Professor of Anthropology
Faculty Liaison for Advising
Sociology And Anthropology
Adams Hall - 311
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.
Sara Dickey received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California-San Diego in 1988 and has been on the Bowdoin faculty since that time. She has also been a Visiting Scholar in the University of Pennsylvania South Asia Regional Studies Department and at the Institute for Research on Women at Rutgers University, and has twice served as the Academic Director of the South India Term Abroad (SITA) Program. Her grants include funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, and the American Institute for Indian Studies.
Her research focusses on class identities and relations in urban South India, and on the production, consumption, and circulation of Tamil cinema. Her fieldwork has been carried out in the cities of Madurai and Chennai. Early research examined the meanings that audiences make of Tamil films, and the ties between cinema and politics in South India. That work attuned her to the importance of class in Madurai residents’ everyday life and identities, and her next project focussed on the interactive construction of class identities in domestic service relationships. This project expanded into a larger study of the symbolic production and interpretation of class in urban South India, of local/indigenous models of class, and of emerging class identities in a neoliberal economy. Recently she has returned to a study of cinema by focussing on three topics: the contemporary meanings of the film-star politician M.G. Ramachandran (MGR, c.1917-1987); cinema industry members' commentaries on filmmaking, markets, and audiences; and discourses within South Asian cinema scholarship.
“Apprehensions: On Gaining Recognition as Middle-Class in Madurai,” Contributions to Indian Sociology (n.s.), 47, 2: 217-243 (2013)
“The Pleasures and Anxieties of Being in the Middle: Emerging Middle Class Identities in Urban South India,” Modern Asian Studies 46, 3: 559-599 (2012)
“Widening the Lens on South Asian Cinemas,” Sara Dickey and Rajinder Dudrah, in Sara Dickey and Rajinder Dudrah, eds., South Asian Cinemas: Widening the Lens, pp. 1-7. London: Routledge (2011)
“South Asian Cinemas: Widening the Lens,” Sara Dickey and Rajinder Dudrah, South Asian Popular Culture 8, 3: 207-212 (2010)
“Anjali’s Alliance: Class Mobility in Urban India,” in Diane P. Mines and Sarah Lamb, eds., Everyday Life in South Asia, Second Edition, pp. 192-205. Bloomington: Indiana University Press (2010)
“Fantasy, Realism, and other Mixed Delights: What Have Film Analysts Seen in Popular Indian Cinema?” Projections: Journal of Movies and Mind 3, 2: 1-19, 2009
“The Nurturing Hero: Changing Images of MGR,” in Selvaraj Velayutham, ed., Tamil Cinema: The Cultural Politics of India's Other Film Industry. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2008
“Still ‘One Man in a Thousand’,” in David Blamey and Robert E. D’Souza, eds., Living Pictures: Perspectives on the Film Poster in India. London: Open Editions, 2005
“Opposing Faces: Film Star Fan Clubs and the Construction of Class Identity in South India,” in Christopher Pinney and Rachel Dwyer, eds., Pleasure and the Nation: The History, Politics and Consumption of Popular Culture in India. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001
Home and Hegemony: Domestic Service and Identity Politics in South and Southeast Asia, Kathleen M. Adams and Sara Dickey, eds. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000
“Mutual Exclusions: Domestic Workers and Employers on Labor, Class and Character in South India,” in Kathleen M. Adams and Sara Dickey, eds., Home and Hegemony: Domestic Service and Identity Politics in South and Southeast Asia, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000
“Permeable Homes: Domestic Service, Household Space and the Vulnerability of Class Boundaries in Urban India,” American Ethnologist 27, 2: 462-489, May 2000 [Reprinted in revised form in Martha Ann Selby and Indira Vishwanathan Peterson, eds., Tamil Geographies, SUNY Press, 2008]