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McGill Anthropology Speaker Series

Winter 2014

Monday talks begin with a light lunch.  For queries please contact Professor Kohn at eduardo [dot] kohn [at] mcgill [dot] ca.

Gaia, Anthropology and the Law

Bruno Latour, Professor Science Po

Friday, March 21, 4-6pm Chancellor Day Hall : Maxwell Cohen Moot
Court (room 100), 3644 rue Peel Montreal Quebec Canada

(co-sponsored with Law, Pearson Chair, Situating Science)


Elizabeth Povinelli, Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University

Monday, March 31, 12:30-2:30, Peterson Hall 116

Time on Device: Slot Machine Design and the Turn Away from Risk in Gambling

Natasha Schull, Associate Professor, MIT, Program in Science, Technology, and Society

Thursday, April 10, 5:15, Arts W-215

(co-sponsored with Wolfe Chair and Media@McGill)

Past Speakers 

Is the Law Hopeful?

Annelise Riles, Jack G. Clarke Professor of Far East Legal Studies and Professor of
Anthropology at Cornell University Law School

Monday February 3, 4-6 pm, Chancellor Day Hall: Common Room, 3644
rue Peel

(co-sponsored with the Pearson Chair in Civil Society and Public Policy)


Los Exvotos Pictográficos Guadalupanos: Reglas Tradicionales y Transformaciones Mediáticas

Margarita Zires, Universidad Autónoma de México, Xochimilco, Mexico

(co-sponsored with the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures
and the Latin American and Carribbean Studies Interdisciplinary Program)


Metrics of the Global Sovereign: Numbers and Stories in Global Health

Vincanne Adams, Professor, University of California, San Francisco,
Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine

(co-sponsored with SSOM)


Workshop: Fieldwork After Ethnos

George Marcus, Professor, Department of Anthropology UC Irvine;
Tobias Rees, Assistant Professor SSOM, McGill;
Katherine Lemons, Assistant Professor, Anthropology McGill (discussant)

(co sponsored with SSOM)


Prototyping & Contemporary Anthropological
Experiments with Ethnographic Method

George Marcus, Professor, Department of Anthropology, UC Irvine 

(co-sponsored with SSOM, Concordia Department of Sociology and Anthropology,
CEREV Centre for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Violence)


Repatriation and the Second Life of Heritage: Return of the Masks in Kodiak, Alaska

James Clifford, Emeritus Professor in the History of Consciousness
Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz

(co-sponsored with Department of Communication Studies, Concordia University)


The Great Chinese Grasslands and the Fate of Their Pastoral Peoples.

Philip Salzman, Professor, Department of Anthropology, McGill University


The Fog of Humanitarian War: the Indistinguishability of Warriors, Enemies, Victims, and Saviors

Mariella Pandolfi, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Université de Montréal


Ethnographic Film Screenings and Q & A with Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab Filmmakers

Lucien Taylor, Professor Anthropology Harvard University;
J.P Sniadecki, Assistant Professor Department of Performing and Media Arts, Cornell University;
Stephanie Spray, Harvard University

(co-sponsored with RIDM Montreal International Documentary Festival)

For up-to-date time, venue, and price information, check http//www.ridm.qc.ca/en



J. P. Sniadecki, 2007


Xu Ruotao, J.P. Sniadecki and Huang Xiang, 2013

People's Park

Libbie D. Cohn and J.P. Sniadecki, 2012

An Audio Performance

Ernst Karel, Émilie Payeur


Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez, 2013

Foreign Parts

Véréna Paravel and J.P. Sniadecki, 2010

Roundtable with Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab Filmmakers

Lucien Taylor, Professor of Visual Arts and Anthropology Harvard University;
J.P Sniadecki, Assistant Professor Department of Performing and Media Arts, Cornell University;
Stephanie Spray, Harvard University;
Lisa Stevenson; Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, McGill (moderator)

(co-sponsored with RIDM Montreal International Documentary Festival)


As Long As There's Breath

Stephanie Spray, 2009


Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Ilisa Barbash, 2009


Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Vérèna Paravel, 2013

Fieldwork in Photography

Dr. Robert Desjarlais, Professor of Anthropology, Sarah Lawrence College, 
Berkeley CA


Capitalism after Progress: Salvage Accumulation on Blasted Landscapes

Dr. Anna Tsing, Professor of Anthropology, University of California Santa Cruz 

(co-sponsored with the Department of Anthropology, Concordia University)

What would the world look like if we examined it without expectations of progress?  This talk offers a taste from my “Living in Ruins” project, in which a charismatic wild mushroom helps me view the world through disturbed forests and displaced rural people—that is, through humans and nonhumans negotiating progress’s ruins.  Capitalism certainly looks different from this perspective.  Suddenly it is clear that capitalism can never be self-contained; accumulation is always salvaged for capitalism from non-capitalist social landscapes, including the ruined industrial forests of my mushroom study.  How could we have missed this?  Without the blinders of progress, the riches of global heterogeneity come into view, both terrible and sweet. 


Workshop on Excerpts from Anna Tsing's "Living in Ruins" Manuscript*

Dr. Anna Tsing, Professor of Anthropology, University of California Santa Cruz 

(co-sponsored with the Department of Anthropology, Concordia University)


Title TBA

Dr. Betsey Brada, Ph.D Anthropology, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Center for Health and Well-Being, Princeton University 

(co-sponsored with SSOM)


When Law and Social Science Diverge: Causation in the International Law of Incitement to Commit Genocide

Dr. Richard Wilson, Gladstein Professor of Human Rights, Professor of Anthropology and Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Connecticut 


Debt, Credit and the “End” of Finance in Post-Fukushima Japan

Dr. Hiro Miyazaki, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Cornell University 

(co-sponsored with SSOM and the Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy)

The ongoing global financial crisis suggests that the era in which finance served as a site of vigorous intellectual and socio-economic experiment may have come to an end. This sense of the end of finance has particularly intensified in Tokyo. Theories, techniques and conceptual tools of finance designed to manage and profit from risk have served as means of socio-economic reform in Japan since the burst of the economic bubble in the early 1990s. Financial market professionals have been a major force behind the promotion of a new culture of risk and responsibility. Following the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, however, Tokyo is quickly losing its status as a global financial center, and Tokyo’s financial market professionals now face new challenges ranging from frequent lay-offs and downsizing to a sheer lack of intellectual excitement.

In this context, Japan’s triple disasters on March 11, 2011, and the profound uncertainty of the world that the disasters have revealed, have presented a new layer of challenges to Tokyo’s financial market professionals. In particular, the accident at Fukushima Dai’ichi Nuclear Power Plant created a financial crisis of its own. Its operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), a major supplier of electricity in the greater Tokyo area, was what many perceived as one of the most financially stable companies and was the biggest issuer of corporate bonds in Japan prior to the accident. After the disasters, major Japanese financial institutions, such as mega banks and insurance companies, were suddenly exposed to a wide range of risks associated with TEPCO’s large corporate debt as well as lawsuits and massive compensation claims against the utility company. These risks quickly became major sources of anxiety and profit opportunity for Tokyo’s financial market professionals.

In this paper, drawing on my ethnographic field research in Tokyo in 2011 and 2012, I examine two contrasting market responses to the TEPCO crisis orchestrated by Tokyo’s financial market professionals in the months following the disasters, as manifestations of these professionals’ conscious efforts to re-deploy theories and techniques of finance in a newly found sphere of profound uncertainty. I offer these ethnographic examples as illustrations not only of problems associated with the specificity and peculiarity of Japan’s debt and credit markets but also of a more general question of how theoretical, technical and professional commitments are made anew.

Hirokazu Miyazaki is Director of the East Asia Program and Associate Professor of Anthropology at Cornell University. He has studied indigenous Fijian gift giving and Japanese derivatives trading. He is the author of The Method of Hope: Anthropology, Philosophy, and Fijian Knowledge (Stanford University Press, 2004) and Arbitraging Japan: Dreams of Capitalism at the End of Finance (University of California Press, 2013).