The 2013 Iris Marion Young Lecture: The Revolution in Maternal Thinking and Child Survival in Northeast Brazil: The Political and Moral Economies of Mother Love | Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
University of Pittsburgh

The 2013 Iris Marion Young Lecture: The Revolution in Maternal Thinking and Child Survival in Northeast Brazil: The Political and Moral Economies of Mother Love

October 24, 2013 - 3:30pm
Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Chancellor's Professor of Anthropology at UC Berkeley



In this lecture, Nancy Scheper-Hughes will discuss the political, economic and moral economies that have transformed the experiences of  life and death in the interior of Northeast Brazil, 20 years after the publication of Death Without Weeping: The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil. Her controversial discussion of mother love and child death is one of her most well-known — though least well-understood — theses. She will clarify her argument and explain how a sexual and reproductive revolution came about in the first decade of the 21st century. She will also  touch upon  her  political engagements with the women of the Alto do Cruzeiro against a death squad that had  terrorized the community in the late 1990s early 2000s. As an aside she will also explain how poor young  men living on the fringes of  Recife, the capital city, of Pernambuco got caught up in an international network of human traffickers for kidneys  in 2001-2003, which actualized their mothers' worst fears,that their children would be 'kidnapped' for their organs.  

Nancy Scheper-Hughes is Chancellor's Professor of Anthropology at UC Berkeley, where she directs the doctoral program in Medical Anthropology, and the co-founder and director of Organs Watch, a medical human rights project on human trafficking to supply organs for transplant patients.  A new, updated edition of Death Without Weeping: The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil is in preparation. She is the editor (with Loic Acquaint) of Commodifying Bodies, and with Philippe Bourgeois of Violence in War and Peace. Forthcoming are  two ethnographies: The Ghosts of Montes de Oca: A Hidden Subtext of the Argentine Dirty War (University of North Carolina Press) and Kidney Hunter: Trafficking with the Organs Traffickers (University of California Press).   


 Iris Marion Young Award Winners 2013

Four winners of the 2013 Iris Marion Young Award for Political Engagement have been named.  The award is co-sponsored by the Women’s Studies Program and the Graduate School for Public and International Policy.  Young was a professor in GSPIA during the 1990s, and she was active in the Women’s Studies Program.  After Young’s death in 2006, the award was founded in 2008 to honor Young’s memory and to recognize members of the Pitt community whose actions have had political impact within the university or beyond. 

For the Faculty Award:  Jessie B. Ramey, currently an ACLS New Faculty Fellow in Women’s Studies and History at the University of Pittsburgh.  Ramey is being honored for her activism on behalf of public education in Western Pennsylvania.  She is a founding member of the Pittsburgh Great School Coalition, an organization devoted to improving public schools and public school funding in Western Pennsylvania, and the lead author of the blog with the same goal, Yinzercation.  As a result of these efforts, Ramey has twice been invited to the White House to meet with President Obama’s senior policy advisors about educational issues.  Ramey’s scholarship supports her interest in children’s welfare and opportunities.  She is the author of Childcare in Black and White: Working Parents and the History of Orphanages (University of Illinois Press, 2012), which won the Lerner-Scott prize in women’s history from the Organization of American Historians, the Herbert G. Gutman Prize of the Labor and Working-Class History Association, and the John Heinz Award of the National Academy of Social Insurance. 

For the Staff Award:  Sherdina D. Harper is being honored for her exemplary work as Coordinator of Cross Cultural Programming at Pitt.  Harper advises several student organizations at Pitt (Rainbow Alliance, Black Action Society, and Campus Women’s Organization) and provides diversity trainings and workshops, including the Allies Training for staff and faculty about how to support LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, and queer) students at Pitt.    

For the Graduate Student Award:  Alicia Williamson, currently a Visiting Postdoctoral Lecturer in the English Department, is being honored for her accomplishments as a PhD student.  Williamson was a founding member of Pittsburghers for Public Transit, a grassroots organization begun in 2010 that brings together transit riders, drivers, and supporters.  The group works to stop service cuts and fare hikes and to make public transportation cheaper and better.    She has also been a member of the Thomas Merton Center’s Economic Justice Committee, and she has recently helped to found the Pittsburgh Collaborative for Working Class Studies, an organization that brings together scholars from several Pittsburgh colleges and universities.   

For the Undergraduate Student Award:  Audrey-Marie H. Winn is a junior majoring in Philosophy, Chinese, and Nonfiction Writing.  She is being honored for activism and service conducted in the Pittsburgh area and China.  She has worked locally as a reading tutor through AmeriCorps VISTA, and as a result of this work, she founded a community service initiative to provide communal bookshelves in low-income Pittsburgh neighborhoods.  She has also worked as a Legal Intake Intern for the ACLU.  Winn extended her work for social justice to a new field this summer when she began compiling statements from migrant workers while living and studying in Chengdu, China.  She presented her research in Mandarin Chinese to students and administrators at Sichuan University, one of the largest employers of migrant workers in central China.    


The winners will be honored at a ceremony on Thurs., Oct. 23, from 4:45-6:00 in the Pennsylvania Room at the Pittsburgh Athletic Association.  The ceremony will follow this year’s Iris Marion Young memorial lecture, which will be presented at 3:30 by Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Chancellor’s Professor of Anthropology at UC Berkeley.  This year’s lecture, which combines Scheper-Hughes’s longstanding interest in how people live in poverty in Northeast Brazil with her more recent scholarship and activism about the global traffic in human organs, is entitled “The Revolution in Maternal Thinking and Child Survival in Northeast Brazil:  The Political and Moral Economies of Mother Love.”  The public is invited to the lecture, the awards ceremony, and the reception, which have been sponsored in part by the Office of the Vice Provost and Dean of Students, the Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, the Center for Latin American Studies, the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures, and the Center for Bioethics and Health Law.



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