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Jane Desmond

Profile picture for 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


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, The Washington, 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


Yale University, Ph.D. American Studies

Sarah Lawrence College, M.F.A.

Brown University, B.A.


Hewlitt Foundation
The Ford Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation

Awards and Honors

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

Courses Taught

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

Additional Campus Affiliations

Professor, Anthropology
Professor, Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory
Professor, Gender and Women's Studies
Professor, College of Veterinary Medicine
Professor, European Union Center

Highlighted Publications

Desmond, J. C. (2016). Displaying Death and Animating Life: Human-Animal Relations in Art, Science, and Everyday Life. University of Chicago Press.

Desmond, J. (1999). Staging Tourism: Bodies on Display from Waikiki to Sea World. University of Chicago Press.

View all publications on Illinois Experts

Recent Publications

Desmond, J. (2022). Medicine, Value, and Knowledge in the Veterinary Clinic: Questions for and From Medical Anthropology and the Medical Humanities. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 9, Article 780482.

Desmond, J. (2019). Vivacious remains: An afterword on taxidermy’s forms, fictions, facticity, and futures. Configurations, 27(2), 257-266.

Desmond, J. C. (2019). Zones of production in possible worlds: Dance's precarious placement, an afterword. Dance Research Journal, 51(1), 96-101.

Desmond, J. C. (2018). Leisurely death and dying? Body, place, and the limits to leisure-a prologue. In Leisure and Death: An Anthropological Tour of Risk, Death, and Dying (pp. ix-xviii). University Press of Colorado.

Desmond, J. (2017). “Make ‘America’ Smart Again”: A Response to Trump’s First 100 Days. Comparative American Studies, 15(1-2), 4-6.

View all publications on Illinois Experts