Sean R. Roberts

Sean R. Roberts

Professor of the Practice of International Affairs and Professor of Anthropology, & Director of International Development Studies Program
Faculty: Full-Time
1957 E St., NW 501-G
Phone: 202-994-7739
[email protected]

Areas of Expertise

Development theory, democracy development, media and development, culture and politics, indigenous rights; Central Asia, former Soviet Union, China.

Dr. Roberts is a cultural anthropologist with extensive applied experience in international development work.

Current Research

A specialist in Central Asia and China, Dr. Roberts has focused particularly on the Uyghurs, among whom he has conducted ethnographic fieldwork. He is the author of a blog on Central Aisa, The Roberts Report on Central Asia and Kazakhstan and frequently comments on current events in Central Asia for the media and the foreign policy community.


Ph.D. 2003, University of Southern California
M.A. 2001, University of Southern California (Visual Anthropology)
B.A. 1990, Bowdoin College (Russian Language, History)


Selected Articles and Book Chapters

2012  Roberts, S. "Doing the democracy dance in Kazakhstan: Democracy development as cultural encounter," Slavic Review 71(2): 308-330.

2008  Roberts. S. "Daily negotiations of Islam in Central Asia: Practicing religion in the Uyghur neighborhood of Zarya Vostoka in Almaty, Kazakhstan." In R. Zanca and J. Sahadeo, eds., Everyday Life in Central Asia, Past and Present. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

2004  Roberts, S. "Toasting the nation: Negotiating stateless nationalism in transnational ritual space," The Journal of Ritual Studies 8(2): 86-105.

1998  Roberts, S. "Negotiating locality, Islam, and national culture in a changing borderland: The revival of the mashrap ritual among young Uyghur men in the Ili Valley," Central Asian Survey 17(4): 673-700.

Internet and Audiovisual Resources

2009  Roberts, S. "The Guantanamo Uyghurs, the Eastern Turkestan Islamic movement, and the future of the global war on terror." The Roberts Report on Central Asia and Kazakhstan. Posted May 27.

1996  Roberts, S. Waiting for Uighurstan. Video (54 minutes). Los Angeles: Center for Visual Anthropology, University of Southern California.

Classes Taught

IAff 6121: Cornerstone Seminar: International Development Studies
IAff 6138: Topics: Indigenous Peoples and Development
IAff 6139: International Development Studies Capstone Seminar


Last updated April 18, 2017