Professor Roy Richard Grinker

Roy Richard Grinker

Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs
Faculty: Full-Time
Hortense Amsterdam House 201B
Address: 2110 G St., NW
Phone: 202-994-6984
[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



2010  Grinker, R., S. Lubkemann, and C.B. Steiner, eds. Perspectives on Africa: A Reader in Culture, History and Representation. 2nd ed. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

2007  Grinker, R. Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism. NY: Basic Books.

2000  Grinker, R. In the Arms of Africa: The Life of Colin M. Turnbull. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

1998  Grinker, R. Korea and its Futures: Unification and the Unfinished War. NY: St. Martin's Press.

1994  Grinker, R. Houses in the Rainforest: Ethnicity and Inequality among Farmers and Foragers in Central Africa. Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Articles and Book Chapters

2016  Grinker, R.R.  “What in the world is autism? A cross-cultural perspective.” Reprint of “What in the world is autism?: A cross-cultural perspective,” Zero to Three: Journal of the National Center for Infants and Toddlers 28(4):5-10. In Peter Brown and Svea Closser, eds., Understanding and Applying Medical Anthropology, 3rd ed., 311-19.

2013 Grinker, Roy R. and Kyungjin Cho. "Border Children: Interpreting Autism Spectrum Disorder in South Korea," Ethos 41(1): 46-74.

2012  Grinker, R.R., T. Daley, and D. Mandell. "Culture and Autism." In Fred Volkmar, ed., Encyclopaedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders. NY: Springer Verlag.

2012  Grinker, R.R., et al. "‘Communities’ in Community Engagement: Lessons Learned from Autism Research in South Africa and South Korea," Autism Research 5(3): 201-210.

2011  Kim, Y.S., B. Leventhal, Y-J Koh, E. Fombonne, E. Laska, E-C Lim, K-A Chun, S-J Kim, Y-K Kim, H-J Lee, D-H Song, and R.R. Grinker."Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in a total population sample," American Journal of Psychiatry. 168(90):  904-912. Published online, May 9, 2011. [Nature 2011 Editor’s Choice Selection].

2011  Grinker, R.R., M. Yeargin-Allsopp, and C. Doyle. "ASD and Culture: International Trends in Prevalence and Diagnosis.” In D. Amaral, D. Geschwind, and G. Dawson, eds. Autism Spectrum Disorders (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

2010  Grinker, R.R. "The five lives of the psychiatry manual," Nature 468 (11): 168-170.

2010  Grinker, R.R. "The contribution of social science to understanding and appreciating autism." In Autism through the Lens of the Social Sciences. Papers from a conference held at the University of Chicago, April 3-4, 2008, p. 7-16. Online at

2010  "On being autistic, and social." Ethos (Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology, AAA) 38(1): 172-178.

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