Current and Past Adaptive Lifeways of the Proprietor

It is not that easy to track down, but James Fernandez’s homepage is definitely worth checking out. Fernandez is, of course, an extremely well-known anthropologist with a long history of writing about anthropology, tropes, humanism, metaphor, and much more. The site’s circa-1994 layout has a sort of nostalgic charm to it — as if you’re viewing it in your brand new Mosaic browser, and it features a mix of high academic formality combined with Fernandez’s own impish playfulness. Best of all, it has content. The site includes not only offprints of much of Fernandez’s writings, but also a great deal of the imponderabilia of his everyday life — Christmas cards, pieces for his alumni magazine, and (above all) really, really amazing syllabi. The entire thing is deeply evocative of the life of a professor, from personally chosen favorite pieces to starch-collar descriptions of The Life Course Of The Proprietor. Not everyone will be moved by Fernandez’s mode of ethnographic thought, but as an example how/what a personal website can be, and particularly one for an emeritus professor who was not exactly weaned on tweets, it is certainly worth a look.


Alex Golub is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. His book Leviathans at The Gold Mine has been published by Duke University Press. You can contact him at

One thought on “Current and Past Adaptive Lifeways of the Proprietor

  1. Rex, thanks again for a pointer to another body of interesting and provocative work. _Persuasions and Performances_ was, along with _The Raw and the Cooked_ one of the major inspirations that informed my return to academic writing in “Why don’t we see some real money here? Offerings in Chinese Religion” _Journal of Chinese Religion_ 1990. In that piece the analysis was motivated by the notion that the binary oppositions analyzed by Levi-Strauss could be construed as defining the multi-dimensional manifold in which, according to Fernandez, pronouns are pushed around by metaphors. Now, almost two decades later, I thank you for the memories and the stimulus to look again at Fernandez’s work.

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