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Anthropologist Nadia Abu El-Haj to address “The Ethics of Choice: Epistemology, Commerce, and the Genetic Historical Self," February 28, 2012.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY— Anthropologist Nadia Abu El-Haj will address “The Ethics of Choice: Epistemology, Commerce, and the Genetic Historical Self,” in the annual Dr. Maurice Sitomer Lecture on Tuesday, February 28, at 5:30pm, in Room 203 of Taylor Hall. The Jewish Studies program organizes Vassar's annual Sitomer lecture, which is free and open to the public.

Abu El-Haj will discuss the growing field of genetic history and its study of "the Jews." A scientific field that straddles the divide between the natural and the human sciences, genetic history explores the origins and genealogies of particular contemporary human collectivities and has generated an ever-growing commerce in ancestry testing. Abu El-Haj will illustrate the ways in which genetic history has emerged, by and large, as a project of self-knowledge and self-exploration.

Nadia Abu El-Haj is a professor in the Department of Anthropology (Barnard College and Columbia University) and the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race (Columbia University), and is co-director of the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University. Her writings include Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society (The University of Chicago Press, 2001), which won the Middle East Studies Association’s Albert Hourani Book Award in 2002.  Her second book, The Genealogical Science: The Search for Jewish Origins and the Politics of Epistemology, will be released this April (University of Chicago Press, 2012).

A graduate of Byrn Mawr College who received her PhD. from Duke University, Abu El-Haj has held fellowships at Harvard University's Academy for International and Area Studies, the University of Pennsylvania Mellon Program, and the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. She is a former Fulbright Fellow, and her research and scholarship have been supported by a variety of organizations, including the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

About the Dr. Maurice Sitomer Lecture Series 

In 1984 Mrs. Arlene Sitomer honored her husband by endowing the Dr. Maurice Sitomer Lecture Fund, to invite speakers who enlighten, inspire, and encourage understanding of Jewish culture. Dr. Sitomer ‘s broad leadership and service in the Poughkeepsie community included serving as President of the Hudson Valley Council of B’nai B’rith, chairman of the Democratic Party for the Town of Poughkeepsie, and as an organizer of Arlington Post #1302 of the American Legion. In 1984 he was honored as the Man of the Year by the Arlington Rotary, of which he was a charter member.

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations or information on accessibility should contact the Campus Activities Office at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice,appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available. 

Vassar College is located at 124 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie, NY, and directions to the campus can be found at http://www.vassar.edu/directions.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Friday, February 17, 2012