Professor of Anthropology
My research, publications, and courses focus on language and culture, particularly on the ways in which institutions serve as loci for cultural production. I have been visiting various locales in Northern India, primarily Varanasi and Delhi, since 1996 to consider the ways in which people’s ideas about language – but also social class, gender, place, and national belonging – are organized by school distinctions. Much of this work focuses on language medium, or the primary language of instruction, as a major means of identifying and evaluating the self and others. Work on this project has led to an interest in the use and representation of languages as young people pursue coaching services in search of civil service employment or further education. And advertising is yet another component of this long-term project, specifically an analysis of the changing ways in which schools and coaching services represent themselves in the built environment and attempt to attract new students. I have also worked with students on the imagination by the United States and New York State governments of literacy as a means for poverty alleviation. We have critiqued the limits of associated policy measures through engaging in fieldwork in adult literacy centers. Finally, I have conducted fieldwork and published on the cultural constructions of people, especially those marked in terms of race, class, and sexuality, resulting from experiential learning and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in higher education.