Webb Keane

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Webb Keane

Professor, Department of Anthropology

218-B West Hall, 1085 S. University Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1107

Office Location(s): 218-B West Hall
Phone: 734.763.0549
Fax: 734.763.6077

  • Affiliation(s)
    • Anthropology
    • Center for Southeast Asian Studies
    • Program in Culture and Cognition
  • About

    Webb Keane is associated with both the Socio-cultural and Linguistic subfields of the department.  His regular undergraduate course offerings include “Language and Culture,” “Anthropology of Religion,” "Exchange,  Commodities, and Money," and classes on Southeast Asia.  

    Keane’s writings cover a range of subjects in social and cultural theory and the philosophical foundations of social thought and the human sciences. In particular, he is interested in semiotics and language; material culture and materiality; gift exchange, commodities, and money; religion, morality, and ethics; media and public cultures.  He has written two books, Signs of Recognition: Powers and Hazards of Representation in an Indonesian Society and Christian Moderns: Freedom and Fetish in the Mission Encounter based on his fieldwork in Indonesia and research in the Netherlands, and is co-editor of The Handbook of Material Culture. His new book, Ethical Life: Its Natural and Social Histories, will appear in 2015. Other topics on which he has published include the Middle Eastern Neolithic, theory of mind in Melanesia, and contemporary debates about freedom of the press.  At present he is involved in two major projects. The first centers on religion, language, and media in Indonesia. The second is a book about morality, ethics, and virtue as special, even constitutive, problems for social science.  You can find out more about his research and teaching, and find articles to download, by following the link to his website.

    Webb Keane has held fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Stanford), and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  He was the Annette B. Weiner Memorial Lecturer (NYU) and Edward Westermarck Memorial Lecturer (University of Helsinki), and his books have been subjects of “Author Meets Critics” panels at the annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association and of the American Academy of Religion Annual Meetings.  He has held visiting professorships at Cambridge University and the London School of Economics in England, and at National Taiung University in Taiwan, and has taught in the School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell.

  • Education
    • PhD, AM University of Chicago, BA Yale College