Joshua Rubin

Joshua D. Rubin

Lecturer in Anthropology



B.A., University of Michigan; Ph.D., Yale University

Joshua D. Rubin teaches in Bates College’s Department of Anthropology, and he is also a member of the program committees for American Studies and Africana (formerly African American Studies). At Bates, Rubin has offered courses on art, sport, race and gender, sensory perception,  popular culture in Africa, ethnographic writing, and the discipline of anthropology and its histories. His courses have been cross-listed with Art and Visual Culture as well as American Studies and Africana.

Rubin is a sociocultural anthropologist by training, and his research focuses on the politics of play. (Some relevent questions: Where and when do activities get called play? Who gets to decide, and what happens in those moments of recognition? How is play used and structured, and to what ends?) He is especially interested in forms of emergent play-those uncertain moments when play exceeds some recognized limit and one no longer has a stable understanding of how one should play, what one should play for, and-in some situations- who is playing and who has started to “get serious.” His first book manuscript, under contract with University of Michigan press, examines the plitics of play in post-apartheid South African rugby. It takes rugby to be social actor in its own right-a practice that comes to life in the openess of play and subverts the intentions of its players-and it demonstrates how rugby’s vitality has shaped a range of political projects, including the militant whate masculinity of apartheid, the anti-apartheid struggle, and the post-apartheid nationalism of the ANC. He has also researched and written on the administrative incoherence of the apartheid state and the everyday theorizing of artists and informal natural gas dealers in Zimbabwe. His next book project studies manifestations of emergent play in vido games and their affiliated communities.  In addition to his interest in play Rubin is also interested in critical theory as well as theories of race and gender, sports and video games, art and aesthetics, and conceptions of state power. His published work has appeared in the journals SAFUNDI, Cultural Anthropology and Africa.