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  • Hugh Raffles

    Professor and Chair of Anthropology; Director, Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography, and Social Thought


    Office Location
    D - 6 East 16th Street

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    Hugh Raffles


    Hugh Raffles is Professor and Chair of Anthropology at The New School for Social Research and Director of the Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography and Social Thought (GIDEST). His work is a sustained ethnographic exploration of relations between humans, animals, and things. Hugh is completing his new book, an anthropology of elemental things that draws on fieldwork primarily in northern places--Iceland, Svalbard, Greenland, and the Hebrides--to raise questions about the practice of substance, place, and temporality through close accounts of objects that range in scale from landscapes to monuments to pebbles.

    Hugh’s essays have appeared in a wide variety of venues, including Granta, Public Culture, Cultural Anthropology, the New York Times, Cabinet, and Orion. He is the author, most recently, of Insectopedia (Pantheon, 2010), a New York Times Notable Book, and was a recipient of a 2010 Whiting Writers’ Award.

    Ethnography; nature; writing and other forms of representation and expression.

    Degrees Held

    DFES 1999, Yale University 

    Recent Publications


    The Book of Unconformities: Speculations on Lost Time (2020)

    Insectopedia  (2010)
    New York Times Notable Book.

    In Amazonia, A Natural History (2002)
    A Choice/American Library Association Outstanding Academic Title.

    Articles and Book Chapters

    “Solve et Coagula,” forthcoming in Frances Richard, ed., I Stand in My Place With My Own Day Here: Site-Specific Art at The New School (New York, 2019)

    “Vize (Vision),” forthcoming in A2 kulturní čtrnáctideník (Prague), 2019.

    “Prefácio,” in Emilie Stoll, Edna Alencar, Ricardo Folhes, and Chantal Medaets, eds., Paisagens evanescentes: Estudos sobre a percepção das transformações nas paisagems pelos moradores dos rios Amazônicos (Paris & Bélem, 2018)

    “Living Through the End Times,” (co-authored with The GIDEST Collective) New Geographies vol. 9 (Fall 2017): 48-52.

    Against Purity,” Social Research: An International Quarterly vol. 84, no. 1 (Spring 2017): 171-182.

    “London Stone Redux,” in John Law and Evelyn Ruppert, eds., Modes of Knowing: Resources from the Baroque. London: Mattering Press, 2016, 224-241.

    “Up, Up, and Away,” contribution to Tomás Saraceno’s Arachnid Orchestra, November 2015.

    “Suspended,” Orion vol. 34, no. 2 (March/April 2015): 12.

    “Beetle Wrestler (Natalie Jeremijenko and Chris Woebken),” Design and Violence, Museum of Modern Art, September 2014. Reprinted in Paola Antonelli and Jamer Hunt, eds., Design and Violence. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2015, 198-201.

    "Foundations,” Cabinet (2014)

    "Twenty-five Years is a Long Time," Cultural Anthropology (2012)

    "A Conjoined Fate," Orion (2010)

    "Jews, Lice, and History," Public Culture (2007)

    "Cricket Fighting," Granta (2007)

    "The Language of the Bees: An Interview with Hugh Raffles by Sina Najafi," Cabinet (2007)

    "Fluvial Intimacies," in Waterscapes: The Cultural Politics of a Natural Resource, ed. Amita Baviskar (2005)

    "Towards a Critical Natural History," Antipode (2005)

    "Jungle," in Patterned Ground: Ecologies of Nature and Culture, ed. Stephan Harrison, Steve Pile, and Nigel Thrift (2004)

    "Further Reflections on Amazonian Environmental History: Transformations of Rivers and Streams," (with Antoinette WinklerPrins) Latin American Research Review (2003)

    "Intimate Knowledge," International Social Science Journal (2002)

    "The Uses of Butterflies," American Ethnologist (2001)

    "Landscape Change in Tidal Floodplains Near the Mouth of the Amazon River," (with D.J. Zarin, V.F.G. Pereira, M. Pinedo-Vásquez, F.G. Rabelo, and R.G. Congalton)

    Forest Ecology and Management (2001)

    "Social Memory and the Politics of Place-making in Northeastern Amazonia," UC Berkeley Working Papers in Environmental Politics (2000)

    "The Amazon: A Natural Landscape?" Seminar (2000)

    "Local Theory: Nature and the Making of an Amazonian Place," Cultural Anthropology (1999)
    [Co-Winner, 2003 Junior Scholar Award of the Anthropology & Environment Section, American Anthropological Association]

    "Exploring the Anthropogenic Amazon: Estuarine Landscape Transformations in Amapá, Brazil," in Várzea: Diversity, Development and Conservation of Amazonia's Whitewater Floodplain, Christine Padoch, J. Márcio Ayres, Miguel Pinedo-Vásquez, and Anthony Henderson, eds. (1999)

    "Engineers of Amazonia," Natural History (1997)


    "Removing the Teddy Roosevelt statue is just the beginning," CNN Opinion (June 25, 2020)

    Research Interests

    Human/non-human/non-animal relations

    Awards And Honors

    2018 Openbook Award (Taiwan)

    2012 Ludwik Fleck Prize of the Society for Social Studies of Science

    2012 Shortlist, de Groene Waterman Prize (Belgium)

    2011 Orion Book Award

    2010 Special Prize for Extending Ethnographic Understanding from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology

    2009 Whiting Writers' Award

    2004 Honorable Mention, Sharon Stephens First Book Prize of the American Ethnological Society

    2003 Co-Winner, Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing of the Society for Humanistic Anthropology

    Current Courses

    Ind Senior Project
    LANT 4990, Fall 2022

    Independent Study
    LANT 3950, Fall 2022

    Independent Study
    GANT 6990, Fall 2022

    Problems in Anthropology
    GANT 6065, Fall 2022

    Past Courses

    Ethnography and Writing
    GANT 6310, Spring 2022

    GANT 6122, Fall 2021

    Ind Senior Project
    LANT 4990, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

    Independent Study
    LANT 3950, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

    Independent Study
    GPUB 6990, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

    Independent Study
    GANT 6990, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

    Problems in Anthropology
    GANT 6065, Fall 2021

    Workshop in Ethnography
    LANT 2025, Fall 2021

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