J Lorand Matory, “Stigma and Culture: Last-Place Anxiety in Black America”


Monday, March 6, 2017, 4:15pm to 6:00pm


Tozzer 203


J Lorand Matory (Lawrence Richardson Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Duke University)
“Stigma and Culture: Last-Place Anxiety in Black America”
March 6, 4:15-6:00 pm
Tozzer 203

Duke University anthropologist, Harvard alumnus, and former Harvard professor J. Lorand Matory argues that ethnic identification in the United States--and around the globe--is a competitive and hierarchical process by which racially stigmatized populations seek honor and income by dishonoring other stigmatized populations. 
Through his research on the emergent "cultural" self-representations of African and Caribbean immigrants and transmigrants, Gullah/Geechees, Louisiana Creoles of color, and Native Americans of African ancestry in and around Howard, Harvard and Duke Universities, Matory discovered how oppressed people of African descent reinforce the logic of their own oppression by stereotyping some supposedly more typical variety of black people.  For many black ethnics--no less than for white ethnics seeking admission to the American dream--the African American is the constituent other.



J. Lorand Matory is the Lawrence Richardson Professor of Cultural Anthropology and the Director of the Sacred Arts of the Black Atlantic Project at Duke University. The author of three books and more than 50 articles and reviews, he is also the executive producer and screenwriter of five documentary films. Choice magazine named his Sex and the Empire That Is No More: Gender and the Politics of Metaphor in Ọyọ Yoruba Religion an outstanding book of the year in 1994, and his Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism, and Matriarchy in the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé received the Herskovits Prize from the African Studies Association for the best book of 2005.  In 2010, he received the Distinguished Africanist Award from the American Anthropological Association, and, in 2013, the government of the Federal Republic of Germany awarded him the Alexander von Humboldt Prize, a lifetime achievement award that is one of Europe's highest academic distinctions.  Professor Matory was also invited to deliver anthropology’s most prestigious annual address, the Lewis Henry Morgan Lecture, which resulted in the book Stigma and Culture: Last-Place Anxiety in Black America (2015), concerning the competitive and hierarchical nature of ethnic identity-formation.  His latest book, The “Fetish” Revisited: Marx, Freud and the Gods Black People Make, has been approved for publication by Duke University Press.  Having graduated magna cum laude from the Department of Anthropology in 1982, he returns to Harvard on the eve of his 35th undergraduate reunion.


See also: 2017