Professor of American Studies
Office: Activities East 225I
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. He employs a binocular approach to teaching, research, and writing that tacks between American society and other cultures worldwide. He is especially interested in ethnic identity, religion, masculinity, aesthetics, and globalization.
He has a longstanding interest in the Iatmul people of Papua New Guinea, whom he has studied through anthropological fieldwork since the late 1980s-as recently as summer 2014. He also studies American Jews and Judaism. He is interested in globalization, 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.
Eric is a prolific scholarly and popular writer. He 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). His fourth book, a co-edited anthology of articles about funerals and modernity in the Pacific Islands, is forthcoming, and he is under contract for a fifth book, to be titled From Totems to Tourists: Sepik River Art in a Postmodern World. He is also studying contemporary American Jewish fathering, the use of Facebook in Papua New Guinea, and the Grateful Dead.
Eric 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, Eric also served as a Faculty Administrative Fellow at Wheelock. Additionally, he is a scholar affiliated with the Brandeis Women's Studies Research Center.
Eric teaches courses on cultural anthropology, globalization, the family and childhood cross-culturally, men and boys in America, psychological anthropology, religion in America, and introduction to American Studies.