Social Impact Talks Fall 2017

Social Impact Talks Fall 2017

Unless otherwise noted, all talks are on Tuesdays, 4-5 pm, at the Humanities Lab, Battelle-Tompkins 228


  September 12, 2017: Healthcare Lessons from Cuba

In this roundtable discussion, U.S. and Cuban healthcare providers and advocates will talk about the lessons we here in the United States can learn from Cuba in terms of healthcare provision, healthcare education, public health and international healthcare solidarity work, especially in the context of current U.S. debates on healthcare policy reform. Additionally, panel participants will discuss the impact of U.S. foreign policy on the Cuban healthcare system, and possibilities for collaboration between healthcare providers and health advocates from the two nations.

We are honored to welcome the panelists to AU:

Dr. Jesús de los Santos Renó Céspedes, MD, Head of Pediatrics, National Institute of Oncology and Radiology, Cuba
Dr. Angel Mejias Salcedo, MD, Ebola brigade participant, Cuba
Eduardo Gonzalez Copello, NP, Ebola brigade participant, Cuba
U.S. graduates of the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana
Joe Cassidy, RN, Washington Hospital Center, and NNU member
Dr. Heidi Hoechst, National Nurses United/Health Inequity & Care Program

NOTE SPECIAL TIME/PLACE: Kay Spiritual Life Center Lounge, 3:30-5:30pm


  September 19, 2017: Dr. Rachel Watkins (AU Anthropology), “Liberatory Perspectives on Bioanthropology”




  September 26, 2017: Dr. Susanne Unger (AU Anthropology), “New Perspectives on the World’s Oldest Profession: Pastoralism in 21st Century Germany” 

In recent years, pastoralists have had to respond to new environmental and economic challenges. In Germany, the heavy use of slurry in agriculture has resulted in shepherds not being able to let the sheep graze along traditional migratory routes. Most shepherds who used to migrate seasonally have had to give up this practice within the past few years, effectively abandoning a long-lived cultural and professional tradition. In many places, an increase in desertification and the privatization of formerly public land decreases grazing areas for pastoralists. These environmental challenges have led to the formation of new transnational alliances among European pastoralists, including the formation of the European Shepherds Network. The group has organized conferences in which attendees demanded greater recognition of the environmental benefits of pastoralism and protested EU legislation that regulates animal husbandry. German herders are also in conversation with herders from other parts of the world – Mongolia, the Sahara region, South Asia, and Scandinavia. This research examines how shepherds in Germany talk about their professions, and how they frame their own traditions and struggles in comparison to those of herders from other countries.


  October 3, 2017: Dr. Ibram X. Kendi (AU History/SIS), “How to Be an Antiracist: A Memoir of My Journey”

Dr. Kendi will present on his new book-in-progress which chronicles his personal journey from being nurtured in racist ideas and practices to turning the corner and striving to be an antiracist. He uses his scholarship and life stories on racism and antiracism to provide clarity on what it means to be, to think, to act as a racist and antiracist. He shows there is no such thing as non-racists. We are all racists or antiracists and his book is a clarion call for more antiracists.

To see pictures from Dr. Kendi’s talk, click here.


  October 10, 2017: Discussing Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s Anti-Racism Talk

The conversation about anti-racism continues with a discussion about Dr. Kendi’s standing-room-only October 3 presentation in the Social Impact Talks series. Join us for an open conversation about his talk, race and racism, anti-racism, and more.

Note: Dr. Michael Cernea’s talk will be rescheduled at a later date. 


  October 17, 2017: Dr. Jenell Paris (Messiah College Anthropology/Sociology), “Anthropological Contributions to Conflict Resolution”

Dr. Paris (Ph.D. American University, 1998) will describe how she has applied anthropology in various arenas over the course of her career. She has explored anthropology’s potential to contribute to conflict resolution in areas including race, gender, and sexuality in religious arenas.



  October 24, 2017: Beth Geglia (AU Anthropology), “Silicon Valley in Honduras: Coloniality, Futurism, and Understanding Libertarian Utopian Enclavism”

Geglia will discuss her work focusing on a sub-group of Silicon Valley-based libertarians and their efforts to establish autonomous techno-utopias in and around sovereign nations. She will share insights and preliminary results from her ethnographic research in Honduras where new “charter cities” and “model cities” are planned and contested, and in San Francisco, where tech venture capitalists and software engineers collaborate to radically rethink governance. Geglia will discuss the discursive and political strategies used by these actors to disrupt the ideas of sovereignty and democracy, create a market of competitive governance, and to push the limites of neoliberal human subjectivity. The talk will include a discussion of the merits and challenges of “studying up” to understand the cultures, strategies, and utopian visions of capitalist movements.

  October 31, 2017: CANCELLED!! (Writing Workshop)

Writing workshops are open to undergraduate and graduate students at any stage in the writing process to come and brainstorm and receive feedback on term papers, conference papers, articles, journal submissions, op-eds, and blog posts, among other types of writing.



  November 7, 2017:  Barbara Rose Johnston (Center for Political Ecology), “Power, Plunder, Ulcerating Disaster, & Human Resilience: Lessons from Doing Public Anthropology in the Anthropocene”



November 13, 2017: Peggy Madden Davitt (Gold Star Parents) NOTE: SPECIAL DATE, TIME & LOCATION

Davitt will discuss the death of her son, U.S. Army Specialist Russell Madden Davitt, during combat in Afghanistan and her work to assist the families of soldiers who have died at war. Davitt will also reflect on war and other troubling societal patterns illuminated by her son’s death. This event will be in the Batelle Atrium at 5:30 pm.

  November 14, 2017: Michael Cernea (former head anthropologist/sociologist at World Bank; Brookings Institution)

Anthropologist/sociologist Cernea will speak about public anthropology, the introduction of anthropology and sociology to the World Bank, and the damaging social impacts of a recent Bank-funded project in Uganda. Cernea is a former World Bank Senior Advisor on Social Policies and Safeguards (the first staff anthropologist hired by the Bank), and former Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. At the World Bank, he was the proponent and author of the first-ever Policy on Development-caused Displacement and Resettlement. He also wrote the Bank’s policy on Cultural Heritage Preservation and co-authored the Bank’s Indigenous People Policy. Among his authored and edited books are the seminal volume Putting People First in Development.

  November 28, 2017: Matthew Thomann (Kalamazoo College Anthropology), “Critical Medical Anthropology and Public Health at ‘The End Of AIDS’: New Challenges, New Possibilities”

Given its praxis orientation, medical anthropology has long been connected to public health research, perhaps most notably on the global AIDS epidemic. Because of their critical engagement at the intersections of multiple forms of knowledge production, medical anthropologists must adopt sometimes conflicting positionalities and methodologies in their work. Drawing on my own experience as a critical medical anthropologist and ethnographer working with public health researchers, this talk will reflect on continued challenges to doing research ‘at the intersections’, as well as the promising real-world consequences of this work. In particular, I highlight recent ‘end of AIDS’ discourse and resulting policy changes that promote biomedical triumphalism and reflect a shift in prevention and treatment priorities, arguing that it will be key for critical medical anthropologists and others at this intersection to remain critical, reflexive and politically engaged.

December 5, 2017:  Research Project Presentations

M.A. in Public Anthropology Students present their work.

Kyriakos Iliadis and other students to be announced.