Tag Archive for Anthropology

Weiner ’15 Studies Urban Agriculture, Community for Thesis

Through hands-on fieldwork at East New York Farms!, Kate Weiner '15 examined urban agriculture as a political project for her thesis, Reciprocity: Cultivating Community in Urban Agriculture."

Through hands-on fieldwork at East New York Farms!, Kate Weiner ’15 examined urban agriculture as a political project for her thesis, “Reciprocity: Cultivating Community in Urban Agriculture.” (Photo by Laurie Kenney)

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In this News @ Wesleyan story, we speak with Kate Weiner from the Class of 2015. Weiner is an anthropology and environmental studies major.

Q: Can you describe your thesis, “Reciprocity: Cultivating Community in Urban Agriculture”?

A: My thesis is an exploration of how community, identity and belonging interact in urban agricultural spaces, with my hands-on fieldwork with East New York Farms! serving as a case study for examining urban agriculture as a political project. Through melding creative non-fiction, feminist theory, community politics and environmental studies, the intention of my thesis is to provide a framework for understanding the various social, natural, socioeconomic and political factors that shape community-making within urban agriculture.

Q: How did you choose your thesis topic?

A: Arriving at my thesis subject was several years in the making. Throughout the summer of 2013, I photographed female urban farmers along the Eastern Seaboard

Ulysse Writes Tribute to Anthropologist Karen McCarthy Brown

Gina Athena Ulysse, associate professor of anthropology.

Gina Athena Ulysse, associate professor of anthropology.

Gina Athena Ulysse, associate professor of anthropology, wrote a tribute on the Tikkun Daily Blog to Karen McCarthy Brown, professor emerita of anthropology and sociology of religion at Drew University, who passed away earlier this month.

“Reading Karen’s Mama Lola kept me in grad school. Vodou got a human face from her,” Ulysses posted on Facebook after hearing news of Brown’s death.

She goes on to explain, “Mama Lola was published by the University of California Press in 1991. Based on extensive fieldwork conducted over a decade, Brown became an initiate of her subject, as a condition to deeper research and writing her life history. The resulting ethnography with its radical crossings blurred methodological and scriptive lines. Brown took creative liberties fictionalizing various strands of Lola’s familial and spiritual genealogies.”

Though highly celebrated, the book was not without its critics. Haitian anthropologist Michel-Ralph Trouillot questioned tensions between Brown’s ethnographic authority and totalizing narrative.

Ulysses writes, “Indeed, in many ways, Mama Lola was something of an insider ethnography. In retrospect, I formed an attachment to it precisely because I had some knowledge to discern fact from fiction, to fill in the silences and to decipher practices layered in an opacity that was part of a historically damaging trope. Simultaneously, it expanded my lexicon as I learned so much about religious practices in my birth country that to this day remain trapped in obscurity, familial and otherwise. In that sense, the book had done for me exactly what anthropology is supposed to do, make the familiar strange and the strange familiar. It also sensitized me to the restrictions of genres, fieldwork dynamics and negotiations among so many other things. I knew there would never be an ethnography of my family’s story. Performance, maybe? Memoir, definitely. Some stories are not mine to tell.”

Kauanui Speaks on Native American Politics, Palestine Solidarity Politics

J. Kehaulani Kauanui

J. Kehaulani Kauanui

J. Kehaulani Kauanui, associate professor of anthropology, associate professor of American studies, participated in several conferences and events during the fall semester.

She presented on a roundtable, “Indigenous Sovereignty, Conquest Mythology, And Indian
Policy: Histories and Futures in New England” at the New England American Studies Association Conference held at Roger Williams University, Oct 17-18. She also was an invited participant for a public panel discussion, “Countering Columbus Day,” held at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center on Oct. 25.

Kauanui also presented ongoing research on Palestinian solidarity through participation at two events. First, as an invited speaker at Johns Hopkins University for a Gaza teach-in hosted by the Anthropology Department on Oct. 24 where she spoke on a session about academic boycott as resistance. Second, as an invited speaker at the 4th annual National Students for Justice in Palestine Conference held at Tufts University Oct. 24-26. This year’s theme was “Beyond Solidarity: Resisting Racism and Colonialism from the US to Palestine,” and Kauanui delivered a talk on the closing plenary session titled “Transnational BDS – Challenges and Dreams Forward.”

In November, Kauanui participated in the annual meeting of the American Studies Association in three capacities: serving a second year as an elected member of the National Council, as an invited presenter for a session on “New Directions in American Studies,” where she was asked to speak about settler colonialism as an analytic; and as a paper presenter on a session on “Formations of U.S. Colonialism,” for which she presenter a paper titled, “Hawaiian National Land and the Colonial Contradictions of Sovereignty.”

In addition, Kauanui continued her work with nine Wesleyan students co-producing a public affairs radio show, Anarchy on Air, through the campus station, 88.1 FM WESU. The show emerged out of her course, “Anarchy in America: From Haymarket to Occupy Wall Street.”

 

Ulysse Panelist at Columbia’s Caribbean Conference

Imagining and Imaging the Caribbean

“Imagining and Imaging the Caribbean.”

Gina Athena Ulysse, associate professor of anthropology, participated in “Imagining and Imaging the Caribbean,” the inaugural conference of Columbia’s Greater Caribbean Studies Center, on Oct. 18.

Ulysse discussed “Writing in the Caribbean Diaspora” with fellow panelists Cuban writer and artist Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo (Brown University) and Kittian-Brittish novelist Caryl Phillips (Yale University).

Other topics included “The Greater Caribbean as a Geo-Historical and Cultural Region,” “Writing about the Caribbean from National Perspectives” and “Photographing the City in the Greater Caribbean.” The event concluded with a Caribbean concert.

Ulysse Presents Performative Meditation, Participates in Public Dialog

Gina Athena Ulysse

Gina Athena Ulysse

On March 6, Gina Athena Ulysse, associate professor of anthropology, presented “Why Haiti Needs a Higher Love I,” a performative meditation on representation, ripostes and self-making at Central Connecticut State University’s Center for Africana Studies 20th Anniversary Conference.

On March 10, Ulysse and Jungian analyst and author Craig Stephenson participated in a public dialogue titled “Possession and Inspiration – Between the Psyche and the Spirits: A Conversation about Therapy and Vodou” at the CUNY Grad Center in New York City.

Kauanui Guest Panelist at Mellon Humanities Conference

J. Kehaulani Kauanui, associate professor of American studies, associate professor of anthropology, was a distinguished guest panelist at the 2014 Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship Program in the Humanities Conference at the University of California – Los Angles on March 7. She spoke on “Hawaiian Indigeneity, (Same-Sex) Marriage, and the Racial Politics of Colonial Modernity.”

She also spoke on “Till death Do Us Part? Settler Colonialism and (Same Sex) Marriage in Hawaii,” at the Women’s Studies and Consortium for Critical Interdisciplinary Studies on Feb. 20 and “New Directions in American Studies: Settler Colonialism and Critical Indigenous Studies,” at the Circuits of Influence: U.S. Israel, and Palestine Symposium at New York University on March 1.

She’ll speak on “Hawaiian Indigeneity and the Contradictions of Hawaiian Self-Determination,” at Tufts University, March 26 and on “Debt and the Commons: The Historical Present of Property and Indigenous Dispossession” at The Settler Colonial ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ and the Politics of Contemporary ‘Reclamation’” Symposium at Harvard University Law School on March 28.

Kauanui Speaks, Organizes Roundtable at Transnational American Studies Conference

J. Kehaulani Kauanui

J. Kehaulani Kauanui

J. Kehaulani Kauanui, associate professor American studies, associate professor of anthropology, participated in two recent conferences.

During the Transnational American Studies Conference, held at the Center for American Studies and Research, American University of Beirut, Jan. 6-9, Kauanui co-organized a roundtable on “Pinkwashing and Transnational Alliance: Challenging Settler Colonialism in Palestine/Israel, the United States, and Canada.” She also organized a panel on “Redwashing: Israeli Claims to Indigeneity and the Political Role of Native Americans,” and presented a paper on “The Politics of Recognition: Indigeneity, Sovereignty, and Redwashing.”

During the American Studies Association annual meeting held in Washington, D.C., Nov. 21-14, 2013, she participated in a panel that discussed “Settler Colonial Dispossession in Hawai‘i and the Contested Status of Public Lands.” The panel was part of the Racial Capitalism and Economies of Dispossession Panel Series.

In 2013, she also spoke at three invited talks: “Gender, Sovereignty and Decolonization in the Hawaiian Nationalist Struggle,” at the University of Saint Joseph, Oct. 30; “Nothing Common About ‘The Commons’: Settler Colonialism and the Indigenous Politics of Land Dispossession,” at Brown University, Oct. 9; and “The Enduring Question of Hawaii’s Sovereignty,” at the University of Connecticut, Avery Point, on Sept. 30.

Ulysse Writes Article about Artist Bill Traylor, a Former Slave

Gina Athena Ulysse, associate professor of anthropology, associate professor of African America studies, wrote an article, “Presumed Innocent: On Bill Traylor’s Verve,” which appeared on the website Anthropology Now. Ulysse reflects on an exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum by Bill Traylor, a former slave who began drawing at the age of 85, and produced his entire body of work in three years.

Ulysse Writes Exhibit Review of Contemporary Black Women Portraits

Gina Athena Ulysse

Gina Athena Ulysse

Gina Athena Ulysse, associate professor of anthropology, associate professor of African American studies, wrote a review of artist Robert Pruitt’s Women, currently on exhibit at the Studio Museum of Harlem, in the Huffington Post. The exhibit features 20 portraits of contemporary black women drawn on brown butcher paper with conté-crayons.

Ulysse writes: “Although, Pruitt’s Women may be warriors, they are not embattled. They may be of and in struggle, yet they are not fighting. Their serenity is too often denied to black women. They are ‘keepin’ it surreal’ inhabiting Suzanne Césaire’s state of permanent readiness for the Marvelous.”

Harris ’98 Studies Multinational Trade Route

harris.tina

Tina Harris ’98

In her new book Geographical Diversions  (The University of Georgia Press), Tina Harris ’98 employs cultural anthropology, human geography, and material culture to explore the social and economic transformations that take place along one trade route that extends through China, Nepal, Tibet, and India. She makes connections between the seemingly mundane motions of daily life and more abstract levels of global change by focusing on two generations of traders and how they create “geographies of trade that work against state ideas of what trade routes should look like.”  She observes the tensions between the apparent fixity of invisible national boundaries and the mobility of the local individuals. The book as a whole challenges and confronts established theories on an innovative smaller-scale perspective.

Book by Tina Harris '98

Book by Tina Harris ’98

Harris considers what allows the traders along one trade route to make their own places through their markets and their way of life. She focuses on the effects of new infrastructure due to the economic rise of China and India on places that are rarely covered by international media. Alongside her detailed written analysis of the trade route, Harris provides numerous photographs to give readers a more visual sense of the world they are reading about. These pictures include a mule caravan loaded with Tibetan wool near Pharia, circa 1930s; a sign on National Highway 31A on the road to Gangtok, and the reopening ceremony that took place in July of 2006.

Author website

Behar ’77 Writes New Memoir

Ruth Behar '77 (Photo: Gabriel Frye-Behar)

Ruth Behar ’77 (Photo: Gabriel Frye-Behar)

Storyteller and cultural anthropologist Ruth Behar ’77 is the author of Traveling Heavy: A Memoir Between Journeys (Duke University Press), in which she recounts her life as an immigrant child and later, as an adult woman who loves to travel but is terrified of boarding a plane. Behar shares moving stories about her Yiddish-Sephardic-Cuban-American family, as well as the kind strangers she meets on her travels. The author refers to herself an anthropologist who specializes in homesickness and repeatedly returning to her homeland of Cuba. She asks the question why we leave home to find home.

Kirkus Reviews writes: “A heartfelt witness to the changing political and emotional landscape of the Cuban-American experience.”

Memoir by Ruth Behar '77

Memoir by Ruth Behar ’77

Behar is the Victor Haim Perera Collegiate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. She is the author of many books, including An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba; The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart; and Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza’s Story, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Behar also is a poet, a fiction writer, and a documentary filmmaker. She wrote, directed, and produced Adio Kerida (Goodbye Dear Love), a film that has been shown at film festivals around the world. She has received many prizes, including a MacArthur “Genius” Award.

Ruth Behar website

Sarah Croucher Discusses Community Archaeology in the Beman Triangle

In this video, Sarah Croucher, assistant professor of anthropology, assistant professor of archaeology, discusses her community archaeology project in the “Beman Triangle” in Middletown, Conn. The houses built on this land from the 1840s were home to a community of African Americans living in Middletown, tied to the nearby A.M.E. Zion Church. Artifacts discovered in the area from 19th century trash pits shed new light on the lives of the community members, and the longstanding relationship between the church, Middletown and Wesleyan. Read more about Croucher’s project in this past Wesleyan Connection article.

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