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This is Anthropology

This Anthropology

Michael Burton
Photo for Michael Burton

Affiliation: University of California, Irvine, Department of Anthropology

Department: Anthropology

Location: Irvine, CA, UNITED STATES


Twitter: fuck.twitter

Biography: Born Long Beach CA, where my father worked during the war as a petroleum chemist. Grew up in Pasadena area, where my family had been since 1890. Father was a chemist. Mother majored in History and taught elementary school. Graduated from a recently integrated High School (white, black, Japanese American, and others). Went to MIT to become a social scientist. That meant being an economics major (and math minor) because they had no other socials science options. At MIT I had the privilege to take courses from three economists who later won the Nobel in economics, to take most of the first-year graduate curriculum in economics, and to work for three years as a research assistant at the graduate level for a Japanese-born economist. From him I learned about a new alternative to positivist statistics (Bayesian) and a new challenge to rational choice theory (Herbert Simon's work). From MIT I followed my friend Bill Geoghegan to the Stanford Anthropology PhD program, where I intended to combine psychological and economic anthropology. My mentors there were Roy D'Andrade, Kim Romney, Frank Cancian, Bill Skinner, Joe Greenberg, and Chuck Frake. A family health problem kept me from the field until after I got my PhD, completed a Post-Doc at Harvard with the Whitings, and began as an Assistant at UCI, where I have been since 1969. My first field work, in Yucatan was made possible by UCI. My second field experience, in Ireland, was funded by Lilyan Brudner's grant. My third, in Kenya, was funded by a Carnegie Foundation to the Bureau of Educational Research at the University of Nairobi. There Lorraine Kirk and I did research with Gikuyu and Maasai people. Next came assistance to Mark Schoepfle and Phil Reno on an ethnographically-based social impact assessment of relocation for energy development. Finally, I have been engaged since 1997 first with field and survey research, and now with writing of a study of changing food practices in four Micronesian societies (Pala


PhD, StanfordĀ , 1968

Subfield: Combination

Job Type: Academic

Geographic Areas of Expertise:



Interests/Specialty Areas:

Agriculture & Agrarian Systems

I went into Anthro because: I learned about anthropology from a couple of books that my mother owned. I went into anthropology because I wanted to study something that had a broader focus than the economics of that era.

My latest research is: Effects of US Empire and social change on food practices.

My favorite text is: Fearing the Black Body, by Sabrina Steirng

My advice to potential anthropologists is: Get a good grounding in research methods, including statistics. That will qualify you to work outside of academia.