Speaker Series

Oct 5: Lee Berger, University of the Witwatersrand, 3pm Beaux Arts Gallery, Lowe, dinner in the Grove

Almost Human - the Discovery of Homo naledi and the Way it is Changing Our Understanding of Human Origins

Prof. Lee R. Berger Ph.D. D.Sc. FRSSAf ASSAf is an award-winning researcher, explorer, author and speaker. He has been recognized by Time Magazine in 2016 as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.  He is the recipient of the National Geographic Society’s first Prize for Research and Exploration and the Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award and was the 2016 National Geographic Society’s Rolex Explorer of the Year.    His scientific work has brought him recognition as a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa and the South African Academy of Sciences and he has served in prominent advisory positions including the Chairmanship of the Fulbright Commission of South Africa, the Senior Advisory Board of the Global Young Academy and the Centre of Excellence in PalaeoSciences of South Africa among many others. He is a South African Ambassador for Tourism. Berger is presently the Research Professor in Human Evolution and the Public Understanding of Science at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa and an Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society. He is also the Division Director of Palaeoanthropology in the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand.


Nov 29: Jovan Lewis, University of California-Berkeley, 3:30pm Richter Library 3rd fl conference room

Through a Reparative Logic of Seizure: Crime, Capital and Communication in Jamaica

This talk is an ethnographic exploration of the recent phenomenon of “lottery scamming” in Jamaica. The practice uses Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology and call-center customer service protocols to con white American citizens into sending money to Jamaica. This discussion advances that in utilizing these methods, the scam appropriates industry practices and infrastructures that are integral to Jamaica’s BPO and ICT sectors, which are central to the country’s development plan. In doing so, scammers demonstrate that neoliberal globalization processes are inherently vulnerable due to their core principals of efficiency, flexibility, and reduced regulation. Finally, the paper shows how scammers understand this appropriation through the notion of seizure, by which they reconcile, through contemporary gain, longer histories and broader circuits of inequality.


These were the speakers for the 2015-2016 academic year:

Feb 18: Rob Walker, University of Missouri

Dr. Walker will be discussing his ongoing research on the detection of isolated Amazonian groups via remote sensing methods.


Feb 25: Ben Orlove, Center for Research on Environmental Decisions, Columbia University

“Bodies, Objects and Power in Andean Landscapes and Waterscapes” (co-sponsored with the Abess Center)

Dr. Orlove is the author of Lines in the Water: Nature and Culture at Lake Titicaca.

Lowe Art Gallery, 4 pm



Here are the talks that were presented during the 2014-2015 year. 

Nov 10: John Chuchiak, Missouri State University

“Writing as Resistance: Maya Graphic Pluralism and Indigenous Elite Strategies for Survival in Colonial Yucatán 1550-1750” (co-sponsored with History) 

School of Communications Room 4027, 3pm


Nov 21: Carlos Forment, New School for Social Research

“Plebeian Citizenship and the Ethico-Political Practices of the Ungoverned: Buenos Aires’ La Salada Market and Emergent Forms of Democratic Life in the Wake of Neoliberalism” (co-sponsored with Geography)

Physics Conference Room, 2pm


Jan 15: Anthony Aveni, Colgate University 

“Deciphering the Ancient Maya Handwriting on the Wall: Adventures in the Xultun Institute of Advanced Studies”


Feb 26: Jafari Allen, Yale University

"Black/Queer Here & There: Ethnography of an Idea"