Eric Silverman

Eric Silverman, Associate Professor of American Studies and Chair, Psychology and Human DevelopmentProfessor of American Studies and Chair, Psychology and Human Development
Phone: 617-879-2423
Office: Activities East 225I

Educational Degrees

B.A. (Anthropology) 1984, Brandeis University
M.A. (Anthropology) 1987, University of Minnesota
Ph.D. (Anthropology) 1993, University of Minnesota

Eric Silverman is a cultural anthropologist who teaches in the American Studies and Human Development departments (see also ). He employs a binocular approach to teaching and research that tacks between American society and other cultures worldwide. He is especially interested in ethnic identity and globalization.

Silverman has a longstanding interest in the Iatmul people of Papua New Guinea, whom he has studied through fieldwork since the late 1980s-as recently as summer 2014. He also studies American Jews and Judaism. He is interested in masculinity, gender, fatherhood, consumerism, childhood, art, clothing, group identity, food, tourism, ritual and religion, death and funerary rites, myth and folklore, pop culture, and the material culture of everyday life.

Silverman has published many articles and essays, delivered scores of conference presentations, and written three books. His first book was Masculinity, Motherhood, and Mockery: Psychoanalyzing Culture and the Iatmul Naven Rite in New Guinea (2001, University of Michigan Press). His second book was From Abraham to America: A History of Jewish Circumcision (2006, Rowman and Littlefield). His third book was published in 2013: A Cultural History of Jewish Dress (Bloomsbury Pub). Currently, Silverman is co-editing an anthology of articles about funerals and modernity in Melanesia, and working on two major projects: a comprehensive survey of Iatmul art for his fourth book, to be titled From Totems to Tourists: Sepik River Art in a Postmodern World; and a study of contemporary American-Jewish fathering. He is also interested in the history of Chanukah in America, cell phones, public spaces in Boston (such as the Freedom Trail), and the Grateful Dead.

Silverman is also an elected member of his local School Board in Framingham, and often writes editorial pieces for online and print news media. During 2014-15, Silverman also serves as a Faculty Administrative Fellow at Wheelock.

Silverman teaches courses on cultural anthropology, the family and childhood cross-culturally, men and boys in America, psychological anthropology, religion in America, and introduction to American Studies.

To read more about his publications, conference papers, courses, and other scholarly activities, and to see some fieldwork photos from Papua, New Guinea, visit his professional webpage at

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