Dr. Leo Coleman is an associate professor and current chair of the Department of Anthropology. He teaches both undergraduate and MA-level seminars on the cultures of science and technology, energy-intensive forms of life, and law and ethnographic comparison.
Dr. Coleman is a political and legal anthropologist, a subfield of cultural anthropology that focuses on the making and unmaking of social divisions, the distribution of power, and the plural scales of value that guide decisions. He is currently pursuing two book projects: a comparative historical anthropology of legalism and constitutionalism as ethical orientations to politics, with a special ethnographic focus on Scotland and India, and a book about the relation between ideas of energy and evaluation in social thought, or the force of judgment. His earlier book, A Moral Technology: Electrification as Political Ritual in New Delhi (Cornell University Press, 2017), is a historical and ethnographic study of electrification in India's capital city; it explores how technological installations and the meanings they were granted helped organize and transform urban political life across Delhi's twentieth-century history. Dr. Coleman has published a wide array of articles and essays about critical infrastructure studies in Asia, power and knowledge in the British Empire, the corporation and American constitutional thought, and urban solitude. He has also edited a collection of ethnographic writing about cross-cultural dining and sharing food, titled Food: Ethnographic Encounters (Berg/Bloomsbury, 2011). Finally, he maintains an active interest in the disciplinary history of anthropology, as a problematic project of ethical understanding across societies that in various ways influenced twentieth-century international politics, from empire to decolonization to neoliberal development, and occasionally teaches the department's core course in the History of Anthropological Theory.