Anthropology Department

Roundtable Symposium Series
Fall 2017

Welcome to the anthropology department's new and exciting symposium series! Anthropology Roundtables will meet bi-monthly from 4:30pm to 6pm and feature research presentations from students, faculty, and anthropologists from outside of Reed. Each roundtable will be held in an intimate setting perfect for hearty discussion. Light snacks and refreshments will be included.

Past Events

August 28 | Welcome Back Gathering

4:30-6pm in Vollum 110

Radicle logo imageThe Department of Anthropology is excited to announce a welcome back gathering. Please join us in kicking off the new academic year with fellow students, faculty, and friends in the department!

The occasion will bring together two exciting happenings in our department this year. Firstly, we will inaugurate our new bi-monthly Anthropology Roundtable symposium series with presentations from Jessica Hutchinson, Jolon Timms, and Sophie Specner-Zavos, whom each received summer research funds from the department. Secondly, Monday’s gathering will also be a celebration of a new issue of Radicle, our student-run journal that brings together peer-reviewed research articles. The new issue kickoff will feature presentations by students who submitted to Radicle. Join us for a good time!

September 12 | Senior Thesis Proposal Panel Discussion

4:30-6pm in Vollum 110

Reed College thesis tower imageWho are the spring '18 anthropology seniors and what will be the topics of their theses? Come find out! In this panel discussion, all senior anthropology seniors will be presenting their newly crafted thesis proposals and will be soliciting feedback from faculty, each other and fellow students, and friends of the department. Good company and light refreshments will be served. See you there!

October 02 | In-progress Thesis Presentation: "Making Babies: Transnational Surrogacy in Cambodia"

4:30-6pm in Vollum 110

condon imageJoin the anthropology department and friends in welcoming Natalie Condon, a spring/fall thesising senior, who will present on two chapters of her in-progress thesis!

She’ll speak on media representations of Cambodian surrogates in the recently banned transnational commercial surrogacy industry in Cambodia, analyzing surrogates’ notions of relatedness to the babies they carry for foreign middle-class clients by using anthropological work on assisted productive technologies. She’ll further discuss her historical research on marriage and reproduction in Cambodia spanning the colonial era until after the Khmer Rouge, including oral history fieldwork she conducted in Phnom Kulen National Park, Cambodia.

Q&A and discussion will take place after the presentation. Light snacks and refreshments will be included.

October 10 | Tamara-Giles Vernick (Institut Pasteur - Paris, France), A Pre-History of Zoonotic Disease Outbreaks: an historical-ethnographic reconsideration of human-animal “contact” in central Africa

4:30-6pm in Eliot 314

Chimp Female SE Cameroon Narat imageCameroon imageTamara-Giles Vernick (Institut Pasteur - Paris, France) discusses her recent field research in central Africa, which investigates human-nonhuman primate engagements over time and their implications for zoonotic disease transmission. Her talk will illustrate problems with certain assumptions embedded in a biomedical literature on human-animal contact and zoonotic disease emergence. She describes the contributions that historical-anthropological research can bring to pre-histories of emergence and presents preliminary analysis of the evidence of changing human-nonhuman primate engagements.  

Q&A and discussion will take place after the presentation. Light snacks and refreshments will be included.

October 30 | John Collins (CUNY), Defetishizing Drag, or Transracialisms Inside Out: Some Perspective from Latin America on Racial and Sexual Belonging and the Hypatia Controversy

4:30-6pm in Vollum 110

JCollins.jpgThis talk follows the contours of, and seeks to expand upon, a number of the contradictions that emerged in mid-2017 in relation to North American philosopher Rebecca Tuvel’s article in Hypatia entitled “In Defense of Transracialism.” The concerns do not involve the ethics of peer review or the politics of publishing and injury within the academy. Instead, this paper draws on ongoing research on race, space and the production of history in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil—a locus classicus in modern social scientific approaches to racial politics purportedly “different” from the North American or European—as well as experiences and representations by a white, South African mimic of indigeneity and his mixed race Andean partner in Peru so as to evaluate claims about being, becoming, and knowing selves as put forth by Tuvel, her critics, and her defenders. Such a gathering of salient threads from Brazilian, South African, Peruvian and U.S. racial and sexual politics around the Hypatia controversy encourages an ethnographically-informed, and perhaps Latin American-inflected, perspective on belonging and on debates about identity, descent, interiority, and appropriation as waged in the Anglophone academy. But this perspective promises few neat solutions to problems of identity or definitions of belonging and social justice. It encourages instead a questioning of what it may mean to hold ourselves to high standards as researchers and producers of conceptual categories. Response to this political and ethical conundrum brought out by disagreements about the different grounds of subjectification involves an emphasis on issues of responsibility, truth, and representations of otherness in anthropology. And this spurs in turn an argument about disciplinary borders and the extent to which a “real” or outside seems to have disappeared from some of the most influential, and interesting, strands of social science in manners that may inhibit academics’ recognition of the importance and culturally-specific means of evaluating performances as part of the interpretation of criteria of inclusion in any social group.

A Q&A and discussion will take place after the presentation. Refreshments will be served.

November 13 | Brian Horne (University of Chicago), "I Will, Of Course, Return": Russian Bardic Song and the Politics of Resurrection

4:30-6pm in Vollum 110

Brian-Horne.RespublikaPesni.jpgBrian-Horne.Arbat.jpgBrian-Horne.Festival.jpgIn this talk, Brian Horne (University of Chicago) explores how national images of life, death, rebirth and resurrection are reflected, negotiated and experienced in a musical-poetic genre: Russian bardic song (bardovskaia pesnia), an artform that emerged during the early years of the Khruschchev Thaw and achieved extraordinary popularity despite official censure and censorship. Based on fieldwork he conducted in Moscow from 2004 through 2009, Brian will discuss how this historically marked genre is deployed in different private and public settings, and in doing so, how Russians and non-Russians use the once un-publishable sound of bardic song to make sense of—and make sensible—relationships between the national past, present, and future. More generally, his presentation takes up some of the challenges of researching affect, sound and genre as objects of ethnographic observation.

November 27 | Paul Silverstein (Reed College), "Moroccan Coalminers, Ethno-Religious Revivalism, and the Fate of Cosmopolitan Europe"

4:30-6pm in Vollum 110

Paul-lewarde_arabic_2_2.jpgPaul’s research explores the history of a cosmopolitan vision of Europe through the lens of the coalmining industry in northern Europe and its post-war recruitment of laborers from (mostly Berber-speaking) Morocco who joined those from Italy, Poland, Greece and elsewhere in complexly intertwined communities. Mining, as opposed to atomized factory or construction labor in which earlier North African migrants worked, necessitated solidarity and inter-dependence across ethnic or national affiliations, both in the workplace and in the labor union activism that developed across Europe.

The presentation interrogates the fate of such solidarity in the wake of the mine closures in the 1980s. Paul will make the case that while many of the miners’ descendants are today active in various kinds of Islamic revivalism and Berber/Amazigh cultural movements, the legacy of this earlier political engagement is still alive for many who, from their current predicament of post- industrial economic precarity, regard such working-class solidarity from a nostalgic perspective.