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Liisa Malkki

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Liisa Malkki

Ph.D. Harvard, 1989
Research Interests: 
Historical anthropology; historical consciousness and memory; mass displacement and exile; racial essentialism and mass violence; nationalism and internationalism; the ethics and politics of humanitarianism; religion and contemporary missions in Africa; religion and globalization; social uses of the category, art, and the politics of visuality.


Office hours by appointment-Friday afternoon until 2pm

Liisa H. Malkki is a Professor of Anthropology at Stanford University. Her research interests include: the politics of nationalism, internationalism, cosmopolitanism, and human rights discourses as transnational cultural forms; the social production of historical memory and the uses of history; political violence, exile, and displacement; the ethics and politics of humanitarian aid; child research; and visual culture. Her field research in Tanzania exlored the ways in which political violence and exile may produce transformations of historical consciousness and national identity among displaced people. This project resulted in Purity and Exile: Violence, Memory, and National Cosmology Among Hutu Refugees in Tanzania (University of Chicago Press, 1995). In another project, Malkki explored how Hutu exiles from Burundi and Rwanda, who found asylum in Montreal, Canada, imagined scenarios of the future for themselves and their countries in the aftermath of genocide in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Malkki’s second book, Improvising Theory: Process and Temporality in Ethnographic Fieldwork (with Allaine Cerwonka) was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2007. Her most recent book, The Need To Help: The Domestic Arts of International Humanitarianism (2006, Duke UP), examines the changing interrelationships among humanitarian interventions, internationalism, professionalism, affect, and neutrality in the work of the Finnish Red Cross in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross.


To view the syllabus for Ideologies and Practices of Creativity: A Practicum (Anthropology 351D) Malkki_2020_IdeologiesPracticesOfCreativitySyllabus.pdf (

Selected Articles

 Scholarly Articles
1998 “Things to Come: Internationalism and Global Solidarities in the Late 1990s.” (A response to Jurgen Habermas.) Public Culture,  vol. 10(2): 431-442.

1996 “Speechless Emissaries: Refugees, Humanitarianism, and Dehistoricization.” Cultural Anthropology, vol. 11(3): 377-404.

1995 “Refugees and Exile: From ‘Refugee Studies’ to the National Order of Things.” Annual Review of Anthropology 24 (1995).

1994 “Citizens of Humanity: Internationalism and the Imagined Community of Nations.” Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, vol. 3(1): 41-68.

1992 “National Geographic: The Rooting of Peoples and the Territorialization of National Identity among Scholars and Refugees.” Cultural Anthropology, vol. 7(1).