• Ph.D., University of California at Los Angeles (2002)
  • M.A. in Cultural Anthropology, UCLA (1996)
  • B.S. in Communications Studies, New York University (1991)

Research Interests

  • Geographical Areas of Specialization: Japan, Caribbean

  • Topical Interests: Contemporary Japan, African Diaspora, Race, Social Identity, Afro-Asia, Performance Studies, Transnationalism, Human Rights

Courses Taught

  • Seminars:
    The Anthropology of Race
    The Anthropology of Human Rights
    World Fiction and Cultural Anthropology
    Body, Power, and Performance
  • Lectures:
    Global Black Music and Identity
    The Anthropology of Contemporary Japan
    Chanting Down Babylon:  Protest and Popular Culture in the Afro-Caribbean
    Social and Cultural Anthropology

Awards and Distinctions

  • IU Office of the Vice President for International Affairs Overseas Research Grant, 2011
  • IU College of Arts and Sciences Trustees' Teaching Award, 2010
  • Kyoto University Institute for Research in Humanities Visiting Professorship, Fall 2008
  • Sasakawa Fellowship 1998
  • Hiroshi Wagatsuma Fellowship, 1998, 1996
  • UCLA Institute of American Cultures Research Grant, 1997

Selected Publications

  • Sterling, Marvin D.  Babylon East: Performing Dancehall, Roots Reggae and Rastafari in Japan. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2010
  • Sterling, Marvin D. The Symbolic Constitution of Japanese Dancehall.  Social and Economic Studies:  Special Issue on Popular Culture 55(1&2): 1-24, 2006

My research centers on the popularity of a range of Jamaican cultural forms in Japan, mainly roots reggae, dancehall reggae, and Rastafari. I approach this research from several theoretical perspectives. I use performance studies, for instance, to ethnographically explore the issues of social power—particularly those surrounding life in recessionary Japan—that inform Japanese performative engagement with these cultural forms. Japanese practitioners of profoundly Afrocentric Rastafari afford analysis of how ideas of race and particularly blackness have been constructed and re-imagined around the globe. In a more recent line of research, I have shifted geographical perspectives from Japan to explore the Japanese community in Jamaica, one primarily centered on an interest in learning Jamaican culture at its source.  In a second, new line of research I trace the development of human rights discourse in Jamaica, particularly on the grassroots level.