Jon Holtzman

Jon Holtzman
Professor of Anthropology and Graduate Advisor
(269) 387-3967
1002 Moore Hall, Mail Stop 5306
Mailing address: 
Department of Anthropology
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5306 USA
  • Ph.D., Cultural Anthropology, University of Michigan, 1996
Research interests: 
  • Food
  • Violence, history and memory
  • Visual anthropology

Dr. Jon Holtzman is a professor in the Department of Anthropology at Western Michigan University. He is a cultural anthropologist whose work centers on Samburu pastoralists in northern Kenya and Nuer (Sudanese) refugees in Minnesota.

Holtzman has held grants from various sources, including the:

  • National Science Foundation
  • Social Science Research Council
  • American Council of Learned Societies

His publications include two books and articles in journals such as:

  • American Anthropologist
  • American Ethnologist
  • Annual Review of Anthropology
  • Current Anthropology
  • Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
  • Postcolonial Studies

Holtzman's most recent book examines what the Samburu people perceive as an epochal shift in their basic diet, from a regimen of milk, meat, and blood to one of purchased agricultural products.  He argues that the Samburu experience this transformation as deeply ambivalent because the experience of food itself—symbolic, sensuous, social and material—is intrinsically characterized by multiple and frequently conflicting layers.

Holtzman is completing a multivocal ethnography of interethnic violence, interweaving Samburu narratives of war with those of the neighboring ethnic groups with whom they oscillate between peaceful coexistence and brutal violence. He is also working on ethnographic films to accompany this book.

He is also in the early stages of developing a new research project on food and memory in Japan, focusing in particular on sweets.

Regional focus: East Africa, U.S., Japan.