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I am a political and legal anthropologist of race, citizenship, and genomics with interdisciplinary commitments to Science and Technology Studies, African Studies, and Jewish Studies. My research projects examine how DNA transforms power and politics as it becomes unevenly part of everyday life through technologies like ancestry testing and criminal forensics. I have conducted ethnographic field research in South Africa since 2004, and my book Genetic Afterlives: Black Jewish Indigeneity in South Africa was published by Duke University Press in 2020. At Cornell, I teach courses in anthropology, science & technology studies, and Jewish studies on race; religion; borders and belonging; policing and carcerality; and biology and society. I am also a research associate at University of Witwatersrand’s Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) in Johannesburg, South Africa and a member of the editorial collective of Somatosphere: Science, Medicine, and Anthropology.
Sociocultural, political, and legal anthropology. Feminist, global, and postcolonial science & technology studies. Jewish studies. Race and ethnicity, citizenship, diaspora, indigeneity, genetics and genomics, policing, gender and sexuality. South Africa.
- Jewish Studies Program
- Science and Technology Studies
- Science and Technology Studies
- Jewish Studies program
My book Genetic Afterlives: Black Jewish Indigeneity in South Africa (Duke University Press, 2020), asks how the meaning, stakes, and politics of genetic data change if we approach them from the perspective of research subjects rather than genetics researchers. It shows how genetic ancestry is a multivalent political object with the potential to not only reinforce exclusionary ideas about origins but also to disrupt them.
My current ethnographic research examines the introduction and implementation of legislation to expand South Africa’s national criminal DNA database. This project asks how, in a context where science, race, and law have long been contested, DNA becomes legally meaningful and to what ends.
My research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Wenner Gren Foundation, Fulbright IIE, and The Ohio State University’s Criminal Justice Research Center and Division of Arts and Humanities and my work has appeared in Cultural Anthropology, American Anthropologist, History and Anthropology, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience.
- ANTHR 3471 : Race and Religion
- ANTHR 4910 : Independent Study: Undergrad I
- ANTHR 4920 : Independent Study: Undergrad II
- ANTHR 4983 : Honors Thesis Research
- ANTHR 6100 : Borders Belonging Technoscience
- ANTHR 6471 : Race and Religion
- ANTHR 7910 : Independent Study: Grad I
- ANTHR 7920 : Independent Study: Grad II
- ANTHR 7930 : Independent Study: Grad III
- Genetic Afterlives: Black Jewish Indigeneity in South Africa. Durham: Duke University Press, 2020.
Articles and Book Chapters:
- “Forensics and Fortification in South African Self-Captivity.” History and Anthropology, 2019. 30.5: 521-526.
- Year in Review Essay: “Time and Relational Possibility: Cultural Anthropology in 2017.” American Anthropologist, 2018. 120.2: 305-327.
- “Engagements with Decolonization and Decoloniality in and at the Interfaces of STS: Introduction,” co-authored with Kristina Lyons and Juno Parreñas. Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience, 2017. 3.1: 1-10.
- “Genetic Ancestry and Decolonizing Possibilities.” Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience, 2017. 3.1:14-19.
- “Jewish Genetics.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Jewish Studies, edited by Naomi Seidman. New York: Oxford University Press. October 26, 2015.
- “Genetic Diaspora: Producing Knowledge of Genes and Jews in Rural South Africa.” Cultural Anthropology, 2014. 29.3: 552-574. (Awarded the 2015 American Anthropological Association General Anthropology Prize for Exemplary Cross-Field Scholarship; Reprinted 2016 in Déjá Lu. 4.1: 1)
- “African Indigenous Citizenship,” co-authored with Rachel Giraudo. The Routledge Handbook of Global Citizenship Studies, 2014. Edited by Engin F. Isin and Peter Nyers, 545-556. New York: Routledge.
- “Religion as Race, Recognition as Democracy: Lemba ‘Black Jews’ in South Africa.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 2011. 637.1: 148-164.
- “Respect, care, and labor in collaborative scholarly projects,” co-authored among twenty-six members of the Somatosphere editorial collective, Somatosphere: Science, Medicine, and Anthropology, July 2, 2018.
- “Genetic Ancestry as an Optic: Reconciliation Revisioned, Diaspora Revived,” in Book Forum—Alondra Nelson’s The Social Lives of DNA, edited by Eugene Raikhel. Somatosphere: Science, Medicine, and Anthropology, January 24, 2018.
- Black Lives Matter Syllabus Week 13: Noah Tamarkin on thinking with South African Activists and Artists, Anthropoliteia, December 7, 2016.