Jarrett Zigon headshot

Jarrett Zigon

William & Linda Porterfield Chair in Biomedical Ethic
Unit: College of Arts and Sciences
Department: Department of Anthropology
Office location and address
Brooks Hall, 301
1702 University Ave
Charlottesville, Virginia 22904

My interests include the anthropology of moralities and ethics; the intertwining of humans, worlds and situations; political activity and theory; the intersection of anthropology and philosophy; and the drug war.  These interests are taken up from the perspective of an anthropology strongly influenced by post-Heideggerian continental philosophy and critical theory, the theoretical articulation of which I name critical hermeneutics.  My research projects in Russia have included ethnographically examining Russian Orthodox Church drug rehabilitation programs as spaces for moral training, and life-historical research on moral experience in times of post-Soviet social and political change. For the last decade, I have been conducting research with the globally networked anti-drug war movement, in an attempt to rethink some of our most closely held ethical and political assumptions and conceptualizations.

I have authored several books: Morality: An Anthropological Perspective (2008), Making the New Post-Soviet Person: Narratives of Moral Experience in Contemporary Moscow (2010), and HIV is God’s Blessing: Rehabilitating Morality in Neoliberal Russia (2011), and edited a volume titled, Multiple Moralities and Religion in Contemporary Russia (2011). My latest book, Disappointment: Toward a Critical Hermeneutics of Worldbuilding (2018), addresses the ethical, political and ontological grounds of the disappointment many feel today, offering an alternative vision of what a future could be and how to achieve it. 

I received my Ph.D. in anthropology from the City University of New York, Graduate Center (2006) and M.A. in liberal arts, with a focus on moral and political philosophy, from St. John’s College (1998). I have been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, a visiting scholar at Columbia University, and a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology.  My research has been funded through a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship, The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), and the European Research Council (ERC), among others. 

ANTH 3290: Biopolitics and the Contemporary Condition
Credits: 3
Biopolitical analysis has become one of the prominent critical approaches across the social sciences and humanities. This course will consider various biopolitical theories and the ways in which they help us understand diverse phenomena of our contemporary condition, which will be examined through various case studies.
ANTH 5240: Relational Ethics
Credits: 3
How might we begin to conceive relational ethics? In the attempt to think through this question, we will slowly read and discuss some important texts in anthropology and continental philosophy that have attempted to think and articulate relationality, being-with and ethics.
PHIL 5550: Seminar on a Philosophy of Bioethics Topic
Credits: 3
A seminar on the ethical implications of biomedical research.
ANTH 5559: New Course in Anthropology
Credits: 1–4
New course in the subject of anthropology.
ANTH 7590: Topics in Social and Cultural Anthropology
Credits: 3
Topics to be announced prior to each semester, dealing with social and cultural anthropology.
ANTH 8998: Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Research
Credits: 1–12
For master's research, taken before a thesis director has been selected.
ANTH 9050: Research Practicum
Credits: 1
Research Practicum
ANTH 9998: Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Doctoral Research
Credits: 1–12
For doctoral research, taken before a dissertation director has been selected.
ANTH 9999: Non-Topical Research
Credits: 1–12
For doctoral dissertation, taken under the supervision of a dissertation director.