Joshua Rubin

Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology





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

Research and Teaching

Joshua D. Rubin teaches in Bates College’s Department of Anthropology, and he is also a member of the program committee for Africana (formerly African American Studies). He is a theorist and ethnographer of the political significance of “everyday aesthetics.” His work devotes particular attention to the cultural and historical modes of perception and aesthetic assessment that people deploy in the course of their everyday lives. Rubin’s interest in the politics of everyday aesthetics leads him to be interested as well in critical theory, theories of race and gender, sports and video games, art and labor, and conceptions of state power.

His first book, published with University of Michigan Press in 2021, examines post-apartheid South African rugby. It problematizes assumed distinctions between sporting performance and artistic production by taking rugby to be a social actor in its own right—a
practice that comes to life in the openness 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 white 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 published work has appeared in the journals SAFUNDI, Cultural Anthropology, and Africa. His current book project, under contract with University of Michigan Press as of February 2022, documents the significance of playtesting in videogame development.

At Bates, Rubin has offered courses on art, sport, videogames, 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, Dance, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Philosophy as well as American Studies and Africana.


INDS 305 – Art, Power, and Politics

FYS 484 – Making Sense: The Social Significance of Sensory Perception

ANTH 101 – Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

AMAN125 – Critical Perspectives on Sport and Society