About Mark Auslander

  • Visiting faculty member in Anthropology, UMass Amherst and Boston University
  • Visiting faculty member in Art History, Boston University
  • Visiting faculty member in Art History, Emerson College
  • Research Scholar, Department of Anthropology, Brandeis University

Museums and Professional Service:

  • Consultant, Natural History Museum (2020-present)
  • Director of the Michigan State University Museum, MSU’s museum of science and culture. (2017-20)
  • Director of the Museum of Culture and Environment at Central Washington University,; directed academic program in Museum Studies (2011-17)
  • Director, interdisciplinary graduate program in Cultural Production, Brandeis University (2008-11)
  • Senior Fellow, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art (2011)


  • 2020. American Alliance of Museums Excellence in Exhibitions Award for Community Empowerment. Project director: “Finding our Voice Sister Survivors Speak.”
  • Peninsular Award for Community-Engaged Exhiition (Finding our Voice)
  • 2019 Teal Ribbon award for the exhibition, ‘Finding our Voices; Sister Survivors Speak. Sexual Violence Program annual award. Michigan State University.
  • 2013. EMPIRE (African American student organization) Award for Administrator of the Year (2012-13). Central Washington University.
  • 2012. Delmos Jones and Jagna Sharff Memorial Book Prize for the Critical Study of North America (Society for the Anthropology of North America) Awarded for the leading critical anthropological study of North America published in 2010 and 2011, for the book, “The Accidental Slaveowner: Revisiting a Myth of Race and Finding an American Family.”
  • 2012. Victor Turner Ethnographic Writing Prize (Second book award) for The Accidental Slaveowner: Revisitng a Myth of Race and Finding an American Family.” (Society for Humanistic Anthropology
  • 2009. Waltham Partnership for Youth/Waltham Family School, Community Se rvice Award (for university-community partnerships with new immigrant women)
  • 2002. University Annual Crystal Apple Award for Undergraduate Seminar Teaching, Emory University
  • 2001. Annual Mizell Award for Excellence in Teaching, Oxford College, Emory University

Curatorial: exhibition topics include slavery, liberation, and memory in university settings; the largest crisis of sexual violence in the history of American higher eduacation; contemporary African and Diaspora art , heroin and homelessness; migration and art; the material culture of human rights struggles; science and environment. .


  • .community conservation programs in Africa. Biodisversity Support Program, World Wildlife Fund
  • Museum projects on African and African American art and material culture
  • Core content development team, “African Voices,” National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian
  • site accreditation reviewer, American Allianceof Museums

Scholarship: (Ph.D in Anthropology, University of Chicago, 1997.) A sociocultural and historical anthropologist, Mark Auslander works at the intersection of ritual practice, aesthetics, environmental transformation, kinship, and political consciousness in sub-saharan Africa and the African Diaspora. As an Africanist, he has published on such topics as grassroots debates over green revolution technologies, land tenure transformations and the etiology of HIV/AIDS, modern mass witch-cleansing movements, the revitalization of precolonial political ceremonies, and creative re-readings of tradition-based African art by contemporary multimedia artists.

Dr. Auslander’s Africanist work on kinship, aesthetics, place-making, and political cosmology informs his scholarship on race and cultural politics in the African Diaspora and North America. His award winning book, The Accidental Slaveowner: Revisiting a Myth of Race and Finding an American Family (University of Georgia Press, 2011) re-reads American racial politics under slavery and post-slavery through structuralist approaches to mythology and kinship.

Teaching: With his students, Dr. Auslander has led numerous community engaged/service learning courses, partnering with vulnerable communities in developing collaborative exhibitions, documentary projects, and social justice initiatives, such as restoring and documenting historically African American cemeteries; collaboratively curating art exhibitions with African refugee communities; and co-curating poetry performances with incarcerated youth in correctional facilities.

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