Deborah A. Thomas
Deborah A. Thomas is the R. Jean Brownlee Professor of Anthropology, and the Director of the Center for Experimental Ethnography at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also a Research Associate with the Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre at the University of Johannesburg. Her recent book, Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation: Sovereignty, Witnessing, Repair, was awarded the Gordon K. and Sybil Lewis Book Award from the Caribbean Studies Association in 2021, the Senior Book Prize from the American Ethnological Society in 2020, and was also the runner-up for the Gregory Bateson Prize in the same year. She is also the author of Exceptional Violence: Embodied Citizenship in Transnational Jamaica (2011), and Modern Blackness: Nationalism, Globalization, and The Politics of Culture in Jamaica (2004), and is co-editor of the volume Globalization and Race (2006).
Thomas co-directed and co-produced the documentary films Bad Friday, and Four Days in May, and she is the co-curator of a multi-media installation titled Bearing Witness: Four Days in West Kingston, which opened at the Penn Museum in November 2017. From 2016-2020, Thomas was the Editor-in-Chief of American Anthropologist, the flagship journal of the American Anthropological Association.
Prior to Thomas’s life as an academic, she was a professional dancer with the New York-based Urban Bush Women.