Alisse Waterston

Alisse Waterston

Alisse Waterston
Presidential Scholar and Professor
Phone number: 
Room number and address: 
9.63.20 NB


PhD CUNY Graduate Center
MA  Columbia University  
BA New York University


Alisse Waterston is a cultural anthropologist who studies the human consequences of structural and systemic violence and inequality. Her areas of specialty include urban poverty and policy issues in the U.S. related to destitution, homelessness and substance abuse, health, welfare and migration, and applied policy-related research and writing. Her most recent cross-cultural work focuses on the processes and aftermaths of political violence, ethnic and religious conflict, displacement and transnationalism, remembering, diaspora, cultural trauma and identity formation, issues of enormous importance as we struggle in a world marked by the shadows of war and other forms of violence.

Professor Waterston is author of the award winning My Father’s Wars: Migration, Memory and the Violence of a Century an intimate ethnography in the Routledge Series on Innovative Ethnographies. Alisse Waterston served as President of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) 2015-2017 and before that as President-elect/Vice President.  She is the founding editor of Open Anthropologythe public journal of the American Anthropological Association, and served as editor of North American Dialogue for six years.

Professor Waterston was International Scholar of the Open Society Institute affiliated with the Gender Studies Department, Tbilisi State University, Republic of Georgia (2012-2015). She is co-editor with Maia Barkaia of Gender in Georgia: Feminist Perspectives on Culture, Nation and History in the South Caucasus (Berghahn Books: 2017). In 2018, she received a grant from the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC) to conduct a workshop on writing and publishing, and to co-organize a  symposium on "Gender in Georgia" to be held at the Georgian National Parliamentary Library in Tbilisi on 5 June.

Scholarly Work


Gender in Georgia: Feminist Perspectives on Culture, Nation, and History in the South Caucasus (Maia Barkaia, co-editor)

My Father’s Wars: Migration, Memory, and the Violence of a Century

An Anthropology of War: Views from the Frontline 

Anthropology off the Shelf: Anthropologists on Writing 
(Maria D. Vesperi, co-editor) 

Love, Sorrow and Rage: Destitute Women in a Manhattan Residence

Street Addicts in the Political Economy 


2018. Four Stories, A Lament, and an AffirmationAmerican Anthropologist (June).

2018. Matters of Social Justice and Anthropology: Reflections on Collaboration. In Sustaining Anthropology: Collaborations in a Neoliberal Age.  Emma Heffernan, Fiona Murphy and Jonathan Skinner. London: Bloomsbury (forthcoming).

2017. Review of Drones: Remote Control Warfare. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Volume 23: 855-856.

2017. Contextualizing Gender in Georgia: Nation, Culture, Power and Politics. In Gender in Georgia: Feminist Perspectives on Culture, Nation and History in the South Caucasus. Maia Barkaia and Alisse Waterston, eds. New York: Berghahn Books.

2016. For What It’s Worth. Anthropology News, Volume 57, Issue 12: e38-341.

2016. Getting Proximate on Israel Palestine. Anthropology News, Volume 57, Issue 5-6: 9-10.

2015. Sebastian Junger’s The Last Patrol, a dialogue. Anthropology Now Volume 7, No. 1 (April).

2015. Policing Poverty: An Analysis Revisited in “Anti-Black Racism, Police Violence, and Activism.” Hot Spots-Cultural Anthropology online, forthcoming.

2015. Latinos, Militarism, and Militarization. Co-authored with Luis F.B. Plascencia and Gina M. Pérez. Latino Studies Volume XIII-2, forthcoming.

2015. Toward an Anthropology of Affect and Evocative Ethnography. Co-authored with Ian Skoggard. Anthropology of Consciousness, forthcoming.

2015. This American Tragedy. Dialectical Anthropology.

2014. World on the Move: Migration Stories. Open Anthropology Volume 2, Number 3 (October): 1-14.

2014. The Social Life of Health, Disease, Medicine, and Health Care: Anthropological Views. Open Anthropology Volume 2, Number 1 (March): 1-11.

2014. The AAA Publishing Program, the Digital Revolution, and Anthropology: Challenges and Opportunities in Scholarly Publishing. Teaching Anthropology: SACC Notes Volume 20, Number 1 (Spring): 6-9.

2014. Review of Virtual War and Magical Death: Technologies and Imaginaries for Terror and Killing, Neil L. Whitehead and Sverker Finnstrom, eds. Australian Journal of Anthropology. Volume 25, Issue 1 (April): 125-126.

2013. On Violence. Open Anthropology Volume 1, Number 2 (October): 1-9.

2013. Sacred Memory and the Secular World: The Poland Narratives. In War and Peace: Essays on Religion and Violence. Bryan Turner, ed. London: Anthem Press.

2013. Marriage and Other Arrangements. Open Anthropology Volume 1, Number 1 (April): 1-8.

2013. Autoethnography. Theory in Social and Cultural Anthropology. R. Jon McGee and Richard L. Warms, eds. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Research Summary

War and violence studies: Intimate Ethnography, 20th Century Transnational Violence; Polish-Christian/Catholic and Polish-Jewish relations; Polish-Christian immigration, northeastern Poland & Greenpoint, NY.

Urban research projects: Mexican Migration to metro NY area; Poverty, Homelessness and Marginalization in NYC; Gender and Poverty; Youth and the Labor Market in Edge Cities.

Media projects: Knowledge, Awareness and Usage of Media and Telecom in urban US; Minority Employment in the Media Industry.

Gender studies: Gender, Poverty and Homelessness; Gender at the Intersection of Ideology, Affect, habitus and Political Economy.

Area of Expertise

Faculty Expertise: topics/keywords

Urban Ethnography

Structural and Political Violence


Poverty and Homelessness

Diasporic Communities

Scholarly Publishing; Transition to Digital Publishing


Online Presence
Faculty Website URL: