Faculty News

New Faculty

Nicholas Holowka joined the department as an assistant professor beginning January 2020. Nick conferred his PhD from Stony Brook University in 2015. He was recently a postdoctoral fellow in human evolutionary biology at Harvard University.

Stephanie Poindexter joined the department as an assistant professor in January 2020. Stephanie received her PhD from Oxford Brookes University in 2018. She was recently a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Anthropology at Boston University.

Meghana Joshi joined the department as a clinical assistant professor beginning August 2018. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on culture and reproduction, ethnomedicine and medical anthropology topics. 

In 2017, Meghana obtained a PhD in cultural anthropology from Rutgers University in New Jersey.  Her doctoral research on childlessness, reproduction, parenting and demography in Berlin, Germany earned her a DAAD (The German Academic Exchange Service) Research Grant for doctoral fieldwork; a DAAD German Language Course Grant at the Goethe Institute in Berlin; and a Humboldt University Research Fellowship. She held previous positions as a visiting assistant professor at Central Washington University and as an instructor in the writing program at Rutgers University.

Peter Biehl.

Faculty Awards and Recognitions

Peter F. Biehl received the UB Distinguished Postdoc Mentor Award. Awarded by the Office of Postdoctoral Scholars, the recipient demonstrates that "[a] good mentor not only teaches their mentees but also serves as an advocate, advisor and positive role model during the period of direct training and most often, in the following years."

Joyce Sirianni.

Joyce Sirianni, professor and SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor, was named a "Top Educator" by Marquis Who's Who that recognizes outstanding educators in their respective fields based on leadership and professional accomplishments.

Ezra Zubrow.

Ezra B.W. Zubrow named a SUNY Distinguished Service Professor. One of the highest honors in the SUNY system, the SUNY Distinguished Service Professor title recognizes "those whose outstanding academic careers have included a particular focus on serving the university and its larger constituencies." 

Faculty Publications

Bacigalupo Thunder Shaman.

Ana Mariella Bacigalupo, Professor, published Thunder Shaman: Making History with Mapuche Spirits in Chile and Patagonia (University of Texas Press, 2017)

Franquesa Power Struggles.

Jaume Franquesa, Associate Professor, published Power Struggles: Dignity, Value, and the Renewable Energy Frontier in Spain (Indiana University Press, 2018)

Klaits The Request.

Frederick Klaits, Associate Professor, edited The Request and the Gift in Religious and Humanitarian Endeavors, a title in the Contemporary Anthropology of Religion series (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)

Milisauskas Bronocice.

Sarunas Milisauskas, Professor, published Bronocice: The Chronology and Development of a Neolithic Settlement of the Fourth Millennium BC (Institute for Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, 2018)

Reed-Danahay Bourdieu.

Deborah Reed-Danahay, Professor, published Bourdieu & Social Space: Mobilities, Trajectories, Emplacements (Berghahn Books, 2020)

Zubrow The Big Thaw.

Ezra Zubrow, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor, co-edited The Big Thaw: Policy, Governance, and Climate Change in the Circumpolar North (SUNY Press, 2019)

Faculty Updates

Ana Mariella Bacigalupo received a Wenner-Gren Post-PhD research grant and a US Scholar Fulbright grant to conduct ethnographic research on the subversive politics of sentient landscapes in Northern Peru and their implications for collective ethics and environmental justice. Bacigalupo gave talks about this research at the University of Indiana Mexico Gateway, the University of Toronto, Harvard University, Yale University, Boston University, the University of Notre Dame and the American University. She organized a panel at the AAA titled, "Subversive Agencies: Sacred Landscapes and Climate Change in the Anthropocene." Bacigalupo also received a research grant from the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy to do research on “Shamanic Justice and International Human Rights in Chile: Judge Karen Atala’s Transformative Vision and her LGBT Rights Child Custody Case" and gave talks about this at the Baldy Center and the feminist research alliance. She served as a program councilor for the Society for Latin American and the Caribbean Anthropology and Board Member of the Society for the Anthropology of Religion.  Bacigalupo published four articles this year: “The Mapuche Undead Never Forget: Traumatic Memory and Cosmopolitics in Post-Pinochet Chile;“ "Shamanic Rebirth and the Paradox of Disremembering the Dead Among Mapuche in Chile;” “El uso subversivo de documentos de archivo y biblias por Mapuche en Chile y el surgimiento de archivos alternativos”; and "La Política Subversiva de los Lugares Sentientes: Cambio Climático, Ética Colectiva y Justicia Medioambiental en el Norte del Perú.”

Peter Biehl was elected the new chair of the Oscar Montelius Foundation. The Oscar Montelius Foundation’s main aims are to promote the development of archaeological research and the exchange of archaeological information in Europe, the management and interpretation of the archaeological heritage of Europe, proper ethical and scientific standards for archaeological work. It is an organization of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA), the largest association of archaeologists in Europe. Biehl previously served two terms as a trustee of the Foundation. He is also the chair of the EAA Research Community of "Climate Change and Heritage" and represents this group at the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) "Climate Change Strategies and Archaeological Resources" Committee.  Biehl is currently a mentor in the Network for Enriched Academic Relationships (NEAR) of UB’s Graduate School.


Jaume Franquesa organized a workshop, Financialization and the production of nature: New frameworks for understanding the capital-society-nature nexus, at the Max Planck Institute of Halle in Germany where he was invited to stay in residence for two weeks in February 2019. He organized a series of panels on the rise of right-wing populism in rural Europe at the conference Aree Fragili at the University of Trieste in Rovigo, Italy in March 2019, and was co-coordinator of the “Ecology, territory and the rural world” stream at the conference Thinking emancipation. Radicalities and Social Movements in a Polarised World that occurred in Barcelona, Spain in June 2019. Franquesa was elected as member-at-large (2019-21) for the Society for the Anthropology of Europe of the American Anthropological Association and is an invited board member of the journal, Dialectical Anthropology.

Fred Klaits has been conducting long-term fieldwork with members of majority white and African American Pentecostal Christian churches in Buffalo, focusing on the divinely inspired insights that believers say they acquire by developing a “relationship with God.” What makes this kind of knowledge appear necessary?

Through their worship, believers come to know that they are personally connected in various ways to God and to one another, and that they must be redeemed from sinfulness and other moral perils. In ways that reflect their differing positions in the American racial and class formation, these insights enhance believers’ personal capacities together with their abilities to care for others, shaping their divergent political outlooks in the process. Using expressions such as “going through,” “interceding,” “blocking the blessing,” and “God’s timing” to describe what they know of personal interconnectedness and moral peril, believers in majority white and African American congregations deploy a shared Pentecostal language in different ways. As much as insights from God provide believers with means to thrive, they also sharpen their anxieties about personal value and security stemming from race and class-based inequalities.

Vasiliki Neofotistos' articles "The Rhetoric of War and the Reshaping of Civil Society in the Republic of North Macedonia” and “Sport and Nationalism in the Republic of North Macedonia” were published respectively in Slavic Review in the summer of 2019 and Focaal – Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology in Winter 2019. Her essay, “War Criminals, National Heroes, and Transitional Justice in Post-conflict Macedonia” appeared in the edited volume Everyday Life in the Balkans (edited by David Montgomery, 2019, Indiana University Press). She is the editor of a volume, provisionally titled Macedonia and Identity Politics after the Prespa Agreement (Routledge, forthcoming in June 2020). 

Neofotistos presented “Coming to Terms with ‘War Crimes’: Transitional Justice and Reconciliation in the Republic of Macedonia,” at the 2018 American Anthropological Association Meetings in San Jose, California. She also presented, “Making Sense of Toxic Danger in Europe’s Most Polluted Capital: Global Inequality and Environmental Suffering in Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia” at the 2019  joint Canadian Anthropology Society and American Anthropological Association Meetings in Vancouver, Canada. 

She was elected 2018-2020 Memberships and Public Relations Chair on the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association’s Society for the Anthropology of Europe. 

As director of graduate studies, she undertook and executed the initiative (together with the director of undergraduate studies in anthropology) of a joint degree program BA/MA in anthropology and anthropology-medical anthropology. She also established the Graduate Student Conference Travel Fund and started biannual town hall meetings with graduate students.

Findings in the digging.

Donald Pollock became interim chair of the department in October 2017 when former chair, Peter Biehl, accepted a position in the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office as associate dean for international education and enrollment. Pollock has recently finished work on a large multi-disciplinary project on healthy families in Western New York, focusing on the experience of postpartum depression among immigrant and refugee mother. He has presented the findings of that research in a number of settings, most recently at the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in October, 2019.

During her sabbatical in spring 2019, Professor Deborah Reed-Danahay spent three months in London continuing her ethnographic fieldwork among French citizens living there.  She closely followed the dramatic developments related to Brexit and its implications for EU citizens in the UK.  This fieldwork was funded by a research grant from the Baldy Center and her Jean Monnet Chair. Her latest book, Bourdieu and Social Space: Mobilities, Trajectories, and Emplacements (Berghahn) will be published in November 2019.  Her book chapter “Leave/Remain: Brexit, Emotions, and the Pacing of Mobility among the French in London” is forthcoming in the volume Pacing Mobilities edited by Vered Amit and Noel Salazar (Berghahn). Two invited contributions to Sage Research Methods Foundations – one on Hortense Powdermaker and one on Autoethnography were published in September 2019. She co-organized a double panel at the 2018 AAA meetings, “Migrant Imaginaries: Temporality and Emplacement in Europe,” with Helena Wulff of Stockholm University, and another for the 2019 meetings – the SAE Invited Session “Shifting Landscapes, Change of Scenery: Space, Place, and Struggle in Narratives of Mobility.”  She continues her work as co-editor of the book series Palgrave Studies in Literary Anthropology, which encourages innovative forms of ethnographic writing and work that lies at the intersections of ethnography and literary studies.

Phil Stevens, associate professor emeritus conducted research into what he calls “genital power,” the belief, widespread around the world, that the human genitals emit potentially dangerous power.  Such power is at least ritually polluting; at worst, physically harmful to others.  The belief is ancient; see Exodus 28:42-43; Leviticus 16:4.  It is manifested in various charms and apotropaic devices like the Nin-imma of ancient Mesopotamia; the Irish sheela-na-gig, and variations across early Europe; the Hindu Lajja Gauri; the Italian manu fica; Greek anasyrma; the dilukai of the Caroline Islands in Micronesia and variations in Papua-New Guinea; and many other ethnographic instances. Stevens has previously published articles on genital power in 2006 in Transcultural Psychiatry and 2015 in International Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality.  A Dutch sculptor, Elisabet Stienstra, is known in the Netherlands for her exploration of the female form and credited his 2006 article in the catalogue to a recent exhibition of her work, ”The Female Presence,” in Groningen, Netherlands.

In August, Stevens conducted a Skype interview on “Zombies” with a producer of Moscow’s REN TV for a Russian-language documentary film on little-known phenomena in history and world cultures. His commentary was based on a 1996 article he wrote for The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal. In October Stevens testified as an expert witness in a Colorado court case brought by a Mayan woman from Guatemala who claimed fear of “witchcraft” among her reasons for seeking asylum in the U.S.  Additionally, he assisted in an article published for How Stuff Works on British occultist Aleister Crowley and for a piece on superstitions in the New York Times’ monthly “Kids” section. Stevens gave several lectures to community groups on magical thinking, cults, witches, superstitions, and conspiracy theories, throughout the fall under the University Express program run by the Erie County Department of Senior Services.