The Catholic University of America

Phyllis P. Chock, Professor Emerita


Congratulations to Dr. Phyllis Chock
on her retirement after teaching at CUA since 1971. She served six years as department chair, as many as editor of the Anthropological Quarterly and, as president of the Anthropological Society of Washington, organized a year-long symposium that resulted in a volume she edited (with June Wyman) on Discourse and the Social Life of Meaning, published by the Smithsonian Press in 1986.

Over the years, her research focus moved from expressions of ethnicity among Greek-Americans to cultural constructions of citizen and alien in path-breaking work on Congressional testimony which contributed to the revaluation of "ethnicity" and "identity" in American anthropology now incorporated into the US Census. At CUA, Dr. Chock supervised dissertation projects from New Guinea to Africa to the US and taught courses from theory and method to linguistic anthropology, including immensely popular courses on gender, cultures in a global world, and identity in America.

The Undergraduate Student Government recognized that achievement with their James E. Dornan Memorial teacher of the year award in 2004, and on her retirement the department presented her an antique Chinese bowl of appropriately ambiguous provenance along with our genuine thanks for her unambiguous contributions.


 Significant Publications

"The Constrained Use of Irony in U.S. Congressional Testimony" In Irony in Action, edited by James W. Fernandez & Mary Taylor Huber (2001)

"'A Very Bright Line:' Kinship and Nationality in U.S. Congressional Hearings on Immigration" PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review (November 1999)

"Porous Borders: Discourses of Difference in Congressional Hearings on Immigration" In Democracy and Ethnography, edited by Carol Greenhouse (1998) 

"No New Women: Gender, 'Alien,' and 'Citizen' in the Congressional Debate on Immigration" PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review (May 1996)

"Culturalism: Pluralism, Culture, and Race in The Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups" Identities (May 1995)

"'Your Friend, the Illegal': Definition and Paradox in Newspaper Accounts of Immigration Reform," with Susan B. Coutin, Identities (September 1995) 

"Ambiguity in Policy Discourse: Congressional Talk about Immigration" Policy Sciences (1995)

"The Self-Made Woman: The Success Story and Gender in Greek-American Family Histories" In Naturalizing Power, edited by Sylvia Yanagisako & Carol Delaney (1995) 

"Remaking and Unmaking "Citizen" in Policy-Making Talk about Immigration" PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review (November 1994) 

"'Illegal Aliens' and 'Opportunity': Myth-Making in Congressional Testimony" American Ethnologist (May 1991) 

"The Landscape of Enchantment: Redaction in a Theory of Ethnicity" Cultural Anthropology (May 1989) 

"The Irony of Stereotypes: Toward an Anthropology of Ethnicity" Cultural Anthropology (August 1987)

Discourse and the Social Life of Meaning, edited with June Wyman (1986) 

"Time, Nature, and Spirit: A Symbolic Analysis of Greek-American Spiritual Kinship" American Ethnologist (February 1974)