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Curriculum Vitae
& Books


University of Chicago
(BA 1963, Linguistics)
(PhD 1969, Anthropology)
Stanford University
(MA 1964, Anthropology)

Research Interests

Cultural & Psychological Anthropology, Anthropology of Religion, Chinese Popular Religion, Language & Sociolinguistics, East Asia, Taiwan


I have been on the faculty of the Department of Anthropology at UCSD since its official founding in 1969. I served a term as Chair of the Chinese Studies Program in the 1970s and of the Department of Anthropology in the 1980s. I served as Provost (head) of Earl Warren College from 1994 to 2004, when I officially retired.

I have occasionally taught as a visitor for a term at other universities (SFSU, Harvard, HKUST), and I was called back to active service as Interim Provost of Sixth College for a few months in 2007, but I got over it.

Being officially retired meant I could read Chinese poetry instead of attending faculty meetings, but I continued to teach pro bono through Winter of 2019 because I liked students (well, anyway most students). Since I began in 1969-70, teaching through 2018-19 made an even 50 years. That seemed like enough, especially since one eventually gets both set in one’s ways and funny in the head.

Beginning in 2021 I have taught two freshman seminars (ANLD 87) a year.

In spring of 2024 I was a recipient of the “2024 Dickson Emeriti Professorship” for contributions to the university's mission after retirement, based in large part on the publicly available educational materials on this web site.

Books Authored or Edited

  1. Books on Chinese Studies
    2004 Minor Arts of Daily Life: Popular Culture in Taiwan. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. (Edited with Andrew D. Morris and Marc L. Moskowitz.)
    (A wide range of essays all of which focus on various aspects of modern life in Taiwan, especially the life of young adults. The book, newly released, is obviously the ideal gift for friends and relatives for all occasions. Order your copies immediately while supplies last!)
    1986 The Flying Phoenix: Aspects of Sectarianism in Taiwan. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (With Daniel L. Overmyer)
    (Comparative study of modern Chinese spirit-writing sects and their traditional forebears. This book is a collaboration between an anthropologist, who provided ethnographic field materials, and an historian of religions, who dealt with the text tradition and the texts generated by the groups described in the field materials. The series of case studies shows such groups in more detail than is possible for earlier periods, but also shows them to be in direct lineage with earlier traditions, allowing some tentative hypotheses about the internal dynamics of earlier groups as well.)
    1972 Gods, Ghosts, and Ancestors: The Folk Religion of a Taiwanese Village. Berkeley: University of California Press.
    (An overview of Chinese popular religion as practiced in one village. Treats topics like patron gods, ghosts, spirit marriage, &c. The entire text of the third edition is available on-line.)
  2. Books on Anthropology
    1990 Personality and the Cultural Construction of Society: Papers in Honor of Melford E. Spiro. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.(Edited with Marc J. Swartz.)
    (A wonderful collection of sixteen papers by students and colleagues of Spiro, divided into four parts on [1] Nonteleological Functionalism; [2] Culture & Personality, Gender Roles, the Oedipus Complex, and Dreams; [3] Religion and Personality; and [4] Aggression, Dependency, & the Skills of Social Manipulation. My own paper from this collection is available on-line.)
    1976 Anthropology: Perspective on Humanity. New York: Wiley. (With Marc J. Swartz.)
    (A now obsolescent general textbook of anthropology. A very slightly revised reprint of selected chapters was published in 1980 as Culture: The Anthropological Perspective.)
    Two chapters from this work, dealing with the anthropology of language and with the agricultural revolution, have been retitled and updated for later use and are available on this web site. They are: Esperanto: Window on the Study of Language (And Vice Versa)
    (introduction to the anthropology of language) and The Neolithic & the Metal Ages (An Introduction for College Students)
  3. Books in or on Esperanto
    1999 Being Colloquial in Esperanto: A Reference Guide. El Cerrito: Esperanto League for North America.
    (A reference grammar and style guide to Esperanto with a substantial list of false cognates and other expressions troubling for American learners. Intended for intermediate students. This work is unusual in describing Esperanto as a living language based on how existing speakers actually use it, rather than as a hypothetical or idealized "project" or "proposal." The 1999 edition has been revised and enlarged. The original edition, with thesubtitle A Reference Guide for Americans, was published in 1992 by University Press of America.)
    1996 Rakontoj prapatraj pri nia lando antaŭ multaj jarcentoj kiam okazemis mirindaj aferoj. (Forefatherly tales of our land many centuries ago when marvelous things tended to happen.) Berkeley: Eldonejo Bero.
    (A collection of "fakelore" stories designed to simulate the folk tales of natural languages while remaining within the frame of Esperanto, which logically seems to lack a "folk" to produce such lore. Saturated with insinuation and cultural references fully accessible only to Esperanto speakers, the tales are intentionally untranslatable.)

    (Videblas specimenaj rakontoj en la Esperantisma Ludejo de tiu ĉi retpaĝaro.)


I have written various papers, mostly published in inaccessible journals. A few are available on this web site. (Link)

Far more numerous and widely read have been materials composed for the use of students in various courses I have taught over the years. Most of these are available on-line and are indexed on pages of student and teacher resources that are China-related or non-China related.

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