Setha Low

Setha Low headshot faculty

Research Interests

  • Anthropology of space and place
  • Ethnography
  • Qualitative Methodology


  • Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley

Setha Low received her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. She trains Ph.D. students in the anthropology of space and place, urban anthropology, the anthropology of the body, and cultural values in historic preservation. She is also director of the GC’s Public Space Research Group. She has been awarded a Getty Fellowship, an NEH fellowship, a Fulbright Senior Fellowship, and a Guggenheim for her ethnographic research on public space in Latin America and the United States. She was president of the American Anthropological Association from 2007 to 2009.

Her current research is on the impact of private governance on New York City co-ops and condominiums and the dominance of corporate logics in domestic and public spaces.  She is working on two new books: “For the Love of Security” (with M. Maguire, NYU Press), and “Beach Politics: Racial, Social, and Environmental Injustice” (Routledge). She worked on a collaborative project with Dolores Hayden on spatial methods and public practices, funded by the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, has been a fellow in the Center for Place, Culture and Politics, and was cochair of the Public Space and Diversity Network, funded by the Max Planck Institute for Religious and Ethnic Diversity.

She is widely published, with more than a hundred articles and chapters, and lectures internationally. Her books include Politics of Public Space (2006), with Neil Smith; Rethinking Urban Parks: Public Space and Cultural Diversity (2005), with S. Scheld and D. Taplin; Behind the Gates: Life, Security and the Pursuit of Happiness in Fortress America (2004); The Anthropology of Space and Place: Locating Culture (2003), with D. Lawrence-Zuniga; and On the Plaza: The Politics of Public Space and Culture (2000).