Auslander, Mark

Mark Auslander, a sociocultural anthropologist, has conducted field research on ritual, kinship and memory in Southern and Central Africa as well as the southeastern United States. In eastern Zambia, he has explored transformations in ritual practice associated with rapid shifts in the organization of agrarian households, with particular attention to witchfinding movements, initiation, and re-invented royal ceremonies. In the vicinity of South Africa's Kruger National Park he has researched attempts by local African families, forcibly removed from parklands during the Apartheid era, to reassert symbolic and practical bonds to local landscapes, especially those associated with burial grounds and ancient archaeological sites.

These interests in landscape, kinship and memory have led him into his current Sloan-affiliated research geared towards understanding the importance of race, place, and historical consciousness in the home and work experiences of African American middle class families. In Georgia and elsewhere in the American South, Mark has been studying ritual and narrative performance in African American families, with particular attention to the history, structure and politics of family reunions, living spaces, and graveyards. He is currently completing a book on this research, Family Plots: Race, Kinship and Memorial Space in the American South.

Mark has strong interests as a scholar and teacher in museum projects. He served as the principal consultant anthropologist with the African Voices project, the Smithsonian Natural History's museum permanent exhibition on the culture and history of African and the African Diaspora. With his students at Oxford College (Emory University), Mark has undertaken a number of collaborative projects with local families and church congregations on family and community history. He has curated exhibitions on a restored African American cemetery that dates back to the era of slavery and on the history of African American families that have been closely involved with Emory since the 1830s. He also been closely involved with the exhibition project, "Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America" and has written on local memories of lynching and on contemporary popular reactions to these deeply disturbing photographs.


Brandeis University- Department of Anthropology
Brown 204
P.O. Box 549110, MS 006
Waltham, MA 02454
United States