Marilyn Silverman
Department of
Profile Research Grants Publications Courses


Marilyn Silverman

Professor, Ph.D. McGill, 1973

2042 Vari Hall


Throughout my career, my research and teaching interests in social anthropology have been concerned with inequality: how it is produced and reproduced in both material and ideological ways.  My research over the years has taken me to three different field sites.  I did my MA and PhD field work in Guyana.  I then carried out research in coastal Ecuador and, finally and most recently, I have been working in Ireland.  In each of these sites, my research privileged a different paradigm.  In Guyana, I worked with “transactionalism,” investigating the nature of political factionalism in an East Indian rice-farming village and how it related to changes in the availability of economic resources and in political mobilisation by nationalist political parties.  In Ecuador, I worked mainly with a “political economy” paradigm, exploring patterns of class formation among banana producers, and workers, on the south-western coast.  In Ireland, alongside a continuing interest in politics and political economy, I became an “historical anthropologist,” working with data from both archives and participant observation in order to explore the social and economic history of a small town (shopkeepers and labourers) and its rural hinterland (farmers).

When asked about my areas of expertise as they relate to my research and teaching interests, I tend to say the following.  I am interested in rural, agrarian societies cross-culturally, but especially in the Caribbean, Latin America and western Europe.  I am concerned with what has now become known as post-colonialism – with historical processes through time, particularly as these relate to political engagement and economic relations.  I am concerned with class experience, agency and ideologies, that is, with hegemonic processes.  I consider these interests to be located in political, legal and economic anthropology and in the anthropology of work and historical ethnography. As part of these intellectual interests, my career at York has seen me closely involved in our faculty union and in activities associated with political action and education.  It has also seen me involved in local historical work in Ireland.

born Montréal, 1945

Academic / Professional Qualifications:

Ph.D., 1973, McGill University (Anthropology)

M.A., 1967, McGill University (Anthropology)

B.A.(Honours), 1966, McGill University (Joint Anthropology/Sociology)

Positions held:

1996-present Full Professor, Department of Anthropology, York University

1976-96         Associate Professor (Tenured), Department of Anthropology, York University

1975-78         Co-ordinator, Latin American and Caribbean Studies Programme, York University

1975-76         Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, York University

1973-75         Assistant Professor, Deptartment of Sociology and Anthropology, York University

1971-73         Lecturer, Deptartment of Sociology and Anthropology, York University

Honours and Awards:

2008 Henrietta Harvey Distinguished Lectureship, Memorial University of Newfoundland, March 2008

2002 William A. Douglass Book Prize in Europeanist Anthropology.  Society for the Anthropology of Europe (SAE), American Anthropological Association (AAA) for An Irish Working Class: Explorations in Political Economy and Hegemony (2001), Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 
2002-03 Faculty of Arts Fellowship, York University

1983-84 Faculty of Arts Fellowship, York University

1969-71 Canada Council Doctoral Fellowship

1968-69 Steinberg Fellowship

1967-68 Woodrow Wilson Special Fund Award

1966-67 Quebec Provincial Scholar

1965-66 McGill University Scholar




Anthropology Home York University Admissions Office of the Registrar Library