Robert Desjarlais is a cultural anthropologist and photographer who lives in New York, where he teaches at Sarah Lawrence College. A native of Massachusetts, he has been the recipient of several distinguished awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship. He received his PhD in anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1990, and was a NIMH post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard University from 1990 to 1992. He was recently the Alice Ilchman Chair in International and Comparative Studies at Sarah Lawrence.
He has conducted anthropological research in several distinct settings, ranging from a Tibetan Buddhist people in the Nepal Himalayas to a shelter for the homeless in downtown Boston. His main scholarly interests relate to the fields of cultural, psychological, and medical anthropology, and phenomenological approaches in anthropology. He is the author of four books, the most recent of which is entitled Counterplay: An Anthropologist at the Chessboard, published by the University of California Press. He is currently completing a new book titled Subject to Death: Life and Loss in a Buddhist World.
He is also presently engaged in two new writing projects. Photography plays a central role in both of these efforts.