Keynote: Joseph Masco (University of Chicago)

Working at the intersection of science studies, environmental studies, media studies, and social theory, Joseph Masco’s scholarship examines the material, affective, and conceptual effects of technological revolution. He is the author of The Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post-Cold War New Mexico (Princeton University Press, 2006), a multi-sited ethnographic investigation into the long-term effects of the atomic bomb project in New Mexico. It explores how a half century of national security science in Los Alamos differentially remade local understandings of risk, citizenship, ecology and race after the Cold War. In 2014, The Nuclear Borderlands won the J. I. Staley Prize from the School for Advanced Research. It also won the 2008 Rachel Carson Prize from the Society for the Social Studies of Science, received a 2007 John C. Cawelti Prize honorable mention from the American Culture Association, and was co-winner of the 2006 Robert K. Merton Prize from the Section on Science, Knowledge and Technology of the American Sociology Association.

Masco’s second book, The Theater of Operations: National Security Affect from the Cold War to the War on Terror (2014, Duke University Press) is a multi-modal (ethnographic, historical, mass media) study of the transformation of the Cold War national security apparatus into a counterterror state after 2001. Attending to the interplay between technological revolution, imaginaries of danger, and affective mobilizations, The Theater of Operations shows how hypothetical dangers for security experts can now overwhelm attention to existing forms of violence in the United States. It also offers a new theorization of threat perception, considers the psychosocial pull of negative futurities within American society since 1945, and demonstrates how affects and imaginaries are infrastructural, much like built systems. Ultimately, The Theater of Operations shows how existential danger has been operationalized within U.S. culture as a perverse form of nation-building and considers the long term anti-democratic effects of nuclear nationalism. His current research considers the emergence of the “planetary” as an object of (in)security, attending to the scientific visualizations, conceptual mobilizations, affects, and embodied conditions of anthropogenic practices and politics. He is working individually, and across several collaborative projects, to generate new approaches to recognizing inequalities in the age of planetary scale forms of violence.

Masco’s work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and The Wenner-Gren Foundation. He has been a residential fellow at the School for Advanced Research, held a Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professorship at the Institute for Advanced Study (University of Bristol), and has been a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton). In 2017, he was awarded a Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring at the University of Chicago.


Aisha M. Beliso-De Jesús

Aisha M. Beliso-De Jesús, Ph.D. is a cultural and social anthropologist who has conducted ethnographic research with Santería practitioners in Cuba and the United States, and police officers and Black and Brown communities affected by police violence in the United States. Her research and teaching span the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, and Afro-Latinx circulations. Dr. Beliso- De Jesús’ work contributes to cultural and media studies, anthropology of religion, critical race studies, Black and Latinx transnational feminist and queer theory, African diaspora religions, and studies on police and militarization.

Her first book, Electric Santería: Racial and Sexual Assemblages of Transnational Religion (Columbia University Press, 2015) won the 2015 Albert J. Raboteau Award for Best book in Africana Religions. It details the transnational experience of Santería in which racialized and gendered spirits, deities, priests, and religious travelers remake local, national, and political boundaries and actively reconfigure notions of technology and transnationalism. She is completing a book, Zombie Patrol: Policing African Diaspora Religions which examines the criminalization and racialization of Black and Brown religions in the U.S. Dr. Beliso- De Jesús is also currently launching a team-based ethnographic research project on police use of force in New Orleans, LA funded by the National Science Foundation.

Her publications include articles in American Ethnologist, Cultural Anthropology, Signs, the Journal of Africana Religions, and the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. She comes to Princeton after eight years at Harvard Divinity School where she was Professor of African American Religions and member of the Cuba Policy Committee at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, a faculty member of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and the Safra Center for Ethics.

Dr. Beliso- De Jesús is the co-founder of the Center for Transnational Policing (CTP) at Princeton University, and associate editor of Transforming Anthropology, the flagship journal for the Association of Black Anthropologists. For over twenty years, she has worked with numerous grassroots, public policy, substance abuse, and other nonprofit organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area advocating social justice issues, teen-parent support, alternative healing approaches for Latinx communities, and empowerment strategies for youth of color.

Elizabeth A. Davis

Elizabeth Davis is Associate Professor of Anthropology and a Behrman Faculty Fellow in the Humanities. Her research and writing, grounded in the European horizons and the Ottoman history of the Greek-speaking world, focus on the intersections of psyche, body, history, and power as areas for ethnographic and theoretical engagement. Her particular interest is in how the ties that bind people to communities and states are yielded and inflected by knowledge: that is, how certain kinds of truths mediate conceptions of self and conceptions of others – as psychiatric subjects, for example, or as subjects of history. Her first book, Bad Souls: Madness and Responsibility in Modern Greece (Duke University Press, 2012), is an ethnographic study of responsibility among psychiatric patients and their caregivers in the “multicultural” borderland between Greece and Turkey. She is currently working on her second book, The Good of Knowing: War, Time, and Transparency in Cyprus (forthcoming from Duke University Press), a collaborative engagement with Cypriot knowledge production about the violence of the 1960s-70s in the domains of forensic science, documentary film, and “conspiracy theory.”

Davis is affiliated with the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies at Princeton, where she serves on the Hellenic Studies Program Executive Committee, as well as with the Program in Global Health and Health Policy and the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies. Before joining the Princeton faculty in 2009, she taught in the Department of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University and at Columbia University as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows. More recently, she has held a Richard Stockton Bicentennial Preceptorship and a Membership at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton.

Rachel Price

Rachel Price (B.A., Yale; Ph.D., Duke U.), works on Latin American, circum-Atlantic and particularly Cuban literature and culture. Her essays have discussed a range of topics, including digital media, slavery, poetics, environmental humanities, and visual art. The Object of the Atlantic: Concrete Aesthetics in Cuba, Brazil and Spain 1868-1968 was published in 2014 by Northwestern University Press. Planet/Cuba: Art, Culture, and the Future of the Island, was published by Verso Books in 2015. She is currently working on several projects, including intersections between aesthetics and energy, and a book-length study rethinking communication technologies and literature in the nineteenth-century slaveholding Iberian Atlantic.

Before coming to Princeton she taught at Brown University and Stonybrook University, after working at the Social Science Research Council’s Program on Latin America and Working Group on Cuba, and at the Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca in Colombia.

Professor Price is affiliated with the Program in Media and Modernity, the Princeton Environmental Institute, and the Program in Latin American Studies, and is on the executive committee for the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities. She was a core member of the 2012-2015 PIIRS Research Community on Empire.


Kessie Alexandre

Kessie Alexandre is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at Princeton University. Her work lies at the intersection of political and medical anthropology, African Diaspora studies, critical geography, and science and technology studies. Broadly, she is interested in Black land struggles and environmentalisms in the United States and the Caribbean. Kessie’s dissertation is an ethnography of infrastructure disrepair and urban water insecurity, including flooding, water contamination, and waterway pollution, in the United States. The project engages questions of technological decay and toxicity, as well as the production of counterspaces and nature in cities. Kessie holds a B.A. in Public Health Studies and Anthropology from Johns Hopkins University. Her previous projects include a long-term study of water politics and development in rural Haiti.

Kimberly Bain

Kimberly Bain joined the Department of English at Princeton University in 2015. Prior to joining the department, she earned her B.A. in English and Asian Civilizations and Languages at Amherst College.

Kimberly’s most pressing intellectual interests include the fields of transnational American literature and the literatures and cultures of the Global South. More specifically, her interests have consolidated around questions of diaspora, structural power, environmental racism, resistance, embodiment, and subjection and subjecthood in the histories and narratives of postcolonialism and enslavement. Her current project, which looks to approach a theory of black breath and praxis of black breathing, critically takes up these considerations. She also makes frequent forays into media studies and digital humanities.

Janet Kong-Chow

Janet Kong-Chow is a Ph.D candidate in the department of English at Princeton University, with affiliations in the Department of African American Studies, and the program in American Studies. She received her BA in English and History from the University of Pennsylvania and is a proud alumna of the Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers (IRT-Andover). Her research concerns racialization and precarity, migration and diaspora, and cultural commodification in contemporary American literatures. She is currently at work on her dissertation, entitled, “Securing the Crisis: Race and the Poetics of Risk.”


Brie Adams

Brie Adams (Native Hawaiian) is a doctoral student in anthropology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a research focus on Native Hawaiian identity politics in the digital age. She was born and raised on the east side of O’ahu, Hawaii in a town called Kāne’ohe.


Joe Bucciero

Joe Bucciero is a first-year graduate student in the Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton. His research so far has focused on the postwar avant-garde in the United States, in particular the broader category of “minimalism” as it developed in New York across multiple media (art, music, performance, cinema). He is the co-author, with Michael Blair, of Young Marble Giants’ Colossal Youth (Bloomsbury, 2017) and co-editor, with Lawrence Kumpf, of Blank Forms, a semiannual journal covering time-based art. He received a B.A. in American Studies from Columbia University, where his thesis focused on Donald Judd’s place within American art, intellectual, and colonial histories.


Mary Kate Cowher

Gavriel Cutipa-Zorn

Gavriel Cutipa-Zorn is a PhD Candidate in American Studies and a Certificate Candidate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. He received his B.A. in Africana Studies and History at Brown University. His research and teaching engage issues of security expertise and militarization, states and sovereignty, and surveillance and imperialism during the second half of the twentieth century. His dissertation project, Veins of Repression: US-Israeli Covert Arms and Counterinsurgency in Central America, examines how counterinsurgent tactics shaped racial regimes and political sovereignty across the United States, Israel, and Central America in the late Cold War. Focusing on archival research in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, Israel and in the United States, he examines how this transnational security circuit reshaped the racial logics of warfare and contributed to contemporary tactics of surveillance and counterinsurgency.

Daniel Ewert

After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in History from Yale University, summa cum laude, Dan worked for a public defense agency in Brooklyn, NY as an investigator in criminal and immigration cases. He later developed an interest in public history by working as an educator at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York City. He is interested in 20th century American urban history, focusing on the connections between urban space and carceral space, the role of technology and bureaucracy in the development of the carceral state, and historical alternatives to mass incarceration.

Dan works as a Fellow at the Princeton Writing Center and has contributed research to the Princeton and Slavery Project, documenting Princeton’s historical ties to the institution of American slavery. He is currently working with Professor Alison Isenberg on a GIS mapping visualization of the urban unrest in Trenton, NJ in 1968.

Adlan Jackson

Adlan Jackson is a junior research scientist at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service of New York University. He earned a B.A. from Princeton University and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Social and Cultural Analysis from New York University.


Paloma Orozco Scott

Ariel D. Smith

Ariel D. Smith, M.Ed is an American Studies PhD student at Purdue University. Ariel’s research triangulates Black music, food studies, with Black entrepreneurship. Specifically, Ariel argues that street food should be considered an element of Hip Hop by analyzing Black-owned food trucks as an embodiment of Hip Hop culture. Ariel traces elements of Hip Hop culture within Black food truck owners’ backgrounds, racial consciousness, aesthetics, products, gender representation, and community development. She is the founder and CEO of The Food Truck Scholar where she connects with current and aspiring Black food truck owners through interviews and strategizing to create spaces for them to grow and develop.

Max Suechting

Max Suechting is a doctoral candidate in Stanford University’s Program in Modern Thought & Literature, where he studies American popular culture, particularly focusing on popular music and visual media post-WWII. His current project traces alternate formulations of human and posthuman subjectivity forged at the intersection of music and technology in Black Atlantic culture. Other areas of interest include science fiction, critical theory, contemporary electronic music, and the digital humanities.


Stefan Yong