What I'm reading

Academic texts I have known and loved

I have a habit of telling everybody what I’m reading online, but not so much about what I’m reading for research. Here is a short list of books and papers that I’ve come across over the last ten years and that I consider to be personal landmarks for one reason or another.

Looking back over the list, I’m almost disappointed in myself. If I was really out to impress others I would have added lots of monumental tomes staking out various important paradigm shifts and intellectual turns and been more attentive to diversity.

But that wasn’t the aim of the exercise. Texts are listed here because the authors have influenced my thinking in some way, or presented a Big Idea that has captured my imagination, or they may simply have an engaging writing style that has sucked me in despite making poor arguments for which I have decided to forgive them.

These are all the works that I can think of off the top of my head. I will update this post as I think of more.


Theory and method

Deloria Jnr, Vine. [1969] 1988. Anthropologists and other friends. In Custer died for your sins: An Indian manifesto. New York: Macmillan.

Geertz, Clifford. 1973. The interpretation of cultures: Selected essays. New York: Basic Books.

Robbins, Joel. 2013. “Beyond the suffering subject: Toward an anthropology of the good.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 19 (3):447-462.


Collins, David. [1788-1801] 1900. An account of the English colony in New South Wales. Christchurch, Wellington and Dunedin, N.Z.; Melbourne and London: Whitcombe and Tombs Limited.

Cook, James. [1770-1771] 1821. The three voyages of Captain James Cook round the world. Vol 2. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown.

Leach, E. R. [1954] 1970. Political systems of highland Burma: A study of Kachin social structure. London: The Athlone Press.

Lander, Christian. 2008. Stuff white people like: A definitive guide to the unique taste of millions. New York: Random House.

Oppermann, Thiago C. 2015. Fake it until you make it: Searching for mimesis in Buka Village politics. Oceania, 85(2), 199-218.

Stasch, R. 2009. Society of Others: Kinship and mourning in a West Papuan place. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Tsing, Anna. 1993. In the realm of the diamond queen: Marginality in an out-of-the-way place. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Historical ethnography/ethnohistory

Anderson, Benedict. 1972. “The idea of power in Javanese culture.” In Culture and politics in Indonesia, edited by Claire Holt, Benedict Anderson and James Siegel. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.

Anderson, Benedict. [1983] 2003. Imagined communities: Reflections on the origins and spread of nationalism. Pasig City: Anvil Publishing.

Clendinnen, Inga. [2003] 2005. Dancing with strangers. Melbourne: Text Publishing.

Dening, Greg. 1996. Performances. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

Hobsbawm, Eric, and Terence Ranger, eds. 1983. The invention of tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hokari, Minoru. 2011. Gurindji journey: A Japanese historian in the outback. Sydney: UNSW Press.

Sahlins, Marshall. 2012. “Alterity and autochthony: Austronesian cosmographies of the marvelous.” Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 2 (1):131-160.

Scott, James C. 2009. The art of not being governed: An anarchist history of Upland Southeast Asia. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Smalley, William A., Chia Koua Vang, and Gnia Yee Yang. 1990. Mother of writing: The origin and development of a Hmong messianic script. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Sturtevant, David R. 1976. Popular uprisings in the Philippines, 1840–1940. New York: Cornell University Press.

Thomas, Megan C. 2012. Orientalists, propagandists and ilustrados: Filipino scholarship and the end of Spanish colonialism. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.

Linguistics, linguistic anthropology, anthropology of literacy

Blommaert, Jan. 2013. Writing as a sociolinguistic object. Journal of Sociolinguistics. 1-19.

Keane, Webb. 2013. On spirit writing: Materialities of language and the religious work of transduction. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 19 (1):1-17.

Postill, John. 2003. “Knowledge, literacy and media among the Iban of Sarawak. A reply to Maurice Bloch.” Social Anthropology 11 (1):79-99

Thomason, Sarah. 2007. “Language contact and deliberate change.” Journal of Language Contact, Thema I I (I):41-62.

Veselinova, Ljuba 2003. Suppletion in verb paradigms: Bits and pieces of a puzzle. Doctoral dissertation, Linguistics, Stockholm University, Stockholm.

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