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William M. O'Barr

Professor Emeritus of Cultural Anthropology
Cultural Anthropology
Box 90091, Durham, NC 27708-0091
135 Social Sciences, Durham, NC 27708


William M. O'Barr, Ph.D. Northwestern 1969, is currently writing books about advertising and masculinity and about the history of legal anthropology. His extensive publications focus primarily on legal anthropology and include such concerns as law and politics in rural Africa, communication in trial courtrooms in America, and access to justice. His research sites have included rural villages in East Africa, trial courtrooms in the United States and Canada, and many of the organizations that are collectively referred to as "Madison Avenue." His publications include Tradition and Identity in Changing Africa (1973); Linguistics Evidence (1982); Language and Power (1984); Rules versus Relationships: The Ethnography of Legal Discourse (with John M. Conley; 1990); Fortune and Folly: The Wealth and Power of Institutional Investing (also with Conley; 1992), and Culture and the Ad: Exploring Otherness in the World of Advertising (1994); and Just Words: Language, Law and Power (The University of Chicago Press, 1998).

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Professor Emeritus of Cultural Anthropology · 2018 - Present Cultural Anthropology, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Education, Training & Certifications

Northwestern University · 1970 Ph.D.
Northwestern University · 1966 M.A.
Emory University · 1964 B.A.