Damien Bright @ US Locations

“Reef Inc. :  Dying Ecology and the Lure of Scientific Environments”

Damien Bright | PhD Candidate, Anthropology

Discussant: Kat Myers | PhD Student, Divinity School

Friday, March 12th, 12:00-1:20pm

 for zoom password and paper email pask@uchicago.edu

Paper Abstract: This chapter queries the proliferation of “environmental interventions” across Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, to alter manifold aspects of, as the expression goes, “the world’s largest living ecosystem.” In this text, the first half of the chapter, I examine how one intervention came to be: a robot designed to seek out, identify, and eliminate crown-of-thorns starfish. I show that intervention has an explanatory function in making new dimensions of global heating sensible if not alterable. This process bestows a research function on practices conventionally subordinate to the sciences of marine life and, at the same time, unsettles the idea of an environment in need of intervention in the first place. The second half of the chapter tracks the uptake of intervention by coral reef managers, who seek to make a general theory of intervention in order to direct and organize what coral reefs are to science and society in a world of radical unknowability..

Hannah Eisler Burnett @ US Locations

“Biomineralization & Maintaining the Oyster Reefs of Southeast Louisiana ”

Hannah Eisler Burnett | PhD Candidate, Anthropology

Discussant: J.T. Roane | Assistant Professor, Arizona State University

Friday, February 26th, 12:00-1:20pm

 for zoom password and paper email pask@uchicago.edu

Paper Abstract: This chapter draft introduces the oyster reef as an analytic through which to understand how material changes in the landscape of coastal Louisiana manifest in relation to racialized systems of power and value. I provisionally call this process “biomineralization,” after the technical term for the formation of a bivalve’s shell. The physical contours of an oyster reef are co-created by fishermen, whose practices of maintenance and intervention are shaped by social hierarchies and exclusionary attitudes and regulations. At the same time, oyster reefs afford grounds for solidarity and the endurance of social worlds. The excerpt I will share at US Locations considers two particular practices/forms: spreading cultch (the material on which young oysters attach) and dredging oysters (a method of harvest that is often mechanized).

LaShaya Howie @ US Locations

“The Body Is The Bride ”

LaShaya Howie | PhD Candidate, Anthropology

Discussant: Angel Boulware | PhD Student, Comparative Human Development

Friday, February 12th, 12:00-1:20pm

 for zoom password and paper email pask@uchicago.edu

Paper Abstract: This dissertation chapter explores the dead body in contemporary American funeral service. I argue that the body is a defining feature of Black funeral practices with particular emphasis on its visual presentation. With ethnographic attention to the processes and discourses surrounding the preparation and presentation of the body for services and disposition, I theorize the corpse as an object-subject and a medium onto which aesthetics and ethics of authenticity, propriety, and restoration are projected. The chapter ends with the proliferation of cremation in the US, which has unsettled the body’s status. Funeral professionals understand this shift to be representative of a more widespread abandoning of long-standing funeral traditions, with arguably, deeper social and spiritual ramifications.

Eric Triantafillou @ US Locations

“Col/labor/ation: The Politics of Working Together”

Eric Triantafillou | PhD Candidate, Anthropology

Discussant: Damien Bright | PhD Candidate, Anthropology

Friday, January 29th, 12:00-1:20pm

 for zoom password and paper email pask@uchicago.edu

Paper Abstract: In the past few decades collaborative ideals and practices have become the norm across a variety of domains—from data sharing, crowd-sourcing and scientific laboratories to universities, community spaces, and social movements. Collaboration is simultaneously hailed as capitalism’s savior and its grim reaper. As part of ongoing efforts to decolonize the discipline, anthropologists are increasingly scrutinizing the ethico-political nature of the collaborative relationship at the heart of the ethnographic encounter. Whose collaboration? By and for whom, or what? As a way of undermining the discipline’s historical complicity with power-knowledge, ethnographic collaboration—co-designing, co-researching, co-interpreting, and co-authoring—attempts to shift the purposes of ethnography from description and analysis to collaborators’ modes of knowing, allowing their ingenuity and insights to recast the imperatives of anthropology’s methodological practices. Through an account of the co-laboring practices at my primary field site, a horizontally structured all-volunteer activist archive and social movement culture space in Brooklyn, NY, this paper will consider how the labor at the center of collaboration functions as an historically specific socially mediating activity that cannot be understood with reference to anthropological conceptions of “working together” as such. At the same time ethnographic collaboration, as both a method and a problem, sheds light on the discipline’s ongoing epistemological crisis, how might it reproduce the very capitalist structures/logics it seeks to overcome?

Ashley Drake @ US Locations

“Emotions Run Up and Down the Leash”: Cultivated Affection and Dog-Handler Teams in the United States Military 

Ashley Drake | Teaching Fellow, Comparative Human Development

Discussant: JM Henderson | PhD Candidate, Anthropology

Friday, January 15th, 12:00-1:20pm

 for zoom password and paper email pask@uchicago.edu

Paper Abstract: In this article, I explore how one of the most valued forms of explosives detection technology, the military working dog team, is founded upon the cultivation of a strong affective bond between dog and handler. Based on twelve months of multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, I examine the range of practices that go into fostering an ideal dog-handler relationship, from building rapport and enacting general care to controlling emotions and deciphering cues. In order to better understand the motivation for these practices, I suggest that we analyze the dog-handler bond through the framework of transduction (Helmreich 2007, 2015). In doing so, I show that handlers learn to relate to their dogs by attending to, converting, and comprehending the transmission of information across the team rather than by interpreting the dog’s perspective through the lens of human models of perception, relation, or emotion.

Kai Parker + Ray Noll @ US Locations

The Workshop on U.S. Locations



Kai Parker (History) & Ray Noll (Anthropology and Political Science)


Kristen Simmons (Anthropology)

Tuesday, May 30th

6:00 – 7:00 pm 

Haskell Hall, Room M102 (Fishbowl)

P-A-R-T-Y on the Mezz with food + drinks to follow!

Dr. William Mazzarella @ US Locations

The Workshop on U.S. Locations


!!Special Session!!



Dr. William Mazzarella (Anthropology)

Tuesday, May 23rd

4:30 – 6:00 pm 

Haskell Hall, Room M102 (Fishbowl)

We’ll be discussing a selection from Jodi Dean’s Zizek’s Politics, “Enjoyment as a Category of Political Theory”

Dr. Zoë Wool @ US Locations

The Workshop on U.S. Locations



Dr. Zoë H. Wool (Rice University)


Talia Gordon (Comparative Human Development)

Tuesday, May 9th

4:30 – 6:00 pm 

Haskell Hall, Room M102 (Fishbowl)

Cassie Thornton @ US Locations

The Workshop on U.S. Locations


!!Special Session!!


Cassie Thornton (Feminist Economics Department)

Cassie Thornton is an artist and a feminist economist. Her art/work uses feminist economics and its potential applications for locating non-monetary forms of value and organizing new forms of collective survival within and after this crisis. In this workshop she will present four research methods that she has developed from within her art practice to reveal the impacts of debt and security on communities around the world including hedge fund managers, real estate agents, teachers, artists and activists. Some of her undomesticated but rigorous social research methods include the the visualization of debt as an object or space, collective institutional dreaming, alternative credit reporting interviews and using surveys to explore shameful or encrypted experiences and feelings about health, money, scarcity and fear. Each project reveals the immeasurable and traumatic impact capitalism and colonialism has had on human imagination and sociality, and the infinite resilience and spontaneity that exists anyway.

Tuesday, May 2nd

4:30 – 6:00 pm 

Haskell Hall, Room M102 (Fishbowl)