Watson Institute for International Studies
Phone: +1 401 863 9604
Areas of Interest:
Nationalism and ethnicity; democracy promotion and citizenship; Military, war, and society; transnational and global ethnography; labor migration; South-Eastern Europe.
Keith Brown works primarily in the domain of culture, politics and identity. As well as extensive research on ethno-nationalism and the role of national history in the Balkans, his more recent work explores how different transnational processes--including labor migration, democracy promotion, and commodity production--contribute to people's sense of long-distance connection, and new forms of citizenship and belonging. He is committed to collaborative research and learning that involves scholars and practitioners working in different professions and academic disciplines.
His research into how different communities construct history in Macedonia, Greece, and Bulgaria led to his book The Past in Question: Modern Macedonia and the Uncertainties of Nation, as well as a number of articles on the culture, history, and politics of Macedonia. He is engaged on long-term research on the interaction between political activism and labor migration, and is currently completing a book on the role of terrorism in the Macedonian revolutionary movements of the early twentieth century, based on the Evans-Pritchard lectures he delivered at All Souls College, Oxford.
At the Watson Institute, he established the interdisciplinary Muabet project, which brings together scholars and practitioners to reflect on the dynamics of international intervention in the former Yugoslavia. This work led to the edited volume Transacting Transition: The Micropolitics of Democracy Assistance in the Former Yugoslavia, as well as a series of other publications tracking U.S. initiatives to foster the development of civil society in the region. Most recently, in a project involving civil society practitioners and activists, Brown undergraduates and Macedonian film-makers, he has been conducting oral historical research to track one USAID-funded civil society program from idea to impact.
In 2004-5, in collaboration with colleagues at Brown and the Naval War College, Newport, Brown launched the Watson Institute's research project on the phenomenon of military cultural awareness, exploring in particular the linkages between U.S. experience in the Balkans and interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the interplay of doctrine and experience in the evolution of counter-insurgency as a field of study and practice. Committed to facilitating dialogue between constituencies, the Institute has twice hosted the American Anthropological Association's commission on the Engagement of Anthropology with the U.S. Security & Intelligence Communities, as well as the conference "Front Line, First Person: Iraq War Stories."
Beyond this research, Brown also seeks to bring the methods and perspectives of socio-cultural anthropology to hear on pressing global issues through innovative teaching. He is currently collaborating with Ian Cook, a geographer based at the University of Bristol, to encourage undergraduates to explore the social, cultural and economic lives of everyday things and to ask whether and to what extent knowledge of their production and distribution processes drives new forms of social identity, belonging and empathy.
Since July 2010, Brown has served as director of the Brown International Advanced Research Institutes (BIARI).
I teach courses in the fields of anthropology and international relations. My main ongoing responsibility is providing courses which emphasize the theoretical and methodological contributions of anthropology to the field of IR. Alongside primary courses in political anthropology and ethnographies of global connection, I have also taught economic and legal anthropology, and courses bringing anthropology to bear on humor and laughter, (modern) Europe, and the archive.
- Insider Perspectives on US democracy promotion in the Balkans
- History repeats itself with US surge plan
- Baltimore Drowning- March 2007
- Thomas Balmes' Art of Bouleversement
- Democracy on the ground
- The muabet project
- Front Line, First Person: Iraq War Stories (2007)