People

Michael Lambek
Canada Research Chair in the Anthroplogy of Ethical Life

At U of T Scarborough he has begun a Canada Research Chair in the Anthropology of Ethical Life. He conducts ethnographic research in Switzerland as well as long-term fieldwork in the Indian Ocean islands of Mayotte and Madagascar. He has carried out research and written on spirit possession, Islam, the anthropology of knowledge, therapeutic practice, memory, and historicity, among other topics. He is currently interested in the intersection of anthropology with philosophy and especially in articulating the moral basis of action. In 2003-2005 Professor Lambek served as President of the Society for the Anthropology of Religion. His presidential address, also delivered as inaugural lecture at the LSE, was on "Sacrifice and the Problem of Beginning." He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2000.

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Donna Young
Director of the Centre for Ethnography

Donna Young began her journey in anthropology as a cook for transient railroaders on the CPR, which led to her MA thesis, “The Right Way, the Wrong Way, and the Railway.” (UNB) She has maintained an interest in the anthropology of work and the politics of gender and class. Her doctoral work focused on the cultural constructions of memory as articulated by impoverished women in Atlantic Canada (UT). She has also co-edited a book on academic practices, in which anthropologists were asked to turn their ethnographic gaze upon the institutions that had shaped them as scholars. Currently she is working in East and West Jerusalem where she is examining the ethical and religious practices of The Sisters of Sion and the Roman Catholic pilgrims who are their guests while in the Holy Land.

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Girish Daswani
Past Director of the Centre for Ethnography

Girish Daswani conducted multi-sited research with members of a Ghanaian Pentecostal church in southern Ghana and London (U.K.). In his work he looks at how Pentecostalism – its religious intermediaries, ideologies, and rituals – subjectively frames and facilitates church members ideas of religious transformation and overseas travel. His book manuscript focuses on the ethical practice of negotiating Pentecostal transformation in the lives of church members in both Ghana and London. He has also started two new research projects. The first is on a traditional shrine in Kumasi, Ghana, its relationship to Pentecostalism, and its transnational networks in Europe and North America. The second aims to delve deeper into the lives of male street traders in Kumasi and their struggles and aspirations for love, economic success, and overseas migration.

Personal Website

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Letha Victor

2nd-year PhD student under Michael Lambek's supervision. Letha's research investigates post-war memory and spirit work in the Acholi sub-region of northern Uganda. She asks how people in the region manage, cope with, and manipulate their encounters with incorporeal spirits as they struggle for post-conflict normalcy.
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Matthew Pettit

2nd-year PhD student under Michael Lambek's supervision. Matthew's research centres on Vie Libre, an alcoholism-recovery group in Paris, France, and the activists that form its core. He investigates ethical engagements with the new "ordinary" that emerges with sobriety and social engagement, and the peculiar role of the "alcoholised" and vulnerable body within this praxis.
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Seth Palmer

Seth Palmer is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology and the Collaborative Programs in Sexual Diversity Studies and Women and Gender Studies at the University of Toronto. Seth’s doctoral research focuses on non-conforming gendered/sexualized identarian categories in southwestern Madagascar (sarimbavysarindahydognat, travesti) of both male and female-bodied persons whose sexual desires and/or gender identities defy the social mandates of their sexed bodies.  It inquires into informants' ontological conceptions of gendered and sexualized alterity, or the constructionist/essentialist dichotomy as it is formulated in queer theory, and the ways that these various ontologies are negotiated and materialized through spirit possession and transactional sex.  This multi-sited project moves between rural villages and a regional city, seeking to understand how discourses, spirits, subjectivities, sexological taxonomies, and queer conceptions of being flow between seemingly disparate spaces. More broadly, Seth is interested in the southwestern Indian Ocean region, Madagascar, Reunion Island, Francophone colonial and postcolonial studies, feminist/queer ethnography, sexual economies, and the relationship between spirit possession, genders, and sexualities.

Marie Meudec

Marie Meudec

Post-Doctoral Student 2014-15

Marie Meudec has conducted ethnographic research in both St. Lucia and Haiti in the Caribbean. Her work focuses broadly on the relationship between ordinary ethics, healing, politics, and resistance. She examines Afro-Caribbean spiritual and healing practices (vodou and obeah) in the context of social suffering, violence, and migration. Her first book focused on interpretations of vodou practices in Haiti. Her second book, in progress, is based on her doctoral work, and examines witchcraft accusations – and reactions to such accusations— in St. Lucia.  Meudec argues forms of therapy, spirituality and magic are moral and ethical practices, in which the point of view of the accused must be considered.  In so doing, she asks us to re-think the way so-called “witchcraft” practices are studied and represented. Meudec presently holds a SSHRC post-doctoral fellowship. While at the Centre for Ethnography she will be thinking about forms of Othering in, and about, Haiti that lend themselves to moralizing and discriminatory messages. She examines the reception of such messages and considers the ways some capitalize on them. More broadly, Marie Meudec is interested in the Caribbean, medical and religious anthropology, de-colonial and queer studies.