Extemporanous Talks and Other Exciting Guest Lectures

Dr. Mark Moberg, University of Southern Alabama
Dr. Mark Moberg, University of Southern Alabama

The Department of Anthropology was lucky to have several visitors who gave planned and extemporaneous talks in the spring 2014. On February 21, the Anthropology Club co-hosted a FABBL (Friday Afternoon Brown Bag Lunch) talk with Dr. Mark Moberg from the University of Southern Alabama entitled “How ‘Fair’ is Fair Trade: Contrasting Views of Economic Morality among Caribbean Banana Farmers.” Dr. Moberg is the editor-in-chief of Human Organization, the research journal for the Society for Applied Anthropology. His work focuses on trade, globalization, and political economy in the Caribbean and Latin America.

As part of our Extemporaneous Talks series (ET #3), Dr. Jim Hall, formerly of UA’s New College and now of Rochester Institute of Technology, gave a talk on February 24, 2014 about UA anthropologist Solon Kimball and the Talladega Study. Kimball, who was a founding member of the American Ethnological Association and Council on Anthropology and Education,  was instrumental in developing and administering the Talladega Study, which led to the establishment of the town’s public health program. The Study highlighted a painful aspect of academia at that period time with regard to segregation. Dr. Hall spoke of how Kimball and his collaborators appear to have been anti-segregationists but could not convince the Talladega community to allow African-Americans, who constituted 1/3 of the town’s population, to participate in the study. In 1978, Kimball helped establish the Zora Neale Hurston Fellowship Award Fund to honor outstanding African-American graduates in anthropology, and the Kimball Award is issued every other year by the American Anthropological Association to an anthropologist who effects change in public policy. Though Kimball’s presence in our department is not part of the living memory of any current faculty members, Dr. Jim Knight, who grew up in the Talladega area, recalled taking an undergraduate course with Kimball when he had moved on from UA and was a professor at the University of Florida.

Fellow Mayanist Lisa LeCount poses with ET#5 speaker Elizabeth Paris (Photo by C. Lynn).
Fellow Mayanist Lisa LeCount poses with ET#5 speaker Elizabeth Paris (Photo by C. Lynn).

ET #4 was presented on March 9 by Dr. Deborah Keene, a Senior Fellow for the Blount Undergraduate Initiative, Assistant Professor in Geological Sciences, and an Adjunct Faculty member of the Department of Anthropology. Her talk, “How Should You Prepare Pro-Evolution Students for an Anti-Evolution Reality?” dealt with her experience with investigating anti-evolution rhetoric in teaching students to examine sources critically.

On March 7, 2014, the Department of Anthropology and Lambda Alpha hosted a guest lecture “”Joara and Fort San Juan: Eventful Archaeology at the Berry Site”) and workshop (“Structure and the Problem with Macrosociality”) with Dr. Robin Beck. Dr. Beck is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Assistant Curator of North American Archaeology at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. He has worked in the Andes and in eastern North America, including NSF-supported research along the Catawba River at the Berry site in North Carolina. Dr. Beck received his master’s degree from UA in 1997 and his PhD from Northwestern University in 2004, both in anthropology.

Dr. Elizabeth Paris gave ET #5 on April 2 entitled “Form and Function in Small Maya Cities: A View from Highland Chiapas.” Dr. Paris is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology at St. Lawrence University and previously an Adjunct Instructor and Research Associate of Anthropology at the University of Southern Mississippi. Dr. Paris is a Mesoamerican archaeologist who talked about her work investigating smaller and less complex sites than those usually studied in the Maya region to distinguish between diversification and specialization in urban structural organization.

Greg Batchelder's World of Warcraft avatar.
Greg Batchelder’s World of Warcraft avatar.

Our final lecture of the semester was a FABBL by PhD student Greg Batchelder on April 11 (“Batchhunder’s Travels: Participatory Aesthetic Experience in World of Warcraft: Effects on Mood and Mental Wellness”). Greg earned his master’s degree at Colorado State University, where he also participated in team research under Dr. Jeffrey Snodgrass on a psychological anthropological study of World of Warcraft play.

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