Andrew Carruthers

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

University Museum Room 426 


Andrew M. Carruthers is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches courses in linguistic anthropology, semiotics, and Southeast Asian Studies, in addition to topical classes on migration and globalization. Specializing in the ethnography of Island Southeast Asia, Carruthers studies the relations between migration, communicative interaction, and everyday processes of  evaluation to better understand how Malay-speaking migrants jointly navigate paths of possibility in an archipelagic world. 


Before arriving at Penn, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Max Weber Foundation Research Group on Borders, Mobility, and New Infrastructures at the National University of Singapore, and a Visiting Fellow in the Indonesian and Malaysian Studies Programmes at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore. 


Ph.D., Yale University (2016)

M.Phil., Yale University (2012)

Visiting, Fakultas Ilmu Bahasa, Universitas Hasanuddin, Indonesia (2010)

A.B., Cornell University (2009)

Visiting, Southeast Asian Studies, National University of Singapore (2008)

Research Interests

Linguistic and sociocultural anthropology; semiotics; migration studies; borders, mobilities, and infrastructures; comparison and ethno-metasemiotic frameworks of evaluation; social theory; Southeast Asian and Nusantara Studies; Indonesia and Malaysia.

Selected Publications

2020. "Intensity, Infrastructure, Aquatectonics.Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space. Volume 38, Issue 5, pp. 820-825. 

2019. "Policing Intensity.Public Culture. Volume 31, Number 3, pp. 469-496.

2018. “Living on the Edge: Being Malay (and Bugis) in the Riau Islands.” Trends in Southeast Asia. Number 12, pp. 1-54. 

2017b. “Grading Qualities and (Un)settling Equivalences: Undocumented Migration, Commensuration, and Intrusive Phonosonics in the Indonesia-Malaysia Borderlands.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology. Volume 27, Issue 2, pp. 124-150. 

2017a. “‘Their Accent Would Betray Them’: Undocumented Immigrants and the Sound of ‘Illegality’ in the Malaysian Borderlands.” SOJOURN: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, Volume 32, Number 2, pp. 221-259.

Selected Policy Papers and Public Engagements

2020 “Movement Control and Migration in Sabah in the Time of COVID-19.” ISEAS Perspective 2020(135):1-11. 

2018 “Be Careful about Putting your Blinders on when Conducting Ethnographic Research” – 5in10 with Andrew Carruthers, TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, Max Weber Stiftung. 

2017 “Clandestine Movement in the Indonesia-Malaysia Migration Corridor: Roots, Routes, and Realities.” ISEAS Perspective 2017(58):1-8. 

2016 “Developing Indonesia’s Maritime Infrastructure: The View from Makassar.” ISEAS Perspective 2016(49):1-8.  

2016 “Sabah ICs for Sabahans: Will it help?” ISEAS Perspective 2016(11):1-8. 

Courses Taught

ANTH 642: Ethnographies in Linguistic Anthropology

ANTH 628: Language in Culture and Society: Special Topics 

ANTH 550: Movement, Mobility, Migration 

ANTH 255: Modern Southeast Asia  

ANTH 202: Language, Migration, Diaspora 

ANTH 114: Migration and Borders

ANTH 033: Language, Society and the Human Experience

ANTH 012: Globalization and Its Historical Significance 


Wolf Humanities Center, University of Pennsylvania  

Perry World House, University of Pennsylvania 

Southeast Asia Working Group, University of Pennsylvania

Lauder Institute, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Max Weber Foundation Research Group on Borders, Mobility, and New Infrastructures, National University of Singapore  



Faculty Status