MacArthur Fellows Program

Ruth Behar

Cultural Anthropologist | Class of 1988

Cultural Anthropologist
Ann Arbor, Michigan
32 at time of award
Area of Focus
Cultural Anthropology
Published August 1, 1988

About Ruth's Work

Ruth Behar is a cultural anthropologist whose work focuses on folk religion, women’s lives, and personal narration in historical and contemporary Cuba, Mexico, and Spain.

Her first book, The Presence of the Past in a Spanish Village: Santa Maria del Monte (1986; expanded paperback edition, 1991), uses a variety of past and present narratives to tell a multilayered story of how one village negotiated its relation to the past in the wake of social transformations that removed people from the land during the late-Franco years.  She is the author of A Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza’s Story (1993), which combines a life history account with reflections on autobiographical truth.  In The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart (1996), Behar explores themes of memory, identity, and emigration.  Behar is also the editor of Bridges to Cuba/Puentes a Cuba (1995) and co-editor of Women Writing Culture (1995).


She is a professor in the Department of Anthropology, and is also affiliated with programs in Women’s Studies, Latin American Studies, and Latino Studies at the University of Michigan. 

Behar received a B.A. (1977) from Wesleyan University, and an M.A. (1980) and Ph.D. (1983) from Princeton University.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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