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The 2011/2012 New York Academy of Science, Anthropology Lecture series
The Anthropology Section of the New York Academy of Sciences continues its third season of talks, for the 2011/2012 academic year, at the Wenner-Gren Foundation offices. AS with the previous years, all seminars are preceded by a dinner and are open to the public. Join us for another set of lively presentations from speakers engaged with a range of topics from throughout the field.
September 26, 2011
Beyond Imperial Knowledge: A Forum Inspired by the Work of Fernando Coronil
Chair: Katherine Vedery
Presentations by Marc Edelman (Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY)
Ana María Ochoa (Columbia University)
Edward Linedecker Murphy (Michigan State University)
October 31, 2011
The Contradictions of “Combined Development:” Some Reflections on Environmental Crises in India
Ananth Aiyer, U Michigan, Flint.
Over the last two decades, the spectacular growth of the Indian economy has been integrally related to deepening forms of inequality and heightened forms of direct and indirect forms of state violence. Hyperconsumerism, in its various guises, by a small yet sizeable “middle class,” land grabs by a variety of national and global conglomerates (especially mining companies), and the forced relocation of millions of poor and indigenous rural dwellers, are some of the highlights of the current development model. This paper seeks to explore some of the contradictions in this model by analyzing multiple environmental crises (ranging from natural resource privatization and depletion to enclosures and denial of livelihood rights) that have emerged. It argues that efforts by the state and capital to “manage” such crises not only uphold the basic tenets of a “growth” model but also deepen conditions of conflict and violence borne by the poor majority .
December 5, 2011
Talking up the Jews: Discourses of Tolerance, Multiculturalism and Jewishness in Amsterdam's Public Culture
Galey Modan, Ohio State University,
Although Jews make up a minute proportion of Amsterdam’s population, they figure prominently in the city’s story about itself. Jews’ inclusion in the body politic, however, is tenuous; across a wide array of discursive settings, Jews are created as simultaneously insiders and outsiders. This double-edged positionality serves as a strategic resource available for Amsterdammers to pick up and use for multiple goals related to the construction of multiple divergent local identities for themselves, other residents, and the city at-large. While such a tenuous inclusion might seem to be indicative of a positionality in flux, I argue that the symbolic utility of Jews as both insiders and outsiders leads to a positionality that is actually quite stable. In this paper, I investigate how insider/outsider identities are created in such domains as discussions/examples of Yiddish borrowings in Amsterdam Dutch; discursive and material practices of Ajax soccer fans (the local soccer team); museum and tourism materials; media reports asserting that local Muslims (particularly those of Moroccan descent) are antisemitic; government efforts to ban ritual slaughter and the Dutch medical association’s official discouraging of circumcision.
January 30, 2012
The Earliest Human Ancestors: Sorting the Contenders From the Pretenders
Terry Harrison, NYU
Based on a combination of molecular and paleontological evidence, the human evolutionary lineage appears to have diverged from that of our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, between 6 and 8 million years ago. In the past two decades, teams of paleontologists working in Ethiopia, Kenya and Chad have recovered spectacular fossil finds that date to this critical time period. These finds, referred to Ardipithecus, Orrorin and Sahelanthropus, have been claimed to be the earliest members of the human evolutionary lineage (or hominins). This lecture explores the inherent difficulties in identifying the earliest hominins and in drawing inferences about their evolutionary relationships. When viewed in a broader comparative context and with a critical appreciation of the limitations of the evidence and methods employed, it is possible to reassess claims about the phylogenetic relationships of the earliest purported hominins.
February 27, 2012
The Archaeology of Burning Man
Carolyn White, University of Nevada-Reno
March 26, 2012