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Published Writings--info

For some downloadable reprints, see my site at


     I’m a cultural anthropologist. My studies during the last twenty+ years of the 20th century have focused on visible and audible aspects of culture, especially those embedded in contested narrative and institutional frames. I study arts and crafts in global art markets, museum narratives about the "primitive" and the "indigenous," the use of ethnic designs to brand and signify authenticity, the construction of spaces and places to tell stories, and such-like.
   I laid out those issues as I saw them in
The Death of Authentic Primitive Art and Other Tales of Progress (U.C. Press 1998). The argument I made about those arts in the twentieth century is valid, I believe, but we are no longer in the twentieth century, and the valences of all the elements have shifted, dissolved, and transformed.
    My last major academic writing on non-Western arts appeared in the

Routledge Companion to Contemporary Anthropology (Routledge, 2016). It's called "Entangled Subjects and Art Objects."


     Prior to focusing on the arts, I focused on politics, gender, and meaningful cultural aesthetic forms. I did year+-long fieldwork in the Duke of York Islands in Papua-New Guinea in 1968,  and 18 months of fieldwork in South Sulawesi,  Indonesia in the mid-70s. The two books about Indonesian matters, Meaning and Power in a Southeast Asia Realm (Princeton U Press, 1989), and Power and Difference, ed. Jane Atkinson and Shelly Errington (Stanford U. Press 1990).

    In the 21th century, intending to continue the conversation about museology and the arts of marginalized peoples, I went to Mexico. It took me in other directions, and I made a film about artisanal processes in the Purépecha-speaking communities and towns of Michoacan.




     Meaning and Power ... has been reissued in a trade paperback by Princeton U.Press

     Power and Difference is out of print, but can be obtained at (a site for used and remaindered  books)

     The Death of Authentic Primitive Art and Other Tales of Progress can be ordered from University of California Press or your local independent bookstore.

      "Entangled Subjects and Art Objects" is available at or in the book The Routledge Companion to Contemporary Anthropology.


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