1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Socio-cultural

Metcalf

Before coming to the United States, I worked at the Universities of Singapore and Papua New Guinea, and conducted research in both of those countries. But most of what I now write and teach is motivated by the experience of living in longhouse communities in Borneo in the 1970's. It was the beginning of a period of rapid change; most obviously, the integrity of traditional world views were challenged by conversion to Christianity. Thinking about that led me into a century-old tradition of comparative religion in anthropology, which places emphasis on ritual.

Sapir

West African languages, folklore and culture. My initial field work was with the language and folklore of the Kujamaat Jóola of Southern Sénégal. Subsequent field work investigated their social organization and social symbolism. Language, folklore and social symbolism center on symbolism in general and inform my broader theoretical interests, the central place of symbolism in human thought.

Seneviratne

My early research interests were fashioned by three factors in the context of my growing up in Sri Lanka. First, Buddhist rituals were all around me, and I was stimulated to explore the meaning of these rituals. Second, Sri Lanka was going through radical social change. Third, Sri Lanka was groping for an identity and economic security after its recent emergence from British colonial domination. My published work reflects these contextual factors as well as my belief that the utility of traditional sociological theory is by no means exhausted.

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