Dr Noa Vaisman

IAS Fellow at St Aidan’s College, April – June 2025


Contact Details

  • Home Institution email: noa.vaisman@cas.au.dk
  • Durham email:
  • Durham Tel:

Noa Vaisman is an Associate Professor in the Anthropology Department at Aarhus University. She obtained her doctorate in socio-cultural anthropology from Cornell University and held several postdoctoral positions in places such as the University of Chicago, the Hebrew University and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Between 2012 and 2014 she was an International Junior Research Fellow and a Marie Curie Fellow at Durham University. Her research projects have attracted various grants including an AUFF large starting grant, an AHRC Care for the Future Early Career Researchers Developmental award (PI), a Lady Davis Postdoctoral Fellowship, a Society for the Humanities Fellowship, and a Fulbright IIE scholarship, among others. She was also the recipient of the David Schneider Award (AAA).

Her current research spans several fields and builds on her anthropological training, interdisciplinary background, and wide-ranging interests. In recent years, she has been exceedingly interested in the question: what happens to people whose demand for justice has been heard? Or, more trivially, what happens when a cause one has struggled for all of one’s life has been reached? This interest led her to carry out long-term ethnographic research on the notion of post-justice, exploring the ways in which judges, lawyers, prosecutors, and victim-witnesses experience the process of justice making and its long-aftermath in the context of the ongoing trials of crimes against humanity in Argentina. Her interest in the Self, in the intertwining of the state and the individual, as well as her fascination with new technologies and the ethical questions they raise, has led her to explore different dimensions of the case of the “living-disappeared” in Argentina. These now adults were kidnapped at birth, or very soon after, by the terrorist state and raised by the perpetrators of the crime or their accomplices. The search for them as well as their identification using DNA tests raises many ethical and existential questions that Dr. Vaisman has explored in numerous publications. Over the years she has also been interested in the notion of play, performance, and the arts. These interests had led her to study the work of clowns in refugee camps across Europe, and consequently she became involved in a large EU funded project examining the impact of applied performative arts on resilience and wellbeing in immigrant communities in the Spanish speaking world. Her publications on the aforementioned themes have appeared in, for example: The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI), Science Technology & Human Values, Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, Social Anthropology, Journal of Law and Society, and Anthropological Theory Commons. She was also interviewed for BBC Radio 4.

While a fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study she will collaborate with Professor Nayanika Mookherjee (Anthropology), Dr Gabriela Treglia (History), and Professor Simon Hackett (Sociology) on the project Displaced Childhoods, exploring a few different instances around the world where children were separate from their biological kin at an early age, and through state interventions. Many who had experienced these processes are contending with their impact, raising questions and stirring complex emotions and reactions. As part of this collaboration, she will explore with colleagues in Durham (Anthropology, History, Politics, Sociology, Law, Psychology) as well as with others beyond Durham, the role of technologies like the use of DNA tests and AI, and the aesthetic manifestations of the search, identification and long-term process of kinship making. Her particular interest and focus within the larger project of Displaced Childhoods will be on the memories, fantasies, and life trajectories of the siblings of the “living disappeared”. During the tenure of the IAS fellowship, she will inquire into the complex interactions between siblings’ memories and life narratives and the moment of identification of the “living disappeared”. Moreover, she will investigate the different ways in which fantasies about familial relations help shape ways of coming to terms with violent pasts. While at the IAS, she will take part in department seminars and workshops and also engage with other fellows who are part of Displaced Childhoods.