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Eric Gable - University of Mary Washington. Fredericksburg, VA, US

Eric Gable

Professor of Sociology and Anthropology | University of Mary Washington

Fredericksburg, VA, UNITED STATES

Dr. Gable is an expert on museum studies, heritage, and the religion and politics of West Africa and of Outer Island Indonesia.



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Eric Gable, Professor of Anthropology, earned a Ph.D. (1990) in anthropology from the University of Virginia and a B.A. (1978) in anthropology from the University of California at San Diego. Dr. Gable has conducted intensive field research in Guinea-Bissau, in Sulawesi, Indonesia, in Colonial Williamsburg, and at Monticello.

He is author of Anthropology and Egalitarianism (2011) and co-author of The New History in an Old Museum: Creating the Past at Colonial Williamsburg (1997). His articles have been published in numerous journals, including American Anthropology, Journal of American History, American Ethnologist, and Cultural Anthropology. Dr. Gable is book review editor for American Ethnologist, managing editor of Museum and Society, and a past member of the editorial board of Cultural Anthropology. Dr. Gable is an expert on museum studies, heritage, and on the religion and politics of West Africa and of Outer Island Indonesia.

Areas of Expertise (4)


Museum Studies


Religion and Politics of West Africa and Outer Island Indonesia

Affiliations (2)

  • American Ethnologist (Journal) : Book Review Editor
  • Museum and Society (Journal) : Managing Editor

Media Appearances (4)

Why Separating Fact From Fiction Is Critical In Teaching US Slavery

Omaha Daily Record  online


Of all the debate over teaching U.S. slavery, it is one sentence of Florida’s revised academic standards that has provoked particular ire: “Instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

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Anthropology Professor Wins Faculty Achievement Award

Fredericksburg Today  online


Eric Gable, University of Mary Washington professor of anthropology, was named the recipient of the 2018 Waple Faculty Professional Achievement Award at a general faculty meeting on Wednesday, April 25.

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Griot Institute to host series on Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson

Bucknell University  online


"What Heritage Does and Does Not Do to Identity: The Case of Hemings and Jefferson," anthropologist Eric Gable, University of Mary Washington, 7 p.m., Forum, Elaine Langone Center. Gable will use material from his fieldwork in Indonesia, West Africa and Monticello, the historic home of Thomas Jefferson. This lecture is co-sponsored by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Griot Institute for Africana Studies...

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West Africa: Hustling is Not Stealing: Stories of an African Bar Girl

AllAfrica  online


It is hard to decide what to call this remarkable book, the first of two volumes. It is for the most part a collection of stories told by a West African bar girl,"Hawa," to John Chernoff in the mid 1970s. She tells about her life as a girl in a Muslim village and as a young woman in Accra, Lomé, and several other places, the lives of her fellow bar girls and about the men (mostly European but also African) she encountered, took from, gave to and left...

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Articles (5)

The Culture Development Club: youth, neo-tradition, and the construction of society in Guinea-Bissau

Anthropological Quarterly


As members of a youth organization called the "Culture Development Club," young men of the Manjaco ethnic group in Guinea-Bissau respond to and try to manage what they perceive to be community collapse in the face of endemic demographic decline ...

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A secret shared: Fieldwork and the sinister in a West African village

Cultural Anthropology


In this article I discuss the ways the Manjaco of Guinea-Bissau equate the secret and the sinister and what this can tell us about a Manjaco moral sensibility. I also use Manjaco secrecy, and more specifically my attempts at understanding or interpreting Manjaco ...

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After authenticity at an American heritage site

American Ethnologist


An enduring image of modernist anxiety is that the world we inhabit is no longer authentic-that it has become fake, plastic, a kitschy imitation. Anxiety, so the common wisdom has it, goes hand in hand with desire. We may have lost authenticity, but we want ...

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The Decolonization of Consciousness: Local skeptics and the “will to be modern” in a West African village

American Ethnologist


This article is, on the one hand, a sketch of native skeptics and what they have done in a village-community in the" ruptured landscape "(Gupta and Ferguson 1992: 8) of contemporary rural West Africa. On the other hand, it is a response to an ongoing critique ...

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On the uses of relativism: fact, conjecture, and black and white histories at Colonial Williamsburg

American Ethnologist


Current fashions in culture theory pose a tricky dilemma for anthropologists as we approach the end of the 20th century. Our growing sophistication about "the invention of culture" comes at a time when "minority" peoples are more intent than ever before on laying claim ...

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