Volume 61, #2

Meet the authors of the 61-2 issue, April 2019


Sarah Abel is a post-doc in Anthropology at the University of Iceland and a fellow of the CitiGen project (2016–2019), funded by Humanities in the European Research Area. Her research looks at the scientific construction and sociopolitical uses of DNA data relating to personal and population histories. Her PhD thesis, defended in 2016 at the EHESS in Paris, examines how DNA ancestry-testing practices inform and intersect with conceptions of race and mixture in Brazil and the United States. Her dissertation was developed through the EUROTAST project (2012–2015), a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions international training network, which focused on the history and contemporary legacies of the transatlantic slave trade. Prior to this, Sarah completed an MPhil in Latin American Studies and a BA in Modern Languages at the University of Cambridge.

J. M. Bacon studies the relationship between culture, identity, and environment. He is a Visiting Professor of sociology at Grinnell College.

Johan Mathew is an Assistant Professor of History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. His scholarship explores histories of capitalism, focusing on illicit commodities and their impact on the formal economy. He is the author of Margins of the Market: Trafficking and Capitalism across the Arabian Sea (University of California Press, 2016), and articles in History Workshop Journal, and Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History and Slavery and Abolition. Johan’s new project is tentatively entitled “Opiates of the Masses: A History of Humanity in the Time of Capital.” This research constructs a history of narcotics consumption in the global south, particularly how narcotics allow human bodies to endure the physiological and psychological demands of capitalist regimes.

Vlad Naumescu is Associate Professor at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. He has conducted extensive fieldwork in Ukraine, Romania, and South India on questions of religious transmission in Eastern Christianity, looking at practices, institutions, and politics that shape Orthodox communities in different localities. He is the author of Modes of Religiosity in Eastern Christianity: Religious Processes and Social Change in Ukraine (Lit 2007); co-editor of Churches In-Between: Greek Catholic Churches in Postsocialist Europe (Lit 2008) and a special issue on Learning Spirit Possession (Ethnos 2012) and has published several articles exploring politics of memory and religious institutionalization, temporalities of transmission, virtue ethics and personhood, and religious-secular formations in state socialism. He combines ethnography with filmmaking in his research and has produced documentary films that speak to his writings: Birds’ Way (2009); and Bread of Life: The Word/The Silence (2014). He is currently working on a book project that explores ritual, history, and ethics in Russian Old Belief.

Matt Norton is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Oregon. His research focuses on the cultural and semiotic dimensions of power in states and empires as well as on how we theorize and construct cultural explanations. His comparative historical research on these issues has ranged across different topics, from piracy in the early modern Atlantic world, to sewerage arrangements in nineteenth-century London, to the divergent trajectories of pardon and attainder under the rule of law.

Gisli Palsson is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Iceland. He has written extensively on a variety of issues, including human-environmental relations, slavery, biomedicine, and genomics. He has done anthropological fieldwork in Iceland, the Republic of Cape Verde, the Canadian Arctic, and the Virgin Islands. He is the author, editor, or co-editor of a number of books, including Nature and Society: Anthropological Perspectives (1996, co-edited with Philippe Descola), Anthropology and the New Genetics (2007); Biosocial Becomings: Integrating Social and Biological Anthropology (co-edited with Tim Ingold, 2013), Nature, Culture, and Society: Anthropological Perspectives on Life (2016), Can Science Solve the Nature/Nurture Debate? (with Margaret Lock, 2016), and The Man Who Stole Himself (2016). The latter received the Sutlive Book Prize in Historical Anthropology of 2017 from the College of William & Mary. Gisli is an Elected Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland.

Marlene Schäfers holds a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge and is currently FWO [Pegasus] Marie-Curie Skłodowska Fellow at the Middle East and North Africa Research Group at Ghent University, Belgium. Her research focuses on the impact of state violence on intimate and gendered lives, the politics of memory and history, and the intersections of affect and politics. She specializes in the anthropology of modern Turkey and its Kurdish regions, where she is interested in the ways in which ethnic and gendered difference is constructed, articulated, and governed. Her work has been published in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Society, the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, and Social Anthropology. She is Associate Editor of Kurdish Studies.

Alison K. Smith is Professor and Chair of the Department of History at the University of Toronto. She is the author of Recipes for Russia: Food and Nationhood Under the Tsars (Northern Illinois University Press, 2008); and For the Common Good and Their Own Well Being: Social Estates in Imperial Russia (Oxford University Press, 2014). She is now working on a project about the nature of autocratic authority in imperial Russia.

Sharika Thiranagama is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Stanford University. Her research explores the intersection of political mobilization and domestic life, focusing on highly fraught contexts of violence, inequality, and intense political mobilization. She has authored multiple works on the Sri Lankan civil war, exploring, through work with Sri Lankan Tamil and Sri Lankan Muslim minority communities, how experiences and structures of militancy, political violence, and large-scale displacement became folded into intergenerational transmissions of memory and ethnic identification. She is the author of In My Mother’s House: Civil War in Sri Lanka (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011); and co-editor of Traitors: Suspicion, Intimacy, and the Ethics of State-Building (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009); and most recently (with T. Kelly and C. Forment) a special issue of Anthropological Theory, “Civility: Global Perspectives” (vol. 18, 2–3, June-Sept. 2018. Her most recent work focuses on new research and fieldwork (2015–2016) on Dalit communities in Kerala, South India, and examines how communist-led political mobilization reconfigured older caste identities while reentrenching caste inequities into new kinds of private neighborhood life. Shakira examines the household as the prime site of the inheritance of work, stigma, and servitude, and the possibility of reproduction, dignity, and social mobility.

George Tyson is a historian, widely recognized as a leading authority on Virgin Islands history. Currently a resident of St. Croix, he has taught at the University of the Virgin Islands, served as executive Director of the St. Croix Landmarks Society, and is a past President of the Society of Virgin Islands Historians. He has served as a consultant to UNESCO, the Organization of American States, and the Virgin Islands National Park. Presently he is Board Advisor to the St. John Historical Society and Director of the St. Croix African Roots Project, a collaboration of Danish and American scholars digitizing and studying biographical and demographic records relating to St. Croix during the period of Danish rule. His numerous publications include: Toussaint L’Ouverture; Powder, Profits and Privateers: A Documentary History of the Virgin Islands during the Era of the American Revolution; The Homestead Program on St. Croix, and Bondsmen and Freedmen in the Danish West Indies. He has also co-edited several other works, including The Kamina Folk, Slavery and Slave Life in the Danish West Indies, The Danish Slave Trade and Its Abolition, Slavery in the Danish West Indies: A Bibliography, and Maritime Maroonage from St. Croix to Puerto Rico.