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Brooks Hall, 301


My interests include the anthropology of moralities and ethics; the intertwining of humans, worlds and situations; political activity and theory; the intersection of anthropology and philosophy; and the drug war.  These interests are taken up from the perspective of an anthropology strongly influenced by post-Heideggerian continental philosophy and critical theory, the theoretical articulation of which I name critical hermeneutics.  My research projects in Russia have included ethnographically examining Russian Orthodox Church drug rehabilitation programs as spaces for moral training, and life-historical research on moral experience in times of post-Soviet social and political change. For the last decade, I have been conducting research with the globally networked anti-drug war movement, in an attempt to rethink some of our most closely held ethical and political assumptions and conceptualizations.

I have authored several books: Morality: An Anthropological Perspective (2008), Making the New Post-Soviet Person: Narratives of Moral Experience in Contemporary Moscow (2010), and HIV is God’s Blessing: Rehabilitating Morality in Neoliberal Russia (2011), and edited a volume titled, Multiple Moralities and Religion in Contemporary Russia (2011). My latest book, Disappointment: Toward a Critical Hermeneutics of Worldbuilding (2018), addresses the ethical, political and ontological grounds of the disappointment many feel today, offering an alternative vision of what a future could be and how to achieve it. 

I received my Ph.D. in anthropology from the City University of New York, Graduate Center (2006) and M.A. in liberal arts, with a focus on moral and political philosophy, from St. John’s College (1998). I have been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, a visiting scholar at Columbia University, and a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology.  My research has been funded through a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship, The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), and the European Research Council (ERC), among others. 


Anthropology of moralities and ethics; the intertwining of humans, worlds and situations; political activity and theory; the intersection of anthropology and philosophy; critical hermeneutics; drug war


Selected Publications

2015   “What is a situation?: an assemblic ethnography of the drug war,” in Cultural Anthropology, vol. 30, no. 3.

2014   “An Ethics of Dwelling and a Politics of World-Building: A Critical Response to Ordinary Ethics,” in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 20, 746-64.

2014   “Maintaining the ‘Truth:’ performativity, human rights, and the limitations on politics,” in Theory and Event, vol. 17, no. 3.

2014   “Temporalization and Ethical Action,” in Journal of Religious Ethics, vol. 42, no. 3.

2014   “Attunement and Fidelity: Two Ontological Conditions for Morally Being-in-the-World,” in Ethos, vol. 42, no.1.

2014   “Moral Experience – Introduction,” in Ethos, vol. 42, no. 1 (co-authored with Jason Throop).

2013   “Human Rights as Moral Progress? A Critique,” in Cultural Anthropology, vol. 28, no. 4.

2013   “On Love: remaking moral subjectivity in post-rehabilitation Russia,” in American Ethnologist, vol. 40, no. 1.

2009   “Morality Within a Range of Possibilities: A Dialogue with Joel Robbins,” in Ethnos, vol. 74, no. 2.

2007   “Moral Breakdown and the Ethical Demand: A Theoretical Framework for an Anthropology of Moralities,” in Anthropological Theory, vol.7, no.2.

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Director of the Bioethics Program, William & Linda Porterfield Chair in Biomedical Ethics and Professor of Anthropology
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