Laura R. Graham

Laura Graham
Associate Professor
PhD, University of Texas-Austin, 1990
223 Macbride Hall; Lab: 17A Macbride Hall
Office Hours: 
Wednesday 10:30-12:00
Thursday 3:30-5:00
Curriculum Vitae: 
Select Publications/Projects: 
Research Interests: 
cultural politics and representation; language, expressive culture and performance; semiotics; indigenous media; indigenous peoples; human rights; advocacy; South America, Amazonia, Brazil, Venezuela

Laura R. Graham is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Iowa. Her current research focuses on politics of indigenous representation to broad publics and focuses on indigenous peoples of lowland South America, specifically Xavante of central Brazil and Wayuu of Venezuela and Colombia.  She is interested in notions of cultural consciousness, cultural and intellectual property, and representations of indigeneity in politics and advocacy, indigenous media and human rights. Her work promotes engaged ethnography and participant advocacy.  Laura Graham studies and has collaborated in indigenous media projects and has recently completed a film, “Owners of the Water: Conflict and Collaboration over Rivers,” with Wayuu and Xavante filmmakers, David Hernández Palmar and Caimi Waiásse.  OWNERS has screened at the Smithsonian Native American Film + Video Festival (New York, 2009), Terres en Vues/Land Insights Festival (Montreal, 2008), and ImagineNATIVE (Toronto, 2008) film festivals and will be distributed by Documentary Educational Resources (DER).

She is author of the award-winning book,Performing Dreams: Discourses of Immortality Among the Xavante Indians of Central Brazil (University of Texas Press, 1995) and has published many articles on Xavante. Her work on Xavante oral culture has been featured on the NPR Program, Pulse of the Planet. Graham has received numerous honors including a Fulbright Fellowship to Venezuela (2005-06), a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (2001), the Chicago Folklore Prize (1996), Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing (Honorable Mention, 1996), and a School of American Research NEH Resident Fellowship, Santa Fe, New Mexico (1992).

She is currently working on two book projects; one on Xavante in the Public Sphere and another, in collaboration with David Hernández Palmar on Wayuu uses of new media technologies.  She is also collaborating with historian Glenn Penny to host a conference and subsequently edit a volume on Performing Indigeneity: Historic and  Contemporary Displays of Indigeneity in Public Spaces (U Iowa International Programs, May 2009).  Laura Graham is a member of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) executive board, past-chair of the AAA, Committee for Human Rights (CfHR), and chair of CfHR’s Task Group on Language and Social Justice.  She also serves on the Board of Cultural Survival, a nonprofit organization that promotes indigenous human rights.

Courses Taught: 

Language, Culture and Communication
Linguistic Anthropology
Language & Gender
Multimedia Ethnography