Greg Beckett

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Teaching this semester

ANTH 2010. Ethnographic Research

Anthropological research methods and perspectives are examined through classic and recent ethnography, statistics and computer literacy, and the student’s own fieldwork experience. Topics include ethics, analytical and methodological techniques, the interpretation of data, and the use and misuse of anthropology.

ANTH 2116. Ordinary Ethics: Value and Action in Everyday Life

Focuses on anthropological approaches that treat ethics as a mode of action and value embedded within culture. Treats ethical and moral values as historically, socially, and culturally constituted ways of knowing, thinking, and acting, rather than as universal ideals that we contemplate. Considers how ideas of the right and the good emerge out of everyday social interaction. Explores ethnographic and historical cases from around the world to provide a range of perspectives on ethics, morality, meaning, and action. Also explores contexts in which alternative or competing ethical registers come into contact or conflict. Topics may include the following: virtue, character, and care; gifts and reciprocity; charity, volunteerism, and affective labor; agency and responsibility; medicine and bioethics; and rights, dignity, and respect.

My research interests include the following: humanitarianism, ethics and morality, crisis and emergency, and governmental and nongovernmental politics. My most recent work focuses on the lived experience of crisis in Port-au-Prince Haiti and on the conceptual history of the idea of humanity.


  • M.A., Ph.D. , Chicago
  • B.A., M.A. , Western Ontario

Selected Publications

2017. The Politics of Disjuncture, Or Freedom from a Caribbean Point of View. Small Axe No 53 21(2):184–92.

2017. The Abolition of All Privilege: Race, Equality, and Freedom in the Work of Anténor Firmin. Critique of Anthropology 37(2):160–78.

2017. A Dog’s Life: Reflections on the Humanitarian Situation in Haiti. American Anthropologist 119(1):35–45.

2014. The Art of Not Governing Port-au-Prince. Social and Economic Studies 63(2): 97–123.

2013. The Ontology of Freedom: The Unthinkable Miracle of Haiti. Journal of Haitian Studies 19(2): 54–74.

2013. Thinking with Others: Savage Thoughts about Anthropology and the West. Small Axe 42: 166–181.

2013. The Politics of Emergency. Reviews in Anthropology 42(2): 85­–101.

2013. Rethinking the Haitian Crisis. In The Idea of Haiti: History, Development and the Creation of New Narratives, Millery Polyné, ed. University of Minnesota Press, pp. 27–49.

2010. Phantom Power: Notes on Provisionality in Haiti. In Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency. John D. Kelly, Beatrice Jauregui, Sean T. Mitchell, and Jeremy Walton eds. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 39-51.

2004. Master of the Wood: Moral Authority and Political Imaginaries in Haiti. PoLAR: The Political and Legal Anthropology Review. 27(2): 1–19.