Anthropology Department Colloquium Speaker Series


Upcoming Colloquium Events:

Check back for our Fall 2017 Colloquium Speakers!


2016-2017 Colloquium Events:

"Discerning the Spirits of South Korean Glossolalia"

Nicholas Harkness, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences Department of Anthropology, Harvard University

Monday, March 13, 2017 | 3:30-5:30pm | SSB 107

In Christian traditions of glossolalia ("speaking in tongues"), speech-like behavior without discernible denotation can be an explicitly linguistic form of involvement with the deity. In South Korea, glossolalia is practiced widely across Protestant denominations and congregations, from Pentecostals to Presbyterians. This paper focuses on the problem of spiritual discernment, when South Korean Christians doubt the work of the deity and speculate on the source and character of the forms, forces, and feelings that they confront when they speak in tongues. I link this problem of discernment to the processes through which glossolalia suppresses "normal" linguistic functions while reinforcing ideological commitments to language itself.

"Modeling, Combining, Containing: Making meaning in the Aegean Bronze Age"

Carl Knappett, Professor of History of Art, University of Toronto

Monday, April 17, 2017 | 3:00-4:30pm | SSB 107

The Bronze Age societies of the Aegean produced an array of artifacts so striking that they are commonly, if problematically, labeled “artworks”, Yet, these objects are rarely subject to the anthropological approaches that have contributed so much to our understanding of these societies. In this talk I will address some of the reasons for this oversight, and attempt to “rehabilitate” Aegean art from a perspective that combines insights from art history anthropology and archaeology. The focus will fall principally on technologies of modeling, combining, and containing, with an examination of the semiotic resources that these processes offered ancient artisans and consumers in their creative engagement with the material world.

"Saving the World's Most Peaceful Primates"

Karen B. Strier Vilas, Research Professor and Irven DeVore Professor of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Monday, May 15, 2017 | 3:00-4:30pm | SSB 107

My main research interests are to understand the behavioral ecology of primates from a comparative perspective, and to contribute to conservation efforts on their behalf. The northern muriqui ( Brachyteles hypoxanthus ), which I have been studying in Brazil’s Atlantic forest since 1982, are a model for comparisons with other primates as well as one of the most critically endangered primates in the world. One of the current priorities of my long-term field study is to understand how stochastic demographic fluctuations and individual life histories affect population viabilities and behavior. I am also interested in understanding population-level variation and its relevance to basic research in biological anthropology.

"Ties that Bind: Churches, Youth Gangs, and the Management of Everyday Life in the Urban Latin Amercia"

Brendan Jamal Thorton, Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

 Monday, October 24, 2016 | 3:00-4:30pm | SSB 107

Pentecostal churches and transnational youth gangs have more in common than simply their increasing popularity in urban neighborhoods across Latin America and the Caribbean.  Indeed, in a remarkably short period of time these emergent institutions have become regular fixtures in the social and cultural life of urban communities throughout the region.  This talk considers these institutions as similar and related with two goals in mind: first, to reflect on the simultaneous popularity of two seemingly irreconcilably different institutions; and second, to probe what this shared popularity might say about contemporary social life in urban barrios today.