CBD lectures and events often focus on a theme that demonstrates to students and faculty how CBD and its perspectives can address not only a particular set of questions, but also enrich multiple fields of study. Past themes include Growing Babies: Maternal Heath, Fetal Brain Development, and Birthing (2013-2104), Happiness and Well-Being (2012-2013), Neuroscience and Society (2011-2012), Stress and Resilience (2010-2011), and Art on the Brain (2009-2010). Visit our archives for more information on past events.
We have more events to come. Check in regularly for updates!
Biology: From the Unsocial to the Social Synthesis
Thursday, April 2, 2015
In his talk Dr. Meloni argues that some key-concepts in biology have changed significantly over the last two decades with important, but often underappreciated, consequences for the humanities and the social sciences. In order to justify this claim, Dr. Meloni sketches an opposition between the Modern Synthesis of neo-Darwinism established in the 1930s/1940s and what he calls the (emerging) contemporary Social Synthesis of postgenomic biology.
Dr. Meloni also proposes that this situation has crucial consequences not only for biology, but for the humanities and the social sciences, offering an epistemologically solid basis to consolidate the minority--but important--voices of those humanists and social scientists that have already started to think in novel biosocial and biocultural ways beyond the nature/nurture dichotomies of the past.
Maurizio Meloni is a social theorist working on the history and political implications of the life sciences, neuroscience, and epigenetics. He is honorary senior lecturer with the College of Social Sciences and International Studies, University of Exeter, U.K. For 2014-2015 he is a member of the Institute for Advanced Study (School of Social Science), Princeton, where he has been awarded a fellowship for his research on sociology and epigenetics.
Sponsored by the FPr-Hampshire College Culture, Brain, and Development Program and the Five College program in Culture, Health, and Science
Birth Across Cultures: An Evolutionary Perspective
Robbie Davis-Floyd, Ph.D.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Franklin Paterson Hall, Main Lecture Hall
Robbie Davis-Floyd Ph.D., senior research fellow, department of anthropology, University of Texas Austin and fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology, is a medical anthropologist specializing in the anthropology of reproduction. An international speaker and researcher, she is the author of over 80 articles and Birth as an American Rite of Passage (1992, 2004), coauthor of From Doctor to Healer: The Transformative Journey (1998) and The Power of Ritual (forthcoming), and lead editor of 10 collections, the latest of which is Birth Models That Work (2009), which highlights optimal models of birth care around the world. Birth Models That Work Volume II: Birth on the Global Edge, coedited with Betty-Anne Daviss, will be forthcoming in 2014. Her current research project studies the paradigm shifts of holistic obstetricians in Brazil. Dr. Davis-Floyd serves as editor for the International MotherBaby Childbirth Initiative (IMBCI): 10 Steps to Optimal Maternity Care, board member of the International MotherBaby Childbirth Organization (IMBCO), and senior advisor to the Council on Anthropology and Reproduction. Most of her published articles are freely available on her website.
This talk takes an evolutionary perspective on the cultural treatment of human childbirth, exploring cross-cultural birth practices in all six types of human subsistence strategies (hunting-gathering, horticulture, agriculture, pastoralism, industrial society, and the technocracy), noting pre-modern similarities across vast cultural differences, examining the homogenizing effects of modernization, and exploring the possibilities of a postmodern mentality for improving the technocratic treatment of birth. The story of the Three Little Pigs provides an over-arching framework for the talk, with the "big bad wolf" understood as a metaphor for the dangers of nature and the cultural fears of nature that developed in concordance with the evolution of agriculture and industrialization. Although pre-modern birth practices varied widely across the cultural spectrum, they held strong similarities in that they consistently honored the normal physiology and psychology of birth. An anthropological view shows that appearance of cultural difference fades in relation to the cross-cultural similarities in the provision of companionship for laboring women, freedom of movement, upright positions for birth, and the use of various artifacts such as ropes, hammocks, and poles to support upright positions. The advent of industrialization and the concordant ascendance of technology and biomedicine obfuscated traditional knowledge about birth physiology, replacing it with mechanistic efforts to control the birth process. Our challenge today is to reincorporate traditional understandings of birth physiology, use new technologies appropriately, and bring a postmodern mentality that incorporates scientific evidence with traditional and professional midwifery knowledge to our cultural understanding and management of birth.
An Evening of Midwifery
April 10, 2014
Film Screening and discussion: Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and The Farm Midwives; post-screening discussion facilitated by CBD Director Pamela K. Stone. Adele Simmons Hall Auditorium, Room 112
"Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and The Farm Midwives captures a spirited group of women who taught themselves how to deliver babies on a 1970s hippie commune, rescued modern midwifery from extinction, and changed the way a generation thought about childbirth. Today, as nearly 1/3 of all U.S. babies are born via C-section, they labor on, fighting to preserve their knowledge and pushing, once again, for the rebirth of birth." (birthstorymovie.com)
"The Journey to Midwifery," with Lizzie Herskovitz 01F, CMN, MSN
This event will take place in Adele Simmons Hall Lobby
Originally from Los Angeles, Lizzie Herskovitz graduated from Hampshire College with a degree in Women's Studies in 2005. She then spent time working at a group home for women and children in San Francisco, teaching yoga, and farming. She received her nursing and midwifery education at the Yale School of Nursing, and completed her clinical rotations in Tuba City, AZ, part of the Navajo Nation. Upon graduating from Yale in 2011, Lizzie joined Birth & Beyond, and is thrilled to have been catching babies at home ever since. Join us as Lizzie Herskovitz shares her story from Hampshire to Birth & Beyond. Open to all Five College students and community members interested in midwifery. Questions and conversation encouraged; light dinner provided. Cosponsored by The Five College Program in Culture, Health, and Science.
"Fetal Origins of Child Development: Emerging Evidence of Maternal and Epigenetic Effects in Utero," by Catherine Monk, Ph.D.
November 19, 2013
Main Lecture Hall, Franklin Patterson Hall
Catherine Monk, Ph.D., is associate professor in the departments of psychiatry and obstetrics and gynecology, and associate director for research at the Women's Program, Columbia University Medical Center. Trained as a clinical psychologist, she spends the majority of her time on research, and a small percent treating women during and after pregnancy. Dr. Monk's research centers on psychopathology, developmental psychobiology, and perinatal psychiatry. A primary focus of her work is the possible roles of pregnant women's depression in the familial transmission of risk for psychiatric disorders. She has several ongoing research projects funded by the National Institutes of Health including an intervention study titled "Behavioral Change in the Mother/Infant Dyad: Preventing Postpartum Depression." Dr. Monk received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College and her doctorate from the City University of New York. She completed a NIMH-supported postdoctoral fellowship in the psychobiological sciences at Columbia prior to joining the faculty.
Consistent with a developmental focus on the etiology of mental disorders, mounting evidence indicates that prenatal exposure to maternal distress--anxiety in particular--exerts pervasive effects on infant and child physiology, behavior, and neurobehavioral trajectories. By inference, these findings implicate in utero alterations of fetal CNS development, and suggest that evidence of the maternal influence should be identifiable during the period when it occurs. The relatively few studies of fetal behavior add novel, proximal data to the accumulating cross-sectional research on maternal prenatal distress effects. Fetal studies avoid an interpretive challenge by characterizing prenatal effects independent of postnatal factors; these show some functional relevance by demonstrating continuity with infant development, and help identify which physiological effectors of maternal distress shape child outcomes such that maternal experience "gets under fetal skin." This presentation will review this fetal research while adding the contexts of assessing maternal psychosocial functioning in light of NIMH's Research Domain Criteria (the initiative to redefine for research purposes the clinical diagnostic system) and questions of the clinical care of pregnant women.
"Undoing 'One-Sidedness'--Sexology, Gender, History," by Kirsten Leng, Ph.D., PUBLIC LECTURE
November 11, 2013
Main Lecture Hall, Franklin Patterson Hall
Kirsten Leng, Ph.D., is an ACLS New Faculty Fellow with the department of history and Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Columbia University. Her research examines the emergence of sexology as a field between the years 1890 and 1933 and probes its relationships to contemporaneous movements for women's rights and sexual reform. She is currently working on a manuscript entitled Sexual Knowledge/Sexual Politics: Contesting Truth and Power in Early Twentieth Century. From 2011 to 2013 she was a postdoctoral fellow with The Sexualities Project at Northwestern University.
ABSTRACT: What role did women play in the creation of sexology in the early twentieth century? Why have historians largely elided women's involvement? And how might a focus on women and gender revise the history of sexology itself? Such questions are at the heart of my current research, which rethinks sexology's history through the lens of gender between the years 1890 and 1933. In this talk, I will make the case that asserting women's role in the history of sexology does not merely correct the historical record or "recover" women's neglected contributions in a straightforward, celebratory way, but in fact enriches our understanding of sexology itself. Specifically, focusing on women's contributions and the gendered dynamics of knowledge production reveals sexology to have been a dynamic, highly contested site of knowledge and politics, one wherein truth and expertise were "up for grabs" and one whose findings had both emancipating and repressive potentials for individuals and society. I therefore challenge static representations of sexology as an "always already" authoritative and masculine science, whose disciplinary powers have been relatively constant throughout the modern era. Instead, I put forward a view of sexology as a staging ground for gendered conflicts over objectivity and authority vis-à-vis sex and sexuality, and over the socio-political implications of sexual scientific knowledge.
"What I Did This Summer:" CBD Student Presentations
October 19, 2013
Join us over Family, Alumni, and Friends Weekend for a series of presentations by students who received funding from CBD to complete research projects or internships over the summer. Students will present their work and talk about how it fits within the context of a Hampshire education. The program also will include a student-led panel discussion on "What I Did This Summer." Here, CBD-funded students will share their experiences, as well as what to expect (and what they never expected they would do) as a summer intern. Questions from the audience are strongly encouraged!
"Borges' Ficciones and Zeno's Paradoxes Intersect at Infinity," by William Goldbloom Bloch, Ph.D., PUBLIC LECTURE
September 25, 2013
Franklin Patterson Hall, West Lecture Hall
Dr. William Goldbloom Bloch is professor of mathematics at Wheaton College in Massachusetts. At various times, he's been smitten by the Big Questions, Mathematics, the (conjectural) Platonic form of Elegance, Aristotleian aporia, and the limits of Logic. Prior to coming to Wheaton, he pursued these topics with maniacal abandon at Reed College, the University of California at Berkeley, and as a postdoc at the University of Texas at Austin. His book The Unimaginable Mathematics of Borges' Library of Babel (Oxford University Press, 2008) was the runner-up for the 2008 PROSE award in mathematical writing.
ABSTRACT: Jorge Luis Borges was an Argentine poet, essayist, and writer of short fiction. His works are headwaters to the literary streams of magical realism and metafiction. Zeno of Elea composed a short tract of paradoxes focusing on infinity and the impossibility of motion. His paradoxes were designed to confuse those who dismissed the ideas of his master, Parmenides. Simple to state, they are imbued with an enduring irksome appeal. Because they are "obviously wrong," most generations believe them conclusively resolved, but Borges rightly worried about them. We'll discuss two of Zeno's paradoxes and a few of the ways Borges embodied those ideas in his stories. Finally, hoping to sow confusion anew, we'll update one of Zeno's paradoxes by using an idea from the mathematical analysis of infinite series.