Philippe Bourgois

Philippe Bourgois

Philippe Bourgois (born 1956) is the Richard Perry University Professor of Anthropology & Family and Community Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He also served as founding Chair of the Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco from 1998 through 2003. A student of Eric Wolf and influenced by the work of French social theorists Pierre Bourdieu and Michel Foucault, he is considered an important proponent of neo-Marxist theory and of critical medical anthropology. He is best known for his book based on five years living next to a crack house in East Harlem during the mid-1980s through the erly 1990s: "In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio". It won the 1996 C. Wright Mills Award and the 1997 Margaret Mead Award among others. He has also conducted research in Central America on ethnicity and social unrest and is the author of "Ethnicity at Work: Divided Labor on a Central American Banana Plantation" (1989) which was based on two years living in the workers' barracks of a Chiquita Brands banana plantation spanning the borders of Costa Rica and Panama. His most recent fieldwork among homeless heroin injectors and crack smokers in San Francisco is the subject of a forthcoming book with the University of California Press, co-authored with Jeff Schonberg, "Righteous Dopefiend". [ [ Public Anthropology ] ]

Bourgois received as B.A. in 1978 in Social Studies from Harvard College. He was awarded an MA in Development Economics (1980) and a Ph.D. in Anthropology (1985) from Stanford University. He spent a year as a post-doc at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris in 1985-1986.

In graduate school he worked for the Agrarian Reform ministry in Nicaragua (1980) during the Sandinista revolution and was a human rights activist on Capitol Hill advocating against military aid to the government of El Salvador in 1982. His first academic job was as Assistant Professor in the Anthropology Department at Washington University in Saint Louis (1986-1988) followed by ten years at San Francisco State University (1988-1998) and ten years at the University of California, San Francisco. He has also been a Fulbright Research professor in Costa Rica (1993-1994) and a Visiting Scholar at the Russel Sage Foundation (1990-1991) and at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (2003-2004), [Bourgios' professional resume,]


In addition to his two solo-authored ethnographies Bourgois has published four edited volumes, including "Violence in War and Peace"(2004 Blackwell), co-edited with Nancy Scheper-Hughes. "Righteous Dopefiend" is currently in press in the “Public Anthropology” series at the University of California Press. Bourgois is also the author of over a 150 academic and popular press articles addressing the phenomenon of segregation in the U.S. inner city, gender violence, immigration and labor conflict substance abuse, HIV, and intimate violence. He also published an article on his father's escape from Auschwitz ("Missing the Holocaust").

Current Work

Much of Bourgois' work examines how macro—power forces shape individual behavior and intimate relations. Since the mid 1990s his research has been funded by HIV prevention grants from the National Institutes of Health and has focused on the survival strategies of homeless drug users. Since moving to the University of Pennsylvania in 2007 he has initiated fieldwork on drugs and violence among street-youth in North Philadelphia.


* McGee, R.J. and R.L. Warms, "Anthropological Theory: An Introductory History". McGraw Hill, Boston, 2004. (ISBN 0-07-284046-3)
*Conniff, Michael L. Review of "Ethnicity at Work: Divided Labor on a Central American Banana Plantation." The American Historical Review, Vol. 96, No. 1 (Feb., 1991), pp. 297-298.
*Bowen, Paulle. 2003 “Philippe Bourgois in Amsterdam: An Interview.” "Amsterdams Sociologisch Tijdschrift" 30:4:544-574.

External links

* [ Bourgois' webpage]
* [ Being a Public Anthropologist: An Interview with Philippe Bourgois]

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