By its most basic definition, anthropology is the study of humans. Anthropological research incorporates everything from the earliest human ancestors to present-day pop culture, and seeks a better understanding of people through the objects, places, relationships, and ideas that we produce.
The Got Anthropology Speaker Series, co-hosted by the Toronto Public Library and graduate students from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto, is a speaker series developed to bring anthropology to a wider audience. Each speaker presents a Big Question, as well as the many smaller questions that anthropologists use to better understand humans and societies.
Speaker positions are open to all graduate students across the U of T tri-campus community whose research engages in any form of anthropological inquiry: from examining mouse lemur behaviour in Madagascar to the evolution of dogs as “man’s best friend”; from analyzing how neuroscience interprets the human brain to how humanitarianism can often do more harm than good. Our goal is to stimulate conversation and debate through great ideas while breaking down barriers between academia and the public by providing a friendly atmosphere for communication.
Meet the Team
Sarah O’Sullivan is a 6th year PhD candidate in socio-cultural medical anthropology. She has been conducting research on HIV in northern Uganda since 2011 and has recently returned from 16 months of fieldwork there. Her research is about understanding HIV stigma in post-conflict northern Uganda and how development ideology is changing what it means to be a “good” HIV-positive person. As the director, Sarah is responsible for organizing the series along with the help of our wonderful team of volunteers! She is most excited to help bring anthropological issues—that is, human issues—to the public in an engaging and interesting way.
Hilary is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Anthropology who specializes in the archaeology of the earliest human technology – stone tools. Her research focuses on what stone tools can tell us about the minds of the hominins who made them. Specifically, she investigates the origins of the ability to create tools with intentional shapes – a hallmark of human technology. Hilary conducts this research in Kenya, where the longest sequence of stone tool technology is found. Her research contributes to our understanding of long-term trends in stone tool technology and the evolution of hominin cognition.
Connie is a PhD candidate of Anthropology and Jewish Studies. Her research explores the production and politics of neo-Byzantine iconography and its resurgence amongst Christians in Palestine and Israel. By looking at the production of icons, her research aims to understand Christian experience and religious and cultural transformations within the fraught and contested terrain of the Holy Land. By focusing on the craft of iconography, her research explores the socio-religious reverberations of the long and complicated history of the various Christian Churches in Palestine. It also situates Palestinian iconography within a larger framework of Palestinian cultural production and politics of aesthetics.
Ming Fei Li
Ming is part of this year’s internal marketing team. She is a second year MSc student in evolutionary anthropology and her interests are in primate behavioural ecology. Her project focuses on the decision-making process of social foragers (vervet monkeys) in a human-modified landscape in Uganda. More specifically, she is looking at the influence of social status and spatial positions on feeding strategies. In the future, Ming would like to use an ethnoprimatological approach to examine human-primate interactions in a setting where they coexist.
Leela is a second year PhD student in evolutionary anthropology. Her research focuses on the evolution of human sleep, and how sleep differs between urban and rural environments. When she is not conducting sleep research, Leela enjoys rock climbing, bicycling around Toronto, and learning Spanish to prepare for her upcoming fieldwork in Guatemala.
Celeste is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology, and part of the external marketing team for Got Anthropology. Her research looks at aging, disability, and care among LGBTQ older adults in Canada. She’s also been part of various research projects in the areas of health and aging, including on retirement, palliative care, and end of life care planning.
John is a first year PhD student in the Department of Anthropology who specializes in the archaeology of resource use practices and what they can tell us about human adaptation and resilience. He researches animal foods, stone tool raw material, and land use in relation to environmental and climate changes through the Middle and Later Stone Age of southern Africa.