Ethnicity, Nationalism, and the State

Ethnic politics and nationalist movements dominated the late 20th century and will play a huge role in shaping the world in this new century. In recognition, the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh offers a concentration in ethnicity, nationalism, and the state to students in the graduate program.

Students who specialize in cultural anthropology have the opportunity to undertake coursework and research on a wide range of contemporary issues relating to ethnicity, nationalism, or the state. Among the topics explored in faculty research and course offerings are:

  • ethnic conflict and violence;
  • social movements and new states;
  • gender and nationalism;
  • ethnicity, drugs, and class;
  • social stratification and expressive culture;
  • ethnicity and transnationalism, postcolonialism;
  • folklore and cultural diversity, nationalism and the body;
  • citizenship, nationalism, and law;
  • political economy, development, and the state.

Regional foci include, but are not limited to, East and West Europe, Latin America, East Asia, South Asia, and the Pacific. Pursuit of these specific interests is undertaken along with fulfillment of the basic departmental requirements in the student's chosen subfield of anthropology, thus ensuring well-rounded, high-quality training in general anthropology.

Faculty Appointments and Interests

The faculty involved in the focus on ethnicity, nationalism, and the state includes 12 faculty members whose primary appointments are in the Department of Anthropology. Affiliated faculty are in the Departments of History, Sociology, Political Science, Africana Studies, Economics, Hispanic Language and Literature, and the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Faculty and students are currently conducting research in Pittsburgh, Japan, China, Eastern Europe, West Europe, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, India, and several Latin American countries (Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, and Mexico). Faculty research includes projects on ethnicity, class, drug production and consumption in the U.S. and Latin America; U.S. urban ethnicity; Mexican aristocracy, plutocracy, and haute bourgeoisie; Hakka Chinese ethnicity and religion; nationalism and gender among Filipino overseas workers; public health, gender, and nationalism in India; nationalism, law, state formation, and ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia; law and legal reform in Pacific Island nations; ethnic diversity and cultural interaction in the western Pacific and east Indonesia; development and health in Latin America; Japanese nationalism and the emperor; and nationalism and local and regional identities in West Europe.

Student Research

Anthropology graduate students in this concentration pursue a wide variety of research interests. Recent and current topics include:

  • international NGOs in the development of indigenous nationalism in Ecuador;
  • gender and ethnic movements in El Salvador;
  • gendered nationalism and ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia;
  • Korean identity in Japan;
  • the transformation of ethnic minorities in the former Soviet Union;
  • agricultural development, identity and the state in the Solomon Islands;
  • ethnic diversity and legal discourse in Eastern Indonesia;
  • Cultural expressions of ethnicity in Australia; reproduction, gender, and the state in the Solomon Islands;
  • tourism and transnationalism in Nepal;
  • indigenous identity and the state in the Brazilian Amazon;
  • international development and gender in Malaysia;
  • peasant resistance and the state in South Korea;
  • collective identity, Afro-centricity, and crack cocaine in a Pittsburgh neighborhood; missionary and colonial ethnography in China;
  • Jewish ethnicity in Pittsburgh;
  • international agencies' categories and local identities in Macedonia;
  • residential schools and native identity in Siberia.

University of Pittsburgh Resources

The University of Pittsburgh is an elected member of the Association of American Universities, and is consistently ranked among the top 20 universities in terms of external research grants. Pitt is particularly strong in international studies. The University Center for International Studies (UCIS) houses four major language and area studies programs, in Asian, Latin American, Russian and East European, and West European Studies. The Asian Studies Program, the Center for Latin American Studies, and the Center for Russian and East European Studies are top-ranked, federally-funded National Resource Centers. The University of Pittsburgh Library System has extensive holdings in all of these areas. The Jewish Studies, Women's Studies, and Culture Studies Programs, as well as the Pennsylvania Ethnic Studies Center are also important resources.

Funding Opportunities

Each year one or more (three- or four-year) teaching fellowships will be awarded to a highly promising incoming graduate student who plans to specialize in research relating to ethnicity, nationalism, or the state.


Get More Information

Phyllis Deasy
University of Pittsburgh

Dept. of Anthropology
3H01 William Wesley Posvar Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15260


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Faculty Specializing in Ethnicity, Nationalism, and the State

Joseph S. Alter (professor): nationalism, health, and sexuality; colonialism, postcolonialism, and the body; India

Nicole Constable (professor): ethnicity, gender, and nationalism; folklore and cultural diversity; China, Hong Kong, Filipino overseas workers

Olivier de Montmollin (associate professor): archaeology; state societies; Latin America

Kathleen M. DeWalt (professor): political economy and health; development and the state; Latin America (Ecuador, Brazil, Honduras, Mexico)

Robert Hayden (professor): nationalism; ethnic conflict; anthropology of law, political anthropology; India, Eastern Europe (former Yugoslavia)

Harry Sanabria (associate professor): drugs, historical demography; economic anthropology, political economy, and the state; Latin America; U.S. inner cities and minorities

Richard Scaglion (professor): law and legal reform; colonialism, nationalism, ethnic conflict, and new states; Papua New Guinea, East Indonesia, Pittsburgh

Andrew J. Strathern (Andrew Mellon Professor): conflict and violence; ethnicity and nationalism, political anthropology, nationalism and senses of local and regional identity in historical context; Papua New Guinea, Scotland

Affiliated Faculty in Other Departments or Campuses

George Reid Andrews (history)
Laurence A. Glasco (history)
Laura A. Hastings (GSPIA)
Irina Livezeanu (history)
Evelyn S. Rawski (history)

Selected Course Offerings

Urban Society
Social Stratification and Expressive Culture
Folklore and Cultural Diversity
Anthropology of Law
Economic Anthropology
Drugs, Ethnicity and Class in the U.S.
Anthropology and Political Economy
Ethnography and the Global Economy
Marxist Approaches in Anthropology
Conflict and Violence
Ethno-National Violence
Gender and Health
Gender and the State
Anthropology of Women
Colonialism, Nationalism, and Health