Susan D. Blum

Susan Blum

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Professor of Anthropology

Office: 614 Flanner Hall
Phone: 574-631-3762

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Areas of Expertise

Cultural, linguistic, and psychological anthropology; deception and truth; multilingualism; person and self; ethnicity, nationalism and identity; childhood and higher education; morality; well-being; justice; sustainability and food; anthropological theory; China and Asia, the U.S.; cross-cultural comparison

Blum’s big question is: What does the world look and feel like to people, and what are the factors that shaped those views? In pursuit of this question she has looked at the assumptions people in a variety of settings — especially China and the United States — make about how the world is and how it should be, and how they evaluate other people’s behavior. In particular she has tried to understand the nature of individual and social identity (“Portraits of ‘Primitives’: Ordering Human Kinds in the Chinese Nation,” Rowman & Littlefield), cultural and linguistic diversity, the morality of truth and deception across cultures (“Lies that Bind: Chinese Truth, Other Truths,” Rowman & Littlefield), the nature of authorship and achievement in higher education (“My Word! Plagiarism and College Culture,” Cornell University Press), and the meanings of food production and consumption. Her recent work (“‘I Love Learning; I Hate School’: An Anthropology of College,” Cornell U Press) compares formal education and learning outside schools as they participate in the creation of self, well-being and meaning.

An active member of the Task Group on Language and Social Justice, she has written about the so-called language gap alleged to account for children in poverty failing to thrive in schools, and on Chinese language and social justice. In her classes and the collection of readings she published (“Making Sense of Language: Readings on Culture and Communication,” three editions, Oxford University Press) she emphasizes the centrality of questions and curiosity. These always drive the human quest to learn.

At Notre Dame, where she has worked since 2000, beyond the Department of Anthropology she is actively involved in the Institute for Asia and Asian Studies, the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and the Institute for Educational Initiatives. She is also a faculty affiliate of the Shaw Center for Children and Families.


Blum reflects on her work.

Blum discusses the 2008 Olympics.


How do we integrate learning with life?
Notre Dame announces new Ph.D. program in anthropology
Exploring learning in and out of school
Teaching awards honor exemplary work with undergraduates
Anthropologist’s new book examines plagiarism among college students
Blum’s new book examines honesty and lies in China
Father Jenkins leads campus delegation on trip to Asia
Setting His Own Course
Professors publish new book on Chinese culture


The Christian Science Monitor — Melania Trump’s speech: How do you define plagiarism?
WSBT — Plagiarism in politics: Where is the line?
The Chronicle of Higher Education — Small Changes or Big Revolutions?
Times Higher Ed — New and noteworthy
Camp Anthropology — Blum on the publication of her new book, ‘I Love Learning; I Hate School’: An Anthropology of College
Inside Higher Ed — ‘I Love Learning; I Hate School’
The Chronicle of Higher Education — To Stop Exam Cheats, Economists Say, Try Assigning Seats
The Washington Post — How a 13-year-old’s one-line blog post became a worldwide meme
Foreign Policy — Accusations Fly After Chinese Computer Scientist Wins Major Prize
The New Yorker — The Talking Cure
Orlando Sentinel — Florida should pay heed to Atlanta testing scandal
Huffington Post — Cheating All Around
Orlando Sentinel — Florida should pay heed to Atlanta testing scandal
Huffington Post — The United States of (Non)Reading: The End of Civilization or a New Era?
Chicago Tribune — Breaking Down ‘Basic’
International Business Times — China Cracks Down On Academic Fraud
The Ledger — Citrus Research Center Director Accused of Stealing Data for Journal Article
The Chronicle of Higher Education — As Online Courses Grow, Sites Offering Unauthorized Academic Help Get More Brazen
USA Today College — Opinion: What students can learn from Jonah Lehrer’s career-costing mistake
The Chronicle of Higher Education — Software Catches (and Also Helps) Young Plagiarists
WBUR-FM — A Culture Of Plagiarism, Fraud In Academia
The New York Times — Plagiarism Lines Blur for Students in Digital Age
The Wall Street Journal — It’s Not Theft, It’s Pastiche
USA Today — Case of the purloined term paper; when work is resold