Social Sciences Blog
Severing Heads and Social Ties: A Biogeochemistry and Material Culture Approach to Bodies in the Iron Age of Southern France
My work investigates changes to political economy and social structure amongst indigenous societies of the northwest Mediterranean during the course of the Iron Age (ca. 600 to 125 BCE), a period that saw the entanglement of diverse indigenous peoples with various colonizers (Etruscan and Greek, but also Punic and Roman). Ultimately, my goal is to combine isotopic and material culture data in order to examine how various sites' networks of relationality changed over the course of several centuries.
Over the last 30 years, Black activists in Latin America have become increasingly active in their pursuit of civil rights and cultural recognition. My research seeks to shed light on Black movements in two countries: Peru and Ecuador. My dissertation focuses on two questions:
In every election since 2000, it has become customary for a chorus of journalists, pundits, and political scientists to predict that this will be the year the Latino “sleeping giant” awakens and makes its presence felt at the polls. In the buildup to the 2012 presidential election, Time Magazine ran a cover story titled “Yo Decido (I Decide), Why Latinos Will Pick the Next President”. The “sleeping giant” narrative about Latinos has routinely appeared in one variation or another in the press since the late nineties with titles essentially echoing the 1998 Mother Jones article “
I am thankful to the Social Sciences Division of the University of Chicago for the Long-term Research Grant. It has funded nine months of my ethnographic fieldwork on the politics of bio-cultural diversity conservation on India’s north-eastern frontier. From July 2015 to March 2016, the university’s generous grant allowed me to continue my research in Sikkim – a border state of particular ecological and geopolitical significance.
Self-interest is a fundamental human motive. However, individuals also care deeply about justice, fairness, and equality. My dissertation combines work in social psychology, behavioral economics, and cognitive neuroscience to investigate how one’s perspective influences moral decisions, as well as how individual differences in justice motives can predict neural activity within different perspective-taking contexts. The Social Sciences Division Research Grant has been essential to carrying out these investigations.
Field Notes on Alchemy: Investigating Its Influence on Agriculture, Husbandry, and the Life Sciences
In my dissertation I am researching the influence that the alchemical concept of “immanent vitalism” had on various fields not traditionally associated with alchemy: husbandry, agricultural improvement projects, horticulture, botany, and the incipient “life sciences,” such as they were, in mid-to-late seventeenth-century England and its colonial sphere.
The generous support of the Social Sciences Division enabled me to conduct a research study with the entire 9th grade class at University Heights High School in the Bronx, New York. My research focuses on the cognitive and socio-emotional benefits of narrative. This project examines how narrative and personal storytelling can impact students' feelings of empathy.
My dissertation asks how social and economic disadvantage shape poor mothers’ capacities to achieve privacy. Privacy is a salient cultural value in the U.S., with over three quarters of Americans reporting that privacy is “very important” to them. Yet most of what we know about privacy is based on the experiences of affluent people. We know little about what privacy means for people living in poverty, who often lack the resources to pay for privacy (think data encryption software, gated communities, etc…) and whose communities are disproportionately affected by state surveillance.
Though his thought is now embroiled in controversy, if Carl Schmitt’s assertion that “all significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts” is true, then the reverse of his formulation suggests that the theological is political. The political is the point at which both the religious and theological is secularized. And if theology is political, this phenomenon is therefore observable, quantifiable, and falsifiable.
Thanks to the generous support provided by the Division of Social Sciences Travel Grant, I have been able to spend much of the last year (July 2015 to May 2016) undertaking intensive research for my dissertation in Spain and Morocco. My dissertation project—entitled “Dynastic Ideology, Historical Writing and the Chancery in al-Andalus and the Maghrib: A Study of Itinerant Court Secretaries (Kuttāb) in the Late Medieval Islamic West”— explores the relationship between intellectual networks, historical writing and political power in fourteenth-century Iberia and North Africa.