Michael Lambek

Michael Lambek

Michael Lambek, Ph.D. (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1978)
Professor and Canada Research Chair; Chair of Anthropology, Scarborough Campus (UTSC)

*Not currently accepting new graduate student supervisions

(416) 287-7312 (Main)
Office: MW 284 (Main), AP 314 (St. George)

Research Keywords: Social and cultural anthropology, hermeneutics, ritual, medical anthropology, ordinary ethics, historicity, person and subjectivity

Research Region: Africa, Madagascar, Europe

Website: http://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/anthropology/michael-lambek

Research Bio

Michael Lambek holds a Canada Research Chair in the Anthropology of Ethical Life. He conducts ethnographic research in Switzerland as well as long-term fieldwork in the Indian Ocean islands of Mayotte and Madagascar. He has carried out research and written on spirit possession, Islam, the anthropology of knowledge, therapeutic practice, memory, and historicity, among other topics. He is currently interested in the intersection of anthropology with philosophy and especially in articulating the moral basis of action. In 2003-2005 Professor Lambek served as President of the Society for the Anthropology of Religion.  He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2000.


2016 On being present to history: Historicity and brigand spirits in Madagascar. Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 6(1): 317-341.

2016 On Contradiction. In David Berliner, ed. Hau Debate: Anthropology and the study of contradictions. Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 6(1): 1-27.

2015 The Ethical Condition: Essays on Action, Person, and Value. University of Chicago Press.

2015  with Veena Das, Didier Fassin, and Webb Keane. Four Lectures on Ethics: Anthropological Perspectives. HAU Books, University of Chicago Press.

2014  The interpretation of lives or life as interpretation: Cohabiting with spirits in the Malagasy world. American Ethnologist 41(3): pp. 491-503. 

2013  with Sandra Evers and Gwyn Campbell (Eds), Contest for Land in Madagascar, Brill.

2013   with Janice Boddy (Eds.)  A Companion to the Anthropology of Religion. Wiley-Blackwell

2010  Ordinary Ethics: Anthropology, Language and Action. New York: Fordham University Press.

2008  A Reader in the Anthropology of Religion. Second, expanded edition. Cambridge and Boston: Blackwell

2008  “Measuring — or Practising Well-Being?” In Culture and Well-being: Anthropological Approaches to Freedom and Political Ethics, Alberto Corín, ed. London: Pluto. pp. 115-133.

2008  “Provincializing God? Provocations from an Anthropology of Religion.” In Religion: Beyond a Concept, Hent de Vries, ed. New York: Fordham University Press. pp. 120-138.

2008  “Value and Virtue.” Anthropological Theory 8 (2): 133-157


April 1, 2016, Visiting Anthropology Seminar, University  of Helsinki. “Ethnography and History: Marriage as Moral Horizon in Mayotte.” Listen here.

Graduate Students

Hannah Mayne

Seth Palmer

Matthew Pettit