Body Modification: Anatomy, Alteration, and Art in Anthropogeny

Friday, February 09, 2024

Biographical Sketches: Co-Chairs

Mark Collard
Simon Fraser University

Mark Collard is the Canada Research Chair in Human Evolutionary Studies and a Full Professor in the Department of Archaeology at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. After the 1987 Black Monday stock market crash put paid to his career as a private client stockbroker in the City of London, Dr. Collard pursued an undergraduate degree in archaeology and prehistory at the University of Sheffield. Subsequently, he completed a PhD in human palaeontology at the University of Liverpool. Since that time, he has taught at universities in the UK, USA, and Canada, and conducted research on a wide range of anthropological topics using the conceptual and analytical tools of evolutionary biology. Among the topics he has worked on are the identification of species in the hominin fossil record; the reconstruction of hominin evolutionary relationships; the estimation of body mass, stature, and age from skeletal material; the processes responsible for the evolution of cultural diversity; the determinants of technological variation among non-industrial populations; and the colonisation of the Americas. Currently, he is interested in the evolution of religion, hunter-gatherer mobility, and evolutionary medicine. In addition, he is conducting archaeological fieldwork in Jordan.

Francesco d'Errico
University of Bordeaux

Francesco d’Errico is a Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) Director of Exceptional Class at the University of Bordeaux, France, and Professor at the Centre for Early Sapiens Behaviour (CASB), University of Bergen, Norway. His academic interests focus on the evolution of human cognition, the emergence of symbolic cultural practices in Africa and Eurasia, and the application of innovative analytical techniques to the study of cultural heritage. He has conducted archaeological and ethnoarchaeological research in Europe, South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Morocco, Ukraine and China. His work has contributed to challenge the long-accepted model of a symbolic revolution corresponding to the arrival of anatomically modern humans in Europe 40,000 years ago by demonstrating that ornaments, engravings, pigments and elaborate bone tools were already in use in Africa at least 80,000 years ago, thereby calling into question the scenarios traditionally accepted for the origin of modern behaviour.

Recipient in 2014 of the Silver Medal of the CNRS and the Premio Frassetto for Anthropology of the Italian Academy of Science, he was between 2011 and 2015 the co-project leader of a large five year grant funded by the European Research Council (ERC) to investigate the origin of cultural modernity in Africa and Europe. He has been awarded in 2021 with three other colleagues a large ERC Synergy Grant to investigate the origin of typically human numerical cognition. He was between 2020 and 2023 co-leader of the University of Bordeaux funded large scale project Human Past, devoted to the identification of tipping points in biological and cultural evolution.

(Photo credit: Dr. Lucinda Backwell, University of the Witwatersrand)

Biographical Sketches: Speakers

Ellen Gruenbaum
Purdue University

Ellen Gruenbaum is a culturally-oriented medical anthropologist. Her ethnographic research focuses on women’s health issues, gender, human rights, religious practices, and development in Africa and the Middle East. Using a feminist anthropological framework, she conducts research on female genital cutting practices and the change efforts promoting abandonment in Sudan and Sierra Leone, where she also served as a research consultant to UNICEF and CARE.

She also investigates cultural contexts affecting breast cancer responses and prevention possibilities, in Purdue’s international and cross-disciplinary project entitled International Breast Cancer and Nutrition, with collaborations in Ghana, Lebanon, and Uruguay.

Rosemary Joyce
University of California Berkeley

Rosemary Joyce's research is concerned with questions about the ways people employ things in actively negotiating their place in society, the lives and itineraries of objects, and the reframing of human engagement with the world in terms of materiality.

Her published writing includes books and articles on the use of representational imagery to create and reinforce gendered identities, ranging from examinations of Classic Maya monumental art and glyphic texts, to Formative period monumental and small-scale images. Some of this work also involves mortuary analysis. She is an expert in the study of ceramic materials, including studies of crafting, use of pots in everyday life and on special occasions, and meaning-making with painted pottery vessels and figurines.

Rosemary Joyce participated in field research in northern Honduras from 1977 to 2009, in the Ulua and Cuyumapa valleys, Lake Yojoa, and the Caribbean coast. The sites where she conducted research date as early as before 1500 BCE to the Spanish colonial period. She employs multi-scalar approaches that consider regional  patterns and detailed household archaeology together.

Since 2010, she has been developing collaborations with colleagues in Mexico that bring the household scale approaches we developed in Honduras into a regional scale project in the hinterland of Classic Maya Palenque, in Chiapas.

As a museum anthropologist, Joyce works with curated collections, including photographs and historical archives, in museums in North America, Europe, and Honduras. She has engaged in collections management and exhibition work at Harvard's Peabody Museum, the Wellesley College Museum and Cultural Center, the Heritage Plantation at Sandwich, Massachusetts, the Museo de Antropología e Historia in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution.

Her work with museum collections inspired an interest in disciplinary history. She has published work about women who were early archaeologists in Honduras, and more broadly on the history and sociopolitics of archaeology, using Honduras as a case study. This led to her current work on cultural policy and histories of collecting.

Paul King
Body Piercing Archive

Paul R. King is the Founder, Committee Chair, and APP Treasurer of the Body Piercing Archive. The mission of the Body Piercing Archive is to select, collect, document, preserve, exhibit, and interpret the personal, social, and material evolving histories of Body Piercing to ensure these artifacts are available to present and successive generations.

Shauna LaTosky
University of Northern British Columbia

Dr. LaTosky is a cultural anthropologist interested in gender, pastoralism and indigenous cultural heritage in East Africa. As a qualitative methodologist, she uses ethnography, visual and material analysis and indigenous methodologies as modes of inquiry to pursue theoretically informed empirical studies in Ethiopia and beyond. She has conducted extensive ethnographic research in Southern Ethiopia since 2003, publishing on the interaction of gender, rhetoric, material cultural heritage and development on practices of relatedness and processes of social change in the Lower Omo Valley. Her most recent publication Rhetoric and Social Relations: dialectics of bonding and contestation

(Abbink and LaTosky, 2021) explores the constitutive role of rhetoric in socio cultural relations. She conducts most of her research with Mun (Mursi) agro pastoralists on themes that are of contemporary relevance to the communities with whom she works, from conservation and tourism, to indigenous education, food sovereignty and customary land use practices.

She is currently working on an ethnobotanical film project (together with Olisarali Olibui): Milking the marula ( choboy): How the Mun agro pastoralists relish the foods of the forest for the Guardians of Productive Landscapes (GPL) project and film series . She is also currently involved in an international project with SOAS (University of London) and the South Omo Theatre Company (SOT), which she cofounded in 2019. The outcome of this project is a play and film about the the first ever Mun (Mursi) indigenous theatre performance Tirainy ko Koisani (Playing the Mediator), performed July 31 st , 2022, at the National Theatre in Addis Ababa. Both applied projects animate new arenas of political mobilization and representation for the Mun in Ethiopia.

Her recent interest in visual anthropology focuses on how visual ethnography can not only be applied and participatory, but also rhetorical and interventional. Her future research will look at endangered indigenous heritage and UNESCO heritage sites in the Horn of Africa through multiple lenses. She is also planning a handbook of Mun edible plants and a language app for young Mun who are now being schooled in outsider languages.

Matt Lodder
University of Essex, UK

Dr Matt Lodder is a Senior Lecturer in Art History and Theory, and Director of American Studies at the University of Essex, and one of the University of Essex' Public Voice Scholars. He teaches European, American and Japanese art, architecture, visual culture and theory from the late 19th century to the present, including modern and contemporary art post-1945, digital and "new media" art, and the intersections between art & politics.

His research primarily concerns the application of art-historical methods to history of Western tattooing from the 17th century to the present day, with a principal focus on the professional era from the 1880s onwards. His expertise also extends to wider histories of body modification practices in the West, including tongue splitting, implants, and other procedures. He has also published work on feminist debates in pornography, and on the intersections of consent, culture and the law in the context of 1970s and '80s queer subcultures.

He has given invited lectures at venues including the V&A, the National Museum of Scotland, the Tokyo National Museum, and the Museum of London. He has published academic papers in venues including the Sculpture Journal, and contributed forewords for many popular books on tattooing. He has contributed articles to the Royal Academy Magazine, History Today, The Guardian and others, and appeared on broadcast media across the globe.

His first monograph, Painted People: Humanity in 21 Tattoos was published by HarperCollins in 2022. His latest major exhibition, 'British Tattoo Art Revealed', began at the National Maritime Museum Falmouth in March 2017 and toured nationwide through 2020. Matt also served as the presenter of the landmark television series "Art of Museums" / 'Magie des Grands Musées' / 'Magie der Museen', which aired across Europe and beyond in late 2018 and early 2019.

Brea McCauley
Simon Fraser University

I am broadly interested in the variability in human behaviour. How groups adapt to similar social problems with vastly different practices, or how groups grow to have similar practices for drastically different purposes. 

My current research endeavours focus on addressing the variability in extreme body modification rituals. My M.A. work focused on exploring the extreme dysphoric ritual of finger amputation through cross-cultural ethnographic survey as well as a case study of Ancient Maya finger amputation practices. My current PhD work focuses on tattooing using Micronesia and Polynesia tattoo traditions as case studies.

Ryan Nichols
California State University, Fullerton

Ryan Nichols is an interdisciplinary researcher who, since 2004, has been mostly focused on the question ‘What made China Chinese?’ In pursuit of an answer, he has collaborated with researchers in the humanities, social science, life science, data science, and mathematics. Ryan has published a monograph with Oxford, and recently edited The Routledge International Handbook of Morality, Cognition, and Emotion in China. He has held fellowships at University of British Columbia, Notre Dame, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and has held a three-year Academic Cross-Training fellowship from the John Templeton Foundation. He is a professor of Philosophy at California State University, Fullerton, in Orange County. His research on footbinding includes an exceptionally critical review paper of the apparently reigning explanation, the labor market theory, and, with collaborators, an agent-based model of 1,000 years footbinding that is as faithful as possible to the actual demographic history of China.

John Willman
Universidad de Coimbra, Portugal

I am a biological anthropologist working primarily on subjects spanning paleoanthropology, bioarchaeology, and dental anthropology. I integrate a broad range of research methodologies to reconstruct the lifeways of Pleistocene humans--namely, Neandertals and early modern humans--and early Holocene foraging and food producing peoples. Through my research I examine the complex interplay between human biology, environment, and culture. This biocultural approach emphasizes the contextual analysis of human skeletal remains within their broader archaeological and environmental contexts.