Tag Archive for Anthropology

Vodou Spirit, Haitian Culture in Ulysse’s Meditation Performance

Gina Ulysse, chair and associate professor of African American studies, associate professor anthropology, spoke to Wesleyan students, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows, and area high school students on July 24 in the Center for the Arts. Ulysse, who also is a poet, performance and multi-media artist, performed her avant-garde meditation, “Voodoo Doll, What if Haiti Were a Woman: On ti Travay sou 21 Pwen or An Alter(ed)native in Something Other than Fiction.” The piece focused on coercion and consent inspired by Gede, the Haitian Vodou spirit of life and death. She interspersed Haiti’s geopolitical history, statistics, theory and Vodou chants.

Ulysse spoke with many students after her performance.

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows Ernst Pierre and Henrico Joseph listen to Ulysse’s performance. Like Ulysse, Pierre was born in Haiti.

Video Feature on Wesleyan’s Ritual, Health and Healing Course

In the Spring semester of 2012, Assistant Professor of Anthropology Gillian Goslinga and Creative Campus Fellow Jill Sigman, co-taught a course titled Ritual, Health and Healing. The course consisted of a weekly seminar and movement lab where the students explored the moral and material worlds of ritual and religious healing through assigned reading, writing and physical exercises. A video of the class is below:

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Anthropology Class Completes Service Learning Project in Brooklyn

Community members Guido and Tish Ciancotta of GREC (sitting), Laura Hofmann of OUTRAGE, Chris Henderson of St. Nicks Alliance, and Pat Dobosz of GEM, pose with ANTH 289 students and faculty Gillian Goslinga and Jill Sigman at the close of the community ritual.

The students in ANTH 289, “Ritual, Health, and Healing” stepped outside the Wesleyan campus this spring to participate in a service learning project in the North Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint.

According to Assistant Professor of Anthropology Gillian Goslinga—who co-taught the course with Artist-in-Residence Jill Sigman, a North Brooklyn-based performance artist—Greenpoint is a neighborhood facing multiple health, social and environmental challenges. The students in this Creative Campus anthropology course, which is cross-listed with Science in Society and Dance, had the opportunity to collaborate with a number of community organizations, each dedicated to addressing a different issue. This is the first time Goslinga and Sigman have taught the course, which covers topics such as shamanic ritual and traditional medicine, as well as community health and social and environmental justice, and tackles questions of the efficacy of ritual and the traditional ritual/modern medicine dichotomy. The course also has a weekly movement lab, led by Jill Sigman, where students use choreographed movements to explore course concepts.

The service learning project in Greenpoint grew out of Sigman’s artistic work. A multi-media artist and choreographer, Sigman had been commissioned to create the seventh hut in her “Hut Project” by the Arts@Renaissance unit of St. Nicks Alliance, a community organization that works on affordable housing issues in North Brooklyn. For her Hut Project, Sigman builds sculptures, dwellings and stages out of repurposed and found materials, which then become sites for performance and community discussions on the critical issues of garbage, environment and housing. Goslinga says, “The tie-in with the themes of the course was obvious.”

“One of my goals for the course had been to invite students to query default biomedical framings of health and healing, where individual biology tends to be over-privileged even in epidemiological studies, and to broaden thinking about causalities for suffering, extending these to social, historical and environmental traumas, where suffering can also be about loss and shock, forced displacement and discriminatory policy decisions, structural poverty and environmental degradation (often all are related),” she says. “In these contexts, community ritual can be a restorative response.”

Weiss Book Nominated for Lambda Literary Award

Margot Weiss

A book by Margot Weiss, assistant professor of American Studies, assistant professor of anthropology titled, Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality (Duke University Press, 2011) is a finalist for the 24th Annual Lambda Literary Awards in the LGBT Studies category.

According to the announcement nominating Weiss for the 24th Annual Lambda Literary Awards, “the Lambda Literary Award is the most prestigious book prize in the LGBT community with over 600 total nominations.”

Coe ’92 Co-Edits Publication on Effects of Migration on Children

Book by Cati Coe '92

Cati Coe ’92 is a co-editor (with Rachel Reynolds, Deborah Boehm, Julia Meredith Hess, and Heather Rae-Espinosa) of Everyday Ruptures: Children, Youth, and Migration in Global Perspective (Vanderbilt University Press), which illuminates the wide-ranging continuities and disruptions in the experiences of children around the world, those who participate in and those who are affected by migration.

When children, youth, and adults migrate, that migration is often perceived as a rupture, with people separated by great distances and for extended periods of time. But for migrants and those affected by migration, the everyday persists, and migration itself may be critical to the continuation of social life. The book is organized around four themes: 1) how children’s agency is affected by institutions, families, and beliefs; 2) how families and individuals create and maintain kin ties in conditions of rupture; 3) how emotion and affect are linked to global divisions and flows; and 4) how the actions of states create ruptures and continuities.

The volume will be useful to scholars from multiple fields, such as anthropology, sociology, geography, migration studies, psychology, and childhood studies.

Weiss Authors Book on San Francisco’s Pansexual Community

Book by Margot Weiss

Margot Weiss, assistant professor of anthropology, assistant professor of American Studies, is the author of Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality, published in January 2012 by Duke University Press.

Techniques of Pleasure is a vivid portrayal of the San Francisco Bay Area’s pansexual BDSM (SM) community. Margot Weiss conducted ethnographic research at dungeon play parties and at workshops on bondage, role play, and flogging, and she interviewed more than sixty SM practitioners. She describes a scene devoted to a form of erotic play organized around technique, rules and regulations, consumerism, and self-mastery. Challenging the notion that SM is inherently transgressive, Weiss links the development of commodity-oriented sexual communities and the expanding market for sex toys to the eroticization of gendered, racialized, and national inequalities. She analyzes the politics of BDSM’s spectacular performances, including those that dramatize heterosexual male dominance, slave auctions, and US imperialism, and contends that the SM scene is not a “safe space” separate from real-world inequality. It depends, like all sexual desire, on social hierarchies. Based on this analysis, Weiss theorizes late-capitalist sexuality as a circuit—one connecting the promise of new emancipatory pleasures to the reproduction of raced and gendered social norms.

Östör’s “Living with Pictures” Article in Museum Catalog

The exhibition catalog has 160 pages.

A chapter written by Ákos Östör, professor of anthropology, emeritus, is featured in the Flavours of the Arts: 
From Mughal India to Bollywood exhibition catalog for Geneva’s Musée d’ethnographie. This pertinently illustrated book focuses on the close relationship between music, painting and film in northern India.

His chapter is titled, “Living with Pictures. Study, Film and Life in Naya (West Bengal).”

Dowdey, Cheong ’12 Researching Prints, Sculptors in China

Pictured at right, Patrick Dowdey, curator of the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, visits with students and faculty at the Southwest University for Nationalities in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China on July 6. Dowdey lived on Soutwest University's campus during his dissertation research in 1995-6 and has lectured, attended conferences and met with anthropology students there every year since.

Östör Receives Highest Appointment at Portuguese University

Ákos Östör

Ákos Östör, professor of anthropology, emeritus, was appointed to “Professor Catedratico”  for the fall semester at the Instituto Superior de Ciencias do Trabalho e  da Epresa – Lisbon University Institute. This is the highest appointment offered in the Portuguese University system.

There, Östör is teaching a course on the “History of Visual in Anthropology” for the new master’s program in Visual Anthropology.

“Lisbon is a delightful place, deep histories and memories of ages and ethnicities, well reflected in the cuisine (the wine and seafood are superb and affordable in the numerous tascas, neighborhood eateries, throughout the city) definitely a place to visit and a people to spend time with,” Östör says.

Östör’s Visit, Film Appreciated by Third Graders in New York

Pictured, Ákos Östör, professor of anthropology, professor of film studies, emeritus, and his wife, Lina Fruzzetti, professor of anthropology at Brown University, recently screened their documentary film, Seed and Earth (1995), to their granddaughter’s third-grade class at Parsons Memorial School in Harrison, N.Y. More than 60 students sent Östör and Fruzzetti thank you cards following their visit.

Fellowship has Croucher Focused on 19th Century East Africa

Second from left, Sara Croucher, assistant professor of anthropology, assistant professor of archaeology, assistant professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, received a SAR Weatherhead Fellowship to Study Archaeology in 19th Century East Africa. She's pictured here with Rachel Miller-Howard '10, third from left.

Second from left, Sarah Croucher, assistant professor of anthropology, assistant professor of archaeology, assistant professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, received a Weatherhead Fellowship to study the archaeology of 19th Century East Africa. She's pictured at the Ujiji excavation site in Western Tanzania during 2008 with, from left, Hajj M. Hajj, Tanzanian research associate; Rachel Miller-Howard ’10; and Florah Kessy, an M.A. student, from the University of Dar es Salaam.

As an archaeologist investigating 19th century sites in Zanzibar and Tanzania, it was impossible for Sarah Croucher to ignore the thousands of shreds of locally-produced and imported ceramics unearthed every day of excavations.

For archaeologists, these materials are vital to interpreting the social history of 19th century Islamic colonialism in East Africa.

“Many key questions remain uninvestigated, particularly in regard to how newly shared Zanzibar identities emerged during the 19th Century, which intersected with gender, religion, class and sexuality,” Croucher explains.

Sarah Croucher working in a trench

Sarah Croucher and research associate Hajj M. Hajj excavate at the site of Ujiji.

Croucher, assistant professor of anthropology, assistant professor of archaeology, assistant professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, has been awarded a nine-month Weatherhead Fellowship by the School for Advanced Research (SAR) in Santa Fe, N.M. Resident scholars approach their research from anthropology or from related fields such as history, sociology, art and philosophy, with fellowships providing scholars with “time to think and write about topics important to the understanding of humankind.” Scholars are provided with housing and office space on the SAR campus in Santa Fe.

Croucher was awarded the fellowship to complete writing up the findings of her research, tied together into a project titled “Consuming Colonialism: Archaeological Investigations of Ceramics and Identities in 19th Century East Africa.”

The core of this study results from survey and excavation work Croucher directed in 2003 and 2005 to investigate clove plantation sites on Zanzibar. Further material is drawn from a 2006 survey project along the central caravan route taken by traders during the 19th Century and excavations in 2008 at the site of Ujiji in Western Tanzania, made famous by the expeditions of Stanley and

Kauanui Keynote Speaker at Hawai’i American Studies Symposium

J. Kēhaulani Kauanui.

J. Kēhaulani Kauanui.

J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, associate professor of American studies, associate professor of anthropology, delivered the keynote address during the Hawai’i American Studies Association Symposium March 11 at the Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Her lecture was titled, “A Sorry State: Hawaiian Nationalism and the Politics of Imperialist Resentment.”

Kauanui’s talk was co-sponsored by the University of Hawaii at Manoa.