Richard Wilk

Richard Wilk

Distinguished Professor Emeritus

Affiliate, Center for Archaeology in the Public Interest


  • Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Arizona, 1981
  • B.A., Anthropology, NYU, 1974

Geographical Areas of Specialization
Caribbean, Latin America, North America, and Belize

Research Interests
economic, applied and cultural anthropology

About Richard Wilk

I am passionately interested in social theory, and use any tools I can find to help me understand how the world works. I find my interests are shaped by the concerns and issues of the time; this is the thread that ties together work which might otherwise seem an odd juxtaposition. Modern beauty pageants and the spread of ancient Olmec society, the shortcomings of rational choice theory and the history of Belizean cuisine, or moral talk about television and the global branding of bottled water. My work relates to and connects with topics like Commodity chains, Development, Political Economy, and Globalization; History, Narrative, and Power; Gender and Sexuality.

I find nothing antithetical about doing both strongly scientific research and critical and interpretive anthropology. I have always worked hard to combat the polarizing discourse that has had a regrettable affect on our discipline. I continue to feel strongly that the combination of different approaches to understanding human experience is the greatest strength of anthropology.

Teaching has always been an essential part of my intellectual life. I have been teaching at least one new course a year for as long as I can remember. Teaching fundamental undergraduate courses keeps me constantly thinking of new ways to connect anthropological knowledge and theory to the kinds of issues and topics that make students want to learn. I enjoy my undergraduate courses and have taught our core theory graduate proseminar, which has over the years produced an award-winning website on anthropological theory.

At the moment my major research interests are in food studies, particularly the history of food globalization. I continue to engage with work on climate change, mostly through participation in the sustainable consumption community, but also as a member of the AAA Task Force on Climate Change. In the next few years, I will be directing the Indiana Foor Research Center, part of the new Indiana Food Institute.

Honors and Awards

  • Honorary Doctorate conferred by Lund University in 2012

Selected Publications


2009 Elizabeth Shove, Frank Trentmann and Richard Wilk Time, consumption and everyday life: practice, materiality and culture. Berg Publishers.

Articles/Book Chapters

2009 “Consuming Ourselves to Death.” In Anthropology and Climate Change: from Encounters to Actions, edited by Susan Crate. Duke University Press.

2009 “The Edge of Agency: Routines, Habits and Volition” in Elizabeth Shove, Frank Trentmann and Richard Wilk Time, consumption and everyday life: practice, materiality and culture. Oxford: Berg Publishers. Pp. 143-156.

2009 (Elizabeth Shove, Frank Trentmann and Richard Wilk) “Introduction” in Elizabeth Shove, Frank Trentmann and Richard

2009 Wilk, eds., Time, consumption and everyday life: practice, materiality and culture. Oxford: Berg Publishers. Pp. 1-16.

2008 “Consuming America” in Reflecting on America: Anthropological Views on U.S. Culture, edited by Clare L. Boulanger, McGraw Hill. Pp. 79-85.

2008 “Anchovy Sauce and Pickled Tripe: Exporting Civilized Food in the Colonial Atlantic World.” In Food Chains, edited by Warren Belasco and Roger Horowitz, University of Pennsylvania Press.

2008 “A Taste of Home: The Cultural and Economic Significance of European Food Exports to the Colonies.” in Food and Globalization: Consumption, Markets and Politics in the Modern World, edited by Alexander Nuetzenadel and Frank Trentmann, Oxford: Berg. Pp. 93-109.

2008 Hate/Love for Foreign Food: Neophilia, Neophobia and Globalization. Critique and Humanism 25(1): 65-78. (Любов/омраза към чуждестранната храна: Неофилия, неофобия и глобализация)

2008 “’Real Belizean Food’: Building Local Identity in the Transnational Caribbean” in Food and Culture: A Reader, second edition. Edited by Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterik, New York: Routledge pp. 308-327. (Reprint).