Fall Term, 2014
Anthropology Tan Sack Lecture Series
Friday's at Noon
Waldo 201A


OCT. 3 James Broesch - Measurement of Culture and Its Impact on Health

While culture is frequently cited as an important factor in the production of health, particularly in relation to health disparities, it is rarely directly evaluated. Moreover, its pathways of influence are often not clearly specified. Understanding the degree to which culture affects health disparities hinges on how culture is operationalized and on devising an effective approach for measuring the sharedness of culture within and between groups. In this presentation, I will discuss 1) how social network analysis can be used to evaluate pathways of cultural transmission, and 2) a framework for the measurement of shared attitudes, norms, beliefs and knowledge in specific domains (i.e., cultural models) in a population. To illustrate this framework for measuring culture, I will discuss a project that evaluated claims regarding the role of culture in the production of childhood overweight and obesity disparities within the state of Wisconsin. Results indicate the existence of a single, highly shared cultural model regarding diet and physical activity, which broadly matches with the biomedical model for promoting healthy and active lifestyles. Minimal variations in cultural models by race and education do exist, but it is unlikely that these differences are substantial enough to be primary drivers of observed disparities. These results suggest that research on the barriers to enacting this cultural model may lead to more effective approaches for promoting health equity.

Oct. 17  Jane Hill - Race, Language, and Culture: Together Again in Contemporary U.S. Language Ideologies

Over 100 years ago, Franz Boas convinced scientists that the three terms "race", "language", and "culture" refer to historical processes that are in principle independent of one another.  However, in much contemporary talk about language in the U.S., the three are collapsed, both implicitly and explicitly.  Starting from talk about Spanish by Tom Horne, Arizona’s Attorney General, Prof. Hill will show how this collapse shows up in contemporary discourse.

A professor emerita from the University of Arizona, Hill specializes in linguistics, studying Uto-Aztecan languages. In her work, she has examined the Cupeño, Nahuatl and Tohono O'odham languages – exploring their history, grammar, phonology and sociolinguistic status. Her current studies focus on ideology of language and its connection to racism.

Hill is one of the country’s foremost authorities on Native American languages. She received her Ph.D. from UCLA in 1966, and was president of the American Anthropological Association from 1998 to 1999. She has published seven books, and more than 100 articles and chapters.

Oct. 24 Nancy Rosenberger - Cultivating transgression: Young organic farmers in Japan

Rosenberger uses her ethnographic investigations of the lives of organic farmers in Japan to raise questions about how to understand the shift from resistance to a different politics, one of positive engagement that may be better called transgressive. From the point of view of elder organic farmers, younger farmers are not supporting the pure principles of the original organic movement as they consort with the market, the government, consumers, and conventional farmers in new ways. However, younger farmers are themselves consumers, concerned with identity, lifestyle, and just-enough comfort. Rosenberger explores the interviews with the farmers in the light of writings on new social movements.

Nancy Rosenberger received her PhD from University of Michigan and is a Professor of Anthropology at Oregon State University. Her research interests bridge food and agriculture, work, and gender in the context of questions of uncertainty and resistance. She is the author of such recent works as Dilemmas of Adulthood, an Ethnos article entitled ”Japanese Organic Farmers: Strategies of Uncertainty after the Fukushima Disaster.”

Nov. 7 Camilla Vásquez - The Discursive Construction of Identities in Online Consumer Reviews

In an era of increasing interconnectivity, many of us regularly consult online reviews as we make consumer decisions. And although these types of texts are growing both in number and in influence, interestingly enough, they have not yet received much attention from linguists. I investigate the language used by reviewers as they forge connections with their audiences to draw them into their stories, as they construct their expertise and authority on various subjects, as they evaluate and assess their consumer experiences, and as they display their knowledge about the very genre in which they are participating. Adopting an eclectic approach to the analysis of discourse, which employs techniques from narrative analysis to corpus linguistics, I explore topics such as evaluation, identity, and intertextuality, as they occur in online reviews of hotels, restaurants, recipes, films, and other consumer products.

Nov. 21 Emily Riley - White is the Color of my Heart: Negotiating Womanhood in Senegal's Layene Community

In Senegal, a country dominated by Sufi Muslim orders, young women are intimately involved with the organization and practice of religious associations.  The Layene community, just one of the many Sufi orders, is believed by many to be more strict in practice and belief, setting them on the periphery to the other more visible Sufi orders.  Female members of the associations plan and participate in religious gatherings, pilgrimages, and each other's life events, such as weddings and baptisms.  These events serve as spaces for young women to negotiate their identities as women and Muslims, and as members of both the Layene and the greater communities.  This talk will explore the relationships between gender and religion, ritual and identity politics by way of Riley’s research with a Layene women's association in the capital city of Dakar, Senegal.

Emily Riley is a PhD student at Michigan State University, specializing in Cultural Anthropology.  She has worked in Senegal since her undergraduate days at Oregon State University, where she took part in an international internship in Dakar.  Since then, she has spent summers learning Wolof, the lingua franca of Senegal, and preparing her dissertation work.  Her doctoral research culminated in a Fulbright Hays award to complete research on her dissertation entitled "The Fight Against 'Wastefulness': Political and Legal Engagement in Senegal Regarding Family Ceremonies".