Simon May

Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Teaching this semester

ANTH 2375. Law, Culture, and Society

Examines law from an anthropological, cross-cultural perspective. Analyzes law as a set of institutions and practices that are shaped by the cultures in which they are situated. Readings include classic ethnographies of non-Western legal traditions, as well as contemporary works on legal and social theory. Class discussions explore the ways in which legal systems reveal the cultural assumptions and values upon which they are founded. Consideration of comparative perspectives across both time and space, and to the application of legal anthropology to issues of social justice.

ANTH 2860. Pacific Resistance: Indigenous Responses to Capitalism and Colonialism in Oceania

The islands of the Pacific were settled by indigenous peoples long before Europeans first arrived in the region. Explores how Pacific Islanders experienced their encounters with European imperial powers. From historical accounts of Hawaiian chiefs and Fijian warriors to ethnographic accounts of Trobriand Island cricket players and Chamorro activists on Guam, traces the strategies of resistance to colonialism and capitalism that have come to define indigenous ways of life in the Pacific. Through attention to the cultural particularities of the region, uses accounts of indigenous resistance to explore new approaches to issues of social justice and self-determination.

I am a sociocultural anthropologist from Ireland whose work examines the intersections of power, identity, and global political economy, with a particular focus on Oceania. My current research combines ethnographic and historical methods to investigate the contemporary military service of indigenous Fijian men in the private military industry and the British Army.


  • B.A. , National University of Ireland
  • M.A., M.A., Ph.D., Chicago

Selected Publications

n.d.      “Being a Soldier is in our Blood: Fijian Service in the British Army and the Commodification of the Self,” under review with American Ethnologist.

n.d.      “Warriors Incorporated: The Militarization of Ethnicity in the Era of Neoliberal Warfare,” under review for inclusion in Ethnicity, Inc. Revisited, edited by Jean and John Comaroff, forthcoming from University of Chicago Press.

n.d.      “The Pitcairn Trials: Performing Jurisdiction and Claiming Sovereignty in the Pacific and the Privy Council,” under review with The Contemporary Pacific.

n.d.      We Are Born Soldiers: Fiji and the Outsourcing of Military Labor, book manuscript in preparation.