LAMBEK, MICHAEL Contact Areas of Interest

Lambek, Michael
Canada Research Chair, Social Sciences
Department of Social Sciences, UTSC
t: 416-287-7312
  • Conceptualization of ‘religion,’
  • Spirit possession
  • Mythopraxis
  • Islam in the Western Indian Ocean
  • Medico-religious heterodoxy in Switzerland
  • Ordinary ethics


BA (McGill) MA, PhD (Michigan), FRSC
Canada Research Chair, Social Sciences
Department of Social Sciences, UTSC
Department of Anthropology

Michael Lambek works in the anthropology of religion with special interests in the conceptualization of ‘religion,’ spirit possession, mythopraxis, and Islam in the Western Indian Ocean; medico-religious heterodoxy in Switzerland; and ordinary ethics. He holds the Canada Research Chair in the Anthropology of Ethical Life and is currently chair of the new undergraduate Department of Anthropology at UTSC.  He is currently co-editing (with Janice Boddy) The Companion to the Anthropology of Religion.

Books include Ordinary Ethics: Anthropology, Language, and Action (ed. 2010); A Reader in the Anthropology of Religion (2nd ed. 2008); Illness and Irony (edited with Paul Antze, 2003); The Weight of the Past: Living with History in Mahajanga, Madagascar (2002); Ecology and the Sacred (edited with Ellen Messer, 2001); Tense Past (edited with Paul Antze, 1996); Knowledge and Practice in Mayotte: Local Discourses of Islam, Sorcery and Spirit Possession (1993); and Human Spirits (1981).

Primary Teaching

I am currently chairing the thesis writing seminar in the graduate department of anthropology and sometimes teach Critical Issues in Ethnography.

Selected Publications

“Exotic Ordinary.” Harvard Divinity Bulletin (in press)

“Is religion free? The Immanent Frame: Secularism, Religion, and the Public Sphere. “ (2012)

“Religion and Morality” in Didier Fassin, ed.  A Companion to Moral Anthropology (2012)

Towards an Ethics of the Act. In Lambek, ed. Ordinary Ethics: Anthropology, Language, and Action (2010)

Terror’s Wake: Trauma and Its Subjects. Afterword to Kristen Brown Golden and Bettina Bergo, Eds The Trauma Controversy: Philosophical and Interdisciplinary Dialogues (2009)

“Provincializing God?” in Hent de Vries, ed. Religion: Beyond a Concept (2008)

“Value and Virtue” Anthropological Theory 8(2): 133-57 (2008)

“Sacrifice and the Problem of Beginning” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 13(1):19-38 (2007)

“On Catching Up with Oneself: Learning to Know that One Means What One Does” in David Berliner and Ramon Sarró, eds. Learning Religion (2007)

“Anthropology and Religion” in Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science, Philip Clayton, ed. (2006).

<h3″>Other Information

Member, American Society for the Study of Religion (2011)

Keynote lecture, conference on Researching Religion: Methodological Debates in Anthropology and the Study of Religion, Aarhus University (2011)