Greg Urban Arthur Hobson Quinn Professor of Anthropology
Updated: 2010
  Laws of "cultural motion" — Through existing and experimental data, I am examining the motion of culture through the lens of three laws or axioms.  The first paper in a planned series has already been published (American Anthropologist 12(1): 122-139, 2010).  A second paper, currently under review, makes a case for considering the laws of supply and demand in classical economics as special cases of the laws of cultural motion.  A third that views social relations through the laws of cultural motion is in preparation.  View More
  Comparative constitutional discourse — The goal of this project is to discover the force or forces that have impelled the spread of modern national constitutions over the past two hundred plus years.  I am investigating this phenomenon through a comparative study of the wording in the present and past constitutions of the 192 countries currently recognized by the United Nations. Three papers leading up to this project have already been published in 2008: "The Circulation of Secularism," "Freedom and Culture," and "Citizenship as a Mode of Belonging by Choice."  Two papers that are direct outgrowths of the project have already been drafted and presented in different venues but not yet submitted: "A Sentence That Shaped the Modern World" and "The Recognition of Indigenous Identity."  I envision a book publication emerging from the project.  At the same time, I have begun to ethnographically explore the attitudes people have towards their constitutions.  The goal of this latter ethnographic work is an interactive website to which citizens can contribute.  View More
  Ethnographic study of business corporations — This ongoing project primarily involves research with American and European corporations. The work involves conversations with corporate executives, as well as problem-focused research conducted with specific corporations. A related activity is the 2011-12 year-long program on "Corporations and Citizenship," part of the Penn Program on Democracy, Citizenship, and Constitutionalism. View More
  South American Indian research — The original focus of my anthropological field research was Amerindian Brazil, where I was concerned with language, discourse, myth, ritual, and social life more generally. While I no longer maintain an active field research project with Native South American communities, I continue to have interest in ongoing projects being carried out by others.  View More

Greg Urban, Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, 325 University Museum, 3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19104  |  Phone: 215.898.0895  |  Email: