A Vibrant and Exciting Environment
Honors, awards, and fellowships: Fall 2007 to Summer 2008.
William O. Beeman’s book, The “Great Satan" vs. the “Mad Mullahs": How the United States and Iran Demonize Each Other, has been published in a new paperback edition by the University of Chicago Press. His new books, Iranian Performance Traditions, and The Anthropology of Emotion in Performance, will be published later this year. With the rhetoric in the Middle East heating up, he has been in demand nationally to speak on cultural aspects of tensions in the Middle East. He was invited by U.S. Representative Keith Ellison to participate in a forum on U.S. Foreign Affairs with Iran in Minneapolis in the spring. He has also continued his work on performance and opera, publishing papers
on “Classical Persian Music, Islam and Ta’ziyeh" dealing with the use of music in Persian ta’ziyeh passion dramas, and “The Performance Hypothesis: Practicing Emotions in Protected Frames." Last summer he was invited to the University of Bologna, Italy to deliver a lecture on “The Neurobiology of Opera."
Guy Gibbon's Diagnostic Artifacts of Minnesota class prepared two handbooks this academic year that will be placed on the department web site: Stone Projectile Points of Minnesota and
Handbook of Minnesota Prehistoric Pottery. With co-author Scott Anfinson, Minnesota State Archaeologist and adjunct faculty member of the department, Guy has also prepared two books on
Minnesota archaeology that will also be placed on the web site. The books are Minnesota Archaeology: A Brief History and Minnesota Archaeology: The First 13,000 Years. These four manuscripts are being placed on the Web to encourage and facilitate regular updating, and to provide a format for many more illustrations and information tables than is possible in hardcover volumes. Guy and Scott are also preparing a popular, hardcover version of the Minnesota prehistory volume.
Stephan Gudeman's book, Economy’s Tension, was published in May, and he had other publications in the academic year. Currently, he is writing an “Introduction" to the Greek translation of the previously published The Anthropology of Economy, which will be published in Athens. He also participated in several conferences during the year and is preparing the keynote address to be delivered in July at the Max Planck Institute (Halle, Germany) for a conference on caring and welfare. He has also organized and is chairing a full day session for the biennial conference of EASA (European Association of Social Anthropologists) that will be held in Slovenia in late August 2008. Almost completed is his edited book titled Economic Persuasions. Next January he will return to the Max Planck Institute to co-direct a large project on “Ritual and Economy in Eurasia." Teaching and advising occupied his time during the past year, too!
Karen Ho enjoys teaching courses on the anthropology of finance and capitalism, American culture, and the social construction of whiteness. For 2009, with an Interdisciplinary Graduate Faculty Teaching Fellowship, she is designing a new graduate seminar on global comparative race and ethnicity. Dr. Ho has a forthcoming publication in American Anthropologist, “Disciplining Investment Bankers, Disciplining the Economy: Wall Street’s Institutional Culture of Crisis and the Downsizing of
American Corporations" at the end of the year. Her book, Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street, is also forthcoming with Duke University Press. She will be on leave in 2008–2009 with a McKnight Land-Grant Professorship.
John Ingham is working on two book-length projects and various related papers, a psychoanalytically oriented study of human nature and a critical study of resistance to psychoanalytic
theory, with special emphasis on French post-structuralism and its influence.
Jean M. Langford spent the summer of 2007 working on her second book, Spirits of Justice: Southeast Asian Stories and U.S. Disciplines of Death, which is on the brink of completion. During the academic year she has been busy with her service as Director of Graduate Studies. She presented a paper titled “Violent Traces: Bare Life, Bad Death, and Unclean Bones" at the department’s
sociocultural roundtable, and gave a keynote address titled “Words for the Dying: Prognoses, Prayers and Funeral Songs" at the Undergraduate Conference on the Anthropology of Death. She has also been revising an article titled “Gifts Intercepted: Biopolitics and Spirit Debt." Her piece “Dosic Bodies/Docile Bodies" appeared in the anthology Beyond the Body Proper: Reading the Anthropology of Material Life edited by Margaret Lock and Judith Farquhar, and her book review of Old Potions, New Bottles: Recasting Indigenous Medicine in Colonial Punjab by Kavita Sivarmakrishnan, appeared in the American Historical Review.
David Lipset returned to Papua New Guinea for a brief period of fieldwork in March 2008, where he found a combination of rising sea levels and extraction industries combining to subvert rural communities. He has three articles in press and is finishing a book to be called Modernity Without Romance: Essays on Postcolonial Masculinity in Papua New Guinea. He continues to serve with pleasure as Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Stuart McLean's work draws both on anthropology’s ethnographic and comparative traditions. His research to date has explored a series of interlinked questions concerned with historical
memory, creativity, and the material and discursive construction of the mythic yet world-historically consequential entity known as “Europe" He is the author of The Event and its Terrors: Ireland, Famine, Modernity published by Stanford University Press in 2004. His current project is another book, provisionally titled A Poetics of Emergence: Imagining Creativity Beyond “Nature" and “Culture," that examines the possibility of conceiving of creativity not as an exclusively human faculty but rather as immanent in a variety of material world-forming processes and thus as belonging as much to “nature" as to “culture." He is also involved in organizing an ongoing series of workshops concerned with exploring the changing status of “European Studies" in the context of the recent expansion of the European Union.
Kieran McNulty happily settled into a new job and house while spending much of the fall researching and writing grant applications for his fieldwork in the 18 million-year-old fossil ape
sites on Rusinga Island, Kenya. He visited Rusinga in November thanks to a grant from the Leakey Foundation, and his finds there led to a new manuscript currently in review at the Journal of Human Evolution. Kieran’s morphometric research on ape and human skulls occupies the balance of his time, and his collaborative analysis of the new species Homo floresiensis—the so called and hotly debated fossil “hobbits"—should be in print soon. Kieran is now engaged in research projects on the facial structure of the earliest fossil apes and on the genetics and heritability of cranial shape. He traveled back to Rusinga in the summer and will be digging on nearby Mfangano Island in January thanks to a second grant from the Leakey Foundation.
Gloria Goodwin Raheja was on sabbatical leave in 2007–2008 to work on her book on music and industrial capitalism in Appalachian coal camps in the 1920s and 1930s. She has been
doing archival work at the Library of Congress, the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina Library, and at various archives in West Virginia and southwestern Virginia. She is producing a music CD titled Logan County Blues that will complement the book. She also continues her research on colonial ethnography in 19th century India. In October 2007 she presented a paper titled “Folklore and the Politics of Colonial Famine Relief in Nineteenth Century India" at the annual meeting of the American Folklore Society, and she is currently writing a paper titled “‘Rambles and Recollections’: William H. Sleeman and the Colonial Production of Ethnographic Method in 19th Century
India," to be submitted for publication in a special journal issue.
Hoon Song is conceptually developing a new book project under the loose title Mimeticism in Suicide. The working proposition is that, especially after 9/11, suicide and society’s response to it exceptionally test the limit in the operational premises of liberal-humanist democracies, such as the idea of sovereignty or responsibility. He particularly focuses on two phenomena which increasingly organize a point of glaring analytical destitution in the canonical medico-psychiatrical criteria of suicide today: so-called suicide contagion (or “copycat suicide") and suicide terrorism—one
deemed the most frivolous of juvenile fad and the other the most egregious form of political protest. These two radically heterogeneous behaviors in the conventional wisdom counter intuitively cohere under the notion of mimesis. The idea of mimesis brings that of behavior’s authorship to crisis, thus appropriately addresses the ambiguity of agency proper to suicide. For suicide collapses into one all crucial notional distinctions that configure modernity’s foundational moral horizons: giver/receiver of death, victimizer/victim, crime/punishment, etc. By so inscribing the drive towards self-annihilation at the heart of the contemporary political, Dr. Song tries to envision post-humanist politics.
Martha Tappen continued her work as a principal investigator at the Dmanisi site, conducting excavations and analysis in Georgia. Dr. Tappen coauthored a paper on the postcranial evidence from early Homo from Dmanisi in Nature (vol. 449: 305-310). She also participated in a number of conferences, presenting the following works: “Exploring 3-Dimensional Modeling to Differentiate between Notches Produced by Hammerstones and Carnivores" (Poster) with John Soderberg and Aaron Armstrong at the Paleoanthropology Society meeting, Philadelphia, PA March, 2007; “Wisdom of the Aged and Out of Africa I" for a conference in honor of Ofer Bar-Yosef, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA April, 2007; and this spring “Expanding Horizons: Earliest Human Dispersals Out of Africa" for the University of Minnesota Time symposium; and “Evidence for hominin behavior at Dmanisi" with Reid Ferring and David Lordkipanidze at the Society for American Archaeology in Vancouver.
Karen-Sue Taussig's work examines genetics as a cultural object. She focuses on the production of knowledge in molecular biology. Her book, Ordinary Genomes, is forthcoming from Duke University Press. Her current project, “Genetics and Its Publics: Crafting Scientific and Medical Literacies in the New Age of Biotechnology," examines the diverse contexts in which people are learning new genetic knowledge and the ways they incorporate and make sense of this knowledge in their everyday lives. Dr. Taussig is also beginning an exploration of questions of humanness and potentiality in relation to new knowledge and practices in molecular biology as a means of revisiting the anthropological object of human being and becoming.
Gilbert Tostevin has been on sabbatical for the 2007–2008 academic year. During this time, he has been studying archaeological collections from the Middle Paleolithic and Early Upper Paleolithic in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Poland with the Evolutionary Anthropology Lab’s new approach to 3D artifact modeling using a portable laser scanner (see the cover of last year’s World Views). In the summer of 2008, he will excavate a new Early Upper Paleolithic site in the Czech Republic called Tvarožná X with his collaborator, Dr. Petr Škrdla, from the Institute of Archaeology, Brno. Nine University undergraduates and graduate students are participating in this international field research
project. Both the excavation of this new site and the 3D analysis of existing sites will contribute to our understanding of the technological variability among hominin populations during the period when modern humans from Africa replaced the European Neanderthals.
David Valentine has been working toward his new project on the cultural transformations enabled by the innovation of commercial space exploration in the post Cold War era since his book Imagining Transgender came out late last year. This may seem a big jump from his first research project on the politics and meanings of transgender, but his concern here, as with his first
project, is with how the imagination is key to thinking through cultural phenomena and social change. In February, he was lucky enough to attend Imagining Outer Space, a small but very productive conference in Bielefeld, Germany, on the cultural history of outer space. Next spring, he will be on leave in order to focus on developing an ethnographic project around this topic. In the meantime, Dr. Valentine continues to be engaged in research and writing on transgender issues, and will be presenting his work at several conferences in the summer and the fall.
Peter S. Wells is currently working on several research projects involving material culture as a medium through which to understand human perceptions and practices. One is analysis of Iron Age pottery from settlements in southern Germany; another, study of the relationships between representatives of the Roman Empire and communities throughout temperate Europe; a third is responses to visual images, past and present. He has recently published two books: Image and Response in Early Europe (London: Duckworth) and Barbarians to Angels: The Dark Ages Reconsidered (New York: W.W. Norton). He has received research travel grants from the Office of International Programs, the McKnight Arts and Humanities Fund, and the European Studies Consortium. Recent lectures include “Material Expression of Changing Identities Beyond the Rhine and Danube Frontiers" at
the 13th International Congress of Celtic Studies in Bonn, Germany; “Imagery, Visuality and Reception: Decoration and Change in Iron Age Central Europe" at the University of East Anglia; and “Interaction and Identity: Iron Age Europe and the Mediterranean World" at Boston University.
Michael Wilson received a McKnight Land-Grant Professorship in his first semester at Minnesota. This award will enable him to advance his two main research areas, intergroup aggression and vocal communication, by collecting new data and studying the long-term records of Jane Goodall’s Gombe chimpanzee project. His recent paper in Behaviour addresses both topics, showing that chimpanzees produce loud calls less frequently in dangerous contexts. Dr. Wilson also served as editor for this special issue devoted to intergroup aggression in primates. He co-authored three upcoming papers: one on causes of death in Gombe chimpanzees, another on human impacts, disease, and population dynamics at Gombe (both in American Journal of Primatology), and one on aggression by female chimpanzees (International Journal of Primatology). He developed a new course, Warfare and Human Evolution, and revised the course Sex, Evolution, and Behavior with a human life history focus, with frequent references to research on chimpanzees.
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