Professor of Anthropology:
Phone: +1 401 863 3251
Phone 2: +1 401 863 7057
Ph.D. Northwestern U 1962
Professor Leis studies sociocultural anthropology, social and political organization, interethnic relations, enculturation and cultural change. Regionally, his work focuses on Africa. Ongoing project topics include: West and Southern African ethnology, pluralism; associations life cycle, economic development; cross-cultural study of adolescence.
My research interests focus on: the anthropology of identity and the identity of anthropology. The former has been pursued in field research, especially in Africa (Nigeria, Cameroun, and Zimbabwe), in village and urban contexts. The latter has been largely a matter of personal participation and teaching within the context of the discipline of anthropology. In Nigeria I was concerned, and continue to be, with how ethnic identity among the Ijo developed in an isolated, relatively culturally homogeneous, self-sufficient society that became severely impinged upon by a multi-ethnic nation and global economic prerequisites of oil exports. In Cameroun the setting shifts to a plural community within a plural state, and the emphasis is on formulating and retaining an identity as a minority ethnic group. Zimbabwe offers still another variation on a theme: a state containing one dominant ethnic group, the Shona, but with numerous migrants from adjoining states. Here my interest is on how participation in voluntary associations and other non-governmental organizations contribute to the formation of a national identity. My interest in the identity of anthropology has focused on the delineation of crises in the discipline's history that reflect shifts in theoretical orientation, in addition to prompting them.