Our Speakers

January 25, 2017
Trouble Brewing: Alcohol and the Law in North America – Thomas Blennerhassett

beer-bottlesThis talk explores the relationship between North Americans and some of their favourite beverages by examining the history of beer and spirits in law and in popular culture over the past century. From prohibition to modern advertising to the war on drugs, alcohol and its legacy has had a profound effect on our culture and our daily lives.


Thomas is a second-year masters of science student at the University of Toronto specializing in anthropological archaeology. He received his honors bachelor of arts from McMaster University. He currently works in Peru, where he studies Intermediate Period Moche ceramics, specifically face-neck jars and ceramics that pertain to alcohol production and consumption.


February 15, 2017
Vandalism or Virtuosity? Graffiti and Archaeology in the Present – Samantha Easy

spray-canThis talk explores the history of graffiti in North America and its place in contemporary culture through an archaeological lens. It is an art form that is simultaneously condemned, condoned, illegal, legal and widely familiar to many of us. This talk asks us to take a closer look at a phenomenon which many of us see or interact with on a daily basis, and to examine the way in which we create and continuously enforce spatial boundaries.


easy-photoSam is a second-year MSc student in the department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto, specializing in Archaeology. Her research interests include early human evolution, site structure, lithic industries and archaeological theory. Her current fieldwork focuses on combining 3D modeling and spatial analysis at an early human site in South Africa. Sam holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from McGill University where she concentrated on archaeological approaches to the contemporary past. She has previously published on critical pedagogy and gender studies in archaeology and theoretical approaches to graffiti through an archaeological lens


March 29, 2017
Constructing Diagnosis – Kaitlyn Vleming

doctor-diagnosing-a-patient_1505659This talk draws on Kaitlyn’s research on polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) as well as other examples to explore how social-cultural anthropologists look at medical diagnoses. Diagnostic categories are situated in particular historical and social contexts (for example, social ideas about gender permeate categories such as “women’s health” or the designation of “male” and “female” hormones). Medical anthropology not only draws our attention to these contexts but also sheds light on the lived experiences of people with various diagnoses.


Kaitlyn is a second-year medical anthropology student at the University of Toronto supervised by Dr. Krista Maxwell. She is currently conducting a SSHRC-funded research project on polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Her fieldwork is concentrated on the lived experiences of people diagnosed with PCOS in Toronto, including experiences of biomedical healthcare and alternative medicine, with a specific focus on gender identity. Kaitlyn also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology with a minor in English from U of T.

April 19, 2017
Sabr: Pain and Palliation in the Islamic Middle East – Elisabeth Feltaous

Palliative care and the rhetoric of dying with dignity has proliferated in the past 20 Feltaous PC symbolyears in the Western world yet progress has been slow in the Middle East.  This talk examines the Human Rights discourse of dying with dignity and contrasts it with the economic reality of the medical system in the Middle East. In a public/ private model of healthcare, where medical technology is only accessible to some and opioid use is distrusted, how is pain conceptualized? Are Western ethical issues at the end of life easily translated in this region? This talk draws attention to alternative discourses at the end of life that explain why some people ask for pain relief, some do not, and some choose to submit to the will of God.

Elisabeth is a first-year medical anthropology PhD student at the University of Toronto supervised by Drs. Krista Maxwell and Sarah Hillewaert. Her Masters’ dissertation focused on the model of western palliative care endorsed by the World Health Organization, its implementation in the Middle East, and lived experiences and expressions of pain at the end of life. Elisabeth holds a Masters of Science from Oxford University and a Bachelors of Arts from the University of Toronto.





If you are interested in distributing or printing our series titles and dates, you can find the basic information here as a PDF (got-anthropology-2017). Event pages, fun media links, and more information will be posted through our Facebook page.


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