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Dr. Susan Brownell

susanProfessor of Anthropology

Phone: 314-516-6451

Education: Dr. Susan Brownell received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1990.  She joined the department in Fall, 1994.

Research and Teaching: Dr. Brownell is an internationally recognized expert on Chinese sports.  She has done fieldwork in China, primarily in Beijing.  Her research interests are sports and body culture.  In 2007-08 she was a Fulbright Senior Researcher at the Beijing Sport University, doing research on the Beijing Olympic Games.  At UMSL, she teaches Introduction to Cultural Anthropology; Ideas and Explanations in Anthropology; Senior Seminar; History, Theory and Practice of Anthropology; The Body in Culture; and Cultures of East Asia.

Personal History: Dr. Brownell grew up in Virginia.  She traces her interest in China back to the stories told by her grandmother, whose father was governor of Mississippi, a civil rights proponent, and lawyer for the Mississippi Chinese Association in the 1910s and 20s.  Her love of anthropology began as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, where she took Victor Turner's famous seminar, in which the participants reenacted different rituals from around the world.

She was also a nationally-ranked track and field athlete in the U.S. before she joined the track team at Beijing University in 1985-86 while she was there for a year of Chinese language studies.  She represented Beijing in the 1986 Chinese National College Games and set a national record in the heptathlon.  In 1987-88 she returned to the Beijing Sport University for a year of dissertation research.

She has taught at Middlebury College, the University of Washington, and Yale University.

Professional Activities: Dr. Brownell is the author of Training the Body for China: Sports in the Moral Order of the People's Republic (University of Chicago Press, 1995). This is the first book on Chinese sports based on fieldwork in China by a Westerner.  She is also the author of Beijing’s Games: What the Olympics Mean to China (Rowman and Littlefield, 2008).

She is co-editor, with Jeffrey N.Wasserstrom, of Chinese Femininities/Chinese Masculinities: A Reader (University of California Press, 2002): and editor of The 1904 Anthropology Days and Olympic Games: Race, Sport, and American Imperialism (University of Nebraska Press, forthcoming 2008).