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Graduate Program in Communication & Culture

Faculty Profiles

Kenneth Little

Media and Culture

University   York University
E-Mail Address
Phone Number   (416) 736-2100, ext. 22327
Office Location   Vari Hall, 2044
Office Hours   TBA


BA (UVic); MA, (McMaster); PhD (Virginia)


Professor Little is an Associate Professor of Anthropology whose current research focuses on the analysis of society as spectacle, visual cultures, and popular cultural performance in both Euro-American and postcolonial societies. He has an abiding interest in European circus. Currently, he is working on an ethnographic analysis of three circus families focusing on the romantic narratives and the politics and poetics of nostalgia that frame their work and lives. Professor Little has also conducted ethnographic research on tourist safaris in Kenya as spectacle productions, analyzing the visual politics of tourist experience and he is now conducting research on the rise of the tourist state in Belize.

The Belize research turns its attention to how tourism becomes a significant modality through which transnational, late-modern, everyday Belizian life is organized and how tourist encounters open imaginative spaces that stimulate new identity productions, highlight new aspects of social relations and interactions with nature, ethnicity, and Maya pre-history that actively ensure new "fantasies of becoming." I am interested in new ways of thinking through flows, processes, and interconnections in touristic encounters, productions and narratives as a means of tracking the enactments of citizenship under the pressures of local and global transformations of public cultures.

Related to all my interests are my concerns with questions of representation and interpretation opened up by post-structural approaches to socio-cultural analysis and an abiding interested in ethnographic writing as a performative process. I am also committed to keeping the crucial importance of politcal/historical/cultural reflection in the forefront of my research, teaching, and ethnographic practice.

Research Interests

Analysis of society as spectacle, visual culture, and popular cultural performance in both Euro-North American and post-colonial cultures; circus and the politics and poetics of spectacle.

Selected Publications

2003 "Pitu's Doubt: Entr¨¦e Clown Self-fashioning in the Circus Tradition" In Joel Schechter, ed., Popular Theatre: A Sourcebook. pp. 138-149. London and New York: Routlegde.

1996 "Popular Culture". In D. Levinson & M. Ember (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology. Human Relations Areas Files, Volume 3. Lakeville CT: American Reference Publishing, pp. 984-988.

1994 "Reading Archaos: Transgression, Surveillance, and the Spaces of Power in Popular Entertainment". In J. Marriott & I. Neuman (eds.), Sensoria from Censorium 2. Mangagin Books, pp.1-8.

1993 "Masochism, Spectacle, and the 'Broken Mirror' Clown Entr¨¦e: A Note on the Anthropology of Performance in Postmodern Culture". Cultural Anthropology (1): 117-129.

1991 "On Safari: The Visual Politics of a Tour Representation." In David Howes, ed., The Varieties of Sensory Experience: A Sourcebook in the Anthropology of the Senses. Pp. 149-163. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

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Harold [Innis] taught us how to use the bias of culture and communication as an instrument of research. By directing attention to the bias, or distorting power of the dominant imagery and technology of any culture, he showed us how to understand cultures.
~ Marshall McLuhan