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Recent Faculty Work > Department of Anthropology > USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Recent Faculty Work


Biosecurity Interventions: Global Health and Security in Question
New York: Columbia University Press (2008)
Andrew Lakhoff and Stephen J. Collier, Editors

In recent years, new disease threats--such as SARS, avian flu, mad cow disease, and drug-resistant strains of malaria and tuberculosis--have garnered media attention and galvanized political response. Proposals for new approaches to "securing health" against these threats have come not only from public health and medicine but also from such fields as emergency management, national security, and global humanitarianism. This volume provides a map of this complex and rapidly transforming terrain.

Margaret Mead: The Making of an American Icon
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press (2008)
Nancy Lutkehaus

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world."--Margaret Mead

This quotation--found on posters and bumper stickers, and adopted as the motto for hundreds of organizations worldwide--speaks to the global influence and legacy of the American anthropologist Margaret Mead (1901-78). In this insightful and revealing book, Nancy Lutkehaus explains how and why Mead became the best-known anthropologist and female public intellectual in twentieth-century America.

Films & Exhibitions

Serbian Immigrant Life in America, 1890-1945
Professor Andrei Simic and Dr. Maria Oparnica Simic, in collaboration with the Ethnographic Museum of Belgrade and the USC Center for Visual Anthropology, have prepared a photo exhibit documenting Serbian immigrant life in America between 1890 and 1945. The Simics gathered the photographs from museums, archives, ethnic organizations, and individuals across the U.S. and prepared enlarged and enhanced reprints for exhibition. The photographs will be on exhibit at the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade beginning in May, 2010. Parallel Serbian and English descriptive material will accompany the exhibit.

The Left Eye of God: Caodaism Travels from Vietnam to California, 2007-2008
Janet Hoskins (Producer, Anthropologist) Susan Hoskins (Director).

Caodaism, born in French Indochina in 1925, is a syncretistic blend of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Catholicism. The fall of Saigon in 1975 brought an exodus of refugees, and the religion of Caodaism, to the state of California. In this ethnographic documentary produced by Professor Janet Hoskins, Caodaists share firsthand accounts of Vietnam's painful history and discuss their hopes for Vietnam and the United States. The documentary was filmed in Vietnam and California with support from the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture, the USC Center for Visual Anthropology, and the California Council for the Humanities.

The Secret of the Stone: Segmentary Lineage Organization in a North China Village, 2009

Gary Seaman, Zhifang Song, and Steven Schindler
Some 80% of the 1,300 people in Song Family Village are members of a single lineage of the Song surname. The film documents New Year's customs to demonstrate the segmentary structure of the Song family lineage. Ancestor temples provide the focus for collective rituals that express the historical growth and fissioning into lineage segments. Minimal segments (mourning groups) are shown as interaction groups focussed on the household shrines of senior agnates. Although the Communist led Cultural Revolution tried to eliminate traditional kin-based institutions, this films shows that segmentary lineages are still a vigorous aspect of life in this North China village. DVD, 32 minutes.

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Marriage, Maoism & Modernity: Marriage Exchange in a North China Village, 2008-2009
By Gary Seaman, Zhifang Song, and Steven Schindler
2009, DVD, 30 minutes
ISBN# 9780899867601

On the Yellow River Plain about 200 miles south of Beijing is a village where most people are members of a single lineage. Marriage transactions are still arranged by parents or marriage "go-betweens" who introduce prospective brides and grooms and conclude the terms on which the couple will formally wed. Dowry, brideprice, pseudodowry (indirect dowry) and exchange marriages are historically the main types of marriages. The predominance of any type of marriage exchange has been very sensitive to changing economic, political and social conditions in the recent past.

The Heavenly Court in Song Family Village: Gender, Hierarchy and Religious Power in a North China Village , 2007-2008
By Gary Seaman, Zhifang Song, and Steven Schindler
2009, DVD, 27 minutes
ISBN# 9780899867625

Religious life in the village is highly gendered, with female shamans dominating most religious activities. These shamanesses and their gods are organized as a "court," which expresses a hierarchy of power and prestige analogous to the traditional Chinese imperium focussed on the emperor and his ministers. The Reverend Master Shamaness tells how she became the spirit medium of a Daoist Immortal, who uses her to perform meritorious deeds of healing, especially in providing descendants for those who ask for help.

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