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Robert Foster

  • Professor and Chair of Anthropology/Professor of Visual and Cultural Studies; Research Associate, Buffalo Museum of Science; Adjunct Professor, College of Asian and Pacific Studies, School of Culture, History and Language, Australian National University

PhD, Anthropology, University of Chicago, 1988

445 Lattimore Hall
(585) 275-8741


Graduate Courses Taught

  • ANT 426:  Culture and Consumption
  • ANT 506:  The Corporation

Undergraduate Courses Taught

  • ANT 101:  Cultural Anthropology
  • ANT 202:  Modern Social Theory
  • ANT 205:  Theories and Debates in Anthropology
  • ANT 204:  Ethnographic Themes
  • ANT 226:  Culture and Consumption
  • ANT 266:  Global Culture
  • ANT 306:  The Corporation

Selected Publications


  • Coca-Globalization: Following Soft Drinks from New York to New Guinea. New York: Palgrave/Macmillan, Global Publishing at St. Martin’s Press, 2008.
  • Materializing the Nation: Commodities, Consumption and Media in Papua New Guinea. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002.
  • Social Reproduction and History in Melanesia: Mortuary Ritual, Gift Exchange and Custom in the Tanga Islands. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
  • Nation Making: Emergent Identities in Postcolonial Melanesia. Edited Volume. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995  (1997, paper edition).

Chapters in Books

  • “Adversaries into Partners? Brand Coca-Cola® and the Politics of Consumer-Citizenship.” In Green Consumption: The Global Rise of Eco-Chic. Eds. B. Barendregt and R. Jaffe. London: Berg (forthcoming, 2014).
  • “Coca-Globalization.” In The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Globalization. Ed. George Ritzer. Vol 1. Pp. 228-30. Oxford: Blackwell, 2012.
  • “The Uses of Use Value: Marketing, Value Creation, and the Exigencies of Consumption Work.” In Inside Marketing: Practices, Ideologies, Devices. Eds. D. Zwick and J. Cayla. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011: 42-57.
  • “Tracking Globalization: Commodities and Value in Motion.” In The Sage Handbook of Material Culture. Eds. C. Tilley et. al. London: Sage, 2006. pp. 285-302.


  • “Things to Do with Brands: Creating and Calculating Value.” In The Paradox of Value(s). Eds. T. Otto and R. Willerslev. Special Issue, HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3(1), 2013: 44-63.
  • “Big Men and Business: Morality, Debt and the Corporation. A Perspective.” Social Anthropology 20(4), 2012: 486-90.
  • “Notes for a Networked Cultural Biography: The P.G.T. Black Collection of Oceanic Things.” Museum Anthropology 35(2), 2012: 149-169.
  • “Art/Artifact/Commodity: Installation Design and the Exhibition of Oceanic Things at Two New York Museums in the 1940s.” TAJA: The Australian Journal of Anthropology 23, 2012: 129-157.
  • “Corporate Oxymorons and the Anthropology of Corporations.” Dialectical Anthropology. 34 (1), 2010: 95-102. (Published online 26 September 2009)
  • “Show and Tell: Teaching Critical Fetishism with a Bottle of Coke®.” Anthropology News (April), 49 (4), 2008: 38.
  • “Commodities, Brands, Love and Kula: Comparative Notes on Value Creation.” Anthropological Theory 8 (1), 2008: 9-25.
  • “The Work of the ‘New Economy’: Consumers, Brands and Value.” Cultural Anthropology 22 (4), 2007: 707-731. Reprinted: Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 4. Eds. M. and K. Fortun, Sage, 2010.
  • “Consumer Citizenship, Nationalism, and Neoliberal Globalization in Turkey: The Advertising Launch of Cola Turka” (Derya Özkan and Robert Foster) Advertising & Society Review 6 (3), 2005.

Selected Awards/Grants

  • Central New York Humanities Corridor Award, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (with Marina Welker, Cornell University), 2013
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2011-2012
  • American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, 2011-2012
  • Australian National University Vice-Chancellor’s Travel Award for Visiting International Academics, 2009
  • Robert B. Goergen Award for Distinguished Achievement and Artistry in Undergraduate Teaching, 2008
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, 2008
  • University of Rochester Bridging Fellowship, Spring Semester, 2008
  • Appointed Mercer Brugler Distinguished Teaching Professor, 2005-2008
  • Visiting Professor, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, 2003
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for College Teachers, 1999 - 2000

Current Projects

  • Research on the history of the P.G.T. Black Collection of Pacific Islands artifacts at the Buffalo Museum of Science.
  • Research on globalization, media, consumption, corporations and commodity chains, especially soft drink commodity chains.