Alexander S. Dent

Alexander Dent

Alexander S. Dent

Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs


Office Phone: (202) 994-5084

Alex Dent is a linguistic and sociocultural anthropologist who works on mediation, digital culture, cellularity, intellectual property, and music in Brazil and the United States. Dr. Dent is the Associate Editor of Anthropological Quarterly; additionally, he is the PI of a grant to study teenage cell phone use in Washington DC. 

He is also in a DC punk rock band called Weird Babies.

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

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

Digital media, policing, music, piracy, language, authoritarianism, punk.

Regional foci: Brazil; Latin America; North America.



Dr. Dent's current research uses digital textuality as a way to critique the violent policing of media “piracy,” and the use of intellectual property laws to curtail participation in global economies.  He is also engaged in an analysis of the role of “confidence” in establishing political and economic authority.   Finally, he is focusing on Brazilian punk-rock in order to understand the role of music in fostering social change.  His last book analyzed the post-authoritarian popularity of Brazilian "country" music and rodeo as a way to unify theories of performance from linguistic anthropology, media, cultural, and performance studies.

Ongoing Projects

  • A National Science Foundation funded project (with Joel Kuipers and Joshua Bell of the Smithsonian) examining social inequality as manifested in cell phone use among Washington DC Teens.

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

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


2020  Dent, A.S. Digital Pirates: Policing Intellectual Property in Brazil. Stanford University Press.

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

Selected Articles and Book Chapters

2019  Dent, A.S. "Ludic Authoritarianism" (American Anthropologist, 121:1, 193-6)

2018  Dent, A.S. "What is a Cellular Public?" (Anthropology Quarterly, 91:2, 465-484)

2018  Dent, A.S. "Piracy, Cloning, and Criminal Cats: The Discomforts of Cellular Telephony in Brazil", in Bell and Kuipers eds., The Linguistic and Material Intimacies of Cellular Phones. London: Routledge. 237-265.

2017  Dent, A.S. "The Devil in the Deal: Notes Toward an Anthropology of Confidence" (Anthropological Quarterly, 90:4, 1007-1024)

2017  Dent, A.S. "Paraguayan Horses: The Entailments of Internet Policy and Law in Brazil" (Current Anthropology, 58, 113-122)

2016  Dent, A.S. “Policing the Unstable Materialities of Digital-Media Piracy in Brazil” (American Ethnologist, 43:3, 424-436)

2016  Dent, A.S. “Piracy, Counterfeiting, and Intellectual Property” (Annual Reviews of Anthropology, 45)

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.

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 música sertaneja (Brazilian commercial country music)," Popular Music and Society 28(2): 207-227.

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