Stephen C. Leavitt
Stephen Leavitt, on leave, (B.A., Swarthmore and Ph.D., University of California at San Diego) is a psychological anthropologist who has written on religious movements, family relations, sexuality, adolescence, and responses to bereavement. He and his wife Karen Brison supervise a term abroad in Fiji, where students learn the fundamentals of anthropological field work while living independently with families in different villages. Leavitt's research in Fiji involves self definition in the age of postcolonial development.
Prof. Leavitt did his doctoral field research in 1984-1986 among the Bumbita Arapesh people of the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea. His primary research looked at how a contemporary religious revival movement was informed both by local colonial history and by continued emotional conflicts in family relationships.
Steve Leavitt is on extended leave from the department while serving as Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students. He may be reached at 518-388-6116 or by email.
Adolescence in Pacific Island Societies
edited by Gilbert Herdt and Stephen C. Leavitt, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998.
How do adolescents in greatly divergent societies see and experience the world? As the first comparative study of adolescence in the Pacific Islands, this book takes an anthropological approach to understanding adolescence in this rapidly changing area. The contributors explore coming-of-age in the tradition of Margaret Mead: the biological basis of teenage rebellion, the role of the adolescent in Pacific Island cultures, and teenagers' influence as agents of change.
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Coping with Bereavement: Long-Term Perspectives on Grief and Mourning
edited by Stephen Leavitt and Karen Brison, special issue of Ethos, vol.23, no.4, American Anthropological Association, 1995
The cross-cultural study of mourning offers promising ground for exploring the relationship between culture and emotional experience. Researchers have documented the profound feelings of grief, anger, and fear that accompany losses everywhere, suggesting that there is a "core grieving process" that occurs across cultures. At the same time there is considerable evidence that cultural beliefs that influence the meaning of death, and funerary practices that govern the expression of emotion can radically alter people's emotional reaction to bereavement.
The articles in this issue address the relationship between cultural beliefs and the experience of mourning in cultures as diverse as the Yucatan Maya of Mexico, the Toraja of Sulawesi, Indonesia, the Midwestern United States, and the Bumbita Arapesh and Kwanga of Papua New Guinea.
2011 - Stories form Childhood: Windows on Experience or Cultural Meta-narratives? Evidence from Papua New Guinea. In Echoes of the Tambaran. Edited by David Lipset and Paul Roscoe. Canberra, Australia: Australian National University Press. Pp. 167-182.
2007 - Positioned Meanings in Personal Narratives In Experiencing New Worlds. Edited by Jurg Wassmann and Katharina Stockhaus. New York: Berghahn Books. Pp. 78-94.
2005 - "We Are Not Straight": Bumbita Arapesh Strategies for Self-Reflection in the Face of Images of Western Superiority. In The Making of Global and Local Modernities in Melanesia. Edited by Joel Robbins and Holly Wardlow. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing. Pp. 73-84.
2004 - From "Cult" to Religious Conviction: The Case for Making Cargo Personal. In Cargo, Cult, and Culture Critique. Edited by Holger Jebens. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai'i Press. Pp. 170-86.
2003 - Chiefly Politics in the First Reactions in Rakiraki to the May 2000 Coup in Fiji. Pacific Studies 25(4):151-172.
2001 - The Psychology of Consensus in a Papua New Guinea Christian Revival Movement. In The Psychology of Cultural Experience. Edited by Carmella C. Moore and Holly F. Mathews. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pp. 151-172.
2000 - The Apotheosis of White Men?: A Reexamination of Beliefs about Europeans as Ancestral Spirits. Oceania 70(4):304-316.
1997 - Cargo Beliefs and Religious Experience. In Conformity and Conflict, 9th ed. Edited by James Spradley and David W. McCurdy, Addison Wesley Longman, pp. 337-346.
1995 - Political Domination and the Absent Oppressor: Images of Europeans in Bumbita Arapesh Narratives. Ethnology 34(3):177-89.
1995 - Suppressed Meanings in Narratives about Suffering: A Case from Papua New Guinea. Anthropology and Humanism 20(2):133-152.
1995 - Seeking Gifts from the Dead: Long-Term Mourning in a Bumbita Arapesh Cargo Narrative. Ethos 23(4):453-473.
1995 - Coping With Bereavement: Long Term Perspectives on Grief and Mourning. (with Karen Brison) Ethos 23(4):84-90.
1991 - Sexual Ideology and Experience in a Papua New Guinea Society.Social Science and Medicine 33(8):897-907.