Ian Kalman

Research Interests
Research Interests: indigenous peoples of North America, indigenous rights, anthropology of law, border studies, Haudenosaunee/Iroquois studies, security and surveillance, bureaucracy, law enforcement, frame analysis

Research Area(s)
Akwesasne Mohawk Territory; Canada; the United States


In his research, Ian Kalman looks at people’s diverse experiences of the border in Akwesasne, a single Mohawk community straddling the administrative boundaries of Quebec, Ontario, and New York State. His research juxtaposes phenomenological approaches to place and space – how the border is experienced by Mohawk residents of Akwesasne as well as American and Canadian Border Services Officers – with questions of legal pluralism – how these groups experience, interpret, and articulate border crossing. He graduated from the University of Chicago with a BA in Anthropology in 2005, and subsequently taught English in Turkey, Ukraine, and as a Peace Corps volunteer in southwestern China. He is currently a doctoral candidate at the McGill University (Montreal) Department of Anthropology, and is taking advantage of a visiting scholarship to write up his doctoral thesis at the MPI.

Why Law and Anthropology?

"I am interested in applying anthropology as a method to consider the relationships between legal fictions and social facts. As I see it, anthropology, or at the very least, the Malinowskian tradition based on long-term fieldwork and participant observation, developed largely as a one method among many within a longstanding inquiry into the ways in which people make laws and laws make people. In this sense, legal anthropology is not an offshoot of anthropology; rather, anthropology itself emerged historically as a response to the need to understand law. I am interested in bringing this historical relationship between the two disciplines back to the fore."

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