Medusa Graduate Conference



The Medusa Graduate Conference is an annual event hosted by the Anthropology Graduate Student Union at the University of Toronto, St. George campus since 2013. Medusa is intended to provide both internal and external students with early-career conference and networking experience in a collegial and interdisciplinary environment. Generally, participants come from universities across Ontario, Quebec, and the eastern United States, with many presenting their research for the first time. Medusa is an important plank of the AGSU’s mandate, and marks a highly anticipated event in the calendars of graduate students in our department and across the University of Toronto.

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Medusa Graduate Conference 2019 — futures

MARCH 28 & 29


(19 RUSSELL STREET – accessible building)




Register for our free event here:

Full schedule below.


The Anthropology Graduate Student Union at the University of Toronto invites your attendance at the 6th annual Medusa Graduate Conference. Medusa provides a venue for participants from across North American universities to share graduate research in an interdisciplinary and collegial conference setting.

The theme of the conference this year is “Futures”. We have recruited participants who speak to questions such as: "What kinds of futures do we hope for, dread, imagine, and cultivate?" and "How do the conditions of the present frame how peoples across time and space speculate on the future?". Keywords for this year’s conference include: temporality, futurity, historicity, uncertainty, risk, “progress”, prediction, imagination, and hopefulness. The Organizing Committee received impressive proposals from a total of 25 institutions from around the world.

We are pleased to share that in a special collaboration with the University of Toronto Development Seminar, we will be co-hosting a keynote lecture by Dr. Michael Degani. Dr. Degani is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. His research focuses on energy use and infrastructure in African cities, particularly Dar es Salaam. Dr. Degani's keynote lecture is titled "The Flickering Torch: Blackouts, Phatic Communication, and the Politics of Data in Tanzania".

With special thanks to our sponsors: The Department of Anthropology, the Department of Political Science, the Jackman Humanities Institute, the Archaeology Centre, the Graduate Student Union, the Anthropology Graduate Student Union, and the Student Initiative Fund.

Catering provided by the Afghan Women’s Catering Group.

Please join us for drinks after Day 1 at the Graduate Student Union Pub (16 Bancroft Avenue).

You are also welcome to join us for a post-conference outing to the Museum of Contemporary Art (158 Sterling Road) on the morning of Saturday March 30.

Accessibility: We are committed to meeting the accessibility needs of all conference attendees. Room AP246 is located on the 2nd floor of the Anthropology Department at 19 Russell Street. Room AP130 is located on the ground floor. The building is ramp accessible and equipped with both automatic doors and an elevator. There are all-gender and wheelchair accessible washrooms located on both the 1st and 2nd floors. For accessibility requests and accommodations please contact Reader copies of panel papers are available on request before 9:00 pm, Wednesday March 27.



DAY ONE: Thursday March 28

8:45-8:55: Introductions

8:55-10:00: Panel I (Utopias, Dystopias, and the Politics of Futurity and Speculation)

Discussant: Dr. Bonnie McElhinny (University of Toronto)

–Loren March (University of Toronto, Geography)

Imagining queer time-spaces: Possible utopias in Oz and Neverland

–Natalie Trevino and Andrew Woods (University of Western Ontario, Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism)

‘We have a problem:' Is there a Future in Outer Space?

–Dai Davies (York, Anthropology)

Envisioning a Better Future in the Midst of Political Conflict at LGBT Pride Parades with “No Politics”

–Xenia Benivolski (University of Toronto, Daniels Faculty of Architecture–Visual Studies)

Making history: How does an absent future change the production of history?

10:00-10:10: Break

10:10-11:05 Panel II (Law, Discordance, and National Futures)

Discussant: Dr. V. Firat Bozcali (University of Toronto)

–Marwa Turabi (University of Toronto, Anthropology)

Is the proof really in the pudding?: Where Science and Law converge

–Neda Maki (York, Anthropology)

After the Neglected Apology: Galvanizing Resilience with the Indigenous Peoples of Newfoundland and Labrador

–Nursel Ozturk (York, Anthropology)

No Life is 4 for 4

11:05-11:10: Break

11:10- 12:15: Panel III (“Belief”, Racialized Histories, and Temporalities of Colonialism)

Discussant: Dr. Craig Cipolla (Royal Ontario Museum/University of Toronto)

–Antony Zelenka (University of Toronto, Anthropology)

“Nested Sovereignty” and Sustainable Development in Eeyou Istchee, Québec

–Valeria Vergani (University of Toronto, Religion)

Decolonizing Anthropological Time: Methodological Approaches and Recent Critiques On Indigenous Time and Sovereignty

–Nicholas Abrams (University of Toronto, Anthropology)

“You wanna get twoored?”: Ignorance of Evil and the Racial Politics of Witchcraft in KwaZulu-Natal

–Kathlyn Guttman (Cornell, Archaeology)

Invisible Residents: Archaeological Evidence for Native Lives at House C of Fort Michilimackinac, MI

12:15-12:45: Lunch

12:45-1:50 Panel IV (Life-course, Intergenerational Thinking, and the Sociality of Living and Dying)

Discussant: Dr. Laura Sikstrom (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health)

–Laila Omar (University of Toronto, Sociology)

Between Past, Present, and Future: Exploring How Physical Displacement Affects Syrian Newcomer Mothers’ Perception of Time

–Joseph Wilson (University of Toronto, Anthropology)

The Future is in Teenage Hands: Using semiotics to reveal our existential fear of the next generation

–Vanessa Maloney (University of Toronto, Anthropology)

The politics of 'looking after' in the Cook Islands: Disability, gift exchange and economies of care in the Pacific Diaspora

–Salpi Bocchieriyan (Cornell, Archaeology)

Variety is the Spice of Death: Diversity in Hellenistic and Roman Mortuary Practice in Armenia

1:50- 1:55: Break

1:55-3:00: Panel V (Methods, New Technologies, Mediation, and Inclusion)

Discussant: Dr. Steven Dorland (University of Toronto)

–Christopher Wai (University of Toronto, Archaeology)

Beyond Novelty in 360 Degrees: Problems and Prospects of Panoramic video in Archaeological Research (and Public communication)

–Samantha Stead (University of Toronto, Evolutionary Anthropology)

Field Research, Community Engagement, and the Natural Sciences

–Cristina Juarez (Cornell, Archaeology)

Elemental Analysis of surface pigments on Nasca polychrome vessels from the Southern Nasca Drainage Basin

–Elliott Tilleczek (University of Toronto, Anthropology)

Aural Action: A Queer Digital Activist Case Study

DAY TWO: Friday March 29

8:45-8:55: Introductions

8:55-10:00: Panel VI (Risk, Play, and Uncertainty)

Discussant: Dr. Naisargi Dave (University of Toronto)

–Nicholas Howe-Bukowski (University of Toronto, Anthropology)

Sporting Theologies of the Future: Knowledge, Sociality and Atmospheres in the British Columbia Christian Soccer League

–Ming Fei Li (University of Toronto, Evolutionary Anthropology)

Risky foraging in wild vervet monkeys and its implications for crop-raiding

–Samuel Poirer Poulin (University of Toronto, Evolutionary Anthropology)

Video Games for Change: How Video Games Can Counter Symbolic Annihilation

10:00- 10:10: Break

10:10-11:15: Panel VII (Displacement, Suspension, Staying, and Slowness)

Discussant. Dr. Roger Canals-Vilageliu (University of Barcelona)

–Mariam Banahi (Johns Hopkins, Anthropology)

Displaced Labor: Managing Aspiration and Expectation in Hamburg

–Elmira Alihosseini (University of Toronto, Anthropology)

Inhabiting Suspension: Violence of Waiting in the Experiences of Afghan Refugees living in Iran

–Qian Yang (OCAD)

The Craftsmanship of Woodwork Joinery with Slow Movements: Research on a Long Lasting Product in a Sustainable Manner

–Mónica Cuéllar Gempeler (McGill, Anthropology)

Amañarse in San Miguel: Stories about ‘staying’ in a place deemed futureless

11:15-11:25: Break

11:25-12:20: Panel VIII (Land, Development, and Territorial Control)

Discussant: Dr. Alejandro Paz (University of Toronto)

–Jay Prakash Sharma (Syracuse, Anthropology)

Formation of Subaltern Political Consciousness: Adivasi Political activism against Land Acquisition in Chhattisgarh, India

–Florence Landry (University of Toronto, Evolutionary Anthropology)

Collective Decisions in a Primate Multi-Level Society: The Importance of Intergroup Effects

–Fikir Haile (Queen’s, Global Development Studies)

The Addis Ababa Integrated Regional Development Plan: Action and (Re)Action

12:20-1:00: Lunch

1:00-3:00: Keynote (Room AP130)–Dr. Michael Degani (Johns Hopkins)

The Flickering Torch: Blackouts, Phatic Communication, and the Politics of Data in Tanzania

3:00- 3:15: Break

3:15- 4:20: Panel IX (Aggregate Futures)

Discussant: Dr. Michael Degani (Johns Hopkins)

–Janita Van Dyk (University of Toronto, Anthropology)

The Two Manifestos: Cooking Food Futures between 1930 and 1989 Italy

–Aakash Solanki (University of Toronto, Anthropology)

Coding Futures: Workshop on Machine Learning Using Python Programming Language

–Agnieszka Mroz (University of Toronto, Anthropology)

Kanye goes to the White House: The beats and rhythms of finance capital

–Sage Sidley (NSCAD)

Captured: Place and the Digital Terrain

4:20-4:30: Break

4:30-5:50: Panel X (Bodies)

Discussant: Dr. Cassandra Hartblay

–Alicia Proudfoot (NSCAD)

Asthma Performances and the Eating Audience

–Yasmine Lucas (University of Toronto, Anthropology)

Fragmentary Pleasures: Amputation, Beauty, and the Internet

–Ekin Erkan (Columbia, Film and Media Studies)

Radical Cryptophasia: Beyond Biopolitics

–Chloé Desjardins (University of Ottawa, Sociology and Anthropology)

The temporal narrative of a morally resilient subject: alienation of the present and virtual futures

–Sarah Roth (Johns Hopkins, Anthropology)

Hope’s Sparks and Circulations: On Futures in Clinical Trials