Anthropology of the Senses.
How are our senses formed by culture? What is the world like to societies that emphasize touch or hearing rather than sight?
This research explores the life of the senses in society. To a greater or lesser extent, every domain of sensory experience, from the sight of an artwork to the scent of perfume to the savour of dinner, is a field of cultural elaboration. Hence the necessity of adopting an anthropological approach to the study of the sensorium.
Sensory experience may be structured and invested with meaning in many different ways across cultures, as I have learned from field research in the interior and coastal regions of Papua New Guinea, the Andean region of Argentina, the American southwest, and the Pitt Rivers Musem in Oxford.
Click here to visit the Senses website.
Anthropology of Consumption.
What has the globalization of the consumer society meant for the small-scale societies typically studied by anthropologists? How has Western culture changed as a result of the influx of “exotic” goods and practices from around the world over the last few decades?
This research explores issues of cultural imperialism and appropriation, of colonization and decolonization, of how the West represents its “others” and how those “others” in turn represent the West – all through the medium of the meanings and uses which consumer goods carry and/or have ascribed to them when they cross cultural borders.
Click here to visit the Cross-Cultural Consumption website.
Anthropology of Law.
How do Native American ideas of justice differ from those found in the Anglo-American legal tradition? How important is it for judicial reasoning to be culturally reflexive? This research focuses on the challenges to conventional Anglo-American notions of law and justice posed by the legal traditions of diverse First Nations people – most notably the Dene and the Hopi. It also explores how the ideology of legal liberalism, which holds that justice must be culture-blind, has had many unfortunate consequences, and needs now to be supplanted by a culturally-reflexive style of legal reasoning.
Click here to visit the Centaur Jurisprudence Research Project website.
Click here to visit the Canadian Jurisprudence website.
Could there be a constitutional dimension to the creative process? How is cultural production constituted in Canada and the United States?
Cultural studies teaches that cultures tend to constitute themselves in contradistinction to each other, and that the mode of organization of society shapes the creative activity of the imaginary. Building on these notions, this research focusses on the Canada/U.S. border. It shows how the constitutions of Canada and the United States differ in certain key respects, and goes on to trace the influence of these differences on cultural production in the two countries. The works of various exemplary figures or “cultural icons” from the fields of painting, music, and literature are analyzed – including, among others, Alex Colville, Glenn Gould, Grey Owl, Lucy Maude Montgomery, and Margaret Atwood, along with their American counterparts.
Click here to visit the Canadian Icon website.
Click here to view a selection of recently published and soon to be published papers and lectures