Stephen C. Leavitt

Stephen C. Leavitt

Job Title
Professor of Anthropology
Lamont 107
Department/Program: Anthropology

Stephen Leavitt, (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. Professor 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. 

He has helped his wife, Karen Brison, with her term abroad in Fiji, where students learn the fundamentals of anthropological field work while living independently with different families. Leavitt’s research in Fiji involves self-definition in the age of postcolonial development. More recently, he has collaborated with Philip Bock on the 3rd edition of Bock's psychological anthropology textbook Rethinking Psychological Anthropology (2019).

From 2003 to 2019 Professor Leavitt served in Union's administration as the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.



2019    Rethinking Psychological Anthropology, 3rd edition. Co-authored with Philip Bock. Waveland Press.



1998    Adolescence in Pacific Island Societies. Co-edited with Gilbert H. Herdt. University of Pittsburgh Press.

1995    Special Issue on Coping with Bereavement, Ethos 23(4).  Co-edited with Karen Brison.



2007    Positioned Meanings in Personal Narratives In Experiencing New Worlds. Edited by Jurg Wassmann and Katharina Stockhaus. New York: Berghahn Books. Pp. 78-94.

2004    From "Cult" to Religious Conviction. In Cargo, Cult, and Cultural Critique.  Holger Jebens, ed.  University of Hawai'i Press.

2001    The Psychology of Consensus in a Papua New Guinea Christian Revival Movement. In The Psychology of Cultural Experience. Holly Matthews and Carmella Moore, eds. Cambridge University Press.

2000    The Apotheosis of White Men?: A Reexamination of Beliefs about Europeans as Ancestral Spirits. Oceania 70(4):304-316.

1998    The Bikhet Mystique:  Masculine Identity and Patterns of Rebellion among Bumbita Adolescent Males.  In Adolescence in Pacific Island Societies. Gilbert H. Herdt and Stephen C. Leavitt, eds. University of Pittsburgh Press.

1995    Suppressed Meanings in Narratives about Suffering:  A Case from Papua New Guinea.  Anthropology and Humanism, 1995, 20(2):1-20.

1995    Coping with Bereavement:  Long-Term Perspectives on Grief and Mourning. Co-authored with Karen Brison. Ethos 23:395-400.

1995    Seeking Gifts from the Dead:  Long-Term Mourning in a Bumbita Arapesh Cargo Narrative. Ethos 23:453-473.

1995    Political Domination and the Absent Oppressor:  Images of Europeans in Bumbita Arapesh Narratives. Ethnology 34(3):177-189.

1991    Sexual Ideology and Experience in a Papua New Guinea Society. Social Science and Medicine 33:897-907.

Academic Credentials

Ph.D., University of California at San Diego; M.A., University of California at San Diego; B.A., Swarthmore College