Alaina Lemon

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Professor, Anthropology; Director, the Interdepartmental Program in Anthropology and History

230-C West Hall, 1085 S. University Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1107

Office Location(s): 230-C West Hall
Phone: 734.764.2333
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  • Affiliation(s)
    • Director, the Interdepartmental Program in Anthropology and History
    • Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies
    • Center for World Performance Studies
  • About

    Alaina Lemon is a socio-cultural and linguistic anthropologist who works in Russia and the Former Soviet Union.  She is interested in how debates about aesthetic techniques and communicative forms relate to struggles over political change or social hierarchies.  She has conducted ethnographic research in directing schools, in theaters and backstage, on film sets, with journalists and press analysts, in the Moscow Metro, and, of course, sitting with people in kitchens and in front of television sets. She also sifts through archives and internet, broadcast, and print media texts.  She has written a book about ways Roma in Russia are racialized through performance--even as they also produce social value through meta-communication around performance encounters.

    She has published articles that connect racial discourses (with emphasis on non-referential ways to index race) in post-Soviet Russia to Cold War narratives, to counterfeit currency, to public transit, and to institutionalized forms of performance.  Recent publications address the training of cultural producers in Russia, critically exploring categories of practice such as  "Verbal Terror," "Empathy," and "Hybrid Chronotopes."  Forthcoming work includes a study of ways people address both anxieties about mental influence as well as utopian hopes for a world of mental communion by linking theatrical practice with the spectacular techniques of paranormal science.

  • Education
    • B.A., Anthropology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1987
    • M.A., Anthropology, University of Chicago, 1988
    • Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Chicago, 1996
  • Awards
    • 2010-11 University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities Fellowship
    • 2008 LSA/OVPR Michigan Humanities Award
    • 2002-3 International Research and Exchanges Long-Term Research Fellowship
    • 2001 Wayne S. Vucinich BOOK PRIZE
    • 2001 Heldt Book Prize (Awarded by the AAASS for best book by a woman)
    • 1996-99 Michigan Society of Fellows