Conrad Kottak

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Conrad Kottak

Professor Emeritus, Anthropology

  • About

    Conrad Phillip Kottak (A.B. Columbia College 1963; Ph.D. Columbia University, 1966) is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan, where he has taught since 1968. In 1991 he was honored for his teaching by the University and the state of Michigan. In 1992 he received an excellence in teaching award from the College of Literature, Sciences, and the Arts of the University of Michigan. In 1999 the American Anthropological Association (AAA) awarded Professor Kottak the AAA/Mayfield Award for Excellence in the Undergraduate Teaching of Anthropology.

    Professor Kottak has done ethnographic field work in Brazil (since 1962), Madagascar (since 1966), and the United States. His general interests are in the processes by which local cultures are incorporated--and resist incorporation--into larger systems. This interest links his earlier work on ecology and state formation in Africa and Madagascar to his more recent research on global change, national and international culture, and the mass media.

    The third edition of Kottak's case study Assault on Paradise: Social Change in a Brazilian Village, based on his field work in Arembepe, Bahia, Brazil, was published in 1999 by McGraw-Hill. In a research project during the 1980s, Kottak blended ethnography and survey research in studying "Television's Behavioral Effects in Brazil." That research is the basis of Kottak's book Prime-Time Society: An Anthropological Analysis of Television and Culture (Wadsworth 1990)--a comparative study of the nature and impact of television in Brazil and the United States.

    Kottak's other books include The Past in the Present: History, Ecology and Cultural Variation in Highland Madagascar (1980), Researching American Culture: A Guide for Student Anthropologists (1982) (both University of Michigan Press) and Madagascar: Society and History (1986) (Carolina Academic Press).

    The most recent editions (ninth) of his texts Anthropology: The Exploration of Human Diversity and Cultural Anthropology were published by McGraw- Hill in 2002. The third edition of his book Mirror for Humanity: A Concise Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, was published in June 2002. Finally, the second edition of his book, co-authored with Kathryn A. Koazitis, On Being Different: Diversity and Multiculturalism in the North American Mainstream is due out in October 2002 from McGraw-Hill.

    Conrad Kottak's articles have appeared in academic journals including American Anthropologist, Journal of Anthropological Research, American Ethnologist, Ethnology, Human Organization, and Luso-Brazilian Review. He has also written for more popular journals, including Transaction/SOCIETY, Natural History, Psychology Today, and General Anthropology.

    In recent research projects, Kottak and his colleagues have investigated the emergence of ecological awareness in Brazil, the social context of deforestation in Madagascar, and popular participation in economic development planning in northeastern Brazil. Since 1999 Professor Kottak has been active in the University of Michigan's Center for the Ethnography of Everyday Life, supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. In that capacity, for a research project entitled "Media, Family, and Work in a Middle-Class Midwestern Town," Kottak, working with postdoctoral fellow Lara Descartes, is investigating how middle class families draw on various media in planning, managing, and evaluating their choices and solutions with respect to competing demands of work and family.