James W. Fernandez


Contact Information

Office: Haskell M132
Phone: (773) 702-7003
Email: jwf1@midway.uchicago.edu

(PhD, Northwestern 1962) Professor of Anthropology and of Social Sciences in the College, has done ethnographic research in Africa and is presently working in northern Spain and Atlantic Fringe Europe on regionalism, on shifting lifeways (from agro-pastoralism to mining to reindustrialization) and on revitalization processes. He is interested in short-range, over the last several hundred years, social and cultural evolution and how, by various imaginative devices, local communities narrate their past, understand their present circumstances, and seek to foretell their future. A semantic theory of tropes has been central to the analysis of this “time-binding” of past, present and future. (Retired 6/00; still teaching)

Selected Works

Selected Publications

Year Title / Publications PDF
2006 Rhetorics: On Persuading Practical People: The Rhetorical Approach to Understanding Ritual in Culture. In J. Kreinath, et al. eds., Theorizing Rituals: Issues, Topics, Approaches, Concepts. E.J. Brill, 647-656.
2001 (w/ M. Huber) Irony in Action: Anthropology, Practice and the Moral Imagination. In J.W. Fernandez & M. Huber, eds., University of Chicago Press, 2001.
2001 (w/ M. Huber) eds. :The Irony of Complicity and the Complicity of Irony in Development Discourse" Irony in Action: Anthropology, Practice and the Moral Imagination, 54-85..
2000 Peripheral Wisdom. In A.P. Cohen, ed., Signifying Identities: Anthropological Perspectives on Boundaries and Contested Identities. London: Routledge, 117-144.
1998 (w/ Michael Herzfeld) On Meaningful Methods. In J. Russell Bernard, ed., Handbook of Methods in Cultural Anthropology. Thousand Oakds: Sage, 80-129
1998 Trees of Knowledge of Self and Other in Culture: On Models of the Moral Imagination. In L. Rival & M. Bloch, eds., The Social Use of Trees. Oxford: Berg, 81-110.
1998 The North-South Axis in European Popular Cosmologies and the Dynamic of the Categorical. American Anthropologist. 99(4): 713-730.
1996 Amazing Grace: Meaning Deficit, Displacement and New Consciousness in Expressive Interaction. In A.P. Cohen & N. Rapport, eds., Questions of Consciousness. London: Routledge, 21-40.
1995 Culture and Transcendent Humanization: On the Dynamic of the Categorical. Ethnos Vol 59(3-4), 143-167.
1994 Egocentric Particulars: Pronominal Perspectives in Ethnographic Inquiry. In G. Bibeau and E. Cornin, eds., The Order of the Text. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, pp. 303-326.
1994 Time on Our Hands. In D.D Fowler and D.L. Hardesty, eds., Others Knowing Others: Perspectives on Ethnographic Careers. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, pp. 118-144.
1993 Advice to the Perplexed Ethnographer in An Age of Soundbites. The American Ethnologist. 20:179-184.
1992 What I Learned from “The Parrot’s Egg” and “The Bull Who Crashes in the Kraal”: The Senses of Time Binding and Turn Taking in Being With the Other. In C.W. Gailey, ed., Dialectical Anthropology: Essays in Honor of Stanley Diamond. Vol II. The Politics of Culture and Creativity: A Critique of Civilization. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, pp. 209-216.
1992 Architectonic Inquiry: Review Article. Semiotica 89 (1-3): 215-226.
1991 (Editor, Preface and Introduction) Beyond Metaphor: The Theory of Tropes in Anthropology. (Editor, Preface and Introduction) Beyond Metaphor: The Theory of Tropes in Anthropology. Stanford: Stanford University Press, pp. 1-13.
1982 Bwiti: An Ethnography of the Religious Imagination in Africa. Princeton University Press.
1974 The Mission of Metaphor in Expressive Culture — With Comments and Rejoinder. Current Anthropology, 15(2): 119-145.