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Patina: The Political Life of Haunted Houses

The Department of Anthropology is pleased to present Dr. Shannon Dawdy from the University of Chicago as a Hooker Distinguished Visiting Professor on Thursday, October 5, 2017 at 7 p.m.

Oct 03, 2017

Patina: The Political Life of Haunted Houses
 
Why do people like old things -- antiques, heirlooms, outmoded ‘junk’, and historic houses? What roles do such objects play in our social worlds? The city of New Orleans offers a cluttered laboratory in which to explore such questions, even more so after Hurricane Katrina threated to wash away its historic character. New Orleans brands itself as an “antique city” and there have been many fights over preservation that embody its ongoing struggle to figure out how society is shaped by both positive and negative inheritances from the past. Many New Orleanians say old buildings are haunted, and are quick to share ghost stories. For some, these ghosts are harmless eccentrics. For others, they embody the trauma of slavery and the ongoing disaster of unbridled capitalism. The patina aesthetic helps people articulate a sense of community, but also express a critical nostalgia.

Speaker Bio:

Dr. Shannon Lee Dawdy received her Ph.D. in Anthropology and History from the University of Michigan in 2003 and she is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. In her anthropological work, she combines archaeological, archival, and ethnographic methods. For her research, Dr. Dawdy has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the MacArthur Foundation. With two books, three edited volumes, and over thirty research articles and book chapters, Dr. Dawdy is an extremely productive scholar with key contributions to a range of scholarly discussions in the anthropology of the contemporary world and affiliated fields of inquiry. In addition to being a productive scholar, Dr. Dawdy is also a celebrated teacher, and a strong advocate for making scholarly knowledge available to broader publics through a variety of community-oriented and media-based projects. 

This lecture is FREE and open to the public. 

When: Thursday, October 5, 2017 at 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Workers Arts & Heritage Center (WAHC), 51 Stuart Street, Hamilton, ON

 

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In addition to the public talk Dr. Dawdy will be giving a department talk on Wednesday October 4 (from 3:30-5:30 PM, in CNH 607B) titled  "American Death, and Being"

American Death, and Being
 
In the U.S. today, death practices are changing rapidly and creatively. Not only did the cremation rate double between 2000 and 2015, but there has been a proliferation of new things to do with ashes – incorporating them into artificial reefs, making them into synthetic diamonds, or blending them into vinyl records. What do these new styles of death tell us about U.S. cosmology and values? What is the status of the subject/object divide in daily life? What is a ‘person’ before and after death? What does the secular afterlife look like? Using ethnographic interviews with object designers collected as part of a documentary film product, I will attempt to outline what a populist American theory of being might be.