The Semiotics Workshop

Culture in Context

Author: jeconnor

Autumn 2016 Schedule

The Semiotics Workshop Autumn 2016 Schedule:

October 6th – “Grading, Gradients, Degradation, Grace”

Paul Kockelman

Professor of Anthropology

Yale University


October 20th – “‘All there is’: On reconciliation and the poetics of a singing voice”

Robyn Taylor-Neu

Masters in Arts Program for the Social Sciences

University of Chicago


November 3rd – Title TBA (dissertation chapter on democracy as creative vs. reactive enterprise)

Averill Leslie

PhD Candidate, University of Chicago


December 1st – “Exercising Socialist Laborers: Production Calisthenics and the Politicization of Fatigue during the Great Leap Forward China”

Bing Xia

Masters in Arts Program for the Social Sciences

University of Chicago

Michicagoan Schedule

The 18th Annual Michicagoan Graduate Student Conference in Linguistic Anthropology

May 6-7, 2016

3rd Floor Theater, Ida Noyes Hall

University of Chicago


Friday May 6th

9:00 Breakfast and Registration

9:30 Opening Remarks



Panel I: Mobilities and Transnationalisms (9:45 – 11:15)

9:45 A Partner for Peace

Yaqub Hilal

10:00 Mediating Infrastructures: Security and Biometric Belonging in Urban Pakistan

Zehra Hashimi

10:15 On the (An)Aesthetics of Translation: Alienation and Techno-linguisic dependency in Sino-African Mass-Migrancies

Jay Schutte

10:30 Lei Feng wouldn’t drive an Audi

Britta Ingebretson

10:45 Discussant Kristina Wirtz (and audience discussion)
11:15 Break (11:15-11:30)

Panel II: Multimedia and Meta-media (11:30 – 1:00)

11:30 Echo in the archive: Tanya Tagaq’s Nanook of the North

Robyn Taylor-Neu

11:45 You are the problem who is problematizing it”: A frame analysis of Korean Buddhist spontaneous question-answer sessions on YouTube

Yeon-ju Bae

12:00 Musical Lyrics and Youtube Commentary on Kurdish Identity Politics

Sevda Arslan

12:15 Who’s ‘More Musical’?: Underscoring Distinction in Ex-YU Hip Hop DJing

Owen Kohl

12:30 Discussant Ilana Gershon (and audience discussion)



Lunch (1:00 – 2:00)


Panel III: Modeling Identities Multimodally (2:00 – 3:30)
2:00 The Problem and Appeal of Authenticity in Mediatized Maya Discourse

Chris Bloechl

2:15 Technologies of the Hand: Bets, Being a Man, and “Half-Handshakes” in Laos

Chip Zuckerman

2:30 Mediatization and the Assemblage of Political Agents in Turkey’s Kurdish Conflict

Patrick Lewis

2:45 The Role of Trolling in Shaping Cultural Discourse and Identity: a case study of an anonymous internet message board

Marc Lehman

3:00 Discussant: Alaina Lemon (and audience discussion)
3:30 Break (3:30-3:45)

Panel IV: Institutions of Mediation (3:45 – 5:15)

3:45 Seeing the Forest for the Trees: How a Village Council Debates Land Use in a Protected Rainforest

Jessica Pouchet

4:00 Biographies of “Marginal Men”

Perry Wong

4:15 Language as semiotic technology at the International Atomic Energy Agency
Anna Weichselbraun
4:30 The Art of Knowing: Depersonalized Voices and Technologies of Mediation in Turkey’s Kurdistan

Özge Korkmaz

4:45 Discussant: Matthew Hull (and audience discussion)
5:15 Break (5:15 – 5:30)
5:30 – 7:00 Keynote Address: A Short History of Vowels

John Durham Peters




Student Dinner



Saturday May 7th


9:00am Breakfast

Panel V: Framing Absence, Personifying Presence (10:00 – 11:30)

10:00 Speaking in Ashes: Embodied Space in Divination and Grammar

Joshua Shapero

10:15 Coded Engagements: Teasing Siri with ‘Nandeyanen’

Bill Feeney

10:30 The Importance of a Frame

Meghanne Barker

10:45 The Social Media Life of a Deceased Tibetan Poet: Blue Lake, Identity Formations, and WeChat

Huatse Gyal

11:00 Discussant: Chris Ball (and audience discussion)
11:30 Break (11:30 – 11:45)



Panel VI: Translating Medical Assemblages (11:45 – 1:15)

11:45 From Tantra to Textbook: Textual Transformations of Tibetan Medicine

Todd P. Marek

12:00 Trauma as Sign: Temporality and Narrative in “Post-Traumatic Growth”

Livia Garofalo

12:15 Sieving Uncertainty

Colin Halverson

12:30 Billable Language and Artifactual Technologies of Social Work

Matilda Stubbs

12:45 Discussant: Summerson Carr (and audience discussion)



Lunch (1:15 – 2:30)




Panel VII: Reforming the Political, Revealing the Religious (2:30 – 4:00)

2:30 Chronotopes of “We-Ness”: Legacies of an Authoritarian Past and Disappointments with Democracy in the 2014 Indonesian Presidential Campaigns

Fadi Hakim

2:45 Confessional discourse and the language of the liberation-oppression paradigm in the first decade of the P.R.C.

Alice Yeh

3:00 Figuration as Semiotic Technology at the Islamic Center of America

Amanda Kemble

3:15 Reading Prophecies, Taming Demons: Buddhism in Sertar, 1950-1987

Jin Li

3:30 Discussant: Justin Richland (and audience discussion)
4:00 Break (4:00 – 4:15)

Panel VIII: Quantification and Qualification (4:15 – 5:30)

4:15 Technologies of Visualization, Technologies of Scale: Maps, National Crisis, and the Legitimacy of Law in Singapore Urban Planning

Josh Babcock

4:30 Towards a Semiotics of Units: The Rhemacity, Dicensity and Argumencity in the Evolution of Technological Language

Yukun Zeng

4:45 Dangerous evaluations: 360-degree feedback in South Korea

Michael Prentice

5:00 Discussant: Michael Lempert (and audience discussion)
6:00 Dinner and reception

Spring 2016 Schedule

The Semiotics Workshop Spring 2016 Schedule


April 7th – “Semiotic Affordances and Constraints at a Yucatec Maya Radio Station”

Chris Bloechl

PhD Candidate, Anthropology

University of Chicago

Discussant: Hannah McElgunn, Anthropology


April 21st – “Andino-futurism, Tupak Katari in space, and Decolonizing Time during Bolivia’s Pacha Kuti

Karl Swinehart

Assistant Professor, Linguistics

University of Louisville

Discussant: Chris Bloechl, Anthropology


May 4th – “Linguistic Manifestations in Encounters of Loss”

Barbra Meek

Associate Professor, Anthropology

University of Michigan

(Joint workshop with Language Variation and Change)


May 6th and 7th – Michicagoan Graduate Student Conference in Linguistic Anthropology


May 19th – TBA

Giovanni Ricci

PhD Candidate, Anthropology

University of Chicago

Discussant: Zeb Dingley, Anthropology


June 2nd – TBA

Britta Ingebretson

PhD Candidate, Anthropology and Linguistics

University of Chicago

Autumn 2015 Schedule

We’re pleased to announce our schedule for Autumn 2015.
October 8th – Net-Savvy Cats and Newbie Dogs: Textual Materiality and the Embodiment of Computer-Mediated “Voices”
Elise Kramer
Lecturer, Anthropology
UC San Diego
Visiting Professor, UIUC
Discussant: Alice Yeh, Anthropology
October 22nd – “What Standards Want: Learning to Read the Next Generation Science Standards”
Lily Ye
PhD Student, Comparative Human Development
University of Chicago
Discussant: Colin Halverson, Anthropology
November 5th – Made in Other Words: Translating the Anglochronotopia in the Sino-African Encounter
Jay Schutte
PhD Candidate, Anthropology
University of Chicago
Discussant: Britta Ingebretson, Anthropology
Friday December 4th – Title TBA
Kathryn Graber
Assistant Professor, Anthropology Department and Central Eurasian Studies
Indiana University Bloomington
Discussant: Jonah Simpson, Anthropology

Autumn 2014 Theme & Schedule

The Semiotics Workshop is pleased to announce this year’s theme and the Autumn 2014 schedule:

Materiality and Mediation

Moving beyond a construal of materiality as that which contrasts with the “ideational” or the “symbolic”, this year we seek papers that interrogate the concept of materiality. We are interested in how materiality comes to be actualized and through what reflexive processes something comes to be understood as material or immaterial. That is to say, how is (im)materiality mediated? These questions presuppose that materiality is not an inherent property, but rather precipitates over time.

Given materiality is not an inherent property, we seek papers addressing what counts as (im)material for different social groups. At stake is how qualia are embodied, socio-culturally organized, and shared, and, following that, how qualia are made to be similar or different through their materializations. Crucial here are the metrics, standards, and other mediating semiotic technologies of different regimes of practice and expertise. How are these technologies employed by the groups we study, but also within academia?

Finally, we are interested in not only the construal of materiality, but also the movement from one kind of materiality to another. This question includes, but is not limited to, how practices of representation – like archiving, documentation, or even writing – negotiate issues of materiality.



October 9: “Cadastral Mapping, Semiotic Ideology, and the Recalcitrant Human Landscape:  Dili, Timor-Leste”

Gabriel Tusinski

PhD Candidate, Anthropology

Univ. of Chicago

Discussant: Jack Mullee


October 23: “The Limber Corpse: The Semeiotic Agency of the Dead”

Zoe Crossland

Associate Professor, Anthropology

Columbia University

Discussant: Menna Khalil

(Joint meeting with the Interdisciplinary Archaeology Workshop)


October 30: “Luck as quality and substance in northern Peru”

Marieka Sax

PhD, Anthropology

Carleton University

Discussant: Duff Morton

(Joint meeting with the Workshop on Latin America and the Caribbean)


November 13: “The Semiotics of Spirits and Spanish: Code-Switching in Cosmological Discourses as Epistemological Strategy amongst the Inuya River Amawaka”

Erik Levin

PhD Candidate, Anthropology and Linguistics

Univ. of Chicago

Discussant: Hilary McMahan


November 20: “Temporalities of Care in Neoliberal Jordan”

Yazan Doughan

PhD Candidate, Anthropology

Univ. of Chicago

Discussant: Zachary Sheldon

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