Greg Beckett

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Teaching this semester

AFRS 2735/ANTH 2735/LAS 2735. Contemporary Haiti

Examines contemporary Haitian culture and society in the context of a prolonged series of crises and international interventions. Focuses on the democratic transition of the late twentieth century and the recent humanitarian intervention in the wake of a series of natural disasters. Considers the historical roots of the Haitian crisis with a particular focus on Haitiís marginalization within the world system. Explores the relationship between Haiti and the international community, especially the role of nongovernmental organizations, humanitarian organizations, and international institutions in the everyday lives of Haitians.

ANTH 3410. Dark Times: Violence, Politics, Aesthetics

Explores philosophical and anthropological approaches to violence. Examines the political and aesthetic dimensions of violence, including various modes of representing violence (e.g., film and photography, narrative, forensics, witnessing). Analyzes the role of the other and the scapegoat in legitimizing targets of violence. Topics may include the following: ritual sacrifice; crowds and mass violence; state terror and the politics of fear; paramilitaries and terrorists; photography, forensics, and witnessing; and trauma, wounds, and disability.

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.