Ralph A. Litzinger

Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology

External address: 
208 Friedl Building, Department of Cultural Anthropology, Durham, NC 27708
Internal office address: 
Box 90091, Durham, NC 27708-0091
(919) 681-6250


I received my doctorate in socio-cultural anthropology from the University of Washington in Seattle. My early research focused on the culture and politics of the ethnic borders in China. I have published on Marxist nationality theory in China, on ethnic and indigenous revitalization in the post-Cold War global order, on gender and ethnic representation, and on ethnographic film, photography, and popular culture in China and elsewhere. Other Chinas: the Yao and the Politics of National Belonging (Duke University Press, 2000) was the first major ethnographic study to examine the role of minority intellectuals in the critique of socialism and their role in the imagining of post-socialist futures. My current research is engaged with questions of border ecologies, bio-politics, activism and advocacy in labor, education rights, and the environment. In relationship to this research, I have published key essays on the transnational and media dimensions of anti-dam protest in southwest China. I am also working with migrants in China, looking at non-official education projects for migrant kids, the political role of non-governmental organizations and corporate social responsibility projects in these experimental ventures. More recently, I have been tracking Apple's environment, labor, and occupational health record in China, and am very interested in transnational activism directed at Apple and the companies that source its supply chain, as well as the general middle-class obsession for all things Apple in China. In all of my research, teaching, and thinking, I am committed to forging an anthropology of critical advocacy and activism, one which addresses structures of domination, exploitation, and inequality and the struggle to make the world a better place.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of Washington 1994

  • M.A., University of Washington 1990

  • B.A., Evergreen State College 1985

Duke University Global East Asia Studies Center awarded by Department of Education (Principal Investigator). 2006 to 2010

National Resource Centers awarded by Department of Education (Principal Investigator). 2003 to 2007

Global East Asian Studies Center awarded by Department of Education (Principal Investigator). 2003 to 2006

The Question of Asia in the New Global Order awarded by Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2004 to 2005

Litzinger, RA. Other Chinas: The Yao and the Politics of National Belonging. Duke University Press, 2000.

Litzinger, RA. "The Afterlives of Shangri-la." Mapping Shangrila: Nature, Personhood, and Polity in the Sino-Tibetan Borderlands. University of Washington Press, 2015.

Litzinger, RA. "China’s Global Futures." Development and Displacement: China and its Global Footprint. Duke University Press, 2015.

Litzinger, RA. "Schooling the Migrant Margins of Beijing." Development and Displacement: China and its Global Footprint. Duke University Press, 2015.

Litzinger, R. "Afterword: The afterlives of shangrila." Mapping Shangrila: Contested Landscapes in the Sino-Tibetan Borderlands. January 1, 2014. 279-286.

Litzinger, RA. "Preface: Nagtsang Nulo’s Joys and Sorrows." My Tibetan Childhood: When Ice Shattered Stone. Duke University Press, 2014. (Foreword)

Litzinger, RA. "The Mobilization of Nature." Selected Studies on Western China, Translation from English to Chinese (hereto Translated Essays on Western China) 《国外学者对中国西部研究部分论文翻译集》。. 2012.

Litzinger, R. "Afterword: Beyond the Corporate Leninist Box." Privatizing China: Socialism from Afar. Ed. A Ong and L Zhang. 2008.

Litzinger, RA. "In Search of the Grassroots: Hydroelectric Schemes in Northwest Yunnan." Grassroots Political Reform in Contemporary China. Ed. E Perry and M Goodman. April 2007.

Litzinger, RA. "Reprint of "The Mobilization of Nature: Perspectives from Northwest Yunnan"." The Go West Campaign. Ed. D Goodman. Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Litzinger, RA. "Ethnology, Place, and Locality in the Study of the Jinxiu Yao." Ethnic Relations: The Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Sinology. Ed. A Sinica. 2003.


Litzinger, R. "The Labor Question in China: Apple and Beyond." South Atlantic Quarterly 112.1 (January 1, 2013): 172-178. Full Text

Various, . "Labor in China: A New Politics of Struggle." Ed. RA Litzinger. South Atlantic Quarterly 112.1 (January 2013). (Special issue)

Litzinger, RA. "Commentary: Aihwa Ong's "What Marco Polo Forgot: Contemporary Chinese Art Reconfigures the Global"." Current Anthropology 53.4 (August 2012): 471-494. (Academic Article)

Litzinger, RA. "Introduction to special issue: Self-Immolation as Protest in Tibet." Cultural Anthropology (March 2012). (Introduction)

Litzinger, RA. "Tibet Talk: On Life, Death and the State." Cultural Anthropology (March 2012).

Litzinger, RA. "Labor in China Today: Apple and Beyond." South Atlantic Quarterly 112.1 (2012): 172-178. (Introduction)

Litzinger, RA. "“Introduction: Labor in China Today: Apple and Beyond,”." South Atlantic Quarterly (2012). (Academic Article)