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Affiliate Faculty

Ralph Litzinger

Director, Duke Engage Beijing
Faculty Director, Global Semester Abroad
Trinity College of Arts and Sciences
Cultural Anthropology

(919) 681-6250

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Ralph Litzinger


I received my doctorate in socio-cultural anthropology from the University of Washington in Seattle. My early research focused on the culture and politics of the ethnic borders in China. I have published on Marxist nationality theory in China, on ethnic and indigenous revitalization in the post-Cold War global order, on gender and ethnic representation, and on ethnographic film, photography, and popular culture in China and elsewhere. Other Chinas: the Yao and the Politics of National Belonging (Duke University Press, 2000) was the first major ethnographic study to examine the role of minority intellectuals in the critique of socialism and their role in the imagining of post-socialist futures. My current research is engaged with questions of border ecologies, bio-politics, activism and advocacy in labor, education rights, and the environment. In relationship to this research, I have published key essays on the transnational and media dimensions of anti-dam protest in southwest China. I am also working with migrants in China, looking at non-official education projects for migrant kids, the political role of non-governmental organizations and corporate social responsibility projects in these experimental ventures. More recently, I have been tracking Apple's environment, labor, and occupational health record in China, and am very interested in transnational activism directed at Apple and the companies that source its supply chain, as well as the general middle-class obsession for all things Apple in China. In all of my research, teaching, and thinking, I am committed to forging an anthropology of critical advocacy and activism, one which addresses structures of domination, exploitation, and inequality and the struggle to make the world a better place.


Title Number Level Semester Requirements Fulfilled
Environment and Health in China
Crosslisted as POLSCI 299S GLHLTH 383AS

Critical overview and investigation of the culture, politics, and political economy of environment, health, and development issues in contemporary China, with special attention to case studies exploring a range of issues from public health panics, HIV and AIDS, sex work, migrant workers, the Beijing Olympics, water politics, earthquake relief, and environmental protest. Includes readings across disciplines, and engagement with the work of government, academic, multilateral and non-governmental groups. Instructor consent required. Course taught in China as part of the Global Study Abroad Program.

Course Notes:
UG Only FALL 2017 MAJOR: Focused Study
MINOR: Elective

Recent Publications

Litzinger, RA. "Review: Ecologies of Comparison: An Ethnography of Endangerment in Hong Kong (Accepted)." American Ethnologist (2015). (Review)