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John Caughey

john caughey

Professor Emeritus, American Studies

3335 Tawes Hall
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Research Expertise


John L. Caughey is a Professor Emeritus and past chair in the Department. His research involves the ethnographic, comparative investigation of contemporary cultures as systems of meaning. He has done field research in Micronesia, South Asia, and the U.S. (including field work with Old Order Mennonites, on a psychiatric ward in Philadelphia, with psychotherapists in Washington, D. C., with South Asians in America, and with Americans in South Asia). He is particularly interested in how contemporary individuals handle multiple cultural traditions including how they simultaneously or alternatively construct senses of self out of diverse cultural models of race, gender, ethnicity, and personality. His work on individuals and their cultures also includes ethnographic investigations of the cultural dimensions of trials, travel, and imaginary social experience. He holds affiliate appointments in theDepartment of Anthropology and theConsortium on Race, Gender, and Ethnicity.

Research Areas

  • Ethnography
  • Critical Race and Ethnic Studies
  • Cultural Production
  • Anthropology


  • Ph.D. Cultural Anthropology (University of Pennsylvania)
  • M.A. Cultural Anthropology (University of Pennsylvania)
  • B.A. English Literature (Harvard College)

Select Publications

  • The Anthropologist as Expert Witness: The Case of a Murder in Maine.‚Multicultural Jurisprudence. Ed. Alison Renteln. Oxford, Hart Publishing Company, 2008.
  • Negotiating Cultures and Identities. Life History Issues, Methods and Readings. Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 2006.
  • ‚How to Teach Self-Ethnography.‚Tricks for Teaching Anthropology. Ed. Patricia Rice and David McCurdy. New York: Prentice Hall, 2000.
  • ‚Personal Identity on Faanakkar.‚Pieces of the Personality Puzzle: Readings in Theory and Research. Ed. David C. Funder and D. Ozer. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1997. 377-382.
  • ‚Imaginary Social Relationships.‚Media Journal: Reading and Writing About Popular Culture. Ed. Joseph Harris and Jay Rosen. Boston: Allyn and Bacon 1995. 121-146.
  • ‚Gina As Steven: The Social and Cultural Dimensions of A Media Relationship.‚Visual Anthropology Review 10 (1994): 126-135.
  • ‚Social Dimensions of Mental Imagery: An Anthropological Approach.‚Imagery: Current Perspectives. Ed. Joseph Shorr. New York: Plenum, 1989. 33-44.
  • ‚On the Anthropology of America.‚Symbolizing America. Ed. Herve Varenne. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986. 229-50.
  • Imaginary Social Worlds: A Cultural Approach. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984.
  • ‚The Ethnography of Everyday Life: Theories and Methods for American Culture Studies.‚American Quarterly 34 (1982): 222-243.