Alexander S. Dent

Alexander S. Dent

Associate Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs
Faculty: Full-Time
Hortense Amsterdam House 302
Phone: 202-994-5084

Areas of Expertise

Public/popular culture; language; media, rural-urban relations; ethnography; ethnomusicology. Regional foci: Brazil; Latin America; North America.

Dr. Dent is the Associate Editor of Anthropological Quarterly.

He is also in a DC rock band called Strange Avenger.

Current Research

Dr. Dent's recent book manuscript analyzed the post-authoritarian popularity of rural public culture in Central-Southern Brazil, focusing in particular on Brazilian "country" music and rodeo. His next project involves the informal musical economy in Brazil, inquiring into the way in which 52% of Brazilian music sales are made up of illegal copies of CDs. His research contributes to the ethnography of public culture, and the elaboration of theories of performativity.

Ongoing Projects

  • A documentary film on bull-riding in Brazil in collaboration with Charles Laird of Big Fish Productions, and funded by the National Film Board of Canada.
  • An elaboration on the musical attributes of culture through analysis of the history of anthropological theory.


Ph.D. 2003, University of Chicago
M.A. 1998, University of Chicago
B.A. 1993, Princeton University


See Dr. Dent's CV for a complete list of publications.


2009  Dent, A.S. River of Tears: Country Music, Memory, and Modernity in Brazil. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Selected Articles and Book Chapters

2013  Dent, A.S. "Intellectual property in practice: Filtering testimony at the United States Trade Representative," Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 23(2): E48-E65. DOI: 10.1111/jola.12016.

2012  Dent, A.S. "Piracy, circulatory legitimacy, and neoliberal subjectivity in Brazil,Cultural Anthropology 27(1): 28-49. DOI: 10.1111/j.1548-1360.2011.01125.x

2010  Dent, A.S. "Flouting the Elmo necessity and denying the local roots of interpretation: 'Anthropology's' quarrel with ACTA and authoritarian IP regimes," PIJIP Research Paper no. 3. Washington, DC: American University Washington College of Law.

2007  Dent, A.S. "Country brothers: Kinship and chronotype in Brazilian rural public culture," Anthropological Quarterly 80(2): 455-496.

2006  Dent, A.S. "High ropes and hard times: Wilderness and the sublime in adventure-based education," International Journal of the History of Sport 23(5): 856-875.

2003  Dent, A.S. "Cross-cultural 'countries': Covers, conjectures, and the whiff of Nashville in musica sertaneja (Brazilian commercial country music)," Popular Music and Society 28(2): 207-227.


Awarded the Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenbery Prize for Teaching Excellence, 2015.

Awarded the Morton Bender Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2008.

Classes Taught

To see syllabi, click on the course title.

Anth 0801: Piracy, Copying, and Culture
Anth 1004: Language in Culture and Society
Anth 3601: Language, Culture, and Cognition
Anth 3602: Ethnographic Analysis of Speech
Anth 3691: Topics: Media, Technology, and Performance
Anth 3702: Peoples of Central and South America
Anth 6104: Proseminar in Linguistic Anthropology
Anth 6591: Topics: Culture, Intellectual Property, and the Informal Economy
Anth 8695: Linguistic Field Methods


Last updated March 17, 2017