Michael Woost

Areas of Interest
Woost has been doing research in Sri Lanka since 1983. At that time he was a graduate student participating in a team research project on socio-economic development funded by Fulbright and USAID. He returned to Sri Lanka in 1985 with a Social Science Research Council Dissertation Fellowship and a Fulbright-Hays Dissertation Fellowship. He spent 19 months examining the ideological connections between development and Sinhala Buddhist nationalism as they appeared in the political life of a small rural village in southeastern Sri Lanka.

Woost returned to Sri Lanka in 1992 as a Social Science Research Council Post-Doctoral Fellow to document some of the ways that development NGOs put ideas of participatory development into practice. He followed that study with further field research in 1995, 1997, 1999, and 2000. He returned to Sri Lanka in 2000-01 with a research grant from the National Science Foundation to examine changes in land use and the practice of gem mining in a remote area of southeastern Sri Lanka. Woost continues to return to Sri Lanka; his current research traces connections between gem mining, ideas of development, and the Sri Lankan state.

B.S. in Anthropology, Illinois State University
M.A. in Anthropology, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville
Ph.D. in Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin 

After earning the Ph.D., Woost taught at the Department of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin (1990-91) and the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka (1992). He also taught anthropology at Southwest Texas State University.  His dissertation is titled "Constructing a Nation of Villages: Development and Community on the Sinhalese Frontier."

Selected Courses
Peoples and Cultures of South Asia
Anthropology of Resistance and Rebellion
Anthropology of Violence and State Terror
Ethnographic Methods
Classics of Anthropological Thought
Capstone in Anthropological Theory
(see Hartwick Anthropology Courses for current offerings)

Economy, Culture, and Civil War in Sri LankaSelected Publications - Books

2004. Economy, Culture and Civil War in Sri Lanka, coedited with Deborah Winslow.  Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Selected Publications - Articles and Chapters

2002. “The ‘Common Sense’ of Development and the Struggle for ‘Participatory Development’ Sri Lanka.” In Development Beyond the 21st Century: A Critical Discussion in Economic Anthropology. Monographs in Economic Anthropology, No. 19. Jeffrey H. Cohen and Norbert Dannhaeuser, eds. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press.

1999. “From Shifting Cultivation to Shifting Development in Rural Sri Lanka.” Journal of the Anthropology of Work. September.

1997. "Alternative Vocabularies of Development?--'Community' and 'Participation' in Development Discourse in Sri Lanka." In Discourses of Development, R. Grillo and R.L. Stirrat, eds., pp. 229-253. London: Berg.

1994. "Developing a Nation of Villages: Rural Community as State Formation in Sri Lanka." Critique of Anthropology 14(1):77-95.

1993. "Nationalizing the Local Past in Sri Lanka: Histories of Nation and Development in a Sinhalese Village." American Ethnologist 20(3):502-521.

Contact Information:
Yager Hall, 3rd floor
607-431-4860 (voice)
E-mail: woostm@hartwick.edu