Catherine Lutz

Catherine Lutz

Fellow: Awarded 2013
Field of Study: Anthropology and Cultural Studies

Competition: US & Canada

Brown University

Catherine Lutz is an anthropologist whose research has influenced thinking about emotion and about war and militarization across many fields.  Her methods span close-grained ethnographic work, quantitative analysis, and cultural critique. Her first book (Unnatural Emotions) reshaped theoretical understandings and ethnographic methods for the study of emotions, based on fieldwork on a Micronesian atoll. Her study of the production, circulation, and reader response to popular photographs (Reading National Geographic, with Jane Collins) contributed to visual theory and gender and race studies.  Research on the impact of U.S. military bases on surrounding communities broke ground in the ethnographic study of the military and war preparation (Homefront, The Bases of Empire, and Breaking Ranks, with Matthew Gutmann).  Her most recent book addresses the problem of cultural and economic incentives to heavy automobile use (Carjacked, with Anne Fernandez). She has also been an organizer of two innovative team research projects, one on local democratic practice in the United States (which resulted in the book, Local Democracy under Siege) and the other on the human and economic consequences of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (with papers and a website ).

Catherine has also been active in the debate around professional ethics, helping found the Network of Concerned Anthropologists in 2008.  She has for many years used her research to address public concerns, presenting her work before Congress, the UN, and the government of Guam as well as widely in the U.S. and global media. 


She has received a number of book awards including the Delmos Jones and Jagna Sharff Memorial Prize, the Anthony Leeds Prize, and the Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing, Honorable Mention. She received the 2010 Distinguished Career Award from the Society for the Anthropology of North America.

Her Guggenheim project is to write a book on the contemporary moralities of American war.  She will interview a range of people across the country to understand what popular histories and evaluations of the post-9/11 wars are emerging in a diverse range of communities.  It is based on the premise that the wars’ moral and political aftermath is deeply consequential yet poorly understood. It asks how emerging popular historiographies of war may shape U.S. cultures far into the century, as scholars have demonstrated to be the case with previous conflicts.


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