This is my Xenophilia blog where I post various occasional writings as well as links to my publications, and by invitation to current projects. Many of the older posts have been lost and the posts I am reposting are not necessarily in the order they were written. Hopefully, going forward from June 2015 this will be resolved.

Steven at work
Steven @ Work, May 2015. Background, HORIZON WATCH, Angie Reed Garner.

The links at the top of the page can be used to navigate to my biography page and to various current projects.

If you are looking for my academic writing, try academic.edu. In the future I will add additional links to ongoing projects, e.g. my work on stand-up comedy and masculinity, as it becomes more developed and interesting.


Forever War, The – Revisiting

Forever War, The – Revisiting

Posted on January 19, 2013

My sabbatical semester-or the functional equivalent, a competitively-awarded research semester-is coming rapidly to a close. In a few days I will leave behind my laptop desk and comfortable chair at Garner Narrative in Louisville, Kentucky for a short visit with my family in (the vicinity of) Portland, Oregon and then return to a hectic teaching schedule in Abu Dhabi. Continue reading Forever War, The – Revisiting

Bad Science

Biocultural approaches to the study of human behavior, institutions, and circumstances promise to be among the most powerful tools ever developed. But as the technology for gene sequencing has thus far vastly outstripped the interpretive science of meaningfully mapping genes to human scale outcomes, there is a lot of over-reaching. Continue reading Bad Science

General and Specific

“If the truth be told, the less the world knows about a place, the easier it is to generalize about. Are not all ethnic and religious conflicts, Muslim societies, underdeveloped economies, terrorist movements, and failed states fundamentally alike, especially in poor countries? Unfortunately they are not, and assuming that they are imposes a uniformity that is deceptively dangerous” (Thomas Barfield 2010, Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History, Princeton University Press).

Of all of these, the “terrorist movement” is probably most alien, and thereby easiest to generalize, when if practice the shared use of terror as tactic is almost absolutely devoid of meaningful information.

Low Theory

I’m reading David Graeber’s pamphlet Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology (Prickly Paradigm Press, 2004), and ran across the following provocative passage:

Even more than High Theory, what anarchism needs is the might be called Low Theory: a way of grappling with those real, immediate questions that emerge from a transformative project. Mainstream social science actually isn’t much help here, because normally in mainstream social science this sort of thing is generally classified as “policy issues,” and no self-respecting anarchist would have anything to do with these (Graeber 2004, Loc. 89).

Continue reading Low Theory

Art of Critique

Read an A.O. Scott’s New York Times essay this morning: Is Our Art Art Equal to the Challenges of Our Times? (Nov. 27, 2014).


And I found it nauseating. Scott is probably my least-loved liberal critic. His commentary has a way of being preachy, terminally middle class, blandly questioning and nostalgic.

Continue reading Art of Critique