George Bajalia works at the intersection of the performing arts and anthropology of border, focusing on the publics, infrastructures, and discourses enabled and sustained by borderlands. As an artist, he has produced and directed work in Chicago, and New York, as well as Tangier, Morocco- the site of his ongoing research into modes of negotiating and conceptualizing the frontiers between Morocco, Algeria, and Spain.
I am interested in archaeologies of sensitivity, language, industry and intention. I am concerned with the singular nature of the event of industrialization, as purposeful human activity, and the material forms and remnants of its perpetuation through sonic and haptic entrainment; repetition, trance, and habit. I see archaeology as a discipline of responsiveness and awareness - a discipline of writing, sensitivity and memory. Early twentieth century North America saw rapid technological expansion as well as popular concerns of environmental degradation and loss, and I am fascinated with the minutae; the specific archaeological traces of early sensory responses to the material fastening of the built environment to the earth, histories of arbitrary perceptual categorization, synaesthetic responses to materials and technological processes, ecological/industrial synthesis, heraldic sonic forms, horizontalism, and praxis (as this pertains to climate change). To supplement texts, I search for sources of archaeological thought from disparate traditions: literature, art, philosophy and the street. I would also like to explore (and create) open pathways between archaeological and artistic expression through their shared effort to contend with the challenge of form and formlessness.
Spain, Roma populations
Luciana's project attempts to trace emerging ideas of citizenship and other forms of political subjectivity being developed in contemporary Nicaragua. Attentive to questions of the politics of memory (that is, how the memory and imagination of the Sandinista revolution, contra war and transition into neoliberal rule plays a role in structuring present political possibilities), Luciana explores the tensions between the rhetoric and structures of "participatory democracy," developed by the (self-proclaimed socialist) neo-Sandinista regime, and it's increasing corporatization and consolidation into a hyphened entity that agglutinates Sandinista, party, state, capital, and (presidential) family into one. She is particularly interested in the emergent "youth" political movements such as the Juventud Sandinista, which make particular claims of belonging and imaginging the Sandinista revolution. She will undergo fieldwork in a formalized urban slum in the city of Leon in order to access the everyday negotiations amongst state agents, party members, "civil society" groups, neighbors, and other actors in the pursuit of state resources, in order to comment on the emerging shape of the political in Nicaragua today.
My research takes the ontological snag of the voluntary will as its organizing node to examine questions of mechanistic life, immanent ethics, technoscientific capitalization, and the history of neurology. My ethnographic work currently examines three sites: a clinical trial using Deep Brain Stimulation to treat depression, privatize opiate recovery clinics treating with Suboxone, and a variety of private, public, and academic actors using Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation. These sites are situated in relation to a historical examination of the emergence of neurology as a discipline during the late 17th century, focusing particularly on the work and influence of Thomas Willis.
I am interested in exploring the emerging dominance of medical rationality, ushered in by an era of medical tourism in India. I hope to locate surrogacy within this conversation.
Bronze Age Levant, foodways
I have been working on farm labor in Turkey since 2009. So far, I have worked with several groups of farm workers in the harvest of tomatoes, tobacco, grapes, cucumbers and hazelnuts in the Aegean and Black Sea regions of Turkey. My proposed PhD dissertation project is to conduct a yearlong ethnographic fieldwork among Kurdish migrant farmworkers following their paths of migration and homecoming. My primary aims in this study are: to explore the everyday power relations within which these practices of labor and migration are organized and conducted; to inquire how these practices alter the material and socio-political landscape of Turkey; and to analyze what kinds of symbolic, material, and affective knowledges these practices generate. My main areas of interest are anthropology of labor and work, studies of labor migration, anthropology of the state and studies on embodiment and affect.
Elish, Madeleine (sociocultural)
Interests: Agency within human-computer systems, HCI, military technologies and communities, labor and automation, science and technology studies, ethnographic methods, American studies; US, North America. Madeleine holds an SM in Comparative Media Studies from MIT and a BA in Art History from Columbia University. She has written on the history of the personal computer and the role of advertising in its adoption as a domestic technology. She has also written about contemporary robotics and the role of “demoing” in technological research. Madeleine’s current research investigates how new technological capacities to act at a distance, specifically those used in remote warfare, are implicated in changing conceptions and experiences of agency, soldiering and violence within the United States.
Elmakias, Zohar (sociocultural)
Following my background in documentary film and cultural studies, and my work as a writer and an editor for several alternative media platforms in Israel, focusing on issues of culture, racism, and violence - I am interested in visual anthropology of Israel/Palestine within the broader context of the modern Middle East. In particular, I wish to reveal stories of movement and transition, of multiculturalism, of segregation and of hegemony, and in the articulation of national and cultural narratives of identity in urban landscapes in the region. I will conduct an "excavation" of sites which are capsules of time and space, examining architectural monuments, photography, and lived experience as a portal to broader questions of nationality, exclusion and cultural hegemony - and to the role movement and mobility play in them. I am interested in where movement is allowed and restricted. I see the juxtaposition of photography and architecture as a site in which society tells and is told its story; where lies take the shape of buildings and street names; and where truths are bent and broken, then emerge, once more.
Faux, Chloé (sociocultural)
Fierman, Julia (sociocultural)
My work examines urban renewal in Eisenhüttenstadt, Germany. Founded in 1950 as a socialist utopia, Eisenhüttenstadt is currently being transformed into an environmentally responsible ‘green’ city via the consolidation of residential zones and the implementation of solar energy. At the same time, much of the city is under federal historic preservation and cannot be demolished or architecturally altered. Eisenhüttenstadt offers a comparative perspective whereby the same city has come to serve as an exemplary model for strikingly different conceptions of society and urbanization. I aim to use this comparison to investigate fundamental claims in anthropology about how built space produces social subjects and collectivities, and to ask how residents of Eisenhüttenstadt come to imagine new futures for themselves and their city via an engagement with its changing physical forms. My research examines the changes in Eisenhüttenstadt as they relate to broader national and European-wide environmental and urban policy goals, and questions how the intransigence of the material world affects changing ideologies.
Grody, Evin (archeology)
Victoria Gross completed her MA in Hindu Studies at McGill University in 2008. Her MA thesis examined the performance of two pain-inflicting corporeal rituals, kāvaṭi and viratam, among male Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in Montréal. Specifically, she explored the intersections of vexed masculine, ethnic, and national identity that emerge in ecstatic public performances of devotional self-sacrifice. Her current research interests include ritual theory, national identity in the Tamil diaspora, and constructions of hyper-masculine militancy in South Asian nationalist organizations
Marina Kaganova is a poet who loves and loathes Thomas Bernhard, hates The Magic Mountain, reads Svejk in Russian, loves Buba Kikabidze movies, sings Georgian polyphony, has relatives in Tkibuli, Georgia named Nato and Husband. Her work focuses on, to put it grandly, the poetics of Nationalism in the republic of Georgia.
Kassamali, Sumayya (sociocultural)
My research interests revolve around what has been called the 'anthropology of the imaginary' and the ways in which immaterial realms - dreams, ghosts, spirits, etc - can affect sociopolitical life. My dissertation project specifically focuses on the relationship between the rituals and remembrances surrounding death, and the experience of widespread violence in times of war. Originally, my PhD work was to be conducted around the southern shrine cities of Najaf and Karbala, Iraq, but it has now been relocated to Beirut, Lebanon. I have a background in Political Science and Women's Studies and, at least aspirationally, a deep commitment to political life outside the academy.
Kennedy, John (sociocultural)
Soo-Young works on the future. Her dissertation fieldwork in Greece examines the production of economic knowledge and the routinization of financial activities as key modes through which particular futures emerge in and act upon the present. Focusing on forecasting, insurance, and investment practices, this research asks how the future operates as a crucial site for establishing and contesting claims to knowledge and authority, and more broadly inquires into the formation of the future, the economy, and the nation as epistemic objects.
My research interests are focused on the depoliticizing effects of (neo)liberalism and the conditions of possibility for political subjectivization. I am currently working on the formation of “moral neoliberalism” surrounding individual bankruptcy and insolvency in South Korea.
Amiel Bize Melnick is interested in the ethical and financial forms that accompany new infrastructure development. She does research on traffic and traffic accidents in Kenya--Western, Rift Valley and Nairobi.
Naeem Mohaiemen is a Bangladeshi writer and visual artist [shobak.org]. Since 1999, he has worked on a series of film, photography, and mixed-media projects that use the museum as platform for an “exploded history book.” The most recent project is The young man was, a fragmentary history of the 1970s ultra-left. One chapter, the film United Red Army (about the 1977 hijack of Japan Airlines), was described as “engagements with a revolutionary past meaningful in the sudden eruption of a revolutionary present” (Wilson-Goldie, Bidoun), and is in the collection of the Tate Modern museum. In Bangladesh, institutional pressure to create what Naeem has ironically called “shothik itihash (correct history)” is suffocating, and he explores the museum as a space for more ambiguous conversations. His work has been published in Sun Never Sets: South Asian Migrants in an Age of US Global Power (NYU), Visual Culture Reader, 3rd ed. (Routledge), Sound Unbound (MIT Press), Granta (Pakistan Issue), Rethinking Marxism, etc. His critique of Sarmila Bose’s revisionist history [columbia.academia.edu/Mohaiemen] of the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war was widely cited and reprinted, including in Lines of Control: Partition as Productive Space (Johnson Museum). At Columbia, Naeem is exploring the social construction of foundational myths around the 1971 war and the ensuing decade of disenchantment.
My work is concerned with the relationship between the War on Terror and the production of value in both the linguistic and economic registers. Broadly, I examine the interface between culture and economy in Afghanistan and the ways in which the logic of history, futurity and culture are both newly inscribed and disavowed alongside the demands of an ongoing insurgency/counter-insurgency. My ethnographic research was based in Kabul, Afghanistan and supplemented with archival work in Kabul and London.
US-China, 19th century Overseas Chinese.
My research focuses on social inequality, ethnic relations, colonialism and postcoloniality, and subject formation in Central America and the urban United States. After working for 3 years on an ethnographic study of a predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhood in North Philadelphia, I am interested in writing an ethnography of the Moskitia in the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua and Honduras. Among other theoretical and practical questions, I am interested in examining howthe Miskitu political rights movements of the Sandinista era have fared in the contemporary era characterized by neoliberal socioeconomic policies and a rising concern over drug- andcrime-related violence. The Caribbean coast has historically been home to the largest concentrations of African descendants in Central America, and the Miskitu population itself is the product of a long process of mestizaje between local indigenous groups, freed andrunaway slaves, and West Indian immigrants. This raises important questions concerning the place of blackness and indigenousness in local race relations, state interventions, and interactions with external forces like transnational corporations, enclave economies, international powers, and the multi-million dollar drug economy. I am also an aspiring photographer and filmmaker and I seek to combine the tools of ethnography with those of visual media to both access my fieldsites and document them effectively.
My research examines the political and historical conditions that enable the formation and valuation of oceanic space as exclusive territory for the benefit of science, capital, and government. Critically, I am interested in identifying the material and non-material dispossessions that occur when the sea is conceptualized as the final frontier of human exploration and presence. Productively, I am interested in facilitating alternative representations of oceanic space that embrace indigenous ontologies and epistemologies. Following in the wake of Pacific Islanders (specifically—fishing communities in Papua New Guinea) and oceanic megafauna (specifically—sharks), I look for ways in which rootedness in place can be articulated alongside routedness in space so that both cultural and biological diversity can flourish in the space and time of imminent threat.
As part of her previous research in comparative literature and media studies, Jasmine Pisapia traced the creation of images linked to the writings of anthropologist Ernesto de Martino on mourning and possession rituals in Southern Italy. Her masters thesis, completed at the Université de Montréal, involved substantial archival research and examined films, photographs, drawings, and fieldwork notebooks tied to this specific moment in Italian anthropology during the 1950-1960s. Her engagement with media and aesthetic forms has been complemented by her experience as a programmer for Montreal’s Festival du nouveau cinéma where, from 2010 to 2013, she curated experimental films, audiovisual performances, Web-based documentaries, interactive installations, and conferences spanning a variety of topics from celluloid restoration to virtual worlds, to the visual dimensions of radio compositions. Her research interests include the logics of possession in an expanded sense, an ethnography of archives, histories of modernity, and the relationships between image, sound and text. Her current work seeks to unearth, in present times, the twin histories of Southern Italy's ethnographic representations and processes of industrialization, paying careful attention to the interlacing of aesthetics and politics.
Quiniou, Helene (sociocultural)
Reumert, Anna Simone (sociocultural)
I am interested in the contemporary and historical migratory relations between French West Africa and the Levant (Lebanon/Syria) and, particularly, in the triad colonial relationship between France, Senegal and Lebanon shaped through the trading of bodies, ideas and colonial disciplinary structures between these distinct, yet interconnected, places. By looking at the particular colonial encounter between Senegalese mercenaries, deployed by the French Army during Lebanon's anti-colonial uprising in World War II, and Lebanese colonial citizens, I am interested in understanding how certain colonial subjectivities, loyalties and aspirations were formed through this relationship. I draw on this historical context in my prospective fieldwork on everyday structural and discursive racism towards black male workers in contemporary Beirut.
Reinhart, Natalie (sociocultural)
Romero-Dianderas, Eduardo (sociocultural)
Prior to coming to Columbia, my research has mainly addressed the various interfaces between indigenous engagements with forests and state-led forms of tropical conservation in the Peruvian Amazon. In my doctoral work, I expect to engage in recent conversations on science and technology, material bureaucracies, and forest governance in order to understand the ways tropical forests (and their human and nonhuman dwellers) come to be contentiously known and governed in the era of digital transparency and emerging ecological anxieties.
Sabiston, Leslie James (sociocultural)
Archaeology of the contemporary past, homelessness
Straub, Dakota (sociocultural)