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Janet Hoskins

Professor of Anthropology and Religion

Contact Information
Phone: (213) 740-1913
Office: KAP 348F

Personal Website
Professional Website


Ph.D. Anthropology, Harvard University, 1984
M.A. Anthropology, Harvard University, 1982
B.A. Anthropology, Pomona College, Claremont, 1975

Academic Appointment, Affiliation, and Employment History

Tenure Track Appointments

Professor of Anthropology, University of Southern California, 09/01/1985-  
Professor of Anthropology, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, 06/01/1995-10/01/1995  
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, 01/01/1984-09/01/1985  

Visiting and Temporary Appointments

Lee Kong Chian International Fellowship, Visiting Professorship at Stanford and the National University of Singapore, 2012-2013   
Visiting Researcher in Residence, Kyoto University Center for Southeast Asian Studies, 2011-2012   
Visiting Scholar, Getty Research Institute, The Getty Center, Los Angeles, Ca., 2002-2003   
Visiting Researcher and Lecturer, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, Spring 2003   
Scholar Associate, Getty Research Institute, The Getty Center, Los Angeles, Ca., 1995-1996   
Visiting Scholar, Institute for Advanced Study,Princeton, 1990-1991   

Description of Research

Summary Statement of Research Interests

Janet's research interests are defined around several overlapping themes, each of which draws on a separate set of interdisciplinary connections : (1) indigenous representations of the past and of time, (2) the relation between gender, exchange and narrative, and (3) colonial and postcolonial theory, with specific reference to Caodaism, a new universal religion born in French Indochina in 1926. Her first book The Play of Time: Kodi Perspectives on Calendars, History and Exchange (winner of the 1996 Benda Prize in Southeast Asian Studies) was both an ethnographic study of the politics of time in an Eastern Indonesian society and a theoretical argument about alternate temporalities in the modern world. Based on more than three years of fieldwork with the Kodi people of Sumba, it examined indigenous calendars, historical narratives and new symbols of nationalist unity to show how a complex ancestral heritage has been changed in the contemporary context. Her second book, Headhunting and the Social Imagination in Southeast Asia (1996), continued this interest in history and anthropology by examining the reasons why headhunting rituals are still performed in the postcolonial era, several generations after pacification. These new instances suggest that headhunting is a powerful symbolic trope that resonates throughout the region, pitting a heritage of violent raids against new anxieties about domination by external political forces. Her third book Biographical Objects: How Things Tell the Stories of People's Lives (1998) explores the relationship between persons and their possessions, and in particular the ways in which both men and women may choose to tell their own life histories by using a domestic object as a pivot for narrative articulation. It draws on the fields of gender studies, cultural studies, literary analysis and exchange theory, and opposes forms of biographic identification to the different forms of materialism in Western consumerism. Her forthcoming book, The Divine Eye and the Diaspora: Vietnamese Syncretism Becomes Transpacific Caodaism, looks at the changing historical contexts of a new millenarian religion that articulated an Asian synthesis of world religions in the context of anti-colonial resistance, the American war in Vietnam, and the post 1975 diaspora.

Research Keywords

Visual Anthropology, Colonial and Postcolonial Theory, Transnational Religion, Ritual Performance, Indigenous Representations of the Past and of Time, Material Culture, Gender, Exchange, Narrative and Healing

Funded Research

Contracts and Grants Awarded

Transpacific Connections, Translocal imaginations (Luce Foundation), Janet Hoskins, Viet Nguyen, $200,000, 2013-2014   
Religion on the Move: Crossing Borders, Setting Boundaries (Henry Luce Foundation), Diane Winston, Janet Hoskins, $395,000, 2010-2011   
Vietnamese Indigenous Religions (National Science Foundation), Janet Hoskins, $28,000, 2009-2010   
Ethnic Resilience & Indigenous Religion (National Science Foundation), Janet Hoskins, $245,000, 07/01/2008-07/01/2010  
Vietnamese Indigenous Religion Finds A New Home In California (California Council for the Humanities), Hoskins, Janet Alison, $10,000, 09/20/2007-03/20/2008  
Caodai in California, Vietnam and Cambodia (Pew Charitable Trusts), Janet Hoskins, $2,500, 11/01/2004-11/01/2005  
Tourism, Television and Political Change in Indonesia (WennerGren Foundation for Anthropological Research), Janet Hoskins, $14,500, 2000-2001   
Ritual Communication in Eastern Indonesia (National Science Foundation), Janet Hoskins, $96,750, 1998-1999   



Hoskins, J. A. (2015). The Divine Eye and the Diaspora: Vietnamese Syncretism Becomes Transpacific Caodaism. Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press.
Hoskins, J. A., Nguyen, V. T. (2014). Transpacific Studies: Framing an Emerging Field. Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press.
Hoskins, J. A., Valeri, V. (2001). Fragments from Forests and Libraries. Durham, North Carolina: Carolina Academic Press.
Hoskins, J. A., Feldman, M. (1999). The Space Between One Self and Another: Anthropology as a Search for Identity. Rome: Donizelli.
Hoskins, J. A. (1998). Biographical Objects: How Things Tell the Stories of People's Lives. London, UK / New York, NY: Routledge.
Hoskins, J. A. (1996). Headhunting and the Social Imagination in Southeast Asia. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Hoskins, J. A. (1994). The Play of Time: Kodi Perspectives on Calendars, History and Exchange. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Book Chapter

Hoskins, J. A. (2016). "The Mirror of the Material: Things, Objects and What We See In Them" in Human Nature and Social Life, edited by Jon Ziegler Remme and Kenneth Sillander. Human Nature and Social Life pp. 25 pages. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Hoskins, J. A. (2015). "Symbolism in Anthropology". Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (Vol. 23). pp. 860-865. New York, NY: Elsevier Publishing..
Hoskins, J. A. (2014). The Spirits You See in the Mirror: Spirit Possession in the Vietnamese American Diaspora" in Jonathan Lee, ed. The Southeast Asian Diaspora in the United States. The Southeast Asian Diaspora in the United Stat pp. 73-100. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press.
Hoskins, J. A. (2014). Folklore as a Sacred Heritage: Vietnamese Indigenous Religions in California, in Jonathan Lee, ed. Asian American Identities and Practices: Folkloric Expressions in Everyday Life. pp. 185-198. New York, NY: Lexington Books (Rowman and Littlefield)..
Hoskins, J. A. (2013). Trance Dancers or Interlocutors of the Immortals? Gender and Vietnamese Spirit Mediums in Contrasting Traditions" In Reassessing Ritual: Conference Proceedings,. Kyoto, Kansai: Kyoto University Center for Southeast Asian Studies, in collaboration with the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore..
Hoskins, J. A. (2012). A Spirit Medium as Architect: Caodaism’s Visual Theology. Ithaca, New York: Cornell Southeast Asian Studies Publications.
Hoskins, J. A. (2012). Purity, Soul Food and Sunni Islam: Explorations at the Intersection of Consumption and Resistance. Taking Food Public: Redefining Food in Changing W pp. p. 175-195. New York, New York: Routledge.
Hoskins, J. A. (2011). The Personal and Religious Imagination of the Caodai Leader Pham Cong Tac. Modernity and Dynamics of Tradition in Vietnam: An pp. 45 pages. Ho Chi Minh City: University of Social Sciences.
Hoskins, J. A. (2009). "The Camera as Global Vampire? Tourism and Photography in Remote Areas" In David Picard, ed. The Framed World: Tourism, Tourists and Photography. pp. 24 pages. Hants, England: Ashgate Publishers .
Hoskins, J. A. (2008). Can a Hierarchical Religion Survive Without Its Center? Caodaism, Colonialism and Exile in Hierarchy: Persistence and Transformation of Social Formations. Hierarchy pp. p. 113-141. London, England: Berghahn Press.
Hoskins, J. A. (2008). From Kuan Yin to Joan Of Arc: Female Deities in the Caodai Pantheon In The Changing Faces of the Goddess in Asia. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press.
Hoskins, J. A. (2007). In the Realm of the Indigo Queen; Dyeing, Exchange Magic and the Elusive Tourist Dollar on Sumba in What's the Use of Art? Asian Visual and Material Culture in Context. pp. 141-175. Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawaii.
Hoskins, J. A. (2007). La Biographie Visuelle des Objets: Photographies et tombes en Indonésia orientale in Octave Debary, ed. Objets et Mémoires. Objets et Mémoires pp. 139-152. Paris: Maison des Sciences de l'Homme.
Hoskins, J. A. (2007). Who Owns a Life History? Scholars and Family Members in Dialogue in Southeast Asian Lives: Personal narratives and Historical Experience. pp. 88-124. Athens, Ohio and Singapore: Ohio University Press Southeast Asia Series.
Hoskins, J. A. (2006). Agency, Objects and Biography. pp. 74-85. London, UK / New York, NY: Sage Handbook of Material Culture/Routledge.
Hoskins, J. A., Frank, G. (2006). Biography. pp. 287-291. London, UK: Encyclopedia of Sociology/Blackwells Publisher.
Hoskins, J. A. (2006). Caodai Exile and Redemption: A New Vietnamese Religion's Struggle for Identity in Religion and Social Justice for Immigrants. pp. 191-210. Rutgers, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.
Hoskins, J. A. (2005). Calling on the Ancestors to Fight Crime: Reinvented Ritual in an Age of Intermittent Violence. pp. p. 131-153. London: Expressive Genres and Historical Change/Ashgate Publisher.
Hoskins, J. A. (2005). Preface: Introduction to Caodaism. pp. p. 11-15. Redlands, California: Le Caodaisme: Theories des Trois Tresors et des Cinq Fluides/Chan Tam Publisher.
Hoskins, J. A. (2005). Slaves, Brides and Other Gifts: Resistance, Marriage and Rank in Eastern Indonesia. pp. p. 109-127. London, UK / New York, NY: Slaves and Resistance in Africa and Asia/Routledge.
Hoskins, J. A. (2004). Calendrical Rituals. pp. p. 65-71. London, UK / New York, NY: Encylopedia of Religon and Society: Religious Rites, Rituals and Festivals/Routledge.
Hoskins, J. A. (2004). Matriarchy. pp. p. 1384-89. London, UK / New York, NY: Dictionary of the History of Ideas/Routledge.

Book Review

Hoskins, J. A. (2015). Review of Sounding Out Heritage by Lauren Meeker. Southeast Asian Studies. pp. 195-198.
Hoskins, J. A. (2010). The Keeper of the Kris. Anthropology Today (Royal Anthropological Society).
Hoskins, J. A. (2006). Possessed by the Spirits: Mediumship in Contemporary Vietnamese. Journal of Vietnamese Studies. pp. 308-311.

Encyclopedia Article

Hoskins, J. A. (2007). Caodaism in Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World. 23-25. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Journal Article

Hoskins, J. A. (2016). "Symposium on The Divine Eye and the Diaspora: Author’s Response to Review Essays by Hue-Tam Ho Tai and Justin McDaniel". Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues In Southeast Asia. Vol. 31 (1)
Hoskins, J. A. (2015). "An Unjealous God? Christian Elements in a Vietnamese Syncretistic Religion" in Joel Robbins and Naomi Haynes, eds. Current Anthropology. Special Issue on the Anthropology of Christianity. Current Anthropology. Vol. 55 (Supplement 10), pp. S302-311.
Hoskins, J. A. (2014). "From Colonial Syncretism to Transpacific Diaspora: Re-Orienting Caodaism from Vietnam to California". DORISEA Working Paper Series, The German Consortium for Research on Southeast Asia DORISEA Working Paper Series. Vol. 1 (7), pp. 25.
Hoskins, J. A. (2012). L’immagiazione personale e teologica di Pham Cong Tac". Annuario di Antropologia, special issue om Biografia e Etnologia. Vol. 9 (4), pp. pp. 147-176.
Hoskins, J. A. (2012). God’s Chosen People: Race, Religion and Anti-Colonial Resistance in French Indochina". Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. Vol. N. 189 (ARI Working Paper Series), pp. 25 pages.
Hoskins, J. A. (2012). A Posthumous Return from Exile: The Legacy of An Anticolonial Religious Leader In Today’s Vietnam. Southeast Asian Studies. Vol. 1 (2), pp. p. 213-246..
Hoskins, J. A. (2011). What are Vietnam’s Indigenous Religions?. Newsletter of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies. Vol. 64, pp. 3-7.
Hoskins, J. A. (2011). Diaspora as Religious Doctrine: "The Apostle of Vietnamese Nationalism" Comes to California. Journal of Vietnamese Studies (University of California). Vol. 4 (1), pp. 45-86.
Hoskins, J. A. (2010). Seeing Syncretism as Visual Blasphemy: Critical Eyes on Caodai Religious Architecture. Material Religion/Berg Publishers. Vol. 6 (1), pp. 30-59.
Hoskins, J. A. (2010). Derrièrre le voile de l’oeil céleste: Le rôle des apparitions dans l’expansion du Caodaïsme",. Péninsule: Etudes Interdisciplinaires sur l’Asie du Sud- Est Péninsulaire. Vol. 56 (2), pp. 211-249.
Hoskins, J. A. (2009). "When the Sun Rises: A Toraja Priest". Visual Anthropology. Vol. 22 (2 & 3), pp. 242-244.
Hoskins, J. A. (2007). Postcard from the Edge of Empire: Images and Messages from French Indochina in Colonial Photographies. International Institute for Asian Studies. Vol. 44, pp. 16-17.
Hoskins, J. A. (2007). Gendering Religious Objects: Placing Them as Agents in Matrices of Power. Material Religion/Berg Publishers. Vol. Volume 3 (No. 2.), pp. 112-121.
Hoskins, J. A. (2004). Slaves, Brides and Other Gifts: Resistance, Marriage and Rank in Eastern Indonesia. Slavery and Abolition/Routledge. Vol. Vol. 25 (No. 2), pp. August , Pp. 1-18.
Hoskins, J. A., Rouse, C. (2004). Purity, Soul Food and Sunni Islam: Explorations at the Intersection of Consumption and Resistance . Cultural Anthropology. Vol. Vol.19, pp. Issue 2.
Hoskins, J. A. (2002). Predatory Voyeurs: Tourists and Tribal Violence in Remote Indonesia. American Ethnologist/American Anthropological Association. Vol. Volume 29, pp. number 4.

Multimedia Scholarship and Creative Works

Feast in Dream Village, Ethnographic Documentary based on a decade of field research in Eastern Indonesia, 2009-2010   
Horses of Life and Death, Ethnographic Documentary based on a decade of field research in Eastern Indonesia, 2009-2010   
The Left Eye of God: Caodaism Travels from Vietna, Ethnographic documentary based on five years of research in Vietnam and California, 2008-2009   

Honors and Awards

Lee Kong Chian Fellowship to Stanford and the National University of Singapore, 2012-2013   
Documentary Educational Resources to distribute three films, 2008-2009   
Documentary selected for Vietnamese International Film Festival, 2008-2009   
National Science Foundation Research Grant, 2008-2009   
Residency at the Getty Center for Humanities and Arts, Getty Scholar, Getty Research Institute, 9/2002-6/2003  
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship Recipient, For university professors, 9/1995-6/1996  
Recipient of National or International Prize in Discipline, Harry J. Benda Prize for best book in Southeast Asian Studies, awarded by the Association for Asian Studies, 3/1996  
Residency at the Institute for Advanced Study, Research Scholar, 9/1990-6/1991  
Fulbright Award, Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, 9/1987-8/1988  
American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship Recipient, Social Science Research Council Fellowship, 9/1979-6/1981  

Service to the University

Administrative Appointments

Co-founder (with Viet Nguyen) Center for Transpacific Studies, 2010-2011   
Advisory Board, Center for Religion and Civic Culture, 2009-2010   

Review Panels

Center for Transpacific Studies, Fellowship and Speakers Committee, 2013-2014   
Center for Religion and Civic Culture, Academic Advisory Panel, 2007-2008   
Visual Studies Program, seminar coordinator, 2007-2008   

Service to the Profession

Conferences Organized

Organizer, Transpacific Re-Orientations: Religion, Spirituality and the Invisible Connections Between Asia and the Americas, USC -- Center for International Studies, International conference with participants from Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and Canada, looking at connections across the Pacific Ocean, 2014-2015   
President, Society for the Anthropology of Religion, The Society for the Anthropology of Religion is a section of the American Anthropological Association, 11/10/2011-11/14/2013  
Organizer, Religious Syncretisms and Synergies, Pasadena, California, The Society for the Anthropology of Religion meets every two years, with over one hundred participants from all around the world, to examine a theme in the Anthropology of Religion., 04/11/2013-04/14/2013  
Organizer, Invisible Connections between Asia and the West: Syncretism and Esotericism , Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, 01/10/2013-01/11/2013  
Organizer (with Nancy Lutkehaus and Gary Seaman), Cultural Dimensions of Visual Ethnography: U.S.-China Dialogues, USC, 2009-2010   
Co-organizer (with Viet Nguyen), Transpacific Studies: Homelands, Diasporas and the Movement of Populations, USC, 2009-2010   

Editorships and Editorial Boards

Editorial Board, Global Journal of Anthropology Research, 2015-2016   
Editorial Board, Visual Ethnography, 2012-2013   
Editorial Board, American Ethnologist, 2007-2008   
Editorial Board, Journal of Material Culture, 2007-2008   
Editorial Board, Journal of Religious History, 2007-2008   

Professional Offices

President , Society for the Anthropology of Religion, American Anthropological Association, 2011-2013  
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