Recent years have seen the development of important new synergies between diverse departments, centers, and programs within the university, and faculty in anthropology are deeply involved in these diverse interdisciplinary networks. Department faculty participate in the Center for Medical Humanities and Social Medicine, the Center for Africana Studies, the Center for Advanced Media Studies, the Alexander Grass Humanities Institute, the Ralph S. O’Connor Sustainable Energy Institute, the 21st Century Cities Initiative, and interdisciplinary programs in East Asian Studies; Environmental Studies; International Studies; Islamic Studies; Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies; Medicine, Science, and the Humanities; Museums and Society; Racism, Immigration, and Citizenship; and Women, Gender, and Sexuality.
Seminars and Collectives
These broader commitments are also reflected in other collaborative efforts by department faculty to meet the critical intellectual challenges of the present moment. The Sawyer Seminar on Precision and Uncertainty in a World of Data, led by anthropology department faculty, has hosted a series of events, seminars, and symposia focused on the transgressions of big data, through the rubrics of implicit bias in algorithms and of violations of privacy, and specifically in the context of the pandemic through contact tracing and other modes of digital surveillance. Invited scholars and artists generated rich discussions about the overlap between new technologies and data sources and historic data and modes of governance, and how these efforts have reconstituted people and populations.
Faculty in the Department of Anthropology form some of the founders and core members of the Ecological Design Collective, an interdisciplinary community for radical ecological imagination and collaborative practice. With roots in Baltimore and relations around the world, the collective aims to become a place for researchers, designers, activists, artists, and others to conceive and develop alternative ecological futures. The collective seeks to pursue and support ecological and life-centered design processes in a collaborative manner, building community and capacity for social, economic, and environmental justice.
Department faculty are involved in a number of other significant scholarly collaborations. The Thinking from Elsewhere book series at Fordham University Press was co-founded by anthropology department faculty and alumni, with many notable contributions that are animated by three touchstones at the heart of the anthropological endeavor: conceptual labor that struggles with and occasionally displaces habitual categories of thought; ethnographic labor animated by a desire to be attentive to life in its singularities; and sustained engagement with other forms of knowledge.
Department faculty have also been founding members of the bildungslab*, a collective of feminist scholars of color in the German-speaking world, and have created a platform to exchange innovative teaching methods and artistic ideas, as well as theories on pedagogy. Our faculty also co-convene the Network for Contemporary Anthropological Theory (NCAT), a home for discussion and promoting anthropological theory within the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA).
Commitment to Public-Facing Research
Many faculty in the department are committed to the development of more public-facing research and writing practices, seeking to respond to the widespread sense that the grounds of higher education may be shifting under our feet, and working to adapt parts of our undergraduate and graduate course offerings with a desire to equip students to enter professional worlds that sorely need anthropological knowledge and methodologies.
This commitment is driven in part by the sense that our university must be a better neighbor in the city of Baltimore, confronting more squarely the divides that the institution has been historically complicit in deepening. One manifestation of this commitment is the Sustainable Design Practicum that department faculty have developed, creating opportunities for teams of students to collaborate closely with local environmental justice organizations.