Practice, Power, and Representation

The Emory Department of Anthropology has significant interest in the relationship between power, practice, and representation. How subjective orientations and power relations mutually inform each other through concrete practices, and how these processes are represented both by people themselves and in scholarly understanding, is centrally important to contemporary anthropology and in ethnography in particular.  These dynamics engage with the critical understanding of how representations serve as loci of power, authority, and meaning in different contexts, including how self-definition and modes of complicity or resistance operate with respect to structures and social constructions of authority or authenticity. In Emory’s anthropology program, these issues are engaged in a wide variety of cultural contexts, scales of analysis, and topical areas, including:

  • the relation of state, government, or international institutional authority and intervention to local or personal self-definition, agency, or resistance
  • the practice, power, and representation of gender and sexuality
  • the contested articulation of power relations with cultural and subjective orientations in projects or schemes of development, rehabilitation, or recovery
  • the use of language, performatives, and aesthetics to express or critique relations of power, domination, or subordination
  • how different axes of difference that are associated with inequality or disempowerment
    -- class, caste, sex, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, age and so on – articulate with each other in institutional, practical, ideological, and cultural terms.
  • how the representation of power and the subjective or cultural orientations of others informs and is itself informed by academic and scholarly practice

A wide range of Emory Anthropology faculty engage such issues in their research and teaching, and in their mentorship of graduate students -- including across diverse world areas that include Latin America and the Caribbean, several regions of Asia, Africa, and the South Pacific.  Faculty with special interest and expertise in the above issues and regions include Bruce KnauftChikako Ozawa de SilvaMichael PeletzDavid Nugent, Kristin Phillips, Bradd Shore, Liv Nilsson Stutz, and Debra Vidali.

Units and intellectual communities at Emory beyond the Department of Anthropology that resonate strongly with the above emphases include the Institute of the Liberal Arts, Departments of HistoryWomen’s, Gender and Sexuality StudiesComparative LiteratureSociology, and specific world area programs and departments. A range of interdisciplinary seminars and collaboration of graduate students across departmental as well as subdisciplinary lines are common and highly productive at Emory. Faculty outside anthropology whose research areas intersect with practice, power, and representation include: Clifton Crais (History & African Studies), Joyce Fleuckiger (Religion & South Asian Studies), Lynne Huffer (Women’s Studies), Gyanendra Pandey (History & South Asian Studies), Mark Ravina (Russian and East European Languages and Cultures), John Dunne (Religion & Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies), Pamela Scully (Women’s Studies & African Studies).