Robin Balliger earned her PhD in anthropology at Stanford University and currently serves as Lecturer in the Anthropology Department. She was Associate Professor and Chair of “Art, Place, and Public Studies” at San Francisco Art Institute for over twenty years (until SFAI closed in 2022). Balliger’s current project is on the City of Oakland, particularly on arts, culture, and racial politics in the context of urban restructuring. In 2019 she was invited to present her research on precarity at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Germany and subsequently published articles in Art and Gentrification in a Changing Neoliberal Landscape and Journal of Urban Cultural Studies (2021). Balliger previously conducted extensive research in Trinidad on popular music, media expansion, and identity formation in national/transnational space, work described by scholars as “pioneering” in music and sound studies. She received fellowships from Fulbright, MacArthur Foundation, National Science Foundation, Wenner Gren, Mellon Foundation, she was awarded the Textor Award for Outstanding Anthropological Creativity, and students have honored her with teaching awards. Earlier publications appear in The Global Resistance Reader, Trinidad Carnival: The Cultural Politics of a Transnational Festival, Media Fields Journal, and Race, Poverty, and the Environment. Prior to graduate school, Balliger was a musician, activist, and co-founder of Komotion International, a legendary artist collective, gallery, and performance space that exemplified the radical politics and creativity of San Francisco’s Mission District.
BA, University of California, Berkeley, Music
PhD, Stanford University, Anthropology (2001)
Current Research and Scholarly Interests
Robin Balliger’s current project is on the City of Oakland, particularly on arts, culture, and racial politics in the context of urban restructuring. This long-term ethnographic project focuses on lived experiences of disinvestment, gentrification, precarity, policing, and mutual aid in the 21st century, and how these urban processes articulate with the production of space through public art and creative practices. Balliger previously conducted extensive research in Trinidad on popular music, media expansion, and identity formation in national/transnational space, work described by scholars as “pioneering" in music and sound studies.
- Policing and the Carceral State
ANTHRO 338A (Win)
- Whose Public Art? Monuments and Murals in a Contested Public Sphere
ANTHRO 342W (Spr)
- Painting over Precarity: Community Public Art and the Optics of Dispossession, Gentrification, and Governance in West Oakland, CA Journal of Urban Cultural Studies 2021; 8 (1): 81-107
- Proximal Disruptions: Artists, Arts-Led Urban Regeneration and Gentrification in Oakland, California Art and Gentrification in the Changing Neoliberal Landscape Routledge. 2021: 39-56
- Mediating the Local: Radio and the Neoliberal Cultural Economy of Space in Trinidad Media Fields Journal 2012; 4