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. An ethnographer of language and mobility in Island Southeast Asia, Carruthers studies Malay-speaking migrants’ everyday evaluative practices to better understand how they jointly navigate an archipelagic world.  

He was the 2022-2023 U.S. Senior Fulbright Scholar to Malaysia, based at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. 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 Budaya, 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

2023(b). “Specters of excess: Passing and policing in the Malay-speaking archipelago.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp. 131-160. 

2023(a). “In lieu of “keywords”: Toward an anthropology of rapport.” American Anthropologist, Volume 125, pp. 478-492. 

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. 

Edited Volumes 

2022. Laut Sama Direnangi: A festschrift for James T. Collins. (Co-edited with Chong Shin). Kajang: National Malaysian University Press. 

2016. Bukit Sama Didaki: Festschrift Sempena Hari Lahir Professor Emeritus Dr. James T. Collins yang ke-72. (Co-edited with Chong Shin and Dedy Ari Asfar). Kajang: National Malaysian University Press. (In Malay)  

Book Chapters 

2021. “Living on the Edge: Being Malay (and Bugis) in the Riau Islands” in The Riau Islands: Setting Sail (The SIJORI Series), edited by Francis E. Hutchinson and Siwage Dharma Negara, pp. 336-374. 

Book Reviews 

2017. Indonesia’s Changing Political Economy: Governing the Roads. By Jamie S. Davidson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. SOJOURN: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, Volume 32, Number 1, March 2017, pp. 173-176. 

2014. Laughing at Leviathan: Sovereignty and Audience in West Papua. By Danilyn Rutherford. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Journal of Asian Studies Vol. 73, Issue 4 pp. 1163-1165. 

Courses Taught

ANTH 6420: Ethnographies in Linguistic Anthropology

ANTH 6280: Language in Culture and Society: Special Topics 

ANTH 6260: Intensity  

ANTH 2550: Modern Southeast Asia  

ANTH 2020: Language, Migration, Diaspora 

ANTH 1140: Migration and Borders

ANTH 0330: Language, Society and the Human Experience

ANTH 0120: Globalization and Its Historical Significance 

 Previous Courses: 

ANTH 550: Movement, Mobility, Migration 


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  

Global Malaysian Studies Network, Institute of Ethnic Studies (Institut Kajian Etnik), National University of Malaysia (UniversitiKebangsaan Malaysia 



Faculty Status