioned for leisure and friendship. Planned changes to the Facebook News Feed algorithm cultivated this process further. By 2015, breaking events like the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris unfolded online in a new way, sparking the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag and public memorials across Europe hours later. Reading news websites was already part of daily practice among young people I studied in Berlin in the late 2000s, but by 2015, social media became the place to encounter and experience news stories. This shift is reshaping how the news circulates, facilitating viral “fake” news and disinformation regimes. Social media contribute to reconfiguring the meaning of public and private, but what is at stake when social media are the news?
Monday, April 10, 2017
Katie Detwiler and Anna Niedemeyer
TBD 6:00 pm EDT/GMT-4
Speakers for Anthropology 220: Doing Ethnography.
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Campus Center, Weis Cinema 6:00 pm EDT/GMT-4
Associate Professor, University of Puget Sound
Director, Freedom Education Project Puget Sound
In prisons throughout the United States, punitive incarceration and religious revitalization are occurring simultaneously. Faith-based prison ministries operate under the logic that religious conversion and redemption will transform prisoners into new human beings. Why are Christian prison ministries on the rise amidst an increasingly punitive system of mass incarceration? How do people in prison practice religion in a space of coercion and discipline? What are theimplications of the state's promotion of Christianity over other religious traditions in some prisons? And, why have conservative Christians, particularly, embraced criminal justice reform?