Our series seeks to provide public discussion of cutting edge topics in all fields of Anthropology. The DLS builds on a 100-year history of science-for-the-people by offering free public lectures which examine anthropology’s contributions to pressing issues of the day. While even the concept of “the public” is endangered these days, the goal of this series is to maintain domains for public discussion and debate. Our lectures are places where people—academics, students, professionals from other disciplines and interested members of the public– actually meet each other and exchange ideas. With the help of the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and now Hunter College and the Roosevelt House, we have resisted charging admission for lectures. Instead we are building a face-to-face participatory audience seeking answers about what it means to be human and how anthropological understanding of the human is part of the struggle for global social justice. We ask our lecturers to address the broad themes through the lens of their own research.

The 2023-24 Theme is ‘Humanity on the Move’

An overcrowded refugee boat capsizes in the Mediterranean

The contemporary surge in people crossing borders is a response to global crises. Migration is a symptom, not principally a cause, of our world’s multiple crises.

During 2023 to 2024, the Anthropology Section of the New York Academy of Sciences will devote its Distinguished Lecture Series to examining global crises and their relationship to people on the move. Participants in the series will examine the role of global inequality, climate change, food insecurity, political instability, war, and cross-border wealth extraction and their relationship to the contemporary human struggles to make and keep a home. Global and internal Inequalities are fundamental forces that generate many of the secondary causes of human mobilities and struggles to settle and belong.

Throughout the series, participants will explore the treatment of migrants in the places they move through and the places where they try to build new lives, as well as the explanatory narratives that rationalize the ill-treatment of migrants as they move. We will examine movement itself as a dynamic and diverse force, as people cross borders not only from the South to the North, but also laterally within the South itself (e.g., Bolivians in Brazil) and also within nations. Explanatory narratives erase the underlying causes of migration, often blaming migrants and the Global South, rather than the Northern forces undermining Southern livelihoods. In consequence, migrants are often treated poorly and, rather than welcomed, they are often subjected to prejudice, racial discrimination, and injury, separation from family and friends during their journeys, and even death. The cross-cultural case studies that we explore through this series will also address contributions of migrants to the localities where they establish new lives, significant contributions that are often overlooked.

Visit the Events page for the full schedule