You are here

P. Steven Sangren

Professor, Anthropology
Photo of Steve Sangren


Professor Sangren is a socio-cultural anthropologist whose research focuses on Taiwan and China.His earliest published work combines insights drawn from structuralist theory with practice-oriented critiques to illuminate Chinese ritual processes and cosmological symbols.History and Magical Power in a Chinese Community (Stanford), argues that notions of magical power (靈ling) attributed to supernatural entities embody an implicit ideology of social production and an explicit modality of local historical experience.Chinese Sociologics (Athlone) extends this earlier work's primarily Marxian and Durkheimian focus on collective institutions and representations to accommodate individual agency and desire -- particularly in the arena of Chinese family and gender.Linking individual experience to social processes, the book argues that symbolic alienation – representations that invert the relations between producers and products -- plays an important role in constituting a culturally particular "mode of production of desire."His current project, tentatively entitled Filial Obsessions, is a broadly framed analysis and critique of Chinese patriliny, mythic narrative, and gender ideology informed by a synthesis of Marxian and psychoanalytic perspectives.

Drawing from the theoretical framings of his work on Chinese culture, Professor Sangren has pursued in addition a series of critiques of anthropology's claims to foster heightened cultural self-consciousness or "reflexivity."In addition to teaching courses on the anthropology of China, in recent years he has offered courses on "Sport," "Ideology and Social Reproduction," "Anthropology and Psychoanalysis," and the department's required graduate and undergraduate courses on anthropological theory.