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2022-2023 Anthropology and History Events

Friday February 3 from 3pm-4:30 pm (*note new time*) in 210 West Hall.  Atossa Araxia Abrahamian, a 2022-2023 Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan, will be workshopping a chapter from her forthcoming book Secret Space: How Places Outside Nations Are Remaking Our World.

Secret Spaces will examine the extraterritorial jurisdictions that exist above, between and beneath nations, from the special economic zones that prop up world trade to the micro-states rewriting the laws of outer space. Drawing from original reporting, legal theory, economic history and literature, she will investigate how, far from challenging the nation-state system, these liminal jurisdictions are what sustain it, allowing nationalism to co-exist with globalization.

Atossa Araxia Abrahamian is an independent journalist, writer, and former editor at The Nation and Al Jazeera America. Her reporting and criticism have appeared in The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, The London Review of Books, The Intercept, and many other publications. She is the author of “The Cosmopolites: The Coming of the Global Citizen,” a book about statelessness, citizenship, and the global market for passports. Abrahamian grew up in Geneva, Switzerland, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Friday October 21,  from 3pm-5 pm in 1014 TischProf. Mereike Winchell (Chicago) be workshopping the introduction of her recently published book After Servitude and a brief outline of her current book project 

How are injurious pasts redeployed by the dispossessed? After Servitude explores how agrarian engineers, Indigenous farmers, Mestizo mining bosses, and rural workers navigate racial hierarchies rooted in histories of forced agrarian labor. In the rural Bolivian province of Ayopaya, where the liberatory promises of property remain elusive, Quechua people address such hierarchies by demanding aid from Mestizo elites and, when that fails, through acts of labor militancy. Against institutional faith in property ownership as a means to detach land from people and present from past, the kin of former masters and servants alike have insisted that ethical debts from earlier racial violence stretch across epochs and formal land sales. What emerges is a vision of justice grounded in popular demands that wealth remain beholden to the region’s agrarian past. By tracing Ayopayans’ active efforts to contend with servitude’s long shadow, Mareike Winchell illuminates the challenges that property confronts as both an extractive paradigm and a means of historical redress.

Mareike Winchell is Assistant Professor in the Anthropology Department at the University of Chicago. She is is a political anthropologist focused on the relational, ecological, and legal dimensions of racial and gender vulnerabilities related to ongoing histories of colonial labor subjection and Indigenous land dispossession in Bolivia. Winchell is currently at work on two new book projects. The first, "Ghostly Invasions: Political Theologies of Fire in Post-Coup Bolivia," focuses on the racialization of climate politics in Bolivia. A second book, "The Servant’s Properties: Materiality, Gender, and More-than-Human Landscapes in 20th Century Bolivia," explores the legal claims of out-of-wedlock children born to indentured laborers after 1953.


2021-2022 Anthropology and History Events

The Anthropology and History Workshop is a forum for the discussion of papers and chapters, usually in draft, by students, faculty and visitors. Workshop papers are distributed by email attachment to graduate students and faculty in Anthro-History and affiliated programs about one week in advance. The Workshop meets on Fridays, virtually on Zoom for this academic year. There is typically a commentator/critic for each session, the presenter has a few minutes to set a context for the discussion of the work, with the remainder of the session dedicated to open discussion.

Workshop papers are available by request to

Winter 2022

Virtual workshop this Friday, March 25, from 2-4 pm, features Christine Chalifoux's paper, "Milk and Bones." 

Academic work interrogating cosmopolitanism and city life has often emphasized the fluidity of ethnic identity. This chapter, "Milk and Bones", demonstrates such fluidity, but also highlights moments when ethnic identities are solidified, rather than dispelled, in the urban setting of Kampala, Uganda. Specifically, I use stereotypes regarding the foods people eat to demonstrate how individuals come to categorize others. Challenging the theorization of shared space and increased contact with diverse groups of people inevitably leading to tolerance, this chapter also shows how Kampala provides a shared sense of (un)belonging amongst migrant workers from across Uganda. I conclude that the common search for a meaningful life in Kampala challenges the relativistic stance that depicts ethnicities as distinct cultural groups, revealing the ways in which shared motivations transcend categorization. You can join the discussion HERE.

Friday, March 18, 2022 2-4 pm, in 2024 Tisch. Luciana Chamorro Elizondo will present a paper entitled "Sandinista melancholia and the economy of love and hate in post-revolutionary Nicaragua." 

In April of 2018, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega was challenged by anti-austerity protests that evolved into a nation-wide popular uprising. In response, First Lady and Vice President Rosario Murillo insisted that Nicaragua was being attacked by a “diabolical terrorist wave.” The Ortega regime organized public servants into “prayer groups against hate,” and armed police as well as a paramilitary army of Sandinista supporters with military caliber weapons to clear the streets, killing over three hundred and twenty-five people in the span of three months. Taking these events as the point of departure, this paper asks what made possible the transformation of Sandinismo into a kitsch, conservative political project invested in weaponizing moralisms and family values against its new political adversaries. Against the backdrop of neoliberalization and the transformations in the Nicaraguan religious field, I trace the Sandinista struggle to remake itself after the loss of teleological certainty afforded by the Sandinista Popular Revolution (1979-1990). Specifically, I examine Sandinista efforts to reinvigorate revolutionary passions in the contemporary moment by appealing to a transcendental struggle between the opposed forces of “love” and “hate.” I argue that this new aesthetic, affective and rhetorical economy promises to overcome Sandinista melancholia at the same time that it preserves the experience of moral righteousness once secured by the teleology of revolution. Ultimately, it replaces a “galvanizing moral vision” with a “reproachful moralizing sensibility.” 

Fall 2021 Schedule

Friday October 8, 2021 3-5pm. Prof. Dana Agmon (U Toronto-Scarborough) will be workshopping a paper “Historical Gaps and Non-existent Sources: The Case of the Chaudrie Court in French India.”

This article develops a typology of historical and archival gaps—physical, historiographical, and epistemological—to consider how non-existent sources are central to understanding colonial law and governance. It does so by examining the institutional and archival history of a court known as the Chaudrie in the French colony of Pondichéry in India in the eighteenth century, and integrating problems that are specific to the study of legal history—questions pertaining to jurisdiction, codification, evidence, and sovereignty—with issues all historians face regarding power and the making of archives. Under French rule, Pondichéry was home to multiple judicial institutions, administered by officials of the French East Indies Company. These included the Chaudrie court, which existed at least from 1700 to 1827 as a forum where French judges were meant to dispense justice according to local Tamil modes of dispute resolution. However, records of this court prior to 1766 have not survived. By drawing on both contemporaneous mentions of the Chaudrie and later accounts of its workings, this study centers missing or phantom sources, severed from the body of the archive by political, judicial, and bureaucratic decisions. It argues that the Chaudrie was a court where jurisdiction was decoupled from sovereignty, and this was the reason it did not generate a state-managed and pre- served archive of court records for itself until the 1760s. The Chaudrie’s early history makes visible a relationship between law and its archive that is paralleled by approaches to colonial governance in early modern French Empire. You can register HERE.


Friday October 29, 2021 3pm-5 pm. Prof. Kevin O'Neill (U Toronto) will be workshopping his paper "An Island Retreat: Sin, Secrecy, and the Offshoring of Sexually Abusive Priests."  Kevin O'Neill is the Director of the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies and Professor in the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. A cultural anthropologist, his work focuses on the moral dimensions of contemporary political practice in Latin America. Register HERE.

Friday, December 3, 2021
2pm-4pm. Roxana-Maria Aras, a PhD candidate in the AnthroHistory Program, will be presenting a chapter (Living in the Afterlife: Waqf, Parish, and Locality among Rum Christians of Mazra‘a) from her dissertation project.

This chapter tells an on-going story of the Rum community in Mazra‘a, a district of Beirut. Here, Christians used to be the majority up until the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), when the area gradually came under the socio-political influence of Sunni and Shiʿi groups. Today, the Rum in Mazra‘a are a minority in a largely Muslim-inhabited area. Based on ethnographic, urban, and historical research, I explore how members of this community negotiate their identity and presence in Mazra‘a at the intersection of real-estate practices, religious activities, and everyday life. I argue that Rum activate memories of a past “Christian Mazra‘a” into a present defined by high precarity in order to envision a future where Christians come back to the area. The waqf – charitable endowment – of the local church plays a major role here. Beyond just a donation to God to be used in perpetuity, the waqf is (re)defined as a charitable institution catering in times of multilayered crises, as grounds for sectarian practices, and as confessional heritage. Along these overlapping representations, the notion of “Rum” also emerges as an on-going dynamic process mediated through different representations of sect, parish, and locality.  
Register in advance HERE.