Dorinne Kondo

Professor of Anthropology and American Studies and Ethnicity

Contact Information
Phone: (213) 740-1910
Office: GFS 120

Anna Deavere Smith
Culture Clash


  • B.A. Anthropology, Stanford University, 6/1975
  • M.A. Anthropology, Harvard University, 6/1978
  • Ph.D. Anthropology, Harvard University, 6/1982

  • Postdoctoral Training

    • Fellow, University of California, Irvine Humanities Research Institute, Spring 2002   
    • Research Fellow, Getty Research Institute, 2000-2001   
    • Institute of American Cultures Postdoctoral Fellow, UCLA, 1993-1994   
    • Fellow, University of California, Irvine Humanities Research Institute, Fall 1993   
    • Rockefeller Fellow, Rice University, 1989-1990   
    • Rockefeller Fellow, The Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ, 1987-1988   

    Academic Appointment, Affiliation, and Employment History

    Tenure Track Appointments
    • Professor of Anthropology and American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California, 1997-  
    • MacArthur Associate Professor of Women's Studies and Anthropology; appointed to Full Professor in 1997, Pomona College, 1989-1997  

    Non-Tenure Track Appointments
    • Assistant Professor of Anthropology , Harvard University, 1982-1989  

    PostDoctoral Appointments
    • Martha Sutton Weeks Fellow, Stanford Humanities Center, 2013-2014   
    • Member, The Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton NJ, 1987-1988   

    Description of Research

    Summary Statement of Research Interests
    cultural theory, performance , aesthetics and politics, cross-racial identification/ multiracial collaboration, modes of embodiment, ethnography
    Research Keywords
    Cultural Theory, Contemporary Performance in the U.S., Aesthetics and Politics, Race, Bodies/Subjects, Transnationalism, Japan and the United States
    Research Specialties
    (Ph.D., Harvard University, 1982) Professor of Anthropology and ASE. Specialties include: race and power, performance studies, theories of the subject, cultural theory.
    Detailed Statement of Research Interests

    CREATIVE DIFFERENCE(S): CULTURAL POLITICS AND THE PRODUCTION OF RACE IN AMERICAN THEATER.  Based on over ten years of participation in the theater world as ethnographer, analyst, dramaturg, and playwright, my project spotlights what I call performative ethnography: aesthetically innovative work in contemporary U.S. theater that advances anthropological understanding. I focus on renowned artists Anna Deavere Smith, the trio Culture Clash, and David Henry Hwang. Inspired by their challenging work, this inquiry opens a theoretical space for an anthropology of creativity. African American playwright/ actress Smith is a pioneer of “documentary theater” and a MacArthur winner. She performs excerpts from interviews, changing race, gender, age, nationality before our eyes, in a dazzling display of multiplicity. Chicano-Latino trio Culture Clash stages exuberant, cross-racial, cross-gender performances in their portrayals of U.S. cities: San Diego and Washington D.C., among others. Like Smith, they base their work on interviews, but liberally create fictional and allegorical characters in their irrepressible brand of political comedy. Hwang’s latest play Yellow Face is a faux documentary/ comic memoir that defies genre and destabilizes our conventional notions of race. Hwang is the premier Asian American dramatist and a Tony Award winner. I have served as a dramaturg on three world premieres of Smith’s plays, followed Culture Clash for over ten years, and have unprecedented access to Hwang’s archive. My access to these artists and their creative process is unique among analysts, positioning this inquiry to offer unparalleled insight into their work and its implications for complex questions of theory, aesthetics and politics. The book operates on three levels: 1) an ethnographic analysis of the creative process, grounded in what I call corporeal epistemologies; 2) a theoretical inquiry into the challenges to cultural assumptions mounted by these artists’ works and methods; 3) a contextualization of their work within the institutional structures of the theater/ art worlds, examining theater as more than a realm of "representation;" rather it is the site for the production of racialized bodies and meanings. 


    • Kondo, D. K. Toward an Anthropology of Creativity: Making Art, Producing Difference in Contemporapry American Theater.
    • Kondo, D. K. (1997). About Face: Performing Race in Fashion and Theater, 1997.
    • Kondo, D. K. (1990). Crafting Selves: Power, Gender and Discourses of Identity in a Japanese Workplace, 1990.

    Book Chapter
    • Kondo, D. K. (2005). "The Tea Ceremony: A Symbolic Analysis. (Vol. NA). No Journal Defined.
    • Kondo, D. K. (2005). "Polishing Your Heart: Artisans and Machines in Japan. Oxford: Empire of the Senses: The Sensual Culture Reader/ Berg Publishers.

    Book Review
    • Kondo, D. K. (1988). Marriage in Changing Japan, by Walter Edwards. Contemporary Sociology.
    • Kondo, D. K. (1987). Becoming Japanese by Joy Hendry. The Journal of Asian Studies.
    • Kondo, D. K. (1986). Haruko's World by Gail Bernstein. Comparative Studies in Society and History. pp. 794-5.
    • Kondo, D. K. (1985). Gender, Self and Work in Japan: Some Issues in the Study of Self and Other. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry. pp. 319-328.
    • Kondo, D. K. (1985). Gender, Self and Work in Japan: Some Issues in the Study of Self and Other. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry. pp. 319-328.
    • Kondo, D. K. (1984). "Against the State by David Apter and Nagayo Sawa." "Behind the Mask by Ian Buruma." "The Japanese by Jean-Claude Courdy.". The New York Times Book Review..
    • Kondo, D. K. (1984). Work and Lifecourse in Japan by David Plath. Journal of Asian Studies,.

    Journal Article
    • Kondo, D. (2010). DRESSTUDY, journal of the Kyoto Costume Institute. DRESSTUDY. Vol. April 2010
    • Kondo, D. K. (2005). "The Tea Ceremony: A Symbolic Analysis.". Empire of the Senses: The Sensual Culture Reader/ Oxford: Berg Publishers..
    • Kondo, D. K. (2004). "Dorinne Kondo, author of Crafting Selves and About Face, an interview with Nirmal Puwar.". Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture..
    • Kondo, D. K. (2001). How the Problem of ‘Crafting Selves’ Emerged. Contemporary Field Research: Perspectives and Formulations. Vol. 8, pp. 188-202.
    • Kondo, D. K. (2001). A Challenge from Without: A Conversation with Dorinne Kondo. Where the Id Was: Challenging Normalization in Psychoanalysis.. pp. 38-146.
    • Kondo, D. K. (2001). Visions of Possibility. Theater/special issue on Theater and Social Change,. Vol. 31 (3)
    • Kondo, D. K. (2001). Asian/Asian American Studies:(Un)Disciplined Subjects: (De) Colonizing the Academy?. Orientations: Mapping Studies In The Asian Diaspora./ Durham: Duke University Press.
    • Kondo, D. K. (2001). Orientalizing: Japanese Fashion. Toikakeru Fasshon: Shintai/ Imeeji/ Nihon (Inquiry into Fashion: Body, Image, Japan)..
    • Kondo, D. K. (2001). Life Patterns. program notes for Mark Taper Forum/ Asian Theatre Workshop production of Sunil Kuruvilla’s Rice Boy..
    • Kondo, D. K. (2000). (Re)visions of Race: Critical Race Theory and the Cultural Politics of Racial Crossover in Contemporary Documentary Performance. Theatre Journal,special issue on Latino Performance..
    • Kondo, D. K. (2000). Program Notes, The Square, Production of Mark Taper Forum/ Asian Theatre Workshop.
    • Kondo, D. K. (1999). Empire and Masculinity. Between Women and Nation/Durham: Duke University Press.
    • Kondo, D. K. (1999). Introduction. The Color of Language: Asian American Plays in a Multicultural Landscape. Applause Theatrebooks.
    • Kondo, D. K. (1996). Shades of Twilight: Anna Deavere Smith and Twilight: Los Angeles 1992.". Late Editions III: Media-tions. /Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    • Kondo, D. K. (1996). The Narrative Production of 'Home', Community and Identity in Asian American Theater. Dislocation, Diaspora and Geographies of Identity/ Durham: Duke University Press..
    • Kondo, D. K. (1995). Bad Girls: Theatre, Women of Color, and the Politics of Representation. Women Writing Culture./University of California Press.
    • Kondo, D. K. (1995). Poststructuralist Theory as Political Necessity. Amerasia Journal/Special issue on theory.
    • Kondo, D. K. (1993). Uchi no Kaisha: Company as Family?. Uchi/Soto: Shifting Linguistic and Social Boundaries./ Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
    • Kondo, D. K. (1992). The Aesthetics and Politics of 'Japanese' Identity in the Fashion Industry. Remade in Japan: Everyday life and Consumer Tastes./ New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
    • Kondo, D. K. (1992). The Aesthetics and Politics and Artisanal Identities. Japanese Selves: Creating and Receiving Culture./ Cambridge: Cambridge University Press..
    • Kondo, D. K. (1992). Turning Leaves: The Photograph Collections of Two Japanese American Families by Richard Chalfen. Visual Anthropology.
    • Kondo, D. K. (1991). Feminism and Orientalism. Committee on Women in Asian Studies Newsletter.
    • Kondo, D. K. (1991). Women of Color and the Cultural Politics of Identity. California Sociologist. Vol. 15, pp. 57-70.
    • Kondo, D. K. (1990). M. Butterfly: Orientalism, Gender, and a Critique of Essentialist Identity. Cultural Critique. Vol. 16, pp. 5-29.
    • Kondo, D. K. (1989). The Forbidden Stitch. Sojourner,.
    • Kondo, D. K. (1987). Creating an Ideal Self: Theories of Selfhood and Pedagogy at a Japanese Ethics Retreat. Ethos. Vol. 15 (3), pp. 241-272.
    • Kondo, D. K. (1986). Dissolution and Reconstitution of the Self: Implications for Anthropological Epistemology. Cultural Anthropology. Vol. 1 (1), pp. 74-88.
    • Kondo, D. K. (1986). Review. Haruko's World by Gail Bernstein. Comparative Studies in Society and History.. Vol. 23, pp. 794-5.
    • Kondo, D. K. (1985). "The Way of Tea: A Symbolic Analysis,". Man(N.S.). Vol. 20, pp. 287-306.

    Multimedia Scholarship and Creative Works

    • Play-Reading, Seamless, 04/11/2002  
    • Play-Reading, Seamless; this is a substantial revision of earlier versions of the play, and in 2008 I intend to finish the play and submit to theatres. , 08/2007  
    • Play-Reading, Seamless, 03/09/2003  
    • Play-Reading, Seamless, 03/14/2003  
    • Play-Reading, Seamless, 05/17/2003  
    • Play and Production, But Can He Dance? a multiracial relationship comedy, 10/25/2003-11/15/2003  
    • Play-Reading, But Can He Dance? a multiracial relationship comedy. , 04/2001  
    • Play-Reading, Dis)graceful(l) Conduct, a high disco satire on sexual and racial harassment in the academy. Staged reading at East West Players., 04/1992  
    • Play-Reading, (Dis)graceful(l) Conduct Staged Reading at Powerhouse Theater, Santa Monica., 12/1992  
    • Play-Reading, (Dis)graceful(l) Conduct Staged reading at East West Players., 08/1993  
    • Play-Reading, (Dis)graceful(l) Conduct Staged reading at Women Artists' Group, Sunday PlayDay Series., 04/1997  
    • Play-Reading, (Dis)graceful(l) Conduct Staged reading at Moving Arts Theater, 04/1998  
    • Play-Reading, (Dis)graceful(l) Conduct Staged reading at the Playwrights' Theatre of New Jersey, 10/2002  
    • Reading of Revised Play, Seamless, in a new version, read at Moving Arts Theatre, November 2008. , 2008-2009   
    • Play Reading, Reading of revised Act One of Seamless, Moving Arts Theatre, August 2008. , 2007-2008   
    • Dramaturg, Dramaturg for the world premiere of Anna Deavere Smith's LET ME DOWN EASY, play produced at the Long Wharf Theatre, New Haven, CT, directed by Stephen Wadsworth. Play went on to American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Ma., and to Second Stage Theatre in New York. , 2007-2008   
    • Dramaturg, Dramaturg for the world premiere of Anna Deavere Smith's play TWILIGHT: LOS ANGELES 1992, at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, directed by Emily Mann. , 1993-1994   
    • Dramaturg, Dramaturg for the workshop of the Arena Stage (Washington, DC)/ Goodman Theatre (Chicago)/ Mark Taper Forum (Los Angeles) world premiere production of Anna Deavere Smith's HOUSE ARREST, director Mark Rucker. , 1996-1997   
    • Dramaturg, Workshop of Anna Deavere Smith's HOUSE ARREST: AN INTROGRESSION, Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles. , 1997-1998   
    • Scholar/ Reflector, Institute for the Arts and Civic Dialogue, Director Anna Deavere Smith, Harvard University. , 2000-2001   
    • Finalist, Finalist in Lark Theatre/ Play Development Center's New Play Festival. 25 finalists selected from over 600 plays. , 2009-2010   
    • Play Reading, Lark Development Center, New York, Reading of SEAMLESS, at the Lark Development Center, directed by Victor Maog. Play was one of 25 out of 600 plays chosen for readings. , 2009-2010   
    • Play Reading, Lark Development Center, New York, Reading of revision of SEAMLESS,directed by Eric Ting, Associate Artistic Director, the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, a major regional theatre. The Lark is a renowned venue among theatre professionals; noted Asian American dramatist David Henry Hwang developed two plays there. , 07/2010  
    • Dramaturg, Dramaturgy for Marcos Najera's performance piece, "Brown Oxygen/Oxigeno," Highways Performance Space, Santa Monica, CA., June and September, 2011., 2011-2012   
    • Expert , Interviewed as an expert on Japanese American internment for Antonia Glenn's documentary on Japanese American history, "The Ito Sisters." , 2011-2012   
    • Play Reading, Lark Theatre Development Center, Reading of revised version of SEAMLESS, directed by Ralph Pena, founder of Ma-yi Theatre. The Lark is a major, nationally renowned center for play development, located in New York. , 2012-2013   
    • Play Reading, Concert reading of SEAMLESS at the Odyssey Theater, Los Angeles. , 2012-2013   
    • Completion of Play, Final Version of SEAMLESS ready for publication and submission to theaters. , Fall 2013   

    Honors and Awards

    • Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Gender Studies; I gave a week-long series of lectures, seminars and play readings for faculty, students, and members of the general public in Hong Kong, Fall 2010   
    • Lark Play Development Center, finalist for New Play Festival, revised version of SEAMLESS, 2009-2010   
    • USC Humanities and Social Sciences , 2007-2008   
    • University of California at Irvine, Humanities Research Institute, Residential Research Fellowship, on Transnationalism in Asian/ Asian American Theatre., 2002  
    • Residency at the Getty Center for Humanities and Arts, Getty Scholar, Getty Research Institute, 2000-2001  
    • "We Don't Need No Stinkin' Dramas" National Comedy Playwriting Award, Mixed Blood Theatre, for (DIS)GRACEFUL(L) CONDUCT, 2000-2001   
    • School of American Research Fellowship, awarded—not accepted, 2000-2001   
    • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship Recipient, 2000  
    • J.I. Staley Prize, School of American Research, Santa Fe, NM, given to book Craftiing Selves and its impact on the field of Anthropology., 1999  

    Service to the University

    Administrative Appointments
    • Director of Asian American Studies, 2010-2011  
    • Director of Asian American Studies, 2008-2009   
    • Director of Asian American Studies, 09/1997-07/2002  

    Service to the Profession

    Editorships and Editorial Boards
    • Editorial Board, Cultural Dynamics, 2008-  
    • Editorial Advisory Board, positions: east asia/ cultures/ critique, 2001-2002   
    • Editorial Board, Cultural Anthropology, 1984-1991  

  • Department of American Studies & Ethnicity
  • University of Southern California
  • 3620 South Vermont Avenue
  • Kaprielian Hall 462
  • Los Angeles, California 90089-2534