Roy Richard Grinker

Richard Grinker
Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs
Hortense Amsterdam House 201B
[email protected]

Areas of Expertise

Psychological and medical anthropology; disability; stigma; autism; ethnicity and nationalism; hunter-gatherers. Regional foci: Africa, Korea.

Dr. Grinker is a cultural anthropologist specializing in ethnicity, nationalism, and psychological anthropology, with topical expertise in autism, Korea, and sub-Saharan Africa. He is also the director of GW's Institute for Ethnographic Research  and editor-in-chief of of the journal Anthropological Quarterly.

Current Research

Dr. Grinker has conducted research on a variety of subjects: ethnic relationships between farmers and foragers in the Ituri forest, Democratic Republic of Congo; North and South Korean relations, with special emphasis on North Korean defectors' adaptation to South Korea life; and the epidemiology of autism. In addition, he has written a biography of the anthropologist Colin M. Turnbull.

Ongoing Projects

Autism and Culture. After completing the first ever epidemiological study of Autism Spectrum Disorder in South Korea (see Kim et al. 2011, under Publications), Dr. Grinker is funded by the Autism Speaks Foundation to study the cultural influences on identification and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder among Korean-Americans. In addition, he is studying efforts at early identification of autism among Mexican migrant farmers in southwest Florida and among Zulu-speaking South Africans in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. A second area of research is military psychiatry, about which he is writing a book.


To see Dr. Grinker's complete CV, click here.

Ph.D. 1989, Harvard University
M.A. 1985, Harvard University
B.A. 1983, Grinnell College


In Press     Grinker, Roy R. “Autism, ‘Stigma,’ Disability: Shifting Historical Terrain.” Current Anthropology.

2019     Benavides-Rawson, J. and Roy R. Grinker. “Culture and Autism in Education.” Sage International Handbook: Autism and Education, pp. 517-522.

2019     Grinker, R.R., S. Lubkemann, C. Steiner, and E. Goncalves. 2018. “Introduction” to Companion to the Anthropology of Africa, R.R. Grinker, S. Lubkemann, C. Steiner, and E. Goncalves, Wiley-Blackwell, 2018.

2019     Machaqueiro, Racquel and R.R. Grinker, Environmentality in Africa, Companion to the Anthropology of Africa, R.R. Grinker, S. Lubkemann, C. Steiner, and E. Goncalves, Wiley-Blackwell, 2018.

2019     Benavides-Rawson, J, and Roy R. Grinker. “Reactive Attachment Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder: Diagnosis and Care in Cultural Context.” R.R. Fogler, Jason M. and Randall A. Phelps, eds. Trauma, Autism, and Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Integrating Research, Practice, and Policy, pp. 149-160. Springer. 

2018     Grinker, Roy R. “Being Trans is not a Mental Disorder.” The New York Times, December 6.

2018     Kang-yi, Christina, Grinker, R.R., Beidas, R., Agha, A. , Russell R., Shah, S., Shea K., and Mandell, D. S.  “Influence of Community-Level Cultural Beliefs about Autism on Families’ and Professionals’ Care for Children among Koreans in New York City.” Transcultural Psychiatry, 55 (5): 623-47.

2018     Costa, Jurandir Freire and R.R. Grinker, Autism and First Person Accounts—The Cognitive Problem. In Autism in Translation, Elizabeth Fein and Clarice Rios, eds. Palgrave MacMillan

2018     Grinker, R.R., Who Owns Autism?: Economics, Fetishism, and Stakeholders, in Autism in Translation, Elizabeth Fein and Clarice Rios, eds. Palgrave MacMillan.

2017    Nola J. Chambers, Amy M. Wetherby, Sheri T. Stronach, Nonyameko Njongwe, Shuaib Kauchali, and R. R. Grinker, Early detection of autism spectrum disorder in young isiZulu-speaking children in South Africa, Autism 21, 5: 518-26, 2017

2015     Grinker, Roy R. and David Mandell. “Notes on a Puzzle Piece.” Autism: International Journal of Research and Practice. August 2015 vol. 19 no. 6 643-645

2015     Grinker, Roy R. “Reframing the Science and Anthropology of Autism.” Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry.” June 2015, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 345-350

2015     Grinker, Roy R., Christina Kang-Yi, Chloe Ahmann, Rinad Beidas, Adrienne Lagman, and David Mandell. “Cultural Adaptation and Translation of Outreach Materials on Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. August 2015, Volume 45, Issue 8, pp 2329-2336.

Classes Taught

To see syllabi, click on the course title.

Anth 0801: Autism across Cultures
Anth 1002: Introduction to Sociocultural Anthropology
Anth 3503: Psychological Anthropology
Anth 3506: Politics, Ethnicity, and Nationalism
Anth 3708: Cultures of Africa
Anth 6201: Proseminar in Sociocultural Anthropology
Anth 6391: National Mythologies
Anth 6507: Nationalism and Ethnicity


Last updated August 7, 2017