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America Observed: On an International Anthropology of the United States

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America Observed

On an International Anthropology of the United States

Edited by Virginia Dominguez and Jasmin Habib
Afterword by Jane C. Desmond

188 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-360-6 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (December 2016)

ISBN  978-1-78533-435-1 $27.95/£22.95 Pb Published (December 2016)

eISBN 978-1-78533-361-3 eBook

Hb Pb   Buy the eBook! $27.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


America Observed poses and answers a critical question for anthropology today: why do so few scholars from outside the United States write ethnographies about ‘America’, and what are the consequences of this lacuna?” · Andrew P. Lyons, Wilfrid Laurier University

“This book serves to generate a much-needed discussion about the absence of international ethnographic research in the U.S. and about the nature of the discipline that discourages this kind of research. Furthermore, the ethnographies presented here teach us something substantial about ‘American’ culture and illustrate that ethnographic research undertaken by non-U.S. anthropologists can be particularly insightful.” · James Armstrong, SUNY Plattsburgh


There is surprisingly little fieldwork done on the United States by anthropologists from abroad. America Observed fills that gap by bringing into greater focus empirical as well as theoretical implications of this phenomenon. Edited by Virginia Dominguez and Jasmin Habib, the essays collected here offer a critique of such an absence, exploring its likely reasons while also illustrating the advantages of studying fieldwork-based anthropological projects conducted by colleagues from outside the U.S. This volume contains an introduction written by the editors and fieldwork-based essays written by Helena Wulff, Jasmin Habib, Limor Darash, Ulf Hannerz, and Moshe Shokeid, and reflections on the broad issue written by Geoffrey White, Keiko Ikeda, and Jane Desmond.  Suitable for introductory and mid-level anthropology courses, America Observed will also be useful for American Studies courses both in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Virginia R. Dominguez is Edward William and Jane Marr Gutgsell Professor of Anthropology, Jewish Studies, Global Studies, Caribbean Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the U.S.  She is a recent past president of the American Anthropological Association, recent past editor of American Ethnologist, and co-founder of the International Forum for U.S. Studies.

Jasmin Habib is Associate Professor teaching in the Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo and the Global Governance Program at the Balsillie School of International Affairs. She is the editor-in-chief of Anthropologica (the journal of the Canadian Anthropology Society) and editor of the Cultural Spaces book series with the University of Toronto Press.

Subject: General Anthropology Sociology
Area: North America


Introduction: Can the US Be “Othered” Usefully? On an International Anthropology of the United States
Virginia R. Dominguez and Jasmin Habib


Chapter 1. Manhattan as a Magnet: Place and Circulation among Young Swedes
Helena Wulff

Chapter 2. Is It Un-American to Be Critical of Israel? Criticism and Fear in the US Context
Jasmin Habib

Chapter 3. Biosecurity in the US: “The Scientific” and “the American” in Critical Perspective”
Limor Samimian-Darash

Chapter 4. American Theater State: Reflections on Political Culture
Ulf Hannerz

Chapter 5. Observing American Gay Organizations and Voluntary Associations: An Outsider’s Exposition
Moshe Shokeid


Chapter 6. Who Cares? Why It’s Odd and Why It’s Not?
Geoffrey White

Chapter 7. Power and the Trafficking of Scholarship in International American Studies
Keiko Ikeda

Afterword: The Sounds of Silence: Commissions, Omissions, and Particularity in the Global Anthropology of the United States
Jane C. Desmond


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