Division of Social Sciences

The official blog for the Division of Social Sciences at Brandeis University

Brandeis Anthropology PhD alum David I. Kertzer (PhD, 1974) receives the 2015 Pullitzer Prize for Biography-Autobiography

Posted by musegade on 22nd April 2015

Brandeis Anthropology PhD alum David I. Kertzer (PhD, 1974) has just received the 2015 Pullitzer Prize for Biography-Autobiography for his The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and The Rise of Fascism in Europe. Judges cited the book as “an engrossing dual biography that uses recently opened Vatican archives to shed light on two men who exercised nearly absolute power over their realms.”  http://www.pulitzer.org/citation/2015-Biography-or-Autobiography

Currently a professor of Anthropology and Italian Studies at Brown University, Kertzer was appointed Provost in 2006, serving in that role until 2011. Kertzer founded and directed the Anthropological Demography program. He was also founding director of the Politics, Culture, and Identity research program of the Watson Institute for International Studies. A Brown alumnus (A.B., 1969), Kertzer received a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Brandeis University in 1974.

In an introduction written especially for the Brandeis Magazine (Winter 2014), David Kertzer describes how he came to his galvanizing topic: http://www.brandeis.edu/magazine/2014/winter/featured-stories/pope.html

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Researcher Calls “Successful Aging” Form of Ageism

Posted by musegade on 12th January 2015

Following her presentation at the Gerontological Society of America in November, Professor Sarah Lamb’s story was featured in New American Media.

Discussing America’s obsessions with staying forever young, Professor Lamb explains that, “so-called successful aging articles and books tell readers how to “direct” their own aging, and paint disability as “bleak,” and dependence on others as “demeaning.” But much of the aging process is beyond our control, which Americans are loath to acknowledge – a symptom, Lamb said, of ageism.”

For the original story with audio, check out the KNBA website

To read the article in New American Media, click here.

Posted in Media Appearances, Research | No Comments »

Brandeis Anthropology Research Seminar

Posted by musegade on 10th September 2014

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Anthropology Department Hosts Research Seminar Series

Posted by musegade on 25th August 2014

This fall, we are excited to inaugurate the Brandeis Anthropology Research Seminar (BARS). This year-long seminar will meet most Friday afternoons at 3 pm, and will include our anthropology colloquia presented by invited guests as well as presentations by Brandeis anthropology faculty and graduate students. Moises Lino e Silva, curator of the Anthropology Research Seminar for the coming year, describes the seminar as “a venue for rigorous and creative intellectual engagement with current anthropological research.” Often we will close the Friday afternoon seminar with an opportunity for socializing with the invited speaker and each other, sometimes off campus at a nearby pub or other gathering place. 

Professor Janet McIntosh will give the first talk at 3:00 p.m. on September 12th, 2014.

Professor McIntosh, Associate Professor of Anthropology, is a cultural anthropologist whose work focuses on linguistic anthropology, psychological anthropology, language ideology, narrative and discourse, personhood, essentialism, religion, ritual, Islam, ethnic identity, colonialism and postcoloniality, and East Africa. After earning a BA at Harvard University (summa cum laude) and a second BA at Oxford University (first class honors), she undertook graduate training at the University of Michigan, earning her Ph.D in 2002 and winning a Distinguished Dissertation Award. Dr. McIntosh has published in such journals as American Ethnologist, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Journal of Pragmatics, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Africa, Journal of Religion in Africa, and Language and Communication. Her book “The Edge of Islam: Power, Personhood, and Ethnoreligious Boundaries on the Kenya Coast” (Duke University Press, 2009) won the 2010 Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of Religion. Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, she is currently in the late stages of a project on the narrated dilemmas of former colonial settlers and their descendants in Kenya. 

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How We Define the Street: Jonathan Shapiro Anjaria

Posted by musegade on 12th March 2014

Anthropology professor Jonathan Shapiro Anjaria just recently published an article, How We Define the Street in the Indian Express, one of India’s major national newspapers. In the article Anjaria discusses the new street vendors’ law in India. See the full article here.

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For Social Emergencies “We Are 9-1-1”: How Journalists Perform the State in an Argentine Border Town

Posted by musegade on 3rd March 2014

Recent Anthropology Ph.D. graduate, Ieva Jusionyte, recently published her article, For Social Emergencies “We Are 9-1-1”: How Journalists Perform the State in an Argentine Border Town, in the journal Anthropological Quarterly. For access to the article please see Project MUSE

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Classic Maya Bodies and Souls in Bioarchaeological Perspective

Posted by musegade on 1st November 2013

Andrew Scherer, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology at Brown University, will speak on November 13th from 2:00-3:30 in Brown, 316. Scherer is an anthropological archaeologist and biological anthropologist with a geographic focus in Mesoamerica (Maya). This illustrated lecture will explore Classic Maya understandings of the self and soul from the lens of bioarchaeology and mortuary archaeology. Informed by anthropological work on Maya epigraphy, iconography and ethnography Scherer will illustrate how the self and soul are essential for understanding the lived and dead body, but also many other dimensions of ancient society including cosmology, ritual practice, and the organization of Classic Maya kingdoms.

This Event is Free and Open to the Public.  For more information, please contact: Laurel Carpenter lcarpent@brandeis.edu

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“Applied Anthropology in the ‘New Economy’: How the localization movement could bring anthropologists to mainstream economic development policy in the U.S.”

Posted by musegade on 25th October 2013

Friday, November 8th, 11:00-12:20pm, Mandel G03


jessicaJessica Meissner ’05 majored in Anthropology at Brandeis and will be returning to give an open lecture to Prof. Elizabeth Ferry’s class “Consumption, Production, Exchange.” Jessica has a degree in economic anthropology, and she is currently on a fellowship at University of Michigan, studying global corporate structure and practice. She will be speaking about her recent work in Washtenaw County, MI to study the needs of non-venture capital funded entrepreneurs. In particular, Jessica is interested in creating meaningful employment for communities through worker-owned and multi-stakeholder cooperatives as a way to finance startups that would employ under/unemployed workers and transform traditionally low-wage work into viable long-term careers.

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New journal explores signs across cultures, disciplines

Posted by musegade on 10th October 2013


The journal Signs and Society connects Brandeis and Hankuk University of Foreign Studies of South Korea.

By Leah Burrows
Oct. 8, 2013


Richard Parmentier, professor of anthropology and director of the graduate program in global studies, has been waiting 30 years for someone to publish a research-oriented journal focused on an interdisciplinary approach to semiosis — the study of meaningful signs in their social and historical contexts. He just never expected to be the one to do it.

But when two young scholars, an anthropologist and a linguist, from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in South Korea emailed Parmentier in April 2012 with an idea for a journal (whose a name reflects his seminal 1994 book, “Sign in Society: Studies in Semiotic Anthropology”), he couldn’t think of any reason to refuse.

“I’ve basically been doing this informally for three decades,” Parmentier says. “So I would’ve been crazy to say no.”

The first issue of Signs and Society was published last April and the second issue will go online. It is funded by Hankuk University and published by the journals division of the University of Chicago Press. To assist him in this project, Parmentier recruited Brandeis English professor John Plotz and anthropologist Javier Urcid to join the Board of Editors.

The journal takes an interdisciplinary approach to semiosis, the study of sign production, communication and interpretation. The inaugural issue features papers from anthropologists, archaeologists, a linguist, and a professor of philosophy. Unlike other semiotics journals, Signs and Society focuses on empirical research rather than strictly philosophical or methodological issues, Parmentier says.

“In this journal, semiotics is the common language for researchers across different fields to have a conversation,” Parmentier says. “I want to promote conversations between archaeologists studying past worlds and researchers studying contemporary cultures, and between scholars studying face-to-face interaction and those exploring digital communication.”

The journal is also connecting scholars of different nations. In addition to featuring research from managing editors Kyung-Nan Koh and Hyug Ahn, the first three issues showcase scholars from Europe, North America, South America, and Asia.

For Parmentier, the journal is a culmination of sorts. He began his academic career at the University of Chicago, where he received his PhD. Later, at the Center for Psychosocial Studies, he and Professor Greg Urban, now at the University of Pennsylvania, launched a small pre-print journal dedicated to semiotics. Thirty years later, several of his former teachers and classmates from the University of Chicago have already submitted papers to Signs and Society.

This journal also capitalizes on new technology. It is free and available online, making it accessible to anyone interested in the field.

“Journals today can be both accessible and prestigious,” Parmentier says.

Parmentier hopes to connect established scholars like him with young up-and-comers from around the world.

“There are so many young scholars out there doing interesting work, I want them to submit,” Parmentier says. “I want to see the world vicariously through their eyes.”

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Anthropology Fall Picnic and Meet the Majors

Posted by musegade on 26th September 2013

Meet the Majors

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