Dara Culhane

Professor Emeritus, Anthropology
Sociology & Anthropology


Dr. Dara Culhane, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, received her B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology in 1985 and her Ph.D. in Anthropology in 1994 from Simon Fraser University. Her early work concentrated on historical and contemporary relations between Aboriginal peoples and the Canadian Nation State; politics of indigenous women's health; collaborative research methodologies; and urban studies.  Culhane’s current research focuses on Anthropology/Ethnography and Performance Studies, Gender and Sexuality, and Irish Studies.  Two works in progress are:  Encore! Travels With The Ghost of Margaret Sheehy, a memory-work life story, and Hear Me Looking At You! a dramatic storytelling performance.

Dara is the Co-Founder and Co-Curator of the Centre for Imaginative Ethnography, and a Certified Assistant Teacher with Fitzmaurice Voicework ®.


PhD (Anthropology), Simon Fraser University
BA (Sociology & Anthropology), Simon Fraser University

Areas of Interest

Political anthropology: Colonialism, neo-colonialism and postcolonialism; subalternity; gender, generation and sexuality; Indigenous peoples of Canada; Ireland.

Experimental ethnography: narrative, sensory, imaginative and performative ethnography; collaborative methodologies; biography and autoethnography. 

Performance Studies: transdisciplinary theory and methodology; storytelling and performance.

Select Publications


  • A Different Kind of Ethnography: Imaginative Practices and Creative Methodologies (2017)
    Co-edited with Denielle Elliott. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • In Plain Sight: Reflections on Everyday Life in Downtown Eastside Vancouver. (2005) Co-edited with Leslie Robertson, Talon Books.
    Winner of 2006 George Ryga Award for Social Issues in Literature.
    One of four finalists: 2005 City of Vancouver Book Awards.
    Excerpt adapted by Vancouver Opera Company for libretto for production of Condemned.
  • The Pleasure of the Crown: Anthropology, Law and First Nations (1998) Talon Books.
  • An Error in Judgment: Medical Care in an Indian/White Community (1987) Talon Books.

Awards & Funding


  • Culhane received a one-year Amundsen Fellowship in the Institute for the Study of Teaching and Learning in the Disciplines (ISTLD) in 2021. 
  • The Centre for Imaginative Ethnography is the winner of the American Anthropology Association's prestigious 2019 New Directions Group in Anthropology Award
  • Winner of The Weaver-Tremblay Award in Canadian Applied Anthropology in 2018, bestowed by the Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA) 
  • Winner of a Shadbolt Fellowship 2012-2013
  • Winner of the 2011 Dean of Graduate Studies Award in Leadership
  • Winner, 2006 George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literaure
  • Honoured in 1999 with a Dean of Arts' Medal for Academic Excellence

Research Funding

  • Simon Fraser University, Institute for Teaching and Learning in the Disciplines
    Co-Principal Investigator with Dr. Adrienne Burk
    Graduate Research Assistant:  Adrienne Wasik
    "Assessing Student Learning in Anthropological Ethnographic Methodologies",
    a classroom-based ethnographic study across 6 courses
    2011-2; 2011-3
  • SFU/SSHRC Institutional Grant Program
    Memories of transgression, exile and icons: the other Sheehy sister
    Principal Investigator: Dara Culhane
  • National Network for Aboriginal Mental Health Research and Training

    Principal Investigator: Dr. Laurence Kirmayer, McGill University
    Seven co-investigators, 3 collaborators, 2 community partners: McGill University, York University, Memorial University, University of BC, University of Alberta, Simon Fraser University
    2001-2005 (renewed to 2007)
  • MCRI
    The Child Project: consortium for health, intervention, learning and development
    2003 -2008

Media & Events

Dara Culhane performed her one-woman play, "Hear Me Looking At You", at the Hudson Guild Theatre in Los Angeles, CA on December 27 and 28, 2013.  Written and Performed by Dara Culhane; Dramaturgy and Direction by Noah Drew, Theatre Department, Concordia University, Montreal

Audience feedback comments: "Thank you for having the personal courage to prepare this show for public audiences to experience, and for the wisdom to recognize in this material something truly illuminating," and "Moving, provocative, dramatic, FUNNY! NOT sentimenal: what political storytelling should be!"

Teaching Philosophy

Commitments to four foundational principles guide my practices as an anthropologist, an ethnographer, and a teacher. (1) Recognition of diversity and common humanity. I believe university students learn best in an environment where they are recognized as unique individuals and as members of distinct collectivities who have both the capacity and the obligation to act ethically in the classroom and in the world. (2) Respect for rigorous processes of scholarly inquiry. I actively cultivate in students a critical, reflexive appreciation of both the knowledge they learn from life experiences, and the discoveries and possibilities that may be realized through scholarly processes of inquiry. (3) Informed, creative engagement in the social world. I consider participation and communication fundamental to anthropological/ ethnographic research, to teaching and learning, and to effective social engagement.  (4) Practical, principled professional development. I take my responsibility to prepare students to enter the world of work within or beyond the academy seriously.  

Currently Teaching

This instructor is currently not teaching any courses.