Conference Presentations

Select presentations at scholarly conferences and colloquia

Tiki Tales from the Margaret Mead Taproom; Or, The Enduring Allure of “tiki culture” among non-Pacific Islanders in the contemporary United States. Paper abstract submitted to Northeast Popular/American Culture Association, annual conference, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, October 2017.

Primitivism, Kabbalah, and James Cameron’s Avatar: Mythic Redemption on Planet Pandora. The Place of Religion in Film, Ray Smith Symposium, Syracuse University, March 2017.

Hotel California in the Sepik; Or, Music that Flows like Water in a Postcolonial Papua New Guinea Society. February, 2017, Annual Meeting, Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania (ASAO), Kauai, Hawaii.

Why Postcolonial Papua New Guineans Think They Are Jews – And What It Means for Jewish Studies. Annual Meeting, Association for Jewish Studies, Boston, MA, Dec. 2015.

Reparations: Perspectives from Jewish Studies and Melanesian Anthropology. Repairing the Past, Imagining the Future: Reparations and Beyond. University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, Nov. 2015.

Cultural Dialogics and the Grateful Dead: Or, An Anthropology of ‘Moral’ Beauty and ‘Grotesque’ Imagery in Lyric, Visual, and Sonic Iconography. Invited paper, So Many Roads: The World in the Grateful Dead, conference, San Jose State University, November 2014.

Gregory Bateson, Margaret Mead, and the Aesthetics of Ethnographic Photography. 2013, ASAO, San Antonio, TX; prior renditions delivered at Alexandria, VA, 2010; Honolulu, February 2011; Portland 2012. 2013 was the final version before submission for publication.

Modernizing Fathers and Postcolonial Manhood Among Eastern Iatmul. 2012. Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association (AAA), San Francisco, CA.

Pop-Culture Yarmulkes, Bawdy T-Shirts, and Ironies of American Jewish Identity. 2012. Annual Meeting of the Popular Culture Association, Boston.

Tracing Art from the Sepik River to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. 2011. AAA, Montreal, Canada.

Aboriginal Yarmulkes, Ambivalent Attire, and Ironies of Contemporary Jewish Identity. 2011. Invited paper, The Twenty-Fourth Annual Klutznick-Harris Symposium, ‘Fashioning Jews: Clothing, Culture and Commerce,’ Creighton University, NE.

Avatar, Mythopoetic Primitives, and Masculine Redemption. 2010. AAA, New Orleans.

Literary Representations of New Guinea in early American newspapers. 2011. Informal paper, ASAO, Honolulu, HI. (First discussed at ASAO 2010)

Touristic Images of Ethnicity, Globalization, and Locality in a (Post-) American City. 2009. Annual Conference, New England American Studies Association.

The Aesthetics of Death. 2008. ASAO, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.

From New Guinea to New Minglewood: Notes Towards an Aesthetic Theory of the Grateful Dead. 2007. Unbroken Chain: The Grateful Dead In Music, Culture and Memory. Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Foreskin Fallacies: Or, Are Our Rites Equivalent to Their Wrongs? 2006. Invited paper, session on Female and Male Genital Surgeries: Critical Intersections/Astonishing Issues, AAA, San Jose, CA.

Are There Fathers in Melanesia? A Conceptual History of Fatherhood in Melanesian Anthropology, with Reflections on ‘Modern’ Fathers in the Sepik River of Papua New Guinea. 2005. ASAO, Kauai, Hawaii. A revised version presented at the 2006 meeting.

Re-Focusing Bateson’s Lens: A Long-Overdue Appreciation of the 1938 Photos and Films from the Sepik River, Papua New Guinea. 2004. Presidential Session, Gregory Bateson and the Science of Mind and Pattern. AAA, San Francisco.

From the Melanesian Men’s House to the Minyan: Anthropological Reflections on Teaching Jewish Studies after Teaching about New Guinea. 2004. For the session Teaching Yidl in the Middle: Issues in Teaching Jewish Studies to Non-Jewish Students. Annual Meeting, Assoc. or Jewish Studies, Chicago.

From Wimp to Warrior and Boxer?! Popular Images of Jewish Masculinity. 2004. For the session Jews, Gender, and Popular Culture. Annual Meeting, Modern Language Association, Philadelphia.

Leaf, Tide, and the Sepik Sublime. 2003, AAA, Chicago.

Contemporary Fathering and Parenthood among American Jews. 2003. Annual Meeting, Midwest Jewish Studies Association (MJSA), Omaha.

High Art as Tourist Art, Tourist Art as High Art: Comparing the New Guinea Sculpture Garden at Stanford University with Sepik River Tourist Art. 2003, ASAO, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Jews, Judaism, and Contemporary Opposition to Circumcision. 2002. Annual Conference, MJSA, Cleveland.

Bodily Inscriptions and Topographic Traces: Memory of Culture in the Sepik River of Papua New Guinea. 2002. Invited paper, “Anthropology of Memory” Conference, Laboratoire d’anthropologie sociale of the Collège de France, Paris.

Rewriting an Anthropological Efflorescence: The Iatmul Fieldwork of Mead and Bateson. 2001. Session in honor of the Margaret Mead Centennial, AAA, Washington, DC.

Discussant for session “Rethinking Bateson,” 2001. Annual Meeting, Society for Psychological Anthropology, Atlanta.

The Color of Culinary Desire: Iatmul Food, Levi-Strauss’s Culinary Triangle, and Psychoanalysis. 2001. ASAO, Florida.

Anti Anti-Circumcision: A Symbolic Critique of the Male Circumcision Controversy. 2000, AAA, San Francisco.

A Morning of Melancholy: Iatmul Funerary Emotion, Embodiment and Time. 1999. AAA, Chicago.

The Role of Women in Eastern Iatmul Naven Rites and the Tragedy of Male Initiation. 1998. ASAO, Pensacola.

The Sonorous Self in New Guinea: The Cultural Symbolism of Bamboo Flute Music and the Aesthetics of Personal Identity. 1998. Annual Meeting, Society for Ethnomusicology, Bloomington.

Melanesian Maps and the Triumph of Culture: Aesthetics, Environment and Representation. 1998. Invited paper, Annual meeting of the Social Science History Association, Chicago.

Art, Authenticity and Other Transnational Dilemmas: Lessons from Sepik River Tourism, Shona Sculpture and the New Guinea Sculpture Garden at Stanford University. 1997, AAA, Washington, DC.

Fixing Identity in a Fluid World: Knowledge, Totemism and Art in the Sepik River and Aboriginal Australia. 1997. Invited paper, “From Myth to Minerals: Place, Narrative, Land and Transformation in Australia and New Guinea,” Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.


Symbolism of Iatmul Canoes, Houses and Bodies. 1996. ASAO, Kailua-Kona, HI.

Person, Shame and Conduct in New Guinea. 1995. AAA, Washington, DC.

Sepik River Tourist Art: Aesthetic Responses to Changing Identity. 1994. Art of the Sepik River Conference, Stanford University, CA.

Orifical Imagery in Art and Myth and the Cultural Construction of Space in Sepik River and Northwest Coast Societies. 1993. AAA, Washington, D.C. (co-authored with a senior student at DePauw University)

Iatmul Naven Ceremonies and a Poetics of Self and Society. 1991. AAA, Chicago.

V. Gordon Childe, Essentialism, and the Irony of the ‘Archaeological Object.’ 1990. V. Gordon Childe Centenary Conference, University of Queensland, Australia. (in absentia)