'Ethnicity, Inc.' lecture highlights visit by noted social scientists

John Comaroff, an influential social scientist at the University of Chicago, gives a talk titled “Ethnicity, Inc.: The Commercialization of Culture and the Corporatization of Identity” at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 29, in Bates College’s Keck Classroom (G52), Pettengill Hall, 4 Andrews Road (Alumni Walk).

The lecture, part of a four-day residency by Comaroff and his wife and colleague Jean Comaroff, is open to the public at no cost. The residency is sponsored by the Bates African American and American cultural studies programs, the Department of Anthropology, the Office of Affirmative Action, the Bates Learning Associates Program, the Department of Anthropology at Colby College and the Africana Studies Program at Bowdoin College.

Frequent and prolific collaborators, the Comaroffs have broadened the study of culture and society with their reflections on power and meaning. Their work on Africa and colonialism has explored fundamental questions of social science, such as the nature of history and human agency, culture and consciousness, ritual and representation.

They have jointly authored a number of books including the forthcoming Ethnicity, Inc. (University of Chicago Press, 2009), in which they analyze the commodification of human identity. Earlier works include the series Of Revelation and Revolution (University of Chicago Press), and Law and Disorder in the Postcolony (University of Chicago Press, 2006).

John Comaroff is Harold H. Swift Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology and of Social Sciences and Law at the University of Chicago. He is the author of Rules and Processes: The Cultural Logic of Dispute in an African Context (University of Chicago Press, 1981), among many other works.

Jean Comaroff is Bernard E. & Ellen C. Sunny Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology and of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Body of Power, Spirit of Resistance: The Culture and History of a South African People (University of Chicago Press, 1985).

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