Peggy Barlett

Goodrich C. White Professor

Professor Barlett is not accepting new graduate students.

Office: 216 Anthropology.

Phone: 404-727-5766


Additional Contact Information


  • PhD, Columbia, 1975



  • Sustainable development
  • Economic anthropology
  • Agricultural systems
  • Gender
  • Latin America and U.S.

My anthropological fieldwork has emphasized agrarian systems, rural life, and culture change.  Using perspectives from economic anthropology, my work in Costa Rica and Ecuador focused on agricultural development and farmer strategies, and those same concerns in my study of U.S. farmers led me to see patterns of farm management style and gendered marital partnerships that affected farm survival.  In recent years, my work has focused on the emerging sustainability paradigm and explored avenues of cultural transformation in relations with the natural world, daily life behaviors, and institutional structures.

My current work sees sustainability in higher education as a tangible arena in which to understand and enact sustainable development more generally. Like many U.S. cities, Atlanta struggles to achieve clean air, clean water, affordable housing, good public transportation, full employment, and a way of life that supports a flourishing society while recognizing the earth’s finite living systems of which we are a part. I particularly enjoy the ways that, sometimes quite invisibly, today’s sustainability movement builds on several generations of anthropological work on viable lifeways in human history and around the world.

Emory University has now made sustainability a core commitment, and I work with the Office of Sustainability Initiatives as Faculty Liaison.  My particular responsibilities include curricular innovation—the Piedmont Project faculty and graduate student development programs—and the Sustainable Food Initiative.  My research is connected to this work, as we learn what kinds of experiences change individuals and what social mechanisms support institutional change as well. Recently, my scholarly work has explored the role of campus sustainable food projects in rebuilding a healthier global agro-food system. I am also deeply interested in the process of personal and institutional transformation, and the variety of paths and languages that support the paradigm shifts necessary to rebuild a viable relationship with the earth.


  • ANT 190 Anthropology of Coffee and Chocolate
  • ANT 202 Concepts and Methods in Cultural Anthropology
  • ANT 250 Fast Food/Slow Food
  • ANT 251 Cultures of Latin America
  • ANT 351 Sustainable Development:Anthropological Perspectives
  • ANT 504 Agrarian Transformations
  • ANT 585 Special Topics: Issues in Sustainability