• idf d

    Professor Rebecca Stein studies the interplay between digital culture and military occupation in Israel.

  • RalphChinaVillage

    Cultural Anthropology professor Ralph Litzinger writes about environmental politics in southwestern China

  • Charlie

    Cultural Anthropology professor Charles Piot with entrepeneur Nicolas Batema, his Togolese research collaborator

  • Tiger

    Cultural Anthropology professor Orin Starn has written about the politics of sports, race, and celebrity scandal

  • Makhulu

    Cultural Anthropology professor Anne-Maria Makhulu conducting field research in South Africa

  • Harris Solomon

    Cultural Anthropologist Harris Solomon: Studying Obesity in India

  • Kente Cloth

    Cultural Anthropology Professors Lee Baker, J. Lorand Matory, and Charles Piot work in West Africa

  • Diane with

    Cultural Anthropology Professor Diane Nelson with Guatemalan crossdresser. She studies subjectivity and power in Guatemala.

  • Chinese Coke Commercial

    Cultural Anthropology Professor William O'Barr studies global advertising

Race and Rurality in the Global Economy

Durham, NC - Across the globe, food insecurity and rural poverty take a severe toll on people of color. Meanwhile, more of the world’s minority populations are landless. That’s no coincidence, say organizers of a conference at Duke this upcoming Thursday through Saturday.

The conference, Race and Rurality in the Global Economy, will examine land displacement and other development trends affecting people of color in Asia, Africa and the Americas including the United States.

The free, public conference takes place Thursday, March 26, through Saturday, March 28, in 101 West Duke Building on Duke’ s East Campus.

 For more information on abstracts, presenters and the schedule see: http://aaas.duke.edu/events/race-and-rurality-in-the-global-economy.

Global health and cultural anthropology faculty member Brandon Kohrt has published an article in the American Journal of Public Health, about a successful collaboration between law enforcement and mental health workers in Liberia:


Professor Anne Allison's book Precarious Japan honored by American Ethnological Society.

Read more....


Cultural Anthropology Graduate Students in Hunger Strike for Kobani.

See video

Selfie Militarism

In late April, an amateur video of Israeli army aggression in the occupied West Bank began to circulate online. The content was neither new nor surprising: a soldier shoving, kicking and pointing his gun at unarmed Palestinian teenagers in Hebron’s old city. What was new, however, was the form and scale of the public response.

Anne Allison Precarious Japan

Duke University Press, 2013

“[All] I want to eat is a rice ball.”

This was the last entry in the diary of a 52-year-old man who starved to death in an apartment he had occupied for 20 years. His is just one of many voices of the precarity of everyday life and death that populate Anne Allison’s new ethnography of pain, struggle, and hope in modern Japan. Precarious Japan (Duke University Press, 2013) considers the transformations of the relationship between work and life in Japan that followed its social and economic fall after the financial bubble burst in 1991.

Cultural Anthropology Major Jennifer Sherman Gives Commencement Adress

Sherman was selected to give the student address at Duke's graduate at Wallace Wade Stadium.  Read more

Rebecca Stein Named to Endowed Chair

Rebecca Stein has been appointed to an endowed chair as part of the Bass Program for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, which recognizes professors who have achieved distinction both in undergraduate teaching and  scholarly research. Read more....

Recent Ph.D. Dwayne Dixon Discusses His Digital Dissertation



Nine Individuals, Two Departments Receive Graduate Dean’s Awards


Word Quilts on Exhibit in Cultural Anthropology Department

Two beautiful and provocative quilts by Duke anthropologist Marcia Rego are now hanging in the department office.   For more about the project:


Come by and see them, and put your comments in the comment notebook!

Professor Orin Starn on Gay Rights and the NFL

Starn spoke to the Los Angeles Times for this article about Michael Sam, the University of Missouri star who will likely this fall become the first openly gay player in the NFL.

 Kristina Jacobsen: On the Navajo Nation

Meet Recent Duke Cultural Anthropology Ph.D.s Kristina Jacobsen and Brian Goldstone

Call for Papers, Duke Graduate Student "Infrastructures" Conference, March 28-29

Infrastructural Worlds: A Workshop on Ethnographic Studies of the Built Environment

Date: March 28-­‐‑29, 2014
Location: Duke University – Durham, North Carolina
Submission Deadline: February 10th, 2014
Notification of Acceptance: February 20th, 2014
Co-­‐‑Organizers: Ashley Carse, PhD (U. of Virginia), Jatin Dua (Duke), Stephanie Friede
(Duke), Dana Powell, PhD (Appalachian State).
Duke Grad. Student Committee: Joella Bitter, Carla Hung, Brian Smithson, and
Christina Tekie.

For more information: Visit http://sites.duke.edu/infrastructures2014/ or email
sjf10@duke.edu with questions.

From highways to hospitals, waterways to waste water facilities, infrastructures are
increasingly the focus of ethnographic research. We invite advanced graduate students,
junior scholars, and faculty in anthropology and related disciplines to Duke University
for a two-­‐‑day event limited to 25 participants. Through roundtable discussions and
thematic workshops, we will establish an intimate atmosphere to consider the
possibilities for creative and critical approaches to studies of the built environment.
Urban planners, economists, geographers, historians and scholars of science and
technology studies have long studied infrastructures. In recent years, however, a body
of ethnographic and critical work on infrastructures as techno-­‐‑political and semiotic
systems has begun to emerge. What might design theory, landscape architecture,
environmental history, political ecology, and literature bring to the ethnographic studies
of infrastructure, and what might we, anthropologists and others, offer to other
communities studying infrastructural worlds? Not only the invisible substrate of
everyday life-­‐‑worlds, infrastructures are active symbolic, material, and political entities.
This gathering is driven by the question: what can a focus on infrastructure, both as a
material for research and a conceptual framework, enable and occlude?
Organized around roundtable discussions led by distinguished faculty, as well as
smaller theme-­‐‑based sessions, participants will be asked to informally present their
work in small group sessions, engaging in conversations on writing, methods, theory,
and praxis. The thematic groups include: Landscapes, Mobilities, Communications, and
Contestations. These broad categories will organize our conversations and generate
connections across perhaps unexpected infrastructural forms. While your work likely
bleeds between various themes, participants will have time to connect with other groups
as well. Prior to the event, we will ask participants to share a short piece of writing-­‐‑in-­‐‑
progress with their small group (We are requesting 5 pages of writing, but groups will
be able to determine what works best for their collective) in addition to informally
presenting the writing during the workshop. Infrastructure is a ripe topic for inter-­‐‑
disciplinary engagement. As such, we are inviting artists, designers, engineers, and
cartographers to a session on the second day of the gathering, where we hope to explore
ways of collaborating and sharing research beyond the University.
Seeking: Advanced graduate students, junior scholars, and interested faculty whose
research grapples with infrastructure either conceptually and/or substantively. To be
considered for participation, please submit a very brief statement (no more than 2 pages)
that includes:
1) A brief description of your current research.
2) How your current research grapples with an infrastructural world.
3) Your first and second choice of working groups, from this list:
• Mobilities (Transportation; Borders and Boundaries; Globality; Connection-­‐‑
Disconnection; Failure)
• Landscapes (Energy, Extraction, Green Infrastructure; environmental
degradation and change; aesthetics; space; geography; temporality; scale)
• Contestations (Social Movements and Politics, Repurposing Infrastructures,
Informal Infrastructures; Identity and Subjectivity; Development)
• Communications (Meaning and Poetics; Networks; Cyber-­‐‑pathways; Other
Expressive Practices

In addition, we request a copy of your current CV. Please feel free to add any questions
or ideas that exceed our provocations. We hope to curate the events in conversation with
the interests of participants. Limited travel funds are available. Please include any
requests for financial support in your proposal submission. Please email as a PDF
attachment to DukeInfrastructures2014@gmail.com by February 10th, 2014
We will connect small groups prior to March 5h, at which point we will ask that you
share a short piece of writing with your colleagues. In order to accommodate everyone’s
busy schedules we ask that you circulate all pieces of writing on or before Monday,
March 17th.

Two-Way Bridges. Connecting Duke, Durham, and the Americas

Professor Charlie Thompson, Principal Investigator on this project currently on display in the Fredric Jameson Gallery, Friedl Building, East Campus.

Through three cooperating classes, culture-language-media workshops, a group documentary conducted by artists from the Latino community, and partnerships between Duke students and local high school and community college students, with final outcomes that include film screenings, photo-murals and a multimedia exhibit encompassing the processes and products produced, we propose to build two-way connections between Duke and the Latino Community. Read more...


Professor Anne Allison on WUNC "State of Things"

Allison discussed her new book, Precarious Japan....


Congratulations, Duke Women's Field Hockey Cultural Anthropology Majors!

The Duke women's field hockey team made a strong run at the national title at the NCAA Championships this past weekend.   They came in second in the country, a great achievement.  We are proud to say that many women's field hockey players have been Cultural Anthropology majors over the years, now including Lauren Blazing, Ashley Camano, and Abby Beltrani.   Many other members of the team have been terrific students in our Cultural Anthropology classes. 

Congratulations to all of you on a wonderful season!

Professor Orin Starn to Teach Free On-line Course

Starn will be offering his popular "Sports and Society" class through Coursera with a start date of January 20, 2014.   For more information, and to register: https://www.coursera.org/course/sports

Starn also appears in a recent Newsday story on the controversy over the team name of the Washington Redskins.

Professor Ingrid Byerly Gives TED talk

Byerly gave a talk in the prestigious TED series on "Breaking Sound Barriers: Music as Mirror, Mediator, and Mystic" on November 12 in Cincinnati.  You can watch her at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwePt2W5Iq8

 Brian Goldstone: The Miraculous Life

Professor Rebecca Stein At University of Toronto

On Friday, October 4th, Professor Rebecca Stein of Duke University came to the University of Toronto Anthropology Department to take part in their Anthropology Colloquium Series to speak about her work in the field of cultural anthropology.  Her lecture was entitled "Viral Occupation: Social Media Rule in Israel Palestine  Read more...

Professor Lee Baker Wins Award

Cultural Anthropology Professor – and Dean of Trinity College – Lee Baker has just been awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Society for North American Anthropology.  This prize is awarded to a senior anthropologist for broad-based contributions to research, teaching and service related to the development of critical studies of North America. The award recognizes a distinguished long-term program of research and publication, and also takes into account contributions in other areas, such teaching and training, SANA/AAA service, and community, activist, practice, or policy involvements outside academia.

Ph.D. Student Louis Yako on University Crisis

Cultural Anthropology doctoral student Louis Yako recently published this article in Counterpunch on the problems of higher education.
The Corporatization of Education

Academia Deserves its Crisis


I was recently invited to be part of a student panel to welcome all new Ph.D. students to the large research university I am currently attending and to share with them my words of “wisdom,” so they can learn more about the upcoming challenges of graduate student life. The student panel was the last on the hierarchy of speakers, so we had to wait for and listen to people with big titles—titles like “provost”, “associate” with this, “assistant” for that, “co-director” of this center, and “under-secretary” for such and such affairs. It was clear from these presentations that graduate students are being encouraged to think of themselves as at-will employees who are expected to do the job “well”, according to norms of corporate thinking. Read More...

Professor J. Lorand Matory Wins Humboldt Research Award

Matory has just been named the winner of this prestigious German scientific fellowship given "in recognition of lifetime achievements in research."

Professor Rebecca Stein Awarded Bass Chair

Congratulations to Rebecca Stein, who has just been named the Nicholas J. and Theresa M. Leonardy Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology!   This prestigious chair recognizes excellence in research and teaching, and brings with it membership in the Bass Society of Fellows.

The Pollution Crisis and Environmental Activism  in China: A Q & A with Ralph Litzinger

By Jeffrey Wasserstrom - May 15, 2013

The last year has seen a dramatic uptick in press coverage of Chinese environmental issues. There have also been a number of books published on the subject, with more due out soon. So this seemed a good moment to get in touch with my friend Ralph Litzinger, an anthropologist based at Duke University. He has been tracking the topic closely, while also writing about other important issues, ranging from Tibetan self-immolations to labor conditions in and protests at Chinese factories.

The Media As Trauma's Midwife

Professor Orin Starn writes about the Boston bombings in the Huffington Post..

New Issue of South Atlantic Quarterly

In the new issue of the South Atlantic Quarterly (Vol, 112, No. 1 Winter 2013), Ralph Litzinger has edited a special Against the Day issue, "Labor in China: A New Politics of Struggle." In his own essay, Professor Litzinger discusses the activist campaigns against Apple and its suppliers in China over the last several years.

Alison Kibbe '12
Cultural Anthropology Major

"Procurando Nosso Espaco (Seeking Our Space)"

Choreography: Alison Kibbe in collaboration with the dancers
Music: Vem Menina (samba song from Rio de Contas, Brazil); Adao Adao, Cade Salome (capoeira song); Washerwoman Blues by Bessie Smith; Quick Reaction and Satisfaction by Etta James; interviews conducted summer 2011 in Bahai, Brazil with female capoeiristas and sambadeiras
Accompaniment: Katya Wesolowski
Costumes: Alison Kibbe
Dancers: Destani Bizune, Chanelle Croxton, Michaela Dwyer, Alison Kibbe, Michael Oliver

Litzinger Wins Howard D. Johnson Teaching Award

Cultural Anthropology Professor Ralph Litzinger has been selected as the 2012-2013
recipient of the Howard D. Johnson Teaching Award.  This Trinity College Distinguished Teaching Award is one of four that recognizes truly outstanding teaching in the College. 

CA professor Ralph Litzinger co-edits and contributes an essay on a            
Hot Spot issue of the journal of Cultural Anthropology on the recent wave of
self-immolations in Tibet. 


Professor Ralph Litzinger is the recipient of the DukeEngage Excellence in Mentoring Award (for Faculty/Staff Mentors of Independent Students)

The DukeEngage Excellence in Mentoring Award is presented to a faculty mentor or administrator who has demonstrated exceptional mentorship to DukeEngage Independent Project participants, and exceptional leadership and vision in promoting civic engagement within higher education. Congratulations Ralph!
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Professor Litzinger interviewed

Professor Litzinger interviewed on the links between the Arab Spring and labor politics in the IT industry in China. The Arab Spring's Chinese roots... and future?
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Recent Books by Cultural Anthropology Faculty

    • Precarious Japan
    • Precarious Japan

      By Anne Allison

      Duke University Press, 2013   Read More

    • Spirits of Just Men
    • Spirits of Just Men: Mountaineers, Liquor Bosses, and Lawmen in the Moonshine Capital of the World

      By Charles D. Thompson, Jr.

      University of Illinois Press, 2011

      Read More

    • The Passion of Tiger Woods
    • The Passion of Tiger Woods: An Anthropologist Reports on Golf, Race, and Celebrity Scandal

      By Orin Starn

      Duke University Press, 2011 Read More

    • Nostalgia for the Future
    • Nostalgia for the Future: West Africa after the Cold War

      By Charles Piot

      The University of Chicago Press, 2010   Read More

    • Other Chinas
    • Other Chinas: The Yao and the Politics of National Belonging

      By Ralph A. Litzinger

      Duke University Press, 2000 Read More

    • Culture and the Ad
    • Culture and the Ad: Exploring Otherness in the World of Advertising

      By William M. O'Barr

      Westview Press, Inc. 1994 Read More

    • The Graves of Tarim
    • The Graves of Tarim: Genealogy and Mobility across the Indian Ocean

      By Engseng Ho

      University of California Press, 2006 Read More

    • Anthropology and the Racial Politics of Culture
    • Anthropology and the Racial Politics of Culture

      By Lee D. Baker

      Duke University Press, 2010 Read More

    • Reckoning
    • Reckoning: The Ends of War in Guatemala

      By Diane M. Nelson

      Duke University Press, 2009   Read More

    • Itineraries in Conflict
    • Itineraries in Conflict: Israelis, Palestinians, and the Political Lives of Tourism

      By Rebecca L. Stein

      Duke University Press, 2008   Read More

    • Black Atlantic Religion
    • Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism, and Matriarchy in the Afro-Brazillian Candomblé

      By J. Lorand Matory

      Princeton University Press, 2005 Read More

    • Modern Inquisitions
    • Modern Inquisitions: Peru and the Colonial Origins of the Civilized World

      By Irene Silverblatt

      Duke University Press, 2004   Read More

    • Sound of Africa!
    • Sound of Africa! Making Music Zulu in a South African Studio

      By Louise Meintjes

      Duke University Press, 2003 Read More

    • mathers book cover
      • Travel, Humanitarianism, and Becoming American in Africa

        By Kathryn Mathers

        Palgrave MacMillion 2010 Read More

March 2015

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