Political Anthropology and Political Economy

Many faculty at Stanford work on questions of political authority, sovereignty, transnational global economy, political movements, postcolonial and decolonial theory and praxis.

In the last two decades, the anthropological study of political authority has moved away from its historical focus on kingship and big man systems towards a focus on the historical formation of modern forms of sovereignty, state authority and the modern government of bodies and populations through languages of science, health and security. Anthropologists have paid particular attention to how colonial forms of government left lasting marks on how political power has been performed and legitimized outside of Europe and America. The modern nation-state may be the dominant form of political authority and imagination today but it has taken many and specific forms across the world without completely removing or superseding older languages of power and public authority. Anthropologists today are centrally concerned with both “the local”, and national-level and transnational political and cultural processes. 

Further, anthropology offers a unique perspective on our interconnected global economy, attending both the transnational social and cultural connections that it entails and to the specific, located social practices that make such connections possible. Department faculty have worked on many different aspects of global political economy across several different world areas. Faculty have worked on questions of development, conservation, and humanitarianism. They have also engaged with structures of (and challenges to) inequality, humiliation, and disprivilege through historically situated work staged at different scales, foregrounding anthropology’s ability through ethnographic fieldwork and engagement to provide deep understandings of struggle and power in our contemporary world. 

Faculty

Associate Professor of Anthropology
Susan S. and William H. Hindle Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Reliance-Dhirubhai Ambani Professor
Associate Professor of Anthropology and Senior Fellow, by courtesy, at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Assistant Professor of Anthropology