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    The New School for Social Research
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    Department of Anthropology
    The New School for Social Research
    6 East 16th Street, 9th floor

    Room 926
    New York, NY 10003
    Tel: 212.229.5757 x3016
    Fax: 212.229.5595

    Chair: Lawrence Hirschfeld
    Secretary: Charles Whitcroft
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Hire a PhD Candidate

  • Scott Brown

    Project Title: Project Title: Prototyping the Social? An Ethnography of 'Social Innovation' Design Practice
    Scott Brown

    Dissertation Abstract
    In recent years, the field of design has been undergoing a significant shift. In addition to its traditional focus on creating specific objects such as buildings, clothes and interfaces, designers are increasingly addressing a wider range of material, social and political problems by designing social systems and processes. Hired by governments, NGOs and corporations alike, designers today are working to solve issues ranging from healthcare service delivery to enhancing relationships between citizens and the state. This project investigates the forms of knowledge and practice that constitute the work of this new generation of ‘social innovation’ design. It will investigate how these designers are rendering social and political complexity into ‘design problems’ that have specific solutions, as well as how are they being trained to do so. In seeking answers to these questions, this research will consist of twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork in the New York City area at various design firms and schools. Situated within the spaces of everyday design practice - the studios, labs, consultancies and training institutes- this project seeks to understand this emergent community of expertise by attending to the everyday habits, practices, ideas and common sensibilities of which constitute the work of ‘social innovation’ designers

    Honors and Awards
    2012: John L. Tishman Scholarship for Sustainable Development, Design and Construction

    2011: NSSR Full-Tuition Scholarship

    2009: John Jay College of Criminal Justice Upper Division Scholarship

    Courses Taught
    Spring 2014: Introduction to Design Studies (TA)/ Parsons the New School for Design
    Spring 2013: Public and Collaborative Services/ Parsons the New School for Design
    Fall 2012: Anthropology as a History of the Present (TA)/ The New School for Social Research
    Spring 2012: Rethinking Sustainable Design (TA)/ Parsons the New School for Design
    Spring 2011: Urban Bike Studio (TA)/ Parsons the New School for Design

    Selected Publications
    2014 Reflections on Designing for Social Innovation in the Public Sector: A Case Study in New York City. In Design for Policy.
    Christian Bason Ed. Gower Publishing. (Forthcoming)

    Contact Information
    64-04 Woodbine Street Floor 2
    Ridgewood, NY 11385
    brows074@newschool.edu

    Katheryn Detwiler

    Project Title: Project Title: Science Fell in Love with the Chilean Sky: An Ethnography of a Speculative Resource in the Atacama Desert
    Katheryn Detwiler

    Curriculum vitae (PDF)

    Dissertation Abstract
    The Atacama Desert in northern Chile, one of the most arid and sparsely inhabited environments on the planet, has long been produced as a resource for science and the world economy while it has been commonly imagined as a remote wasteland, an isolated “counter-environment to globalization.” Today the desert hosts nearly 2/3 of the world’s infrastructure for astronomical observation and the Chilean sky is considered one of Chile’s most valuable natural resources. The observatories that populate the Atacama collect light waves from the Chilean sky and transform these analog signals into massive quantities of digital data. These data circulate to far-flung data centers, valuable not only for what astronomical content they might generate but also as data, as Big Data, a proving ground for new algorithms and analytical techniques. This research explores the Chilean sky as contingent, entwined with the historical production of the Atacama as both desolate and rich, and actively shaped by the regulation of desert lands and concrete infrastructures. It asks how the sky is produced as a field of translatable information that observatories collect in the form of ancient light. It details the arrangements of people and things that are set in motion by these ephemeral light waves and explores how the data derived from them, while highly mobile and tremendously abstract, are socially and materially situated.

    Profile
    Katie Detwiler is a doctoral student in cultural anthropology at The New School for Social Research in New York, NY. She received her B.A. from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon and a Masters in cultural anthropology from The New School. She is the manager of The Book and Journal Project of the international NGO The Network of East-West Women, headquartered in Gdansk, Poland, which supports feminist organizing and scholarship in East and Central Europe. Her interests center around processes of material transformation, non-human scales, scientific and geographic traditions in Latin America, the Atacama Desert, and the Age of Big Data.
    She is interested in collaborative work that moves through and beyond academia, and worked as a researcher/contributor to artist and geographer Trevor Paglen's outer-space bound photo archive, The Last Pictures (2012). She is the producer and co-director of the forthcoming film installation, "Desert Science," which explores the painstaking construction of the largest radio astronomical observatory on the planet, The Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array, and is in the pre-production phase of a second film project, "Lab Gothic," which explores the interface of massive data, large object 3D printing and paleontology.

    Honors and Awards
    Fall, 2012. Teaching Fellow, The New School, New York, NY

    Summer 2012. Dick and Sally Roberts Coyote Foundation Grant for research and documentary film production.

    Summer 2012. New School for Social Research Summer Fieldwork Grant.

    Summer 2011. Janey Program for Latin American Studies Fellow.

    Dean’s Fellowship for Doctoral Study, The New School for Social Research

    Courses Taught
    Fall, 2012. Anthropology of Everyday Life: Familiar and Strange. Eugene Lang College, The New School

    Selected Publications
    “Belonging” and “The Hamburg Hydra” in Trevor Paglen's The Last Pictures, (Berkeley: University of California Press and Creative Time Books, 2012)

    Contact Information
    Department of Anthropology
    6 E 16th , Street, 9th floor
    New York, NY 10009
    katie.detwiler@gmail.com

    Monica Fagioli

    Project Title: Project Title: From Failure to Resource: The Somali Diaspora and State-making in Somaliland and Puntland
    Monica Fagioli

    Curriculum vitae (PDF)

    Dissertation Abstract
    This dissertation focuses on practices of “state-building” in Somaliland and Somalia in an effort to contribute to and expand an understanding of state-building processes, which have been constituted through the model of the rational legal state. It partakes in the anthropological debate that has questioned a reductive and normative model of the sovereign state. Further, this project explores how Somalis participate in “institution-building” through remittances, knowledge and skills. It also pays careful attention to the conditions set by what policy-makers call a “migration-development nexus,” which is a recent redefinition of migration as an instrument for national development. All of these processes are key to understanding if and how new alliances of power are being reconfigured in particular ways through transnational networks and how they participate in global governance projects. The tensions between the conception of diaspora as a new instrument of development, on the one hand, and the actual undertakings of the Somali diaspora in development projects, on the other, raise questions about what and whose skills and knowledge qualify to be transferred as well as what is actually transferred back to the homeland. By showing how participation of the Somali diaspora in transnational projects of governance can produce unanticipated “effects” and “encounters”, in the processes of state-making, this study adds to an anthropological understanding of "transnational governance" and "transnationalization" processes.

    Courses Taught
    Spring 2013: Africa, Development and the African diaspora, Global Studies, The New School

    Contact Information
    The New School for Social Research
    6 East 16th Street, 9th floor
    New York, NY 10003
    fagim564@newschool.edu

    Charles McDonald

    Project Title: Project Title: Return to Sepharad: Conversion, Inheritance, and Coexistence in Contemporary Jewish Spain
    Charles McDonald

    Curriculum vitae (PDF)

    Dissertation Abstract
    My dissertation focuses on the “return to Sepharad” by immigrants, converts, and the state in Spain over the past two decades. At the heart of this research is the question of what it takes for a person, a nation, or history itself to become Jewish (again). To address this question, I explore conversion, inheritance, and coexistence as various frameworks for making political claims to the Jewish past and present. Despite the disparate objectives and publics that animate these projects, they form an emergent constellation in which the fates of Jews, Spain, and Europe are imagined to hinge on the “return to Sepharad.” By asking how such a return draws on and refigures longstanding debates about Jewish history, materiality, and relatedness, I seek to understand what a Jewish Spain might mean in a Europe yet to be.

    Contact Information
    6 East 16th Street, 9th floor
    New York, NY 10003
    mcdoc390@newschool.edu

    Personal Website

    Emily Sekine

    Project Title: Project Title: The Unsteady Earth: Predicting Nature's Uncertainties in Post 3.11 Japan

    Dissertation Abstract
    The Japanese archipelago stretches across four major tectonic plates, making it one of the most earthquake-prone areas of the world. But even in a place where tremors are commonplace, the massive 9.0 quake that struck the Tohoku region in March 2011 -- stirring a tsunami and unleashing a nuclear meltdown -- came as a stark reminder of the tremendous capabilities of earthquakes to surprise, to undo previous assumptions, and to destroy and remake worlds. The failure of seismologists to predict this devastating quake has added fuel to long-standing international debates over the possibilities and limits of seismological knowledge. This ethnographic and historical study explores how the uncertainty surrounding earthquakes has made seismology into a field that is remarkably -- if at times begrudgingly -- open to unconventional explanations, methods, and types of evidence. Furthermore, the study considers how people understand earthquakes not only through science, but also through folklore, history, spirituality, public education, popular culture, and observations of strange weather and animal behavior. By asking how earthquake science accommodates everyday knowledge, as well as how non-scientists draw upon various knowledge traditions to make sense of a volatile and inscrutable earth, this research sheds light on how people in Japan actually live with and interpret nature’s uncertainties. Centrally, the project inquires into how the physical instability of the earth might compel and reconfigure practices of observing, sensing, and knowing 'nature' itself.

    Honors and Awards
    2013: Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

    2013: National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant

    2013: National Science Foundation Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide (GROW) Award, in partnership with the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science

    2013: Kathryn Davis Fellowship for Peace, Middlebury College

    2010: National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

    Courses Taught
    Spring 2012: Scientific Animals, The New School, Eugene Lang College

    Contact Information
    The New School for Social Research
    6 East 16th Street, 9th floor, Room 926
    New York, NY 10003
    sekie291@newschool.edu

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