• Professor, SAS
  • Specialization: Body/embodiment, politics and aesthetics, phenomenologies of capitalism, consumer culture, cultural politics, critical ethnography and ethnographic writing, cultural representation, gender/race/difference and global inequalities; culture and desire; history and theory of anthropology; US
  • Degree and University: PhD, SUNY-Albany, 1983

  pdf Link to CV (572 KB)


My research has ranged from early applied work on indigenous identity and tribal recognition among Native Americans to the recent retheorizing of concepts and models that play a central role in anthropology, whether of space/time, the aesthetic, or the unconscious. My main focus is on the body and embodiment, primarily in the context of consumer capitalism. I approach the body as a locus of power and embodiment as a site of culturally ascribed and disputed meanings, feelings, and experiences of being-in-the-world.  In all of my work, my abiding interest has been in the institutions, representations, practices, and structures of knowledge that create and maintain cultural, gender, and racial inequality and oppression, whether in the context of cultural encounters such as colonialism, tourism, and ethnographic research or of consumption at the mall, museum, movie theater, academy, and tourist site. Exploring the relationship of aesthetics to politics, I have been equally concerned with the role imagination and desire play in constituting oppositional subjectivities.


I am a feminist anthropologist committed to an engaged anthropology that exposes the complex relationship of political ideologies and practices to cultural expressions to better understand how to confront oppression and envision alternatives. I have been particularly concerned with the politics of knowledge and specifically with a reflexive anthropology that explores the politics and ethics of the ethnographic encounter itself. 

Most recently, I have put my commitment to engaged anthropology into practice as an International Scholar with the Open Society Foundation (OSF), a non-profit foundation that promotes democratization in post-socialist countries by supporting educational, legal, and economic reform as well as public health and human and women's rights. As part of OSF's Academic Fellowship Program, I have been an International Scholar in Cultural Studies in Bulgaria at Sophia University, in Anthropology in Kosovo at the University of Prishtina, and in Gender Studies at Tbilisi State University, Republic of Georgia. In these capacities I have focused on educational transformation with younger scholars and presented my research to faculty from all over Eastern Europe and Central Asia.


Over the last three decades, I have conducted research, published, and/or offered courses in the following areas:   

The Body and Embodiment: gendered, racialized, and eroticized/exoticized bodies; historic and contemporary body practices; embodiment; the senses and aesthetics; materiality and semiotics of the body
Consumer Capitalism: historic and contemporary consumer capitalism; commodities and materiality; commodified bodies, aesthetic consumption; tourism; cultural studies; critical theory, phenomenologies of capitalism

Gender, Race, and Difference
: feminist anthropology; historical and contemporary politics of gender, racial, and ethnic difference; difference and globalization; bodies and difference; race and the aestheticization of bodies and politics

Psychology and Culture: intersubjectivity; desire and imagination; subjectivity, language and embodiment; objects and desire; the unconscious; cultural narratives and identity

Cultural Encounters and Conflict: politics and ethics of historical and contemporary cultural encounters, including conquest, colonialism/postcolonialism, tourism, and globalization; tensions and inequalities they create, cultural and political responses they elicit; gender and cultural encounter; cultural encounters and body politics     

Cultural Politics and Cultural Representation
: ethnographic and popular film; theorizing, reading, and writing ethnography; politics and poetics of ethnographic representation; colonialism and representation; anthropology and literature; cultural politics; political representation and the aesthetic state

History and Theory of Anthropology/Production of Knowledge/History of Ideas:  anthropological, critical, postcolonial, feminist, psychoanalytic, and post-structural theory; history of anthropology; anthropological discourse and contemporary cultural trends

United States: Most of my fieldwork is multisided and takes place in the United States, especially at sites of consumption. In addition to work on consumer populations, I have conducted research with Native Americans, student protestors, men and women with body modifications, young women with writing difficulties and eating disorders, craftspeople and artists, and a range of cultural producers, among others. I have also conducted fieldwork in the British West Indies and Mexico.


Companion to the Anthropology of the Body and Embodiment

A Companion to the Anthropology of the Body and Embodiment (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011) offers original essays that provide new insights on body politics and experiences of the body. Original chapters by many of the leading experts on the body and embodiment in anthropology today cover historical and contemporary approaches and highlight new research frameworks.

Paul Stoller (West Chester University of Pennsylvania) says this of the book: “Frances Mascia-Lees has compiled a breathtakingly comprehensive volume on the anthropology of the body. The chapters are creative, sometimes daring, and always insightful. The collection takes our comprehension of the body in social and cultural life to a new level. The volume will be read and debated for many years to come.”

gender and diff in a globalizing world

Gender and Difference in a Globalizing World: 21st Century Anthropology (Waveland Press, 2010) focuses on the history of the study of gender and difference in anthropology; the impact of contemporary global processes on the construction and experience of difference; and the gendered, raced, and classed nature of contemporary global processes.

View it at http://www.waveland.com/browse.php?t=159&r=b|t

Taking a Stand in a Postfeminist World

Taking a Stand in a Postfeminist World: Toward an Engaged Cultural Criticism was published by SUNY Press in 2000. Paul Stoller, author of Jaguar: A Story of Africans in America, writes of Taking a Stand: "Mascia-Lees and Sharpe are keen observers of contemporary culture, scholars who cull evidence carefully to reach their conclusions. What's more, they combine careful scholarship with representational inventiveness. They take creative risks with voice, structure, and subject. I'm sure their various takes on the post-feminist world will please many, anger others, and stimulate all." Read excerpts of this book here.

Review of Taking a Stand  

Gender and Anthropology

Gender and Anthropology was published by Waveland Press in 2016 in its 2nd edition. Of the book, Naomi Quinn of Duke University writes, "Gender and Anthropology is excellent. It is a major accomplishment of synthesis and distillation." - Read excerpts of this book here.

Review of Gender and Anthropology

Women Realities Women Choices
Women's Realities, Women's Choices introduces readers to the field of women's studies by examining the contradictions between social and cultural "givens" and the realities that women face in society. Written collectively by nine authors from as many fields and disciplines, the book acknowledges the gap between women's realities and their choices--and both analyzes that gap and looks at ways to bridge it.  Read excerpts from an earlier edition of this book here.

Tattoo, Torture, Mutilation, and Adornment: The Denaturalization of the Body in Culture and Text was published by SUNY Press in 1992. Howard Eilberg-Schwartz of Stanford University writes of Tattoo, Torture, Mutilation, and Adornment: "This exciting book engages the most current debates about the representation of the human body, especially the female body in various media such as film, literature, and popular magazines. Thoroughly conversant with the latest in feminist criticism, gender theory, and the predicaments of postmodern culture, the authors explore various narratives and images through which the gendered body is currently represented." Read excerpts of this book here.

Women Status

Toward a Model of Women's Status. American University Studies, Series Xi, Anthropology/Sociology, Vol. 1. Peter Lang Publishers, 1984.




  • 2011-2012               International Scholar, Tbilisi State University, Georgia, Open Society Foundation
  • 2009-2010               International Scholar, Prishtina University, Kosovo, Open Society Foundation
  • 2007-2008               International Scholar, University of Sofia, Bulgaria, Open Society Foundation
  • 2006-2007               Fellow, Center for Historical Analysis, Rutgers, New Brunswick
  • 2005                        American Anthropological Association’s (AAA) President’s Award
  • 2004                        Featured in Biographical Dictionary of Social and Cultural Anthropology,
  • 1999-2001               Faculty Mentor, Kellogg Leadership Institute
  • 1998                        AAA/Mayfield Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Anthropology
  • 1996-1998               Speaker in the Humanities Program, NY Council for the Humanities
  • 1992-1999               Associate Fellow, Institute for Research on Women, SUNY Albany
  • 1991-1992               Visiting Scholar, Five College Women’s Studies Research Center
  • 1991                        NEH Summer Seminar Fellowship
  • 1983-1999               60+ Faculty Development Grants, Bard College at Simon's Rock Campus
  • 1982                        Honors Convocation Award for Academic Excellence, SUNY Albany
  • 1982                        Research Foundation Grant, SUNY Albany
  • 1981                        Benevolent Association Fellowship, SUNY Albany
  • 1979                        Mashpee Tribal Council Research Grant
  • 1978-1982                Herbert H. Lehman Graduate Fellowship


  • 2004-present            Professor, Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University 
  • 2013-2014                Dean of International Studies, SAS, Rutgers University
  • 2011-2014                Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences, SAS, Rutgers University
  • 2004 - 2010              Chair, Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University
  • 2004 -                      Graduate Faculty in Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers University
  • 2001 - 2006              Editor-in-Chief, American Anthropologist
  • 2000 - 2004              Guest Professor, Department of Anthropology, Sarah Lawrence College
  • 1999 - 2000              Adjunct Professor, Department of Anthropology, Hunter College
  • 1998 - 1999              Professor, Social Studies Division, Bard College-SRC
  • 1991 - 1992              Chair, Social Studies Division, Bard College-SRC
  • 1986 - 1996              Founder and Co-Director, Women’s and Gender Studies Program, Bard College-SRC
  • 1990 - 1997              Associate Professor, Social Studies Division, Bard College-SRC
  • 1983 - 1989              Assistant Professor, Social Studies Division, Bard College-SRC
  • 1983                         Visiting Instructor, Department of Anthropology, SUNY, College at Oneonta
  • 1982-1983                Asst. to the Vice President, Office of Research and Educational Development, SUNY Albany
  • 1982                         Visiting Instructor, Department of Anthropology, SUNY Albany
  • 1977 - 1978              Recorder, Office of Records and Registration, SUNY, College at New Paltz


Consultantships in Media Programming
Advisor to Earth and Sky Radio Series for new "Human World Project,"
MSNBC, 2000
WGBH, 1999-2000
City Arts, 1999
ABC News, 1992

Mentor AAA Leadership Mentoring Program, 2013-2014
New Chair Mentor, Rutgers University, 2005-2006
Faculty Mentor, Kellogg Leadership Institute, 1999-2001


Graduate Seminars
Anthropology of the Body and Embodiment
Anthropology of Gender
Culture and Desire
Gender, Culture, and Political Engagement
History of Anthropological Theory
Phenomenologies of Capitalism
Psychological Anthropology
Theorizing and Writing Ethnography

Introductory Courses

Introduction to Anthropology
Introduction to Archaeology and World Prehistory
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Introduction to Cultural Ecology
Introduction to Cultural Studies

Introduction to Human Evolution
Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies


Undergraduate Anthropology Seminars

Anthropology Goes to the Movies: Ethnographic, Documentary, and Popular Film

Anthropology of the Body

Anthropology of Gender
Colonialism and Cultural Representation
Consuming Culture: Commodities and Consumption in a Transnational World
Cultural Encounters: Travel, Tourism, and Anthropology
Cultural Politics of Nazism
Cultural Stories: Narrative and Identity in the U.S.

Ethnography of Women

Exotic and Erotic in the 19th- and 20th-Century Western Imagination
Gender and Modernity

Interpreting Text/Interpreting Culture: Anthropology and Literature
Reading Ethnographic Writing

Interdisciplinary Courses
Constructing Self/Constructing the Other: The Politics and Poetics of Hollywood Film (honors seminar)
Writing Cultural Encounters (honors seminar)
Contemporary Black Critical Thought
History of the Social Sciences
Research Methods in the Social Sciences

Women's and Gender Studies Courses

Feminist Theory

General Education Seminars
Moral Perspectives
Utopian Thought and Communities
Voices Against the Chorus (Great Books of Modernity)