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Irene Silverblatt, Professor of Cultural Anthropology, On Leave 07-08

Irene Silverblatt
Contact Info:
Office Location:  119A Social Sciences Bldg., Box 90091
Office Phone:  (919) 641-0319
Email Address: send me a message


Ph.D.University of Michigan, Ann Arbor1981
MAUniversity of Michigan, Ann Arbor1971
BASwarthmore College1970

Comparative Colonial Studies
Globalization of Culture
Race and Ethnicity
Political Economy
Research Interests:

Irene Silverblatt researches the cultural dimensions of power. She studies how “race-thinking” and gender relations were integral to the making of the modern world as well as how historical memory has shaped feelings of national belonging and demands for universal rights. These interests are both historical and contemporary, and have taken Silverblatt to the Inca Empire, the colonial Andes and contemporary Central/Eastern Europe. Her goal has been to explore the profound transformations in social identities, political sensibilities, and categories of “humanness” spawned by the “modern/civilized” world. With support from the Rockefeller, Guggenheim and Wenner Gren Foundations and Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, she has explored the Spanish Inquisition as a modern institution as well as the ways that gender construed power relations in Inca and Colonial Peru. These concerns about the cultural expressions of power, combined with an interest in the politics of memory and its relation to art, orient her next project. Research in central and eastern Europe explores the ways in which historical memory, particularly of the holocaust, is playing a role in the transformation of national ideologies as well as in the conceptualization of transnational, human rights. Her initial foray into this new arena was to edit Harvest of Blossoms: Poetry of a Life Cut Short. (with Helene Silverblatt). This volume is a collection of the poetry of our cousin, Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger, who died in an SS labor camp in 1942.

Areas of Interest:

Politics of culture
state making and colonization
South America


Politics of culture • state making • colonization • ethnohistory • gender • South America

Current Ph.D. Students  

  • Anna Kivlan  
  • Lorien Olive  
  • Leigh Campoamor  
  • Arianne Dorval  
  • Kataki Pant  
  • Tracy Brown  
  • Gonzalo Lamana  
  • Tracy Brown  
  • Gonzalo Lamana  
Postdocs Mentored

  • Paloma Fernandez-Racines (1998/08-1999/07)  
  • Paloma Fernandez-Racines (1998/08-1999/07)  
Representative Publications   (More Publications)

  1. with Irene Silverblatt and Helene Silverblatt editors and introduction, translated by Jerry Glenn and Florian Birkmayer with Helene Silverblatt and Irene Silverblatt, Harvest of Blossoms: Poems from a Life Cut Short (October, 2008) [html]
  2. Silverblatt, I, Modern Inquisitions: Peru and the Colonial Origins of the Civilized World (2004), Duke University Press  [abs]
  3. Silverblatt, I, Moon, Sun, and Witches: Gender Ideologies and Class in Inca and Colonial Peru (1987), Princeton University Press  [abs]
  4. Silverblatt, I, The Black Legend and Global Conspiracies: The Spanish Inquisition, Race-Thinking and the Emerging Modern World, in Rereading the Black Legend, edited by Greer, M; Mignolo, W (2008), University of Chicago Press
  5. Silverblatt, I, New World Christians and New World Fears in Colonial Peru, in From the Margins: Historical Anthropology and its Futures, edited by Axel, BK (2002), Duke University Press (Reprint of "New World Christians...." published in Comparative Studies in Society and History, 2000.)

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