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You are here: Home Anthropology PEOPLE Full-Time Faculty Coleman, Leo

Leo Coleman

Associate Professor


NB: On Leave Spring 2017
Tel: (212)396-6780
Fax: (212) 772-5423
Room: HN 733B 

Ph.D. 2008, Princeton University
M.A. (Hons) 2002, University of St Andrews

Areas of Specialization
Political anthropology, technology, legal aesthetics, urbanism, constitutionalism; India, Scotland 

Overview of Research
Leo Coleman’s research focuses on energy, law, and community, examining transformative interactions between people, things, and political ideals in contexts of change. He is the author of A Moral Technology: Electrification as Political Ritual in New Delhi (Cornell University Press, 2017), a historical and ethnographic study of twentieth-century electrification and urban political life in New Delhi, India, and the editor of Food: Ethnographic Encounters (Berg/Bloomsbury, 2011), a volume of essays about dining, sharing food, and bodily encounters in ethnographic fieldwork. Dr. Coleman has published articles in American Ethnologist, Anthropological Quarterly, and Political and Legal Anthropology Review, and in several edited collections and companions. He also writes reviews and criticism for several online journals, and is a contributor to Somatosphere: Science, Medicine, Anthropology. He writes about social experiences ranging from solitude to solidarity, and is especially interested in the rituals, collective imaginations, and aesthetics of political life in technological modernity, as well as the mutual entanglements of anthropological thought, psychoanalytic theory, and political modernity. Dr. Coleman is currently pursuing two long-term research projects: on energy, environment, and constitutional law in Scotland amidst the shifting boundaries of solidarity in Britain; and an anthropological history of equality as ideal, ethic, and urban practice.


Selected Articles & Essays

Coleman, Leo. 2016. Why to Read Winnicott After the US Election, and How. Somatosphere: Science, Medicine, and Anthropology. (

Coleman, Leo. 2016. Inside and Outside the House: A Narrative of Mobility and Becoming in Delhi. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography

Coleman, Leo. 2015. Power and Ignorance in British India: The Native Fetish of the Crown. In Regimes of Ignorance: Anthropological Perspectives on the Production and Reproduction of Non-Knowledge. Roy Dilley and Thomas Kirsch, eds. Pp. 159-187. New York: Berghahn.

Coleman, Leo. 2015. The Imagining Life: Reflections on Imagination in Political Anthropology, in Reflections on Imagination: Human Capacity and Ethnographic Method. Mark Harris and Nigel Rapport, eds. Pp. 195-214. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

Coleman, Leo. 2014. Infrastructure and Interpretation: Meters, Dams, and State Imagination in Scotland and India. American Ethnologist 41(3): 457–472. (

Coleman, Leo. 2014. Corporate Identity in Citizens United: Legal Fictions and Anthropological Theory. Political and Legal Anthropology Review 37(2): 308-328. (

Coleman, Leo. 2014. A View from Anthropology: Anomie and Urban Solitude. In The Handbook of Solitude: Psychological Perspectives on Social Isolation, Social Withdrawal, and Being Alone. Robert J. Coplan and Julie C. Bowker, eds. Pp. 483-498. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Coleman, Leo. 2012. Review essay on The Accompaniment: Assembling the Contemporary, by Paul Rabinow. Anthropological Quarterly 85(1).

Coleman, Leo. 2012. Universes of Kinship [review of Maurice Godelier,·The Metamorphoses of Kinship, transl. Nora Scott].·Somatosphere: Medicine, Culture, Anthropology, 20 January,·

Coleman, Leo. 2009. Being Alone Together: From Solidarity to Solitude in Urban Anthropology. Anthropological Quarterly 82/3: 755-778. (

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