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Debra Spitulnik VidaliDirector of Undergraduate Research and Associate Professor


  • PhD, Anthropology and Linguistics, University of Chicago, 1994
  • MA, Anthropology, University of Chicago, 1985
  • BA, Language and Mind, University of California-Berkeley, 1983



  • Decolonial Theory and Practice
  • Dispossession Histories and Reckonings (Haudenosaunee / NYS focused)
  • Experimental Ethnography
  • Ethnographic Theater-Making
  • Democracy & Civic Engagement
  • Media Anthropology

Dr. Debra Vidali is a sociocultural anthropologist, linguist, theater-maker, and scholar-activist. Her work is committed to social justice and human rights advocacy, and interdisciplinary knowledge production. Current projects are U.S.-based, centered on Indigenous sovereignty and solidarity (ally-ship). Previous research has focused on media and political engagement in the U.S., as well as media, national identity, multilingualism, and the Bemba language in Zambia. Publications can be downloaded here.   In addition to academic research publications, she has developed K-12 curricular materials, ethnographic theater projects, museum installations, and audio ethnography projects. Dr. Vidali trains students in multi-modal forms of knowledge production, and supports experimental ethnography collaborations and publications with the Experimental Ethnography @ Emory blogspace. Dr. Vidali is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for Humanities, Spencer Foundation, National Science Foundation, Fulbright-Hays, Wenner-Gren, Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry, and Social Science Research Council.  She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology and Linguistics from the University of Chicago.  Dr. Vidali is a faculty member in Emory University’s Department of Anthropology and is Anthropology’s Director of Undergraduate Research. In addition, Dr. Vidali is a founding member and Core Faculty member in Emory's Program in Linguistics, an Associated Faculty member of the Department of Film & Media Studies, an Affiliated Faculty member in the Department of Theater and Dance, and a founding member and Core Faculty member of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative at Emory University.

Dr. Vidali's Experimental work and interventions include:

Ethnographic theater-making
Ethnographic Theater Making: Multimodal Alchemy, Knowledge, and Invention, American Anthropologist (2020).
Re-Generation Initiative (2009-present)
projects/workshops:  State of the Nation, #WaterIsLife, Slices of Time, Re-Generation, and more.

Ethnographic installations
Ethnographic Installation and “the Archive:”  Haunted Relations and Relocations, co-authored with Kwame Phillips, Visual Anthropology Review (2020).
Kabusha Radio Remix (2014-present).  Exhibited in London, Paris, and Washington DC.
audio paper:  Collisions of Memory (2017)

Short-form multimodal narrative/spoken word
The Sign at the Threshold (2017)

Multisensorial anthropology position statement: 
Retrofit (2016)


  • ANT 280 Indigenous Peoples of North America
  • ANT 377/THEA 377 From Fieldwork into Performance
  • ANT 385Experimental Ethnography
  • ANT 385Public Anthropology
  • ANT 585Experimental Ethnography
  • ANT 585 Decolonizing Theory & Practice