Mellon Foundation awards prestigious Sawyer Seminar grant for ‘Visions of Slavery’ to Bayo Holsey and Walter C. Rucker 

Emory College of Arts and Sciences has been awarded a $225,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to lead a yearlong examination of the histories of slavery in the Black Atlantic, as well as the struggles against it, in order to better understand current social justice efforts.

Co-organized by Emory College professors Bayo Holsey and Walter C. Rucker, an anthropologist and historian, respectively, “Visions of Slavery” will explore how slavery in the Black Atlantic has been archived, memorialized and interpreted both historically and more recently.

As part of the Mellon’s 2022-2023 Sawyer Seminar series, the symposium will unite Emory faculty across the humanities and social sciences with scholars from other metro Atlanta universities.

Peter Little featured in Special Issue of the Journal of Agrarian Change

The 25th anniversary of Peter Little and Michael Watts’ edited book, Living Under Contract: Contract Farming and Agrarian Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa (with Michael Watts), is the basis of a Special Issue of the Journal of Agrarian Change (Volume 22, Number 1, 2022).

The introduction to the journal issue discusses how “it was the publication in 1994 of Living Under Contract: Contract Farming and Agrarian Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa, a collection edited by Peter Little and Michael Watts, that marked a seminal moment in critical scholarship on contract farming in the developing world. . . . The legacy of Living Under Contract is evident in the sustained engagement with contract farming by critical scholars in the subsequent three decades since its publication (see Vicol et al. 2022, 3-4, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/joac.12471 . )” Peter Little and Michael Watts were invited to write the epilogue, titled “The afterlife of Living under Contract,” to the Special Issue (see Little and Watts https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/joac.12467  )

Peter Little recently co-edited (with Shinya Konaka of Shizuoka University, Japan) a special issue on “Rethinking Resilience in the Context of East African Pastoralism” in the journal

Nomadic Peoples, 2021, volume 25, Number 2. As the introduction to the volume states, “the special issue interrogates the frequently overused concept of resilience through an examination of a series of  case studies from East Africa. It addresses the ways in which anthropologists have studied the interactions between pastoral communities and outside actors under the guise of ‘building resilience’ ..and it challenges readers to think beyond persistent dichotomies of local/global, modernity/tradition, and culture/environment (Konaka and Little 2021: 165).  Most of the articles in the issue were based on a panel sponsored by the Commission of Nomadic Peoples, International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) and presented at the Bi-annual Congress  of the IUAES, held in Poznan, Poland, August 27-31, 2019. Peter Little.

USA Today reports on Dr. Rilling’s research regarding the connection between grandmothers and their grandchildren

James Rilling, Professor in the Anthropology Department at Emory University, used functional magnetic resonance  imaging to scan grandmothers brains while they looked at images of their children, their grandchildren as well as unrelated adults and children.

“When grandmothers viewed photographs of their grandchildren, they particularly activated brain regions that have previously been associated with emotional empathy, suggesting that grandmothers may be predisposed to share the emotional states of their grandchildren,” Rilling tells USA Today. When looking at picture of their adult children, areas of their brain associated with cognitive empathy where activated.

This research was also featured by CNN and the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Dr. Stout is interviewed by PNAS on cave paintings dating back at least 45,500 years

Recently discovered cave paintings and bone carvings offer new perspectives on long-held questions about art’s origins—not to mention the nature of art itself.

The paintings of Pigs were discovered on limestone walls of the Leang Tedongnge cave on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The question about what the oldest record of art is necessitates a definition of art, and leads us to the question of what the creation of art tell us about humans and their abilities at the time. The full article is available online. Dietrich Stout.

Goodrich C. White Professor Emeritus Bradd Shore publishes his book Shakespeare and Social Theory. The Play of Great Ideas

This book provides a bridge between Shakespeare studies and classical social theory, opening up readings of Shakespeare to a new audience outside of literary studies and the humanities. Shakespeare has long been known as a “great thinker” and this book reads his plays through the lens of an anthropologist, revealing new connections between Shakespeare’s plays and the lives we now lead.

Close readings of a selection of frequently studied plays—HamletThe Winter’s TaleRomeo and JulietA Midsummer Night’s DreamJulius Caesar, and King Lear—engage with the texts in detail while connecting them with some of the biggest questions we all ask ourselves, about love, friendship, ritual, language, human interactions, and the world around us. The plays are examined through various social theories including performance theory, cognitive theory, semiotics, exchange theory, and structuralism. The book concludes with a consideration of how “the new astronomy” of his day and developments in optics changed the very idea of “perspective,” and shaped Shakespeare’s approach to embedding social theory in his dramatic texts.

Shakespeare from outside literary studies but will also be valuable to literature students approaching Shakespeare for the first time, or looking for a new angle on the plays.

Distinguished Professor Emerita Corinne A. Kratz receives 2021 Council for Museum Anthropology Lifetime Achievement/Distinguished Service Award

The CMA is delighted to announce the winner of the 2021 Council for Museum Anthropology Lifetime Achievement/Distinguished Service Award: Corinne A. Kratz, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and African Studies Emerita at Emory University, and Emory Director for the African Critical Inquiry Program. Thanks to all who submitted nominations for consideration.

Kratz’s academic work spans a lifetime of scholarly and engaged anthropological achievement. Over the course of her near 50-year career, Kratz has redefined both museum anthropology and critical museology, especially at the intersections between these fields and African Studies. Kratz is the author of the award-winning book The Ones That Are Wanted: Communication and the Politics of Representation in a Photographic Exhibition, which is a description of, and extended critical reflection upon, Kratz’s own exhibition ‘Okiek Portraits,’ a traveling exhibition of fieldwork photographs taken during her work with the Kaplelach and Kipchornwonek Okiek people of South- central Kenya. Including tri-lingual captions, short dialogues between Kratz and her Okiek interlocutors, and the use of color photographs, the exhibition challenged earlier visual stereotypes of the Okiek. Based on the failures and successes of the exhibition as it traveled around the United States, Kratz’s ethnography was one of the first book- length studies to take seriously the idea that an exhibition may be engaged as an anthropological ‘field site’ in its own right. It is a seminal study for visual anthropology and critical museology, and exemplifies participatory and collaborative methodologies while taking seriously the dynamics and contexts of visitors and institutions. In addition, Kratz is a lead editor on the landmark volume Museum Frictions: Public Cultures/Global Transformations, one of the most important contributions to critical museology of recent decades.

Kratz’s impact on a global community of scholars is also evident in her mentorship, especially her support of African Early Career Researchers. In addition to mentoring young scholars at Emory University, Kratz’s service and mentoring activities extended transnationally to the Institutions of Public Culture Program, a partnership between the Center for the Study of Public Scholarship at Emory and South African cultural institutions. Following Ivan Karp’s death in 2011, Kratz carried forward their joint commitment to developing public intellectual life in Africa by establishing the Ivan Karp and Corinne Kratz Fund. The Fund supported the creation of the African Critical Inquiry Program, which provides research funding for African doctoral students from across the continent and sponsors innovative annual workshops in South Africa. We honor her generosity of spirit and time, and her indelible human connection with a global community of colleagues.

Jim Rilling’s research is featured on the Australian Broadcasting Company podcast All In The Mind

Dr. Rilling is interviewed by Sana Quadar about his research on fatherhood for the All In The Mind podcast on fatherhood. Rilling speaks about hormonal changes, brain functions and interactions between fathers and their children. Other guests are Dave Edwards and Dr. Jacqui Macdonald, the podcast is available online.