Michael Lempert is Professor of Anthropology. He is affiliated with the subfield of linguistic anthropology as well as with the Center for South Asian Studies and the interdisciplinary program in Anthropology and History.
He was formerly Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University. He has served as a Richard and Lillian Ives Faculty Fellow at Michigan’s Institute for the Humanities, a Lenore Annenberg and Wallis Annenberg Fellow in Communication at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University (CASBS), and a visiting professor at l’École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris.
A linguistic anthropologist with cross-disciplinary interests, he has trained in several fields and written on a wide range of topics having to do with social interaction. These include political gesture and embodied communication; the pragmatics of repetition and parallelism (“poetics”) in conversational interaction; ethics in interaction; technosemiotics and the human-media interface; and the enactment of liberalism by diasporic Tibetan Buddhists in India.
He is author of Discipline and Debate: The Language of Violence in a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery (University of California Press, 2012; recipient of the 2013 Clifford Geertz Prize), coauthor (with Michael Silverstein) of Creatures of Politics: Media, Message, and the American Presidency (Indiana University Press, 2012), and coeditor (with E. Summerson Carr) of Scale: Discourse and Dimensions of Social Life (University of California Press, 2016). He is completing a new book, From Small Talk to Microaggression: A History of Scale, which traces how face-to-face interaction became a scaled object of knowledge in mid-twentieth century America. With Miyako Inoue (Stanford, Anthropology) and others, he has been involved in collaborative work on “technosemiotics.” His latest research, supported by The Wenner-Gren Foundation, is a team-based ethnography of liberal listening on a college campus.