John Collins: Ethnographies of US Empire

March 13, 2020
12:00 pmto1:30 pm

Gerlinger Lounge, 1468 University St.

John Collins, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Queens College & the CUNY Graduate Center

Since the mid-1990s, John Collins has conducted ethnographic research on UNESCO world heritage sites, urban restoration programs, and their relationships to national histories and racial politics in Brazil. This gave rise to his first book, Revolt of the Saints: Memory and Redemption in the Twilight of Brazilian ‘Racial Democracy.’

John Collins

In addition to ongoing work on heritage, race and ethnographic approaches to history and historicity in Latin America, he is currently involved in two new projects. The first, Under English Eyes, examines the ways Africans who arrived on the final slave ship to dock in the city of Salvador, Bahia experienced Brazil’s 19th century transition to ostensibly free labor. The second, Hunters of the Sourlands, is a somewhat iconoclastic foray into human-animal relations and the politics of property and nature in the contemporary U.S. The project is based on experiences with hunters of white-tail deer, state game officials, and scientists involved in wildlife biology in central New Jersey. Collins seeks to understand more clearly how recent economic changes have altered landscapes in ways that affect both national politics and the ecology of North American woodlands. This project articulates closely with his ongoing examination of U.S. imperial politics, which gave rise to his most recent book, a volume co-edited with Carole McGranahan and entitled Ethnographies of U.S. Empire (Duke University Press, 2018).

In addition to his research and teaching at Queens and CUNY Graduate Center, he currently serves as co-chair of the Columbia University Brazil Seminar. From 2012-2018 he directed Queens College’s Program in Latin American and Latino Studies. LALS plays an extremely important and promising role in the intellectual life of Queens as a College and Queens as a borough.