Visiting Faculty, Spring 2014

Dartmouth is pleased to welcome to campus this spring:

Montgomery Fellow, Daniel T. Potts, Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology and History at the Institute for the study of the Ancient World, New York University; Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf, Professor of Anthropology and author of Transforming Displaced Women in Sudan: Politics and the Body in a Squatter Settlement (U. of Chicago Press 2009); William Elison, historian of religions and ethnographer who specializes in urban India and modern Indian public culture. His work centers on an ongoing program of fieldwork research in the streets, slums, and movie studios of Mumbai; Shunsuke Nozawa, a linguistic anthropologist whose research interest includes: anonymity and power; memory and media; urban and virtual communication; Japanese popular culture; solitude and togetherness.

Montgomery Fellow and Visiting Professor of Anthropology

Daniel T. Potts


ANTH 12.2: The Archaeology of the Ancient Near East. 10A. Dist: SOC or INT; WCult: NW

Dartmouth is pleased to welcome to campus this spring as a Montgomery Fellow, Daniel T. Potts, Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology and History at the Institute for the study of the Ancient World, New York University.

An archaeologist with extensive field experience, Potts will teach Anthropology 12.2 The Archaeology of the Ancient Near East spring term in the 10A. On Tuesday, March 25 at 4:30 p.m. he will give a Montgomery Fellow presentation on “The First Charter of Human Rights? Cyrus the Great’s Cylinder in Contemporary and Historical Perspective” (Location TBA).

Although his research interests are wide-ranging, the majority of Professor Potts’ scholarly work has focused on the cultural developments in Iran, Mesopotamia and the Arabian Peninsula, as well as relations between these regions and their neighbors. Chronologically his span is far-reaching; from the Neolithic to late antiquity, but his main focus has been on the transition from pre-history to the Bronze Age in Mesopotamia and Iran, especially the 3rd millennium BCE.

Potts has led and participated in numerous excavation projects in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. He is the founding editor-in-chief of the journal Arabian Archaeology & Epigraphy, a Corresponding Member of the German Archaeological Institute and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He is the author of the books In the Land of the Emirates: The Archaeology and History of the UAE (2012), Mesopotamia, Iran and Arabia from the Seleucids to the Sasanians (2010), Mesopotamian Civilization: The material foundations (1997), and The Arabian Gulf in Antiquity (1990), among others, and has authored and edited a vast number of other books, volumes, chapters, and articles. Most recently he was the editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Iranian Archaeology (2013).

Daniel T. Potts received his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Archaeology from Harvard University in 1980 and then taught at the Freie Univerität Berlin and the University of Copenhagen, where he completed his Habilitation in 1991.  Prior to joining NYU, he was the Edwin Cuthbert Hall Chair of Middle Eastern Archaeology at the University of Sydney for over twenty years.

Visiting Professor of Anthropology

Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf


  • ANTH 27 / AMES 5: Thought and Changes in the Middle East and Central Asia. 10A. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW
  • ANTH 50.1: Anthropology of War and Peace. 2A. Dist: SOC

Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf is a Professor of Anthropology and author of Transforming Displaced Women in Sudan: Politics and the Body in a Squatter Settlement (U. of Chicago Press 2009); Female Circumcision: Multicultural Perspectives (Ed.). (University of Pennsylvania Press 2006) and Wanderings (Cornell UniversityPress2002). She is the editor of 2010 special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly (Duke University Press).

In addition to numerous book chapters and essays, some of her articles appeared in the Sciences, South Atlantic Quarterly, Differences, Anthropology and Humanism, History and Anthropology, Oriental Anthropology, International Migration, Radical Philosophy Review and Anthropology News, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences and Black Renaissance.

She was a recipient of Postdoctoral and Senior fellowships at Durham University in the U.K., Brown and Harvard. Her work was supported by Guggenheim Foundation, the Royal Anthropological Institute, the Sir William Luce Memorial Fellowship, Andrew Mellon and MIT Center for International Studies and Rockefeller Bellagio Study Center, Qatar University College of Arts and Sciences. Abusharaf's work was also featured in media interviews with NPR, Voice of America, Progressive Radio, Ontario Public TV and more recently Africa and the World Documentary Film Series. She writes on culture and politics, anthropology of gender, human rights, migration and diaspora issues in Sudan, the Gulf, the U.S., Canada and Liverpool, UK.

Visiting Lecturer in Anthropology

William Elison


  • ANTH 12.7 / AMES 42.04: Imagining India: How to Write about South Asian. 10 Dist: SOC; WCult: NW
  • ANTH 50.7 / AMES 42.05: Sacred Laws and Social Injustice: Caste in Indian Society. 12. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW

William Elison is a historian of religions and ethnographer. He specializes in urban India and modern Indian public culture. His work centers on an ongoing program of fieldwork research in the streets, slums, and movie studios of Mumbai.

In common with many other scholars of religion, he is interested in “social fictions”—in ideas, images, and stories that mediate the experience of everyday life. His own emphasis has been on visual media that relate the experience of socially and spatially marginalized residents of Mumbai to sources of power and glamour. For example, devotional images or “idols”; government documents; and popular cinema.

In his current book project, “Gods of Film City: Visualizing the Sacred at the Margins of Mumbai,” he looks at sites where members of the city’s underclass—some Hindu, some non-Hindu, and some whose identity could be considered to be under negotiation—have used religious images and symbols to organize space and make it legible and habitable. To say that “folk” or “village religion” is centered on the cults of locally based gods is not exactly news to scholars of religion in India. But what becomes of these territorial deities once they migrate, along with their human subjects, to the metropolis? And what becomes of visual worship, known in Hinduism as darshan, once transplanted from its traditional setting—a Brahmin-run temple in a village or pilgrimage town—into urban public space?

Related research interests include Indian tribal communities (adivasis, STs); the modern saint Sai Baba of Shirdi; and the mediation of visual worship by video and other modern technologies. He is keen to undertake a more comprehensive study of religious life in slum neighborhoods in connection with a retheorization of darshan. He has also been collaborating with Andy Rotman of Smith College and Christian Novetzke of the University of Washington on a book about one of the great Bombay movies, Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), a landmark of Hindi popular cinema and a mine of historically resonant tropes of religious, national, and gender identity. “Amar Akbar Anthony”: Secularism and Spectacle in a Bollywood Classic will be published in 2015 by Harvard University Press.

Visiting Lecturer in Anthropology and DAMELL

Shunsuke Nozawa


  • ANTH 09: Introduction to the Study of Language and Culture. 2A. Dist: SOC
  • ANTH 50.8 / JAPN 61: Politics of Language in Modern Japan. 12. Dist: INT; WCult: NW

Shunsuke Nozawa received his Ph.D in Anthropology from University of Chicago. His ethnography of contemporary Japan covers a wide range of subjects including everydayness; memory; social movements; media and technology; solitude; (sub)urban space-time; voice; geekdom (anime, manga, etc). As a linguistic anthropologist, his research has focused on examining acts and artifacts of communication – mundane talk, political protests, online gaming, ritual, literary texts, advertisements, anthropological theories – as a site where a culture lives and dies.

His current book project, tentatively titled Real Nobodies, tells a story of one small grassroots historiography movement in Japan, and asks who cares about nobodies. The movement participants, mostly old women in geographical peripheries, engage a popular genre of amateur history-writing known as jibunshi, “personal history.” By giving their everyday life a material form, written texts, these jibunshi writers envision communication with posterity, believing future readers will come, and care, while bypassing the reality of indifference in the present. They develop a critique of ‘fame’ (yūmei) by laying claim to the image of “ordinary people,” or ‘no-name’ (mumei), as authentic historiographical agency. Exploring the “no-name” as a contested site of redemption in Japan’s modernity, Real Nobodies seeks to unpack the allure of the unremarkable in anthropological thought. (Some portion of this work has been published as: “Discourses of the Coming: Ignorance, Forgetting, and Prolepsis in Japanese Life-Historiography,” in Casey High, Ann Kelly, and Jonathan Mair, eds., Anthropology of Ignorance: an Ethnographic Approach. New York & Basingstoke: Palgrave McMillan, 2012.)

This focus on the “no-name” has led to a parallel project, an ethnography of Japanese-language virtual communication, where anonymity – no-name-ness – is a concrete technical affordance and a normative communicative orientation. This project pays heed to cross-cultural variability in the value of anonymity and attendant media ideologies across different linguistic-cultural settings. An ongoing collaborative project (with Gretchen Pfeil) seeks to expand this perspective to examine how acts of effacement – camouflage, masking, layering, compression, aggregation, etc. – motivate sociopolitical processes.

Nozawa’s introductory course on Linguistic Anthropology (ANTH 09, no prerequisite) is designed to give students basic conceptual tools for critically thinking about a diversity of linguistic practices and cultural beliefs about language.