Academics Writing Fiction: Ruth Behar and Paul Stoller in Conversation

Academics Writing Fiction: Ruth Behar and Paul Stoller in Conversation about the possibilities and place of fiction within the social sciences. Moderated by Sujatha Fernandes, Associate Professor of Sociology at CUNY.

Wednesday, February 5th
6:30pm to 8pm
Skylight Room
Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 10016

Access our livestream of the event here.

Reception to follow in Anthropology lounge (6402).

From Zora Neale Hurston to Raymond Williams, academics have sometimes turned to fiction as a way of accessing deeper truths than what is possible through academic research and writing. Scholars have lauded fictional dramas such as The Wire for showing the interconnectedness of urban inequality in ways that academic work has failed to do. In this panel, anthropologists Ruth Behar and Paul Stoller will reflect on the kinds of creative and experimental writing that they and other academics have engaged in. The panel will consider the possibilities and place of fiction within the social sciences. The panel will be moderated by Sujatha Fernandes, Associate Professor of Sociology at CUNY.

1803415760_bigImage Credit: Pleasure of the Text by Virginia Inés Vergara

Ruth Behar was born in Havana, Cuba and moved to New York with her family when she was a child. She is the Victor Haim Perera Collegiate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. Among her honors, she is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Distinguished Alumna Award from Wesleyan University. Her books include The Presence of the Past in a Spanish Village, Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza’s Story, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart. In her recent books, An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba and Traveling Heavy: A Memoir in between Journeys, she writes about her unending search for a sense of home. She is the editor of Bridges to Cuba, and co-editor of Women Writing Culture and The Portable Island: Cubans at Home in the World. Her documentary, Adio Kerida/Goodbye Dear Love: A Cuban Sephardic Journey, has been shown in festivals around the world. As much a provocative scholar as a creative writer, Ruth is also known for her essays, poetry, and fiction. Her literary work can be found in Telling Stories: An Anthology for Writers; King David’s Harp: Autobiographical Essays by Jewish Latin American Writers; Burnt Sugar/Caña Quemada: Contemporary Cuban Poetry in English and Spanish; and The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. Collections of her poems have published in Spanish and English bilingual editions with Ediciones Vigía, an artisanal press in Matanzas, Cuba

Paul Stoller is Professor of Anthropology at West Chester University. He has been conducting anthropological research for 30 years. His early work concerned the religion of the Songhay people who live in the Republics of Niger and Mali in West Africa. In that work, he focused primarily on magic, sorcery and spirit possession practices. Since 1992, Stoller has pursued studies of West African immigrants in New York City. Those studies have concerned such topics as the cultural dynamics of informal market economies and the politics of immigration. This extensive record of research has led Stoller read and think deeply about the anthropology of religion, visual anthropology, the anthropology of senses and economic anthropology. In his most recent work, Stoller has focused on the dynamics of wellbeing in the world. Stoller’s work has resulted in the publication of 11 books, including ethnographies, biographies, memoirs as well as two novels. In 1994 he was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. In 2002, the American Anthropological Association named him the recipient of the Robert B Textor Award for Excellence in Anticipatory Anthropology. During the past two years, Stoller has blogged regularly on culture, politics, media and education for The Huffington Post. In 2013 The Swedish Society of Anthropology and Geography awarded him the Anders Retzius Gold Medal in recognition of his scientific contributions to anthropology. His forthcoming book, Yaya’s Story: The Quest for Wellbeing in the World will be published in September 2014.

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics; Department of Anthropology; Committee on Globalization and Social Change; and the Center for the Humanities’ Narrating Change Seminar.

9 thoughts on “Academics Writing Fiction: Ruth Behar and Paul Stoller in Conversation

  1. Amiga Ruth, so close and yet so far. We will not be in town for your talk but remember intensely our time together in Jerusalem. Hope there will be a next time. Very very fond regards, Felicia and Edmundo

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