Professor of Anthropology
Department of Anthropology
brandes@sscl.berkeley.edu
510.642.6945

Research Expertise and Interest

cultural anthropology, ritual and religion, food and drink, alcohol use, visual anthropology, Mediterranean Europe, Latin America, Spain, Mexico

Description

For more than thirty years, I have been immersed in the study of European and Latin American ethnography. My work has focused about equally on Spain and Mexico, although I have also written on the United States and Guatemala. During the course of my career, I have turned my attention to a wide variety of topics, including peasant society and culture, demographic anthropology (particularly issues revolving around migration and nuptiality), folklore (particularly jokes, banter, and humor of all kinds), the life course (including, most importantly, middle age), symbolism, ritual and religion, food and drink, and, most recently, visual anthropology. While abroad, I have lived and worked in both rural and urban settings and believe that, whether writing about Spain, Mexico, or the United States, my work is grounded in direct observations of a given people and reflects a sensitivity to regional, ethnic, class, and gender diversity. I believe strongly in the ethnographic field tradition.

I am currently engaged in three topics of investigation. First is Mexico's Day of the Dead, which I write about from an historical and ethnographic perspective, and includes material from Latin America, Europe, and the U.S. Second is Alcoholics Anonymous in Mexico City, an intensive study over nearly two years of a single group of recuperating alcoholic men, all from working class, migrant backgrounds. Third is photography and anthropology, particularly the ways in which ethnographic photographs, intentionally or not, have communicated information and impressions about the Other. Most of my research on this last topic has been carried out in the context of Spain.

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