Professor Erica James Colloquium Presentation on Tuesday Dec 13 | Anthropology and Education | International & Transcultural Studies

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In the Department of International & Transcultural Studies

Past Announcements

Professor Erica Caple James (PhD Anthropology Harvard 2003)

Colloquium “‘If It’s Not Written Down, It Didn’t Happen’: Scriptural Economies at the Catholic Charities Haitian Multi-Service Center”

Tuesday, December 13th, 2:00-3:30pm

305 Russell Hall

Open to all

Refreshments will be served.

Prior to the presentation, on Monday, December 12th, from 4:30-5:30pm, Professor James will meet with students in 539 Grace Dodge Hall (open to students in the ITS Department).


“‘If It’s Not Written Down, It Didn’t Happen’: Scriptural Economies at the Catholic Charities Haitian Multi-Service Center”

This talk analyzes some of the challenges a Boston-based Haitian social service center faces in serving refugee and immigrant clients while operating at the intersection of the Roman Catholic Church, Catholic Charities, and a variety of publicly funded agencies. Using Michel de Certeau’s concept of the scriptural economy, I show how the documentary procedures that funders require pose constraints on the provision of pastoral care in two programs: a maternal and child health education program and an adult education program.


Erica Caple James is a medical and psychiatric anthropologist who received an A.B. from Princeton University (Anthropology 1992), an M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School (1995), and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University (Social Anthropology 1998, 2003). Her work focuses on global health and security; violence and trauma; human rights and humanitarianism; democratization and postconflict transition processes; race, gender, and culture; and religion and healing. Her first book, Democratic Insecurities: Violence, Trauma, and Intervention in Haiti (University of California Press, 2010), documents the psychosocial experience of Haitian torture survivors targeted during the 1991-94 coup period and analyzes the politics of humanitarian assistance in "post-conflict" nations making the transition to democracy. The research was supported by a Social Science Research Council-MacArthur Foundation Fellowship on Peace and Security in a Changing World (1998-2000) and NIMH pre- and post-doctoral fellowships. Her second major book project, entitled Wounds of Charity: Corporate Catholicism in the Archdiocese of Boston, analyses the "biopolitics of charity" at a faith-based social service organization promoting health and education programs for Haitian immigrants and refugees. The project was supported by funding from the NIH Health Disparities Research Program. Her third project, Governing Gifts: Law, Risk, and the "War on Terror", continues this focus on the politics of charity by tracing the impact of U.S. anti-terrorism financing laws and practices on both faith-based and secular NGOs in the United States. She is editing a volume called Faith, Charity, and the Security State (under review with the School for Advanced Research Press) and has recently launched the Global Health and Medical Humanities Initiative.