Annual Lectures in Anthropology

  • 2016-17 Audra Simpson Consent's Revenge: An Inquiry into the Politics of Refusal
  • 2015 James Ferguson Give a Man a Fish: The New Politics of Distribution in Southern Africa (and Beyond)
  • 2013-14   Gustavo Lins Ribeiro Anthropological Cosmopolitanisms and World Anthropologies
  • 2013-14    Miriam Ticktin The Politics of Planetary Care: Moving Beyond Humanism
  • 2012-13    Karen Ho  Mimicking Hedge Funds: Rethinking Risk, Return and the Organization
  • 2012-13    Roma Chatterji   Global Events and Local Narratives: 9/11 and the Folk Artists of Bengal
  • 2011-12    Hugh Raffles   Rocks, Stones, and Other Vital Things
  • 2010-11    Elizabeth Povinelli    The Space of Otherwise, the Hope of Critical Theory
  • 2009-10    Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing    Fugues for Multi-Species Living
  • 2008-09    Faye V. Harrison    Diversity, (In)Equality & Justice: An Anthropological Perspective on Globalization, Human Rights, and the Politics of Culture

2016-17

Audra Simpson
Dr. Audra Simpson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University. She is the author of "Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life Across the Borders of Settler States" (Duke University Press, 2014). Her primary research is energized by the problem of recognition, by its passage beyond (and below) the aegis of the state into the grounded field of political self-designation, self-description and subjectivity. This work is motivated by the struggle of Kahnawake Mohawks to find the proper way to afford political recognition to each other, their struggle to do this in different places and spaces and the challenges of formulating membership against a history of colonial impositions. As a result of this ethnographic engagement she is interested especially in those formations of citizenship and nationhood that occur in spite of state power and imposition and in particular, she is interested in declarative and practice-oriented acts of independence.

2015-16

JamesFergusonDr. James Ferguson is the Susan S. and William H. Hindle Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, and Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University. His research focuses on southern Africa, and how discourses organized around concepts such as “development” and “modernity” intersects the lives of ordinary people. Dr. Ferguson is the author of numerous books including “ Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order” (2006, Duke University Press) and “ Give a Man a Fish: Reflections on the New Politics of Distribution” (2015, Duke University Press).

Professor Ferguson's most recent work has explored the surprising creation and/or expansion (both in southern Africa and across the global South) of social welfare programs targeting the poor, anchored in schemes that directly transfer small amounts of cash to large numbers of low-income people. His work aims to situate these programs within a larger “politics of distribution,” and to show how they are linked to emergent forms of distributive politics in contexts where new masses of “working age” people are supported by means other than wage labor. In such settings of scarce and diminishing employment opportunities, distributive practices and distributive politics are acquiring a new centrality, with social protection, in particular, emerging as a key arena within which fundamental questions are addressed concerning how resources should be distributed, who is entitled to receive them, and why. In this context, new political possibilities and dangers are emerging, even as new analytical and critical strategies are required.

2013-2014

ribeiroGustavo Lins Ribeiro is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Brasilia. He has authored and edited 14 books, including World Anthropologies. Disciplinary Transformations within Systems of Power (with Arturo Escobar, 2006), and written more than 180 chapters and articles on topics such as development, environmentalism, international migration, cyberculture, globalization, transnationalism and world anthropologies. The founder and first chair of the World Council of Anthropological Association (WCAA), he has been a visiting professor in Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, South Africa and the U.S. and serves or has served on more than 20 editorial boards of journals in Europe, the U.S. and Latin America. Currently he is the co-editor of WCAA’s online global journal, Déjà Lu.

The World Anthropologies project, started in the early 2000s, intertwines cosmopolitics with the history of anthropological cosmopolitanisms. It shares some characteristics of current social movements in that it shies away from centralism and
depends on networks that seek to practice global democracy and horizontality. However, any global initiative based such perspectives still confronts the structuring powers of the nation-state and existing structures of hegemonic Has the WAN been able to fulfill the hopes it raised? Can anthropologists now enjoy a more equitable international scene? What remains to be done?

Anthropology_Lecture_2013_V3Miriam Ticktin is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the New School for Social Research, and currently the Director of Gender Studies at the New School. She works at the intersections of the anthropology of medicine and science, law, and transnational and postcolonial feminist theory. Her research has focused in the broadest sense on what it means to make political claims in the name of a universal humanity: she has been interested in what these claims tell us about universalisms and difference, about who can be a political subject, on what basis people are included and excluded from communities, and how inequalities get instituted or perpetuated in this process. She is the author of Casualties of Care: Immigration and the Politics of Humanitarianism in France, University of California Press, 2011 (co-winner of the 2012 Douglass Prize in Europeanist Anthropology); and In the Name of Humanity: the Government of Threat and Care (co-edited with Ilana Feldman), Duke University Press, 2010, along with other
articles and book chapters. She is also co-editor of the journal Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism and Development.
This talk will discuss how we might care in ways that go beyond its humanist forms, which include protection, rescue and sympathy. Starting with a discussion of the expansion of humanitarianism to non-humans, the talk will then explore how this expansion might lead the way into non-humanist forms of care. In keeping with this year's theme of "world anthropology," we will think about these questions in the context of anthropologists own forms of care.

2012-2013

Hedge-Fund-Risk_HO_UofMinn_D_000Karen Ho is an associate professor of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Her research centers on the problematic of understanding and representing financial markets, sites that are resistant to cultural analysis and disavow various attempts to locate or particularize them. Her domain of interest is the anthropology of economy, broadly conceived, with specific foci on finance capital, capitalism, globalization, corporations, inequality, dominant discourses, comparative studies of race and ethnicity, and feminist epistemologies.
Her ethnography, Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street (Duke University Press, 2009), based on three years of fieldwork among investment bankers and major financial institutions, has won two Honorable Mentions from the Society for Cultural Anthropology and the Society for the Anthropology of North America. Recent publications include “Disciplining Investment Bankers, Disciplining the Economy” (American Anthropology, 2009), “Finance” (Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology, 2010), “Outsmarting Risk: From Bonuses to Bailouts” (Anthropology Now, 2010), and "Financial Morality" (Didier Fassin's Companion to Moral Anthropology, Blackwell 2012). Her latest book project attempts to excavate an alternative cultural history of financial risk through the ethno-historic investigation of three central sites – corporations, investment practices, and investment funds – from the mid-twentieth century until the present moment.

Global Events and Local Narratives: 9/11 and the Folk Artists of Bengal
Roma Chatterji

Roma Chatterji is visiting ICCR Chair, and a member of the Department of Sociology of the Delhi School of Economics.

Anth_Event_Chatterji_2011_000roma_chetterjiMy lecture is about a community of painter-storytellers of Bengal, India, called the Citrakar or Patua who occupy a somewhat interstitial position in the caste hierarchy. They are Muslims but compose picture narratives that are largely based on Hindu mythology. They are also known to compose and sing narratives about secular events such as local disasters. In post-Independence India the fact of their interstitial position has given them a special status as embodiments of folk spirituality, syncreticism and secularism. I focus on the making of one particular narrative that is based on the 9/11 strike on the World Trade centre in New York. The choice of subject allows me to highlight not only the cosmopolitan interests of these folk artists but also to foreground folk art as an emergent phenomenon that is engaged with novelty and with the eventfulness of the contemporary. By focusing on an event that is distant but in the ‘real world’ I am able to show that the relation between the local and the global is not one of passive reception but rather of active re-interpretation and re-incorporation in a storytelling tradition that tends to deal with myths. Since the period between the event’s occurrence and the composition of this story is about two months, a period that was insufficient for the event to become reified in its representation the artists were able to explore the virtual dimension of the story – was bin Laden dead or alive and consequently was his story part of history or myth? The ‘storyable’ potential of the event dries up with bin Laden’s capture and death. Myths in this tradition work in the subjunctive mood posing ‘what if’ questions to the mythic universe that is familiar to the local audience. I contrast another mode of storytelling – the graphic novel form – in which some of the artists have experimented- to see whether the story can get a new lease of life in another genre when the traditional mode of picture story telling is no longer equal to the task.

2011-2012

Rocks, Stones, and Other Vital Things
Hugh Raffles

Hugh Raffles, of the New School of Social Research, took tentative steps into a new ethnographic project that explores the lives of rocks and stones. There are currently two central problems. One is familiar to anthropologists: What are the forms of life enacted by objects that, in "the Western philosophical tradition," are commonly considered inanimate? The second, although related, may be less familiar: What can we learn from stones? Raffles explores these questions ethnographically, assuming that they are susceptible to empirical investigation. The project considers a limited set of cases of which two are introduced in this talk: the ancient monuments of the British Isles and Chinese "scholar's rocks."

Hugh Raffles is Professor of Anthropology at the Eugene Land College, The New School for Liberal Arts. His current work explores these questions through a cultural and historical anthropology of “nature” that focuses primarily on the relationships between humans and other animals. Follow the link for a video recapping his fascinating work "Insectopedia."

Sponsors: Department of Anthropology, Founders College, the Office of the Master of Founders College, the Graduate Program in Social Anthropology, the Sexuality Studies Program, and the Graduate Program in Women’s Studies

2009-2010

Fugues for Multi-Species Living
Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing
Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz

Sponsors: Department of Anthropology, Founders College, Office of the Master of Founders College, the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR), the Graduate Program in Social Anthropology, the Social Anthropology Graduate Students’ Association (SAGA) and the Graduate Program in Sociology

2008-2009

Diversity, (In)Equality & Justice: An Anthropological Perspective on Globalization, Human Rights, and the Politics of Culture

Faye V. Harrison
Director of African American Studies and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida

Sponsors: The Department of Anthropology, Founders College, Faculty of Arts Dean's office, The Graduate Program in Social Anthropology, The Graduate Program in Women’s Studies, and CERLAC.