Jane Desmond

 Jane Desmond

Contact Information

Department of Anthropology
607 S Mathews Ave.
M/C 148
Urbana, IL 61801

Office Hours

  • varies by semester. check current listing
View CV

Additional Campus Affiliations


Jane Desmond is a Professor in Anthropology and Gender and Women's Studies, and Co-founder and current Director of the International Forum for U.S. Studies, a center for the Transnational Study of the United States.  She also holds appointments in the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory, the Center for Global Studies,  and in the College of Veterinary Medicine. 

Her primary areas of interest focus of issues of embodiment, display, and social identity, as well as the transnational dimensions of U.S. Studies. Her areas of expertise include performance studies, critical theory, visual culture (including museum studies and tourism studies), the critical analysis of the U.S. in global perspectives, and, most recently, the political economy of human/animal relations. She has previously worked as a professional modern dancer and choreographer, and in film, video, and the academy.  She is the Founding Resident director of the international Summer Institute in Animal Studies at UIUC, and of the _Animal LIves_ Book Series at the University of Chicago Press.  In addition to academic publications, she has written for a number of public publications such as CNN.com, The Washington Post.com, and the Huffington Post, and her creative work has appeared on PBS and at numerous film festivals.

Research Interests

  • Performativity and Performance, Embodiment and Identity, Human-Animal relations, Science and Society, Tourism and museums


  • 1993: Ph.D., Yale University, American Studies
  • 1991, M.Phil., Yale University, American Studies
  • 1973: B.A., Brown University, Music and Dance
  • 1975: M.F.A., Sarah Lawrence College

Distinctions / Awards

  • University of Edinburgh Center for Advanced Study Fellowship Appointment spring 2019
  • UIUC Arnold O. Beckman Award for Research, 2018
  • 2016 UIUC Center for Advanced Study tenured faculty Fellowship and Associate Appointment
  • 2010-2011 Appointment as annual Faculty Associate-in-Residence: UIUC Center for Advanced Studies, leading the initiative: “Knowing Animals: Histories, Strategies and Futures in Human-Animal Relations”
  • 2009-2010 Humanities Research Institute Faculty Scholar at UIUC
  • “Eminent World Scholar” appointment, visiting professor, Beijing Foreign Studies University, May, 2009, American Studies Program
  • 2007-2011 President, International American Studies Association


  • Hewlitt Foundation
  • The Ford Foundation
  • The Rockefeller Foundation


  • Dance in America
  • Museums and the Politics of Representation
  • Senior Seminar in Gender and Women's Studies
  • Performing America Queerly
  • The Arts in American Culture
  • Gender on Stage and Off
  • The Culture of Nature
  • Graduate Courses
  • Performance Studies
  • The Craft of Research
  • The Arts, Identity and Cultural Politics
  • Theory and Practice in American Studies
  • Crossing Borders: Foreign Scholarship on the U.S.
  • Knowing Animals: Histories, Strategies and Frontiers in Human/Animal Relations
  • Sustainability and Animals
  • Grand Challenges First Year Seminar: Humans and Animals: Friends or Food?
  • Performing "America": Expressive Practics and Everyday LIves
  • Sustainability, Humans and Animals

Selected Publications

Audio or Visual Publications

Delving into Dance Interview with Dr. Jane Desmond Delving into Dance, UK. 2018. delving into dance podcast interview fall 2018.

Book Contributions

Desmond, Jane "The Sounds of Silence: commissions, Ommisions and Particularity in the Anthropology of the United States America Observed: On an International Anthropology of the United States "The Sounds of Silence: commissions, Ommisions and Particularity in the Anthropology of the United States Berghahn 2017.
Desmond, Jane C Can Animals Make Art?: Popular and Scientific Discourses About Expressivity and Cognition in Primates Experiencing Animals: Encounters Between Animals and Human Minds edited by J. Smith, edited by R. Mitchell. Can Animals Make Art?: Popular and Scientific Discourses About Expressivity and Cognition in Primates Edited by J. Smith, Edited by R. Mitchell, Columbia University Press 2012.
Desmond, Jane C Animal Deaths and the Written Record of History: The Politics of Pet Obituaries Making Animal Meaning Animal Deaths and the Written Record of History: The Politics of Pet Obituaries Michigan State University Press 2012, p. 99-111.

Edited Books

Desmond, Jane, and Virginia Dominguez Global Perspectives on the United States: Pro-Americanism, Anti-Americanism, and the Discourses Between University of Illinois Press 2017.
Desmond, Jane C Dancing Desires: Choreographing Sexuality on and off the Stage Madison University of Madison Wisconsin Press 2001.
Desmond, Jane C Meaning in Motion: New Cultural Studies of Dance Duke University Press 1997.


Displaying Death and Animating Life: Human-Animal Relations in Art, Science, and Everyday Life Chicago University of Chicago Press 2016.
Desmond, Jane C Staging Tourism: Bodies on Display from Waikiki to Sea World Chicago University of Chicago Press 1999.

Special Issues of a Journal

Desmond, Jane "America" in India: Comparative American Studies (UK) Comparative American Studies 2014.
Looking North: Latin American Perspectives on the U.S. in Global Perspective Journal of the Brazilian Association for American Studies 2010.
Legacies of 1898: Revisiting U.S. Colonialisms Comparative American Studies: An International Journal 2007.

Journal Articles

Desmond, Jane C Ivy Halls and Ivy Walls: The Continuing Legacy of the Ivy League American Studies of Korea, American Studies Institute, Seoul National University 34 1 2011, p. 203-231.
Desmond, Jane C Towards a Prismatic 'American Studies Safundi: Journal of South African and American Studies 2007.
Desmond, Jane C Transnational American Studies: Limits to Collaboration American Studies International 2003.
Desmond, Jane C Mapping American Studies Across National Boundaries Hungarian Journal of American Studies 2002.
Desmond, Jane C Picturing Hawai'i: The 'Ideal' Native and the Origins of Tourism (1880-1915). Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique 7 2 1999.
Desmond, Jane, and Jane C. Desmond Towards a Political Economy of American Studies: Reports from an Experiment in Process Through the Looking Glass: American Studies in Transcultural Perspective, European Contributions to American Studies 40 1999.