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Petra Rethmann

Petra Rethmann



CNH 527
Office Phone: 905-525-9140 ext. 23905


  1. PhD McGill, 1996


Research & Supervisory Interests

Dr. Petra Rethmann is professor of Anthropology, a faculty member in the Cultural Studies & Critical Theory program, and a member of the Institute on Globalization and the Human Condition. She is the author of Tundra Passages (2001) and co-editor of Globality: Frictions and Connections (in press), and the author of numerous articles that have appeared in edited volumes and in journals such as American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Anthropologica, Cultural Critique, and Anthropologie et Société. Her research is based in two main areas: Russia and South Africa. Over the past decade, she has devoted her attention to thinking about a number of interrelated issues concerning: cultural creativity and agency; the afterlife of particular historical movements and moments; the production of history and the place of art within it; fetishization and the violence of culture. In her writings on all of these issues she attends to questions of cultural politics and representation.  Petra Rethmann is currently working on two book-length projects. The first one examines the cultural politics of left-wing collectives and movements that emerged in West Germany in the 1980s.  The second project involves a critical interrogation of the South African anti-apartheid struggle, examined from a perspective of the future that never came into being.

Courses (2014-15)

Fall - ANTHROP 2MA3E- Media, Art and Anthropology

Courses (2013-14)

Fall - ANTHROP 3P03 - Research Methods in Cultural Anthropology



Selected Publications


2001 Tundra Passages: History and Gender in the Russian Far East University Park, PA.: Pennsylvania University Press.

2010 Cultural Autonomy: Frictions and Connections. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

n.d. Collectivism: The Art of Social Imagination after 1980.

Journal and Book Articles

Submitted. Art and Democracy in Germany. Cultural Anthropology.

Submitted. Staying in the Picture: Lenin and a Performance of Seeing. A Note from Russia. Anthropologica.

Submitted. The Discreet Charm of Lenin. Journal of Historical Sociology.

In press. West German Radical History as Seen from the 1980: Projekt Artur and the Refusal of Political Confiscation. Seminar.

2010. Global Activism and the Visual Grammar of Nature. In Cultural Autonomy: Frictions and Connections, edited by Rethmann, Petra, Imre Szeman, and Will Coleman. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

2009. Post-Communist Ironies in an East German Hotel. Anthropology Today 1:19-42.

2009. After the Thrill: Global Capitalism and the Search for South African Autonomy. Globalizations 6(3): 365-377

2008 Nostalgie à Moscou. Anthropologie et Société 32 (1).

2008 Fantasies at the International Whaling Commission. In Institutions, Governance, and Global Ordering. Edited by Pauly, Lou, and William Coleman. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

2007 On Presence. In Extra/Ordinary Anthropology. Edited by Jean-Guy Goulet, Bruce G. Miller. Foreword by Johannes Fabian. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Pp. 36-53.

2006 On Militancy, Sort Of. Cultural Critique 62: 67-92.

2004 Violence and the Politics of Ethnographic Writing. Anthropology News 45(8): 13-14.

2004 Politique et Imaginaire à Tchoukotka. Anthropologie et Société 28(1) : 112-134.

2004 A Dream of Democracy in the Russian Far East. In In the Way of Development: Indigenous Peoples, Life Projects, and Globalization, edited by Mario Blaser and Harvey Feit. London: Zed Press. Pp. 256-279.

2003 The Social Uses of History in the Russian Far East. Arctic Anthropology 39 (1-2): 122-155.

2000 Skins of Desire: Poetry and Identity in Koriak Women’s Gift Exchange. American Ethnologist 27 (1): 52-71.

1997  Chto Delat’: Ethnography in the Post-Soviet Cultural Context. American Anthropologist 99 (4): 770-774..



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