Zuckerman Conference at the Mellon Biennial 

Two ideas motivate the Zuckerman Conference at the Mellon Biennial. Extending the guiding intellectual animus of the Mellon Interdisciplinary Fellows Program, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we bring together alums of the program to engage each other and current fellows in interdisciplinary conversations about their current research, and open these conversations to the wider Columbia and New York City community.  The Zuckerman Conference is the focal point of this effort. The conference is also motivated by the importance and pleasure of social relationships in our professional lives.  The first Zuckerman Conference at the Mellon Biennial was held in April 2011.

Thursday, April 18 & Friday, April 19

Philosophy Hall, Room 301
1150 Amsterdam Avenue, Columbia University

Thursday, April 18, 9:45 a.m.
Nicholas Dirks, Chancellor-Designate, UC-Berkeley
Scholars and Spies


Thursday, 18 April 2013

Philosophy 301

9:00 – 9:30 Gathering and Breakfast

9:30 – 9:45 Welcome and Acknowledgements

                  William McAllister, INCITE & Co-Director, Mellon Program

                  Harriet Zuckerman, Mellon Foundation, Ret. & Columbia University, Emerita

                  Peter Bearman, INCITE & Co-Director, Mellon Program

9:45 – 10:45 Keynote Address

Nicholas Dirks, Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and Professor of History, Columbia University

“Scholars and Spies”

10:45 – 11:00 Break

11:00 – 1:00 Panel 1. Where Do Categories of Disease Come From?: It’s Not Just Science and Scientists

Illness is neither simply produced by biomedicine nor exists as only a biomedical condition. Social action combines with genetic research and clinical practice to produce new kinds of people who collaborate to define new biosocial categories of illness. Shifting statuses of literary forms in medical discourse contribute to the formation of medical disciplines, in particular tropical medicine. And the history of sleeping sickness as an iconic disease of the colonial encounter in sub-Saharan Africa demonstrates the development of “neglected tropical diseases” as an operative and imaginative category in global health.


Dan Navon, Department of Sociology/Columbia University
“Beyond Geneticization: New Kinds of People at the Intersection of Genetics, Medicine and Social Action”

 Alvan Ikoku, Department of Epidemiology and Population Health/Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University
“Form in Tropical Medicine”

Mari Webel, History Department/Emory University
“Historicizing the Neglected Tropical Disease: Global Health in Perspective”

Saskia Cornes, Discussant, Current Mellon Fellow and Department of English and Comparative Literature/Columbia University

2:00 – 3:30: Panel 2: Borders? We don’t need no stinkin’ borders: Thinking Beyond the Nation-State

How to think: about a-national seed banks and their negotiations with nation-states to preserve global diversity; and about the post-World War I history of Europe without always asking the “National Question”.

Courtney Fullilove, Department of History/Wesleyan University
“Seed Vaults: Drylands Agricultural Research and the Preservation of Global Biodiversity”

 Dominique Reill, Department of History/Miami University
“Money without a State: Nationalism, Economic Nationalism and the Dissolution of Empire After World War I”

Andrew Liu, Discussant, Current Mellon Fellow and Department of History/Columbia University

3:30 – 3:45 Break

3:45 – 5:45 Panel 3: Subtle and Pernicious Effects of Societal Organization on Children’s Health

Human capital accumulation is a key driver of long-run well-being both for societies and individuals. But societies organize themselves or engage in activities that undermine the ability of children to participate in this well-being, through wars, as two of our papers demonstrate, and through our reliance on petroleum-based transportation, as our third shows.

Julia Heck, School of Public Health/UCLA
“Childhood Cancer and Traffic-related Air Pollution Exposure in Pregnancy and Early Life”

Camelia Minoiu, Research Department/International Monetary Fund
Olga Shemyakina, Department of Economics/Georgia Institute of Technology
“Armed Conflict, Household Victimization and Child Health in Côte d’Ivoire”

Uri Schwed, Department of Sociology and Anthropology/Ben Gurion University of the Negev
Florencia Torche, Department of Sociology/New York University
“The Hidden Costs of War: Exposure to Armed Conflict and Birth Outcomes”

Pierce O’Reilly, Discussant, Current Mellon Fellow and Department of Political Science/Columbia University

Friday, 19 April 2013

Philosophy 301

8:30 –  9:00 Gathering and Breakfast

9:00 –  10:30 Panel 4: Macro- and Micro-Bargaining:  Unusual Takes on the Usual Suspects— Supply & Demand and Principal & Agent

The power dynamics of bargaining, between people, organizations or both, are more subtle and complicated than we might imagine. Organizations with lots of money to give (like the World Bank) may not, under certain and not unusual conditions, make unilateral demands on the aid-receiving country. Agents have to be created before a principal/agent relationship can begin to be established, and even then, getting the incentive structure correctly aligned is far from easy.

Matthew Winters, Department of Political Science/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Jaclyn Streitfeld, Department of Political Science/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
“Splitting the Check: Bargaining Over Counterpart Commitments in World Bank Projects”

Zsuzsanna Vargha, School of Management/University of Leicester (UK)
“Preludes to the Principal-Agent Relationship: The Infrastructure of Aligning Interests and Making the Motivated Salesperson at Two Banks Before the Financial Crisis”

Felix Gerlsbeck, Discussant, Current Mellon Fellow and Department of Political Science/Columbia University

10:30 – 10:45 Break

10:45 – 12:15: Panel 5: Creating Our-Selves: How Sociopolitical Entities Form and Maintain Themselves

In the post-World War II world, Europeans re-create their democracies on the basis of the Catholic notion of family. At the turn of the twentieth century, Irish-Americans showed how immigrant groups create their ethnicity through concrete social mechanisms embedded in organizational experimentation. And American elites use a particular cultural behavior to perpetuate inequality and their status as modern, tolerant and culturally expansive without succumbing to the taste of a declassed popular culture. Or so our participants argue.

James Chappel, Society of Fellows/University of Chicago
“Nuclear Families in a Nuclear Age: Catholicism, Democracy and Family Politics, 1930-1950”

 Dan Lainer-Vos, Department of Sociology/University of Southern California
“How Did Irish-Americans Become Irish? The New York Gaelic Athletic Association and the Production of Friendly Rivalries”

Sherally Munshi , Discussant, Mellon Fellow and Department of English and Comparative Literature/Columbia University


12:15 – 12:30 Break

12:30 – 1:30 Conversation: What’s in the Virgule? The Humanities/Social Science Intersection

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Reader Comments (4)

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October 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGadsubone

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October 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGad subone

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December 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNew Year Quotes

Wow! The event was really informative.

December 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHappy New Year 2014

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