Anthropology Faculty: Robert H. Lavenda

Robert H. LavendaRobert H. Lavenda

Professor of Anthropology; Chairperson

Ph.D. Indiana University, 1977

A.B. Dartmouth College, 1971

I am a cultural anthropologist with interests in symbolic and expressive aspects of human life. My major work has been on community festivals in Minnesota (1981-present), and I have published several articles and a book on the topic. I look at festivals as sites of memory, of agency, and of community creation. As a result of my work on festivals, I have published in play theory.

I have also worked in Latin America: Venezuela (mid-1970s), Ecuador (1978), Costa Rica (1983-1998), and Chile (2000-Present). Originally, my work in Latin America was urban and historical, but in recent years it has concentrated on intercultural communication and the use of culture in teaching English and US culture.

Finally, I am the coauthor of three textbooks in anthropology. One text, Cultural Anthropology: A Perspective on the Human Condition, is now in its eighth edition, and has been translated into Japanese, Italian, Bulgarian, Vietnamese, and Macedonian.

My courses:

I have taught introductory general anthropology nearly every semester since 1979, and also regularly teach Myth, Magic, and Religion; the Ethnographic Enterprise; and Society and Culture in Latin America. I also teach Anthropology and the Arts; Kinship, Marriage, and Family; The Anthropology of the United States; and Cultural Anthropology. I direct the alternate-summer field school in ethnographic research.

Selected Publications:


Anthropology: What Does It Mean to Be Human? With Emily A. Schultz. (2008, Oxford University Press; second edition forthcoming)

Core Concepts in Cultural Anthropology. With Emily A. Schultz. (2000, Mayfield Publishing Company. second edition 2003, third edition 2006; fourth edition 2009; fifth edition forthcoming, McGraw-Hill)

Corn Fests and Water Carnivals: Celebrating Community in Minnesota. With Ronald M. Schmid (photographer). Smithsonian Series in Ethnographic Inquiry, William Merrill and Ivan Karp, series editors. Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. (1997)

Anthropology. With Emily Schultz. (1995, Mayfield Publishing Co. second edition 2007; third edition 2001)

Cultural Anthropology: A Perspective on the Human Condition. With Emily A. Schultz. (1987; second edition 1990, West Publishing Company; third edition 1995, fourth edition 1997; fifth edition 2001, Mayfield Publishing Company; sixth edition 2005, seventh edition 2009, eighth edition, 2012, Oxford University Press)

Articles and Reviews:

Commissioned entries on “Queen contests” and “Festivals.” The Encyclopedia of the Midwest. Bloomington, IN:  Indiana University Press, Forthcoming.

Review of Reliving Golgotha: The Passion Play of Iztapalapa. Richard Trexler, Cambridge: Harvard University Press. American Anthropologist 106(4). 2004

Review of Etnologie des joueurs d’échecs. Thierry Wendling. Paris: PUF. Current Anthropology 44(5). 2003.

Rituals. In Encyclopedia of Community. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 2003.

Review of Ordinary Life, Festival Days: Aesthetics in the Midwestern County Fair, by Leslie Prosterman. American Ethnologist 24(3). 1997.

Play. In The Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology, David Levinson and Melvin Ember (eds.). Human Relations Area Files at Yale University. New York: Henry Holt. 1996.

Review of Fiesta, Fe, y Cultura: Celebrations of Faith and Culture in Detroit’s Colonia Mexicana, by Laurie Kay Sommers. American Ethnologist 23(4). 1996.

“It’s Not a Beauty Pageant!”: Hybrid Ideology in Minnesota Community Queen Pageants. In Beauty Queens on the Global Stage. Colleen Ballesteros Cohen, Richard Wilk, and Beverly Stoeltje (eds.). New York and London: Routledge. 1995.

Summer Festivals and Community. Minnesota Cities, 78(9):8-11. 1993

The Traces of Play. Play Theory and Research, 1(1):iii-vii. 1993.

Festivals and the Creation of Public Culture: Whose Voice(s)? In Museums and Communities, Ivan Karp, Christine Kraemer, and Stephen Levine (Eds.). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. Pp.:76-104. 1992.

Response to Handelman. Play and Culture, 5(1):22-24. 1992.

Community Festivals, Paradox, and the Manipulation of Uncertainty. Play and Culture, 4(2):153-168. 1991.

Minnesota Queen Pageants: Play, Fun and Dead Seriousness in a Festive Mode. Journal of American Folklore, 101(400):168-175. 1988.

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