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William M O'Barr, Professor of Markets & Management Studies and Linguistics

William M O'Barr
Contact Info:
Office Location:  219 Social Sciences
Office Phone:  (919) 684-8863
Email Address: send me a message
Web Page:


PhDNorthwestern University1970
MANorthwestern University1966
BAEmory University1964

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).

Areas of Interest:

Legal anthropology
discourse analysis


Legal anthropology • sociolinguistics • discourse analysis • Africa • US

Current Ph.D. Students   (Former Students)

  • Jason Cross -- JD/PhD  
Postdocs Mentored

  • Jan French (January 1, 1998 - 2004)  
Recent Publications   (More Publications)

  1. W.M. O'Barr, Native Americans in Advertising, in (April, 2013)
  2. W.M. O'Barr, Niche Advertising: Gay Consumers, in ADText (Winter, 2012), ISBN
  3. W.M. O'Barr, Subliminal Advertising Revisited (Fall, 2012)
  4. W.M. O'Barr, Sexuality, Race, and Ethnicity in Advertising, in ADText (Summer, 2012), ISBN
  5. W.M. O'Barr, Super Bowl Commercials: America's Annual Festival of Advertising, in ADText (Spring, 2012), ISBN

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