Media Coverage

Media coverage of work done by Anthropology department’s faculty members

Prof. Alexia Smith Honored for her Work With Students

Alexia receiving her award
Alexia Smith (right) receives the award from Honors Program Director Jennifer Lease Butts (left)

We are very proud to announce that Prof Alexia Smith has been awarded the Honors Faculty Member of the Year Award by UConn’s Honors Program. She  is pictured receiving her award from Honors Program Director Jennifer Lease Butts at the Honors Medal Ceremony. The award is given to a faculty member who “has made outstanding contributions to the Honors Program and has provided exceptional educational experiences to Honors students”.

Urvi Kaul Receives NSF Fellowship

Picture of four fellowship recipients
Urvi Kaul on the far left. Photo Credit: UConn Photo

We are delighted to announce that graduate student Uriv Kaul (far left) has been awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship! Urvi, a student of Deborah Bolnick’s, will focus on ” contemporary human population genetics and exploring the impact of politics on human population structures” in her dissertation research. Congratulations to Urvi!

New Book

Hot off the presses, a new book co-edited by Françoise Dussart.

Contemporary Indigenous Cosmologies and Pragmatics. University of Alberta Press, 2022

Edited by Françoise Dussart and Sylvie Poirier

In this timely collection, the authors examine Indigenous peoples’ negotiations with different cosmologies in a globalized world. Dussart and Poirier outline a sophisticated theory of change that accounts for the complexity of Indigenous peoples’ engagement with Christianity and other cosmologies, their own colonial experiences, as well as their ongoing relationships to place and kin. The contributors offer fine-grained ethnographic studies that highlight the complex and pragmatic ways in which Indigenous peoples enact their cosmologies and articulate their identity as forms of affirmation. This collection is a major contribution to the anthropology of religion, religious studies, and Indigenous studies worldwide.

Contributors: Anne-Marie Colpron, Robert R. Crépeau, Françoise Dussart, Ingrid Hall, Laurent Jérôme, Frédéric Laugrand, C. James MacKenzie, Caroline Nepton Hotte, Ksenia Pimenova, Sylvie Poirier, Kathryn Rountree, Antonella Tassinari, Petronella Vaarzon-Morel

For more information click here.

UConn Anthropology Statement on the MOVE Bombing Case

In response to the realization that remains of victims from the 1985 MOVE bombing in Philadelphia were kept and used by anthropologists for a prolonged amount of time without consent from the victims’ family, the Department of Anthropology at the University of Connecticut supports the collective statement released by the Association of Black Anthropologists (ABA), the Society of Black Archaeologists (SBA), and the Black in Bioanthropology Collective (BiBA). We also reaffirm our commitment to the following, as laid out in our Black Lives Matter Solidarity Statement:

 

1)    Boldly and vocally addressing racism, injustice, and discrimination wherever it occurs in society, including within our discipline,

2)    Committing to practice anthropological research that is anti-racist and against all forms of discrimination, and

3)    Improving the lives of Native American, Black, Latinx, and other marginalized populations with whom we work.

 

Given the ongoing investigations into the practices of anthropologists at both the Penn Museum and Princeton University, the Department of Anthropology declares our solidarity with the surviving members of the Africa family.  We also take this opportunity to declare our explicit commitment to critically evaluating our own practices involving human remains. As a part of our department’s stated commitment to equity and anti-racist praxis, we acknowledge that the colonial legacies and historic practices of our field not only contributed to problematic racial hierarchies, but also resulted in the disproportionate representation of communities of color in museum and academic collections of human remains. The history of enslavement in the United States particularly implicates Anthropology and its contribution to the exhibition of Black bodies and narratives of anti-Blackness. We therefore declare our commitment to:

 

1)    Create space for dialogues about both the histories and ongoing issues in our field with regards to racism and anti-Blackness, and

2)    Develop more explicit departmental guidelines to ensure the ethical and respectful treatment of all human remains, including engagement with families, descendent communities, and other relevant stakeholders whenever possible.

Approved by the Department of Anthropology June 18, 2021.

Dr. Xygalatas interviewed on the importance of rituals in 2020.

Dr. Dimitris Xygalatas, associate professor for UConn Anthropology, provides important cultural insight from his research on how rituals are even more important during the 2020 holiday season. In a recent interview with The Atlantic, Xygalatas explains how rituals “help us alleviate anxiety and they help to increase social connection”. This is no exception during the 2020 season, as he writes that rituals “help us maintain a sense of structure and control in our lives, and this can allow us to overcome some of the stressors of

Imageby Yann Bastard taken from the NYT
By Yann Bastard NYT

daily life”.  He also writes how “through the use of symbolic markers (e.g. wearing the same clothes), the alignment of movements and behaviors (e.g. collective singing), and appeals to tradition, they create a sense of unity and belonging that all humans crave.”.

As this year comes to a close, it is clear that rituals are more needed then ever. In an interview with The Guardian, Dr. Xygalatas says “Research shows that when we spend money on experiences, rather than material stuff, we feel happier,”. He also states that “The reason behind this is that we enjoy the experience, and afterwards we enjoy the memories of it, but we also enjoy the anticipation. I think this is the part that applies to holiday rituals. Given this situation of increased anxiety, this feeling of anticipation and all the preparations give us something to do which is meaningful.”. In an interview with The New York Times, Dr. Xygalatas talks about how the current situation impacts the necessity of rituals, “This is precisely the time where we need these rituals or traditions more than ever, and it’s exactly the time where we can’t have them. It creates a lot of extra anxiety”.

Check out his interviews with The Atlantic, The Guardian, The Toronto Star, and The New York Times for more information on his research going into the 2020 Holiday season!