Calendar 2023-2024

The Ethnography and Social Theory Colloquium typically meets in-person at 10 Sachem Street Room 105, unless otherwise noted.

Spring 2024

Bruce Whitehouse — March 4, 2024

It’s Complicated: Holism in Anthropological Analysis

Introductory anthropology texts commonly present holism as a vital part of anthropologists’ approach to understanding the social phenomena they study. Yet holism has also been associated with the othering of non-Western peoples, and anthropologists today have become less likely to invoke the concept explicitly in their writing. In his presentation and discussion, Professor Whitehouse will examine the uses and misuses of holistic approaches in anthropology, drawing insights from his own ethnographic research and writing.

Bruce Whitehouse is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Lehigh University, where he is also affiliated with the Africana Studies and Global Studies programs. He teaches courses pertaining to culture, globalization, capitalism, humanitarianism and development, and contemporary African societies. His first book, Migrants and Strangers in an African City (Indiana University Press, 2012), examines transnational migration between West Africa and the Congo River Basin. His second book, Enduring Polygamy (Rutgers University Press, 2023), studies the resilience of plural marriage in Bamako, Mali. His research has been published in journals including African Studies ReviewGlobal NetworksHommes et Migrations, and Medical Anthropology Quarterly.

Clara HanMarch 25, 2024

Where is Prison?: Household Events, Police and the Making of Neighborhood Conflicts

This talk draws from fieldwork in a low-income neighborhood in Santiago, Chile that has been under police occupation. It describes incarceration and policing as a normal feature of everyday life, such that neighborhood, prison, and police are experienced as modalities of the domestic. What are the tools and relays by which a dispersed policing apparatus is implicated in the making of neighborhood conflicts even as it absents itself from the story of such conflicts? How does incarceration and this dispersed policing render the context itself precarious, such that it is always at risk of slipping away? And, how does this precariousness of context texture care in spaces of intimacy? Responding to these questions may raise questions with regard to description in ethnography. 

Clara Han is a Professor of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. She has worked for over 25 years in low-income neighborhoods in Santiago, Chile, and more recently in Korea, in relation to the two Koreas. She is the author of Life in Debt: Times of Care and Violence in Neoliberal Chile (UC Press, 2012; Spanish translation LOM ediciones, 2022) and Seeing Like a Child: Inheriting the Korean War (Fordham University Press, 2021), which was awarded the Senior Book Prize from the Association for Feminist Anthropology and shortlisted for the Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing. She is the co-editor of Living and Dying in the Contemporary World: A Compendium (UC Press, 2015). She is currently completing a book manuscript Echoes of a Death on police violence in a low-income neighborhood in Santiago.

Radhika GovindrajanApril 15, 2024

“I’ve Heard I’m Characterless”: Scandal, Social Media, and Mediated Talk Back in Rural India

This talk explores how young women in rural Himalayan India use social media to redirect public scandals around their sexuality. In particular, I trace how their creative digital production allows them to “talk back” to a village audience in ways that open up the possibility of new forms of political speech and action.

Radhika Govindrajan is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and International Studies at the University of Washington. She is the author of Animal Intimacies: Interspecies Relatedness in India’s Central Himalayas. She is currently working on a book that draws on ethnographic fieldwork in Uttarakhand to explore how public scandals around women’s sexuality serve as key occasions for people to theorize “the village” in ways that illuminate entanglements of caste, religion, gender, property, and the state in rural India. 

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