Cultural Anthropology

The cultural subfield maintains a focus on the material bases of inequality, analyzed in both local and global contexts, combining historical and ethnographic approaches. Over the last several years the cultural subfield has expanded its training in new directions, including attention to the role of cultural interpretations in the maintenance and reproduction of power, as well as the role of identity politics, including nationalism, race/racism, diasporas, and associated “new social movements.” In many of these areas, faculty are working toward a synthesis of political-economic perspectives with insights provided by literary and cultural studies as well as interdisciplinary research on space and place (The Center for Place, Culture, and Politics). The cultural subfield boasts a strong specialization in urban anthropology, medical anthropology, globalization, and a long term interest in human-environment relationships. Faculty maintain research interests in both rural and urban contexts, and in the interaction between the two. Faculty expertise covers all major geographic areas: Europe, North, Central, and South America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Oceania, making the program particularly appropriate for students interested in critical and comparative analyses of transition to democratic capitalism.

Sample Dissertations

  • Mary Taylor. 2008. “The Politics of Culture: Folk Critique and Transformation of the State in Hungary.”
  • Maria Gutierrez. 2007. “All That is Air Turns Solid: The Creation of a Market for Carbon Sinks Under the Kyoto Protocol.”
  • Andrea Queeley. 2007. “A Dream Derailed? The English-Speaking Caribbean Diaspora in Revolutionary Cuba.”
  • Julian Brash. 2006. “The Bloomberg Way: Development Politics, Urban Ideology, and Class Transformation in Contemporary New York City.”
  • David Vine. 2006. “Empire’s Footprint: Expulsion and the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia.”
  • Ana Aparicio. 2004. “Developing Politics in Quisqueya Heights: Local and National Trajectories of Dominican-American Organizing.”
  • Kelly McKinney. 2003. “Beyond Care and Control: Therapeutic Interventions for Survivors of Torture and Refugee Trauma.”

Center for Place, Culture, and Politics
The Center for Place, Culture and Politics is an interdisciplinary center under the direction of Neil Smith, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography, which seeks to provide an intellectual forum for the discussion of a wide range of vital contemporary issues. The Center’s name and its focus express the fact that at the beginning of the twenty-first century, questions of space and place have come to play a crucial role in public culture. Each academic year, a group of faculty and graduate student fellows from a range of disciplines explore a specific theme. At a weekly seminar, fellows present their own work and explore the work of others related to the year’s theme. The Center will also host prominent national and international scholars, who have done significant work related to the theme, and who will both present a public lecture and meet with the fellows at their weekly seminar. It is hoped that the center’s work each year will be the backbone of a book series combining essays by fellows and visitors.

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