About Us

Adjunct Assistant Professor

Office NAH 411
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Educational qualification Ph.D., Harvard University
J.D., Columbia University


Erika Evasdottir started as an archaeologist of China (with a primary interest in irrigation and water systems and their contribution to the rise of the city) but while doing research in China discovered Chinese archaeologists themselves were even more interesting and decided to study them instead. Her interests lie in how people negotiate rules and hierarchies to carve out spaces for their own interests and goals, primarily in the workplace. “Rules” can be taken literally (as in, rules and regulations at work) or as a metaphor (as in what customs people follow when speaking to their boss vs to their secretary). Understanding rules requires an understanding of language and how people use strategies and tactics around interpretation, definition, and assumptions (stereotypes) to make their way through their careers. It also requires an interest in and an unexpected appreciation for hierarchy and how its organizing principles can be a barrier and a benefit in the workplace. Her interest in rules and language (and careers) led her eventually to becoming a lawyer, which is why she is not on campus and not actively publishing, but you can always reach out and meet in a coffee shop somewhere in Central to talk words, rules, and careers. And when she retires, you can bet her second book will be about lawyers.

Research interests

Language, rules, laws, and hierarchy in the workplace

Geographical areas of research

China and the Chinese diaspora; India

Courses taught

ANTH 5401 Reading Ethnography

ANTH 4321 Anthropology of Work

GRS 5085 Gender and Work

Current research

Lawyers and their careers

Cryptocurrency and forcing change on established systems


2004 Winner – K.D. Srivastava Award, UBC Press, for Obedient Autonomy: Chinese Intellectuals and the Achievement of Orderly Life.
2003 Human Rights Internship Fellowship (fully paid summer internship)
2003 Jessup International Moot Court:
                  Team:              First in Written Competition; First Overall
                  Individual:       Second Place Oralist
2002 Hamilton Fellow (full 3 year tuition scholarship), Columbia Law School
2000 Izaak Walter Killam Post-Doctoral Fellowship, University of British Columbia
2000 Green College Scholarship, University of British Columbia
2000 Davies Charitable Foundation Fellowship, Kingston, Ontario
1997-98 Harvard-Yenching Scholar, Harvard University
1997-98 Pacific Cultural Foundation Grant, Taipei, Taiwan
1993-96 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Fellowship

Teaching Awards

Excellence in Teaching; awarded by Derek Bok Center, Harvard University
Awarded in years:     1999, 1998 (twice), 1995

Excellence in Tutoring; awarded by Dunster House, Harvard University

1996-97                ‘Best Tutor Award’

Other Positions Held

Columbia Journal of Asian Law, Submissions Editor 2003-2004; Editor-in-Chief 2004-2005

Selected Publications
2004 Obedient Autonomy: Chinese Intellectuals and the Achievement of Orderly Life (2004; UBC Press and University of Hawaii Press).
2002 “Book Review: Treasons, Stratagems, and Spoils, by F.G. Bailey.” Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology Vol. 39 (3).

“Rereading Rethinking Archaeology: What the Present can Learn from the Past,” for the

‘Festschrift in Honor of KC Chang,’ Journal of East Asian Archaeology, 2(1-2), pp. 343-362.

1990 “Jomon Agriculture,” McGill Journal of East Asian Studies, 2(1).
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