Danilyn Rutherford received her bachelor’s degree in biology and history from Stanford University in 1983 and her doctorate in anthropology, with a minor in Southeast Asian Studies, from Cornell University in1997. She briefly taught at Goldsmiths College in London, before joining the University of Chicago, where she was on the faculty of anthropology from 1998 to 2009. At the University of Chicago, she served as director of graduate studies and on the committees of scores of graduate students, who worked with her on topics ranging from violence in East Timor to Slovenian contemporary art. In 2009, she joined the department of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she was chair from 2011 to 2016 and a member of the campus wide Committee on Planning and Budget from 2015-2016.
Rutherford is a past president of the Society for Cultural Anthropology and has served on the executive committee of the Pacific Rim Fellowship Committee, on the board of the Papuan Resource Center, as principle investigator within a Carnegie Foundation/East West Center project on internal conflicts in Asia, and as a reviewer for the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council, American Ethnologist, Cultural Anthropology, Indonesia, Ethnos, Hau, Cornell University Press, and Duke University Press. She is a member of the Institute for Advanced Studies. Before joining academia, she worked as an English teacher in Central Java with Volunteers in Asia and as associate director of a non-profit, the International Development Exchange.
Rutherford is the author of three books on West Papua, where she has conducted the bulk of her research: Raiding the Land of the Foreigners: The Limits of the Nation on an Indonesian Frontier, Laughing at Leviathan: Sovereignty and Audience in West Papua, and Living in the Stone Age: Reflections on the Origins of a Colonial Fantasy. The Wenner-Gren Foundation was the first to support her work in West Papua; she also received a Javits Fellowship, a Fulbright Hayes Fellowship, and awards from the Social Science Research Council and the MacArthur Foundation Program on Global Security and Sustainability. Her interests are broad and eclectic. She has published essays and articles on kinship, Christian conversion, nationalism, sovereignty, missionary language ideology, Franz Kafka’s “In the Penal Colony,” affect, money, technology, climate change, and the empirical nature of anthropological work. In 2016, she received a National Science Foundation Scholar’s Award to begin a new project on belief and communication in the social worlds of adolescents with severe and profound intellectual disabilities. Rutherford stepped in as president of Wenner-Gren in July 2017 and is thrilled to have an opportunity to contribute to anthropology in this role.