Author Archives: Kristy Bard

In Memoriam: Shuichi Nagata

Professor Emeritus Shuichi Nagata died peacefully on July 11, 2016. A private cremation service was held on Thursday, July 14, and a full family funeral will be held in November at his ancestral grave in Tokyo. A public memorial service will be held Friday, October 28 from 4-7pm in the Main Lounge of the Faculty Club. Please click here to RSVP Prof. Nagata served as Chair of the department of Anthropology from 1986 to 1991.

The following was written by Prof. Jane Helleiner (PhD, 1991), one of Prof. Nagata’s former graduate students. Jane is currently a Professor at Brock University.

As a former undergraduate and then graduate student of Prof. Shuichi Nagata, I appreciate the opportunity to share some of my memories of him and I hope that these words will resonate with many other students who have been profoundly and positively shaped by his teaching and scholarship.

In the early 1980s, as a new anthropology major at the University of Toronto, I was  fortunate to be a student in Prof. Nagata’s “Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology” (ANT 204) course. For those curious about the reading list of that period, I recall that we covered Mary Douglas’ Purity and Danger as well as several of the then popular Spindler case studies notably The Semai (Dentan), The Huron (Trigger), Hano, A Tewa Indian Community (Dozier), Peasants (Wolf), and Changing Japan (Norbeck). Prof. Nagata’s fieldwork amongst the Hopi Peoples and indigenous people of Malaysia as well as his upbringing in Japan, brought tremendous depth to his lectures on these texts and I was completely captivated!  Subsequently I went on to Prof. Nagata’s  more advanced “Anthropology of Southeast Asia” and “Political Anthropology” courses where he shared much more of his personal research experiences through stories and slides  (in those pre-power point days).

As a graduate student, I was one of many Canadian and international students who benefitted from Prof. Nagata’s strong commitment to the role of MA and Ph.D supervisor. When I was conducting doctoral research in Ireland, for example, Prof. Nagata was doing fieldwork in a region of Malaysia with no mail service (in those pre-internet days). During his brief sojourns in centres where he could access the mail, he always managed to read and respond to my research reports with detailed advice and encouragement. When his research again took him abroad very near the end of my Ph.D program, he ensured a seamless transition of supervisory duties to Prof. Peter Carstens. Prof. Nagata was very generous with his time and scholarly insights. Drafts were returned promptly with extensive typewritten comments and hand written edits. His prioritizing of student needs continued throughout the extended period when he was Chairperson of the Department. During supervisory meetings held in his very busy Chairperson’s office (then in the rather drab ground floor of Sidney Smith), he managed to offer his undivided attention to students such as myself. Later, in his much quieter office in University College, I recall him kindly responding to my expression of concern about the quality of my fieldwork data, by reminding me that it was not so much the quality of the data that mattered but what I would do with it…an important piece of advice that led me to stop worrying and start writing!

Conversations with Prof. Nagata were always stimulating given his eclectic scholarly interests.  He read widely and took a keen interest in research that spanned the 4-fields of the discipline represented in the Department.  As a result, he was able to effectively engage with, and support students both inside and outside the social/cultural stream. My partner, Bohdan Szuchewycz, working in Linguistic Anthropology, for example, received extensive mentorship from him as a graduate student and then as a fledgling faculty member. Prof. Nagata had a quirky and endearing sense of humour (he memorably for instance, responded to my announcement of my first pregnancy by jokingly asking me not to send him baby pictures because he already had albums full of such photos from former students!). Prof. Nagata modelled scholarly breadth, curiosity and rigour as well as a deep dedication to a broadly defined, humane and grounded global anthropology. He offered inspiration and support to many through his teaching, research, and  service to students, colleagues, the Department and the discipline of anthropology. I am very fortunate to have been among his many students.

Dr. Jane Helleiner, August 2016

Read Prof. Nagata’s obituary in The Globe & Mail here.


Third Collaborative Publication Regarding Huron-Wendat Tooth Samples

(From left to right) Susan Pfeiffer (professor of anthropology, U of T), Barbara Harris (councillor at Six Nations of Grand River), Luc Lainé (Huron-Wendat Nation) and Joanne Thomas (consultation point person for Six Nations) at the May 2012 Exhibit Opening of "Uncovering Our Early Past: First Nations in Toronto" (Photo by Jon Horvatin)

(From left to right) Susan Pfeiffer (professor of anthropology, U of T), Barbara Harris (councillor at Six Nations of Grand River), Luc Lainé (Huron-Wendat Nation) and Joanne Thomas (consultation point person for Six Nations) at the May 2012 Exhibit Opening of “Uncovering Our Early Past: First Nations in Toronto” (Photo by Jon Horvatin)

Prof. Susan Pfeiffer  is very pleased to announce the most recent publication arising out of work on the ancestral teeth that were retained with the permission of the Huron-Wendat. Their ancestral remains were repatriated and reburied in September 2013. This is the third collaborative publication, with another manuscript recently submitted and a new project in the works.

Prof. Pfeiffer hopes these papers will effectively demonstrate to a broad readership that the retention of small tissue samples – like individual teeth – can allow descendants to learn about their ancestors through scientific archaeology.

“Maize, fish and deer: Investigating dietary staples among ancestral Huron-Wendat villages, as documented from tooth samples” by Susan Pfeiffer, Judith C. Sealy, Ronald F. Williamson, Suzanne Needs-Howarth, and Louis Lesage has been published by American Antiquity (81.3:515-532) and can be read online here. 

Tracey Galloway Wins CIHR New Investigator Salary Award

Photo of Tracey GallowayCongratulations to UTM Prof. Tracey Galloway! On June 30 she received a CIHR New Investigator Salary Award, which provides $300,000 over 5 years to support her research in “Assessment, applied health and health policy research to improve health outcomes in northern Indigenous populations”.

Tracey received the award in the competition’s Priority Announcement for Research in First Nations, Inuit and/or Métis Health. Learn more about Tracey’s research at

Julie Teichroeb & Bence Viola Win Connaught New Researcher Awards

Congratulations to Assistant Professors Julie Teichroeb (UTSC) and Bence Viola (St. George)! Both are recipients of Connaught New Researcher Awards, which are provided annually to assistant professors within the first five years of a tenure stream appointment to help them establish strong research programs. This year the fund is awarding a total of $966,000 to 63 researchers across a range of disciplines. A full list of U of T recipients can be found at

Prof. Julie Teichroeb’s research program is entitled The influence of resource quality and usurpability on vervet monkey foraging decisions, while Prof. Bence Viola was awarded for his research on Neanderthals and Denisovans in Central Asia.

Prof. Bence Viola has also been awarded a SSHRC Insight Development grant, which will help fund his fieldwork for the next couple of years.

Team of Archaeologists including Prof. Gary Crawford Discover New Origins for Farmed Rice

The following article was published by U of T News on June 27, 2016 and is written by By Sharon Aschaiek. It can also be read at

New origins for farmed rice discovered by U of T, Chinese experts

“This gives us another clue about how humans became farmers”

photo of rice field in China

(photo by John Isaac/United Nations Photo via flickr)

Rice farming is a far older practice than we knew – the oldest evidence of domesticated rice has just been found in China, and it’s about 9,000 years old.

The discovery, made by a team of archaeologists that includes University of Toronto anthropology professor Gary Crawford, sheds new light on the origins of rice domestication and on the history of human agricultural practices.

“Today, rice is one of most important grains in the world’s economy, yet at one time, it was a wild plant…how did people bring rice into their world? This gives us another clue about how humans became farmers,” says U of T Mississauga’s Crawford, an anthropological archaeologist who studies the relationships between people and plants in prehistory.

Working with researchers from the Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology in Zhejiang Province, China and Fudan University in Shanghai, Crawford found the ancient domesticated rice fragments in a probable ditch in the lower Yangtze valley. They observed that about 30 per cent of the rice plant material – primarily bases, husks and leaf epidermis – were not wild, but showed signs of being purposely cultivated to produce rice plants that were durable and suitable for human consumption.

Crawford says this finding indicates that the domestication of rice has been going on for much longer than originally thought. The rice plant remains also had characteristics of japonica rice, the short grain rice used in sushi that today is cultivated in Japan and Korea. Crawford says this finding clarifies the lineage of this specific rice crop, and confirms for the first time that it grew in this region of China.

photo of Crawford in a cave

Crawford (pictured at right) and his colleagues spent about three years exploring the five-hectare archaeological dig site, called Huxi, which is situated in a flat basin about 100 metres above sea level.

Their investigations were supported by other U of T Mississauga participants – anthropology professor David Smith and graduate students Daniel Kwan and Nattha Cheunwattana.

They worked mostly in early spring, fall and winter in order to avoid the late-spring wet season and excruciatingly hot summer months. Digging 1.5 metres below the ground, the team also unearthed artifacts such as sophisticated pottery and stone tools, as well as animal bones, charcoal and other plant seeds.

This study builds on Crawford’s previous research into early agriculture in China, in which he has examined the ancient settlements, tools, and plant and animal management efforts that occurred in different regions of the country. He is interested in better understanding the forces that compelled our human ancestors to transition from hunters and gatherers to farmers.

“The question I ultimately want to answer is, what pushed them to move wholeheartedly into the farming regime? Why did they reduce their emphasis on hunting and expand into crop production?” Crawford says. “People did what they needed to do to make their lives more manageable and sustainable, and the unintended consequence was farming. With this rice discovery, we’re seeing the first stages of that shift.”

Funded by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Crawford’s study is published today in Scientific Reports, an online open-access journal from the publishers of Nature.

(Visit flickr to see the original of the photo used at top of article)

Letha Victor Wins H.F. Guggenheim Dissertation Fellowship

Congratulations to PhD Candidate Letha Victor! She has won a H.F. Guggenheim Dissertation Fellowship for her dissertation, “Dirty Things: violence, spirit forces, and social change in Acholi, northern Uganda.” Letha is supervised by Profs. Michael Lambek and Todd Sanders.

The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation awards fellowships to graduate students during their dissertation-writing year for work that concerns violence and aggression in relation to social change, intergroup conflict, war, terrorism, crime, and family relationships, among other subjects. Further information can be found at

Laura Sikstrom Receives Killam Postdoctoral Award

Laura Sikstrom

Laura Sikstrom, Killam Postdoctoral Award Recipient

Congratulations to Laura Sikstrom, recipient of a Killam Postdoctoral Award to work with Prof. Amy Kaler at the University of Alberta. As part of her fellowship she will return to Malawi this Fall for preliminary research to ask: “why do so many children and youth on antiretroviral treatment (ART) fail to survive into adulthood?” This research will build on her doctoral research, which examined barriers to treatment uptake for infants and young children infected with HIV. Laura defended her dissertation in September 2015 under the supervision of Prof. Holly Wardlow.

Jacob Nerenberg Awarded JHI Graduate Fellowship

Jacob Nerenberg

Jacob Nerenberg, Jackman Graduate Fellow

Congratulations to PhD Candidate Jacob Nerenberg! He is one of three Chancellor Jackman Graduate Fellows in the Humanities for 2016-17, on the theme of Time, Rhythm, and Pace.

Temporalities of Circulation and Contested Theologies in Highlands West Papua

Jacob’s dissertation investigates the ways that religious rhythms inflect the politics of infrastructure in the highlands of West Papua. Global agencies sponsor infrastructure programs geared toward national autonomy, and in response, Christian leaders draw on millennial discourses to campaign for new projects. His analysis leads to a reformulation of political theology that proposes the notion of “theologistics” to address the ways that global demands for acceleration are entangled in oscillating temporalities of promise, threat, and transcendence.

The full announcement can be viewed at


Lisa Small Awarded Prestigious SAA Scholarship

Lisa Small

Lisa Small

Congratulations to Biocultural Anthropology and African Studies student Lisa Small! She has been awarded a Society for American Archaeology (SAA) scholarship to participate in a Barbados field school studying enslaved labour. She is the first U of T student to receive this prestigious award. Learn more at