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 she is writing a book titled “Spatializing Culture: An Anthropological Theory of Space and Place.” In 2009 she began 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, and in 2010 she was a fellow in the Center for Place, Culture and Politics. In 2011 she became cochair of the Public Space and Diversity Network, funded by the Max Planck Institute for Religious and Ethnic Diversity. Most recently, she received funding from the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to study condominiums and private governance in Toronto and New York with Randy Lippert.

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).