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William M. O'Barr, Professor Emeritus of Cultural Anthropology and Professor of Sociology

William M. O'Barr
Office Location:  135 Social Sciences, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone:  (919) 684-8863
Email Address:    send me a message
Web Page:
Office Hours:   By appointment only.


  • Ph.D. Northwestern University 1970
  • M.A. Northwestern University 1966
  • B.A. Emory University 1964

Legal Anthropology
Popular Culture
Mass Culture
Globalization of Culture

Research Interests:

William M. O'Barr, Ph.D. Northwestern 1969, is currently writing books about advertising and masculinity and about the history of legal anthropology. His extensive publications focus primarily on legal anthropology and include such concerns as law and politics in rural Africa, communication in trial courtrooms in America, and access to justice. His research sites have included rural villages in East Africa, trial courtrooms in the United States and Canada, and many of the organizations that are collectively referred to as "Madison Avenue." His publications include Tradition and Identity in Changing Africa (1973); Linguistics Evidence (1982); Language and Power (1984); Rules versus Relationships: The Ethnography of Legal Discourse (with John M. Conley; 1990); Fortune and Folly: The Wealth and Power of Institutional Investing (also with Conley; 1992), and Culture and the Ad: Exploring Otherness in the World of Advertising (1994); and Just Words: Language, Law and Power (The University of Chicago Press, 1998).

Recent Publications   (More Publications)

  1. O'Barr, WM. "A History of Theory in Legal Anthropology."   (February, 2014).
  2. Barr, WMO. "Native Americans in Advertising."  (April, 2013.).
  3. O'Barr, WM. "Combining Approahces: Some Reflections on Two Decades of Collaborative Research." Polar  vol. 22 (January, 2013).
  4. W.M. O'Barr. "Sexuality, Race, and Ethnicity in Advertising." ADText  (Summer, 2012).
  5. Barr, WMO. "Super Bowl Commercials: America‚Äôs Annual Festival of Advertising." ADText  (Spring, 2012.).

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