Collegiate Assistant Professor, Social Sciences
Core: Self, Culture and Society
Co-Chair, Society of Fellows
Meghanne Barker is a linguistic anthropologist whose research examines intersections of play, performance, materiality, and childhood in post-Soviet Kazakhstan. Barker received her PhD in 2017 from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She is currently developing this research into two book projects. First, an ethnographic monograph, Animating Childhood in Almaty, shows the role of everyday enactments of ideal childhood, family, and home for preschool-aged children growing up in a temporary, state-run home. It examines how children perform for adults, and how adults animate objects, like puppets, for children, arguing that the fairy tale worlds created for child and adult audiences play a key role in ideologies of futurity in contemporary Kazakhstan. In her second book project, Puppets of the State, Barker expands her historical investigation of the vast network of Soviet-era, state-run puppet theaters and their contemporary legacy, examining puppets’ roles in socializing young citizens and in international campaigns of soft power through tours and festivals. For her next project, Building New Film Cities After Yugoslavia, Barker will study filmmaking and film viewing in the former Yugoslavia as a unique site of cross-border collaboration in Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, which raises questions of understanding past conflict and future visions of the region. Barker has presented her work at conferences in the US and abroad, has published her research in the Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford, and is guest editing an upcoming special issue for Semiotic Review.