Pamela Stern

Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Chair of the Graduate Program

  • Email:
  • Tel: 778-782-4677
  • Office Location: AQ 5066


Pamela Stern is a socio-cultural anthropologist who conducts research in two main topical areas: 1) citizenship, and 2) the history and practice of anthropology.

Dr. Stern’s research on citizenship focuses on the ways in which individuals and communities experience and enact their feelings of obligation and belonging to each other and to the state. She is particularly interested in employment as a site of citizenship attachment. Dr. Stern has conducted ethnographic fieldwork related to citizenship in three sites, all within Canada: Ulukhaktok, an Inuvialuit community in the Northwest Territories; Cobalt, Ontario; and New Westminster, British Columbia.

Current Research:

Historicizing Canadian Inuit Ethnography, SSHRC Insight Grant, 2017-2021

In my critical survey of ethnographic research in the Canadian North, I am interrogating the involvement of anthropologists, geographers, and other social scientists in Canadian government’s administration of Inuit lands and communities in the decades immediately following the Second World War. This historical ethnography involves archival work and oral history with ethnographers from the period when Inuit were resettled into newly established permanent towns and villages where they were subjected to day-to-day surveillance by institutions and agents of the state.

Completed Projects:

Nunavut’s Urban Futures: Housing and an Emerging Northern Public Realm, SSHRC Insight Grant, 2014-2018 (co-applicant with Mason White, School of Architecture, Univ. of Toronto (P.I.) and Lola Shepard, University of Waterloo).  Searchable annotated bibliography on Inuit housing in Canada.

(Re)Claiming the New Westminster Waterfront, SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, 2012-2015 (co-applicant with Peter V. Hall (P.I.), Susan O’Neill, Willeen Keough, and Mary-Ellen Kelm)
This engaged research was a collaboration of faculty and students from Simon Fraser University, the New Westminster Museum and Archives, pensioners from Local 502 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and individual community members to trace changes in waterfront work and in the ways urban waterfronts have been socially redefined as sites of non-work. Learn about the project and access primary data, including oral history interviews with waterfront workers here.

Significant Others: Iconic Cultures in the Anthropological Canon, SSHRC Standard Research Grant, 2008-2011 (co-applicant with Thomas S. Abler, University of Waterloo)

NGOs on a Northern Frontier, SSHRC Standard Research Grant, 2005-2008 (principal investigator)

This ethnographic project, which I conducted with economic geographer, Peter V. Hall, examined the development proposal as a technology of neoliberal citizenship. Our site for the research was the northern Ontario town of Cobalt, which in 2001 won a competition to be named the province’s “Most Historic Town.” The purely symbolic honour came as Cobalters were also applying for and winning federal and provincial development grants to remake this once important silver mining centre as a destination for mining heritage tourism. Read our book, The Proposal Economy .

Pamela Stern’s cv (updated May 2018) [.pdf]

Selected Publications


2015  (editor) Reading Cultural Anthropology: An Ethnographic Introduction, Oxford University Press, Toronto.

2015   (coauthored with Peter V. Hall) The Proposal Economy: Neoliberal Citizenship in “Ontario’s Most Historic Town”UBC Press, Vancouver.

2006    (co-edited with Lisa Stevenson). Critical Inuit Studies: an anthology of contemporary Arctic EthnographyUniversity of Nebraska Press, Lincoln.

Journal Articles:

  • in press  Jean L. Briggs (1929-2016), American Anthropologist.
  • 2017   The nature of urban heritage: the view from New Westminster, British Columbia, Anthropologica 59(2): 295-309. [link]
  • 2015   (co-authored with Annika Airas, Peter V. Hall) Asserting historical ‘distinctiveness’ in industrial waterfront transformation, Cities 44: 86-93. [link]
  • 2015   Super Shamou versus Captain Al Cohol: cultural productions and the discourses on Inuit drinkers, Topia 32: (special issue “Theory in a Cold Climate” edited by Peter van Wyck) [.pdf]
  • 2010   (co-authored with Peter V. Hall) The Proposal Economy, Critique of Anthropology, 30(3): 243-264. [link]
  • 2010   (co-authored with Peter V. Hall) Historical Limits: Narrowing Possibilities in Ontario’s ‘Most Historic Town’, The Canadian Geographer, 54(2): 209-227. [link]
  • 2009   (co-authored with Peter V. Hall) Reluctant Rural Regionalists, Journal of Rural Studies, 25(1): 67-76. [link]