Makhulu is an Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology and African and African American Studies at Duke University. Watch Squatter Politics in Post-Apartheid Africa
Anne-Maria Makhulu discusses her latest book Making Freedon
November 20, 2015
Inspired by the events on Duke’s campus, and Rae Paris’ “An Open Letter of Love to Black Students,” we write to mark our solidarity with calls for fuller accountability on matters of social justice at Duke.
"We’re writing to tell you we see you and hear you.”
This column is collectively authored by the Department of Cultural Anthropology.
My uncle’s name was Cesar. He was a singer and pretty well known around here. He died and was buried, and on the day before this Todos Santos, this Día de los Muertos, when I was in Mexico City, I dreamt that my uncle Cesar came to see me.
“Mi hijo, my son, I am lost,” he said. I looked at Cesar and told him not to worry, that I would take him back to Juchitán with me on the bus. When we got close, I pointed out the window, “Look, uncle, we are here.” We walked from the bus station downtown, and Cesar said to me, “I am so hungry.” So we sat down below the Municipal building where they sell garnachas, tlayudas, and tacos. “I am so hungry,” he said again, and I pushed my plate over to him, “Eat, uncle, eat.”
“Mi hijo, I don’t know where I live, will you take me to my house?” “Uncle, you live all the way in La Ventosa,” I said, but he asked again, “Please, take me.” We walked from downtown to the bus stop by the highway, where the buses leave to go to La Ventosa. Once Cesar had got on the bus, I told him I was going to get off. “Listen Cesar, when you get off the bus in La Ventosa, someone there will recognize you, and they will take you home.”
by Julie Poucher Harbin, Editor, ISLAMiCommentary on October 21, 2015
Rebecca L. Stein is the Nicholas J. & Theresa M. Leonardy Associate Professor of Anthropology at Duke University. She is the author of Itineraries in Conflict: Israelis, Palestinians, and the Political Lives of Tourism (Duke, 2008); and the co-editor of Palestine, Israel, and the Politics of Popular Culture (Duke, 2005) and The Struggle for Sovereignty: Palestine and Israel, 1993-2005 (Stanford, 2006). Digital Militarism: Israel’s Occupation in the Social Media Age (Stanford, 2015), co-authored with Adi Kuntsman, is her latest book.
Stein’s presentation is based on a recently published book she authored with Adi Kuntsman entitled “Digital Militarism: Israel’s Occupation in the Social Media Age” (Stanford, 2015). Stanford University Press says, “This lecture will discuss the rise of Israeli digital militarism in a global context– both the reach of social media into Israeli military theaters and the occupation’s impact on everyday Israeli social media culture. Arguing that social media functions as a crucial theater in which the Israeli military occupation is supported and sustained.”
Stein’s lecture is presented by the John Hope Franklin Center and the Duke University Middle East Studies Center light lunch will be served and parking is available in nearby parking decks.
Monday, September 21, 2015
Friedl Building, Room 225
This paper interrogates the current over-deterimination of “crisis" in American media and political cultures. It compares the two existential dangers our our times — nuclear crisis and climate crisis — and analyzes current U.S. policy proposals which extend rather than eliminate these ultimate forms of danger. Thus, it considers the historical terms whereby “crisis” has become a counter-revolutionary force in American Society, a means of preserving infrastructures of violence rather generating transformational processes. In doing so, the paper explores the affective logics and political sensibilities necessary for mobilizing alternative collective futures today.
Joseph Masco is a professor of anthropology and science studies at The University of Chicago. He is the author of The Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post-Cold War New Mexico, and most recently, The Theater of Operations: National Security Affect from the Cold War to the War on Terror.
Monday, September 7, 2015
Friedl Building, Room 225
Anthropologists as individual teachers are imaginative when it comes to creating new courses, but anthropologists organized into departments, the fundamental administrative unit of liberal arts institutions, are less creative when it comes to thinking about the curriculum as a whole. Often, our desire to protect and promote anthropology as a discipline hinders our willingness to reinvent anthropological wisdom as a practice to sustain liberal-arts perspectives against instrumental approaches to education that are currently so seductive for students, parents, and administrators. Yet our unwillingness to think anthropologically about the total curriculum confines us to an irrelevancy we bemoan.
Richard Handler is a cultural anthropologist who has written on nationalism and the politics of culture, museums and the representation of history, anthropology and literature, and the history of Boasian anthropology. He is currently Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Program in Global Studies at the University of Virginia.
Professor Ralph Litzinger was instrumental in bringing My Tibetan Childhood (Duke Press, 2015) to print. He writes the Preface to the book.
In My Tibetan Chldhood, Naktsang Nulo recalls his life in Tibet's Amdo region during the 1950s. From the perspective of himself at age ten, he describes his upbringing as a nomad on Tibet's eastern plateau. He depicts pilgrimages to monasteries, including a 1500-mile horseback expedition his family made to and from Lhasa. A year or so later, they attempted that same journey as they fled from advancing Chinese troops. Naktsang's father joined and was killed in the little-known 1958 Amdo rebellion against the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the armed branch of the Chinese Communist Party. During the next year, the author and his brother were imprisoned in a camp where, after the onset of famine, very few children survived.
The real significance of this episodic narrative is the way it shows, through the eyes of a child, the suppressed histories of China's invasion of Tibet. The author's matter-of-fact accounts cast the atrocities that he relays in stark relief. Remarkably, Naktsang lived to tell his tale. His book was published in 2007 in China, where it was a bestseller before the Chinese government banned it in 2010. It is the most reprinted modern Tibetan literary work. This translation makes a fascinating if painful period of modern Tibetan history accessible in English.
Naktsang Nulo (born in 1949) worked as an official in the Chinese government, serving as a primary school teacher, police officer, judge, prison governor, and county leader in Qinghai province, China, before retiring in 1993.
Carl is one of only two Duke undergraduates to be awarded a Fulbright undergraduate student research grant his year.
His project "Engaging Alternatives in South African Medical Education: A Study of the Hidden Curriculum" will examine the informal messages conveyed at South African medical schools surrounding traditional, complementary, and alternative medicines. Stigmatization of these alternatives has been shown to have negative consequences on patient care, and it is thus essential we explore both formal and informal educational practices that preserve respect for these medicines used by almost 80% of the population.
Eric Oberstein won a Grammy as producer for Latin Jazz Album in February. He’s now the Associate Director at Duke Performances. Read more...
Orin Starn is the editor of a new book from Duke University Press, Writing Culture and the Life of Anthropology, which features essays by Duke professors Anne Allison and Charles Piot. The book grew out of a Duke Cultural Anthropology-sponsored conference several years ago; its others contributors are James Clifford, George Marcus, Kim Fortun, Michael Taussig, Danilyn Rutherford, Kathleen Stewart, Hugh Raffles, John Jackson Jr., Kamala Visweswaran, Michael Fischer, Richard Handler, and Hugh Raffles:
Starn also wrote the introduction for another new Duke University Press book, When Rains Became Floods: A Child’s Story. It’s the memoir of a young Andean villager. Mario Vargas Llosa, the Nobel Prize Literature winner, calls the book “a miracle” for its “persuasive and lucid testimony” to war and survivalin wartime Peru:
Durham, NC - Across the globe, food insecurity and rural poverty take a severe toll on people of color. Meanwhile, more of the world’s minority populations are landless. That’s no coincidence, say organizers of a conference at Duke this upcoming Thursday through Saturday.
The conference, Race and Rurality in the Global Economy, will examine land displacement and other development trends affecting people of color in Asia, Africa and the Americas including the United States.
The free, public conference takes place Thursday, March 26, through Saturday, March 28, in 101 West Duke Building on Duke’ s East Campus.
For more information on abstracts, presenters and the schedule see: http://aaas.duke.edu/events/race-and-rurality-in-the-global-economy.
Global health and cultural anthropology faculty member Brandon Kohrt has published an article in the American Journal of Public Health, about a successful collaboration between law enforcement and mental health workers in Liberia: Read more...
Professor Anne Allison's book Precarious Japan honored by American Ethnological Society.
Cultural Anthropology Graduate Students in Hunger Strike for Kobani.
“[All] I want to eat is a rice ball.”
This was the last entry in the diary of a 52-year-old man who starved to death in an apartment he had occupied for 20 years. His is just one of many voices of the precarity of everyday life and death that populate Anne Allison’s new ethnography of pain, struggle, and hope in modern Japan. Precarious Japan (Duke University Press, 2013) considers the transformations of the relationship between work and life in Japan that followed its social and economic fall after the financial bubble burst in 1991.
Sherman was selected to give the student address at Duke's graduate at Wallace Wade Stadium. Read more
Rebecca Stein has been appointed to an endowed chair as part of the Bass Program for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, which recognizes professors who have achieved distinction both in undergraduate teaching and scholarly research. Read more....
Two beautiful and provocative quilts by Duke anthropologist Marcia Rego are now hanging in the department office. For more about the project:
Come by and see them, and put your comments in the comment notebook!
Starn spoke to the Los Angeles Times for this article about Michael Sam, the University of Missouri star who will likely this fall become the first openly gay player in the NFL.
Kristina Jacobsen: On the Navajo Nation
Date: March 28-‐‑29, 2014
Location: Duke University – Durham, North Carolina
Submission Deadline: February 10th, 2014
Notification of Acceptance: February 20th, 2014
Co-‐‑Organizers: Ashley Carse, PhD (U. of Virginia), Jatin Dua (Duke), Stephanie Friede
(Duke), Dana Powell, PhD (Appalachian State).
Duke Grad. Student Committee: Joella Bitter, Carla Hung, Brian Smithson, and
For more information: Visit http://sites.duke.edu/infrastructures2014/ or email
email@example.com with questions.
From highways to hospitals, waterways to waste water facilities, infrastructures are
increasingly the focus of ethnographic research. We invite advanced graduate students,
junior scholars, and faculty in anthropology and related disciplines to Duke University
for a two-‐‑day event limited to 25 participants. Through roundtable discussions and
thematic workshops, we will establish an intimate atmosphere to consider the
possibilities for creative and critical approaches to studies of the built environment.
Urban planners, economists, geographers, historians and scholars of science and
technology studies have long studied infrastructures. In recent years, however, a body
of ethnographic and critical work on infrastructures as techno-‐‑political and semiotic
systems has begun to emerge. What might design theory, landscape architecture,
environmental history, political ecology, and literature bring to the ethnographic studies
of infrastructure, and what might we, anthropologists and others, offer to other
communities studying infrastructural worlds? Not only the invisible substrate of
everyday life-‐‑worlds, infrastructures are active symbolic, material, and political entities.
This gathering is driven by the question: what can a focus on infrastructure, both as a
material for research and a conceptual framework, enable and occlude?
Organized around roundtable discussions led by distinguished faculty, as well as
smaller theme-‐‑based sessions, participants will be asked to informally present their
work in small group sessions, engaging in conversations on writing, methods, theory,
and praxis. The thematic groups include: Landscapes, Mobilities, Communications, and
Contestations. These broad categories will organize our conversations and generate
connections across perhaps unexpected infrastructural forms. While your work likely
bleeds between various themes, participants will have time to connect with other groups
as well. Prior to the event, we will ask participants to share a short piece of writing-‐‑in-‐‑
progress with their small group (We are requesting 5 pages of writing, but groups will
be able to determine what works best for their collective) in addition to informally
presenting the writing during the workshop. Infrastructure is a ripe topic for inter-‐‑
disciplinary engagement. As such, we are inviting artists, designers, engineers, and
cartographers to a session on the second day of the gathering, where we hope to explore
ways of collaborating and sharing research beyond the University.
Seeking: Advanced graduate students, junior scholars, and interested faculty whose
research grapples with infrastructure either conceptually and/or substantively. To be
considered for participation, please submit a very brief statement (no more than 2 pages)
1) A brief description of your current research.
2) How your current research grapples with an infrastructural world.
3) Your first and second choice of working groups, from this list:
• Mobilities (Transportation; Borders and Boundaries; Globality; Connection-‐‑
• Landscapes (Energy, Extraction, Green Infrastructure; environmental
degradation and change; aesthetics; space; geography; temporality; scale)
• Contestations (Social Movements and Politics, Repurposing Infrastructures,
Informal Infrastructures; Identity and Subjectivity; Development)
• Communications (Meaning and Poetics; Networks; Cyber-‐‑pathways; Other
In addition, we request a copy of your current CV. Please feel free to add any questions
or ideas that exceed our provocations. We hope to curate the events in conversation with
the interests of participants. Limited travel funds are available. Please include any
requests for financial support in your proposal submission. Please email as a PDF
attachment to DukeInfrastructures2014@gmail.com by February 10th, 2014
We will connect small groups prior to March 5h, at which point we will ask that you
share a short piece of writing with your colleagues. In order to accommodate everyone’s
busy schedules we ask that you circulate all pieces of writing on or before Monday,
Through three cooperating classes, culture-language-media workshops, a group documentary conducted by artists from the Latino community, and partnerships between Duke students and local high school and community college students, with final outcomes that include film screenings, photo-murals and a multimedia exhibit encompassing the processes and products produced, we propose to build two-way connections between Duke and the Latino Community. Read more...
Allison discussed her new book, Precarious Japan....
The Duke women's field hockey team made a strong run at the national title at the NCAA Championships this past weekend. They came in second in the country, a great achievement. We are proud to say that many women's field hockey players have been Cultural Anthropology majors over the years, now including Lauren Blazing, Ashley Camano, and Abby Beltrani. Many other members of the team have been terrific students in our Cultural Anthropology classes.
Congratulations to all of you on a wonderful season!
Starn will be offering his popular "Sports and Society" class through Coursera with a start date of January 20, 2014. For more information, and to register: https://www.coursera.org/course/sports
Starn also appears in a recent Newsday story on the controversy over the team name of the Washington Redskins.
Byerly gave a talk in the prestigious TED series on "Breaking Sound Barriers: Music as Mirror, Mediator, and Mystic" on November 12 in Cincinnati. You can watch her at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwePt2W5Iq8
Brian Goldstone: The Miraculous Life
On Friday, October 4th, Professor Rebecca Stein of Duke University came to the University of Toronto Anthropology Department to take part in their Anthropology Colloquium Series to speak about her work in the field of cultural anthropology. Her lecture was entitled "Viral Occupation: Social Media Rule in Israel Palestine Read more...
Cultural Anthropology Professor – and Dean of Trinity College – Lee Baker has just been awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Society for North American Anthropology. This prize is awarded to a senior anthropologist for broad-based contributions to research, teaching and service related to the development of critical studies of North America. The award recognizes a distinguished long-term program of research and publication, and also takes into account contributions in other areas, such teaching and training, SANA/AAA service, and community, activist, practice, or policy involvements outside academia.
Matory has just been named the winner of this prestigious German scientific fellowship given "in recognition of lifetime achievements in research."
Congratulations to Rebecca Stein, who has just been named the Nicholas J. and Theresa M. Leonardy Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology! This prestigious chair recognizes excellence in research and teaching, and brings with it membership in the Bass Society of Fellows.
The last year has seen a dramatic uptick in press coverage of Chinese environmental issues. There have also been a number of books published on the subject, with more due out soon. So this seemed a good moment to get in touch with my friend Ralph Litzinger, an anthropologist based at Duke University. He has been tracking the topic closely, while also writing about other important issues, ranging from Tibetan self-immolations to labor conditions in and protests at Chinese factories.
Professor Orin Starn writes about the Boston bombings in the Huffington Post..
In the new issue of the South Atlantic Quarterly (Vol, 112, No. 1 Winter 2013), Ralph Litzinger has edited a special Against the Day issue, "Labor in China: A New Politics of Struggle." In his own essay, Professor Litzinger discusses the activist campaigns against Apple and its suppliers in China over the last several years.
Choreography: Alison Kibbe in collaboration with the dancers
Music: Vem Menina (samba song from Rio de Contas, Brazil); Adao Adao, Cade Salome (capoeira song); Washerwoman Blues by Bessie Smith; Quick Reaction and Satisfaction by Etta James; interviews conducted summer 2011 in Bahai, Brazil with female capoeiristas and sambadeiras
Accompaniment: Katya Wesolowski
Costumes: Alison Kibbe
Dancers: Destani Bizune, Chanelle Croxton, Michaela Dwyer, Alison Kibbe, Michael Oliver
Cultural Anthropology Professor Ralph Litzinger has been selected as the 2012-2013
recipient of the Howard D. Johnson Teaching Award. This Trinity College Distinguished Teaching Award is one of four that recognizes truly outstanding teaching in the College.
CA professor Ralph Litzinger co-edits and contributes an essay on a
Hot Spot issue of the journal of Cultural Anthropology on the recent wave of
self-immolations in Tibet.