Richard Shweder

Richard A. Shweder is a cultural anthropologist and the Harold H. Swift Distinguished Service Professor of Human Development. He received his Ph.D. degree in social anthropology in the Department of Social Relations at Harvard University in 1972, taught a year at the University of Nairobi in Kenya and has been at the University of Chicago ever since.

He is author of Thinking Through Cultures: Expeditions in Cultural Psychology and Why Do Men Barbecue? Recipes for Cultural Psychology (both published by Harvard University Press); and editor or co-editor of many books in the areas cultural psychology, psychological anthropology and comparative human development, including Culture Theory: Essays on Mind, Self and Emotion; Cultural Psychology: Essays on Comparative Human Development; Metatheory in Social Science: Pluralisms and Subjectivities; Ethnography and Human Development: Meaning and Context in Social Inquiry; Welcome to Middle Age! (And Other Cultural Fictions); Engaging Cultural Differences: The Multicultural Challenge in Liberal Democracies; Clifford Geertz By His Colleagues; and Just Schools: Pursuing Equality in Societies of Difference. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the recently published reference work on diversity in child and adolescent development titled The Child: An Encyclopedic Companion (University of Chicago Press).

Professor Shweder has been a recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship (1985-86) and was selected as a Carnegie Scholar (2002). He is the recipient of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Socio-Psychological Prize for his essay “Does the Concept of the Person Vary Cross-Culturally?” He has twice been a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Palo Alto (1985-86 and 1995-96), where he has co-chaired a special project on “Culture, Mind and Biology.” He has been a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation (1990-91). He has been a Hewlett Visiting Scholar at the Stanford University Research Institute for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity (2003-2004) and a Visiting Scholar at the Stanford University Hoover Institution (Spring 2005 and Spring 2006). He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has been a member of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Midlife Development (MICMAC). He has served as President of the Society for Psychological Anthropology and has served as co-chair for a joint Social Science Research Council/Russell Sage Foundation Working Group on “Law and Culture” (previously named “Ethnic Customs, Assimilation and American Law”), which is concerned with the issue of the “Free Exercise of Culture: How Free Is It? How Free Ought It To Be?” For the past forty years Professor Shweder has been conducting research in cultural psychology on moral reasoning, emotional functioning, gender roles, explanations of illness, ideas about the causes suffering, and the moral foundations of family life practices in the Hindu temple town of Bhubaneswar on the East Coast of India. During the 1999-2000 academic year he was a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (The Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin) where he co-edited an issue of the journal Daedalus (Autumn 2000) titled The End of Tolerance: Engaging Cultural Differences.

His recent research examines the scopes and limits of pluralism and the multicultural challenge in Western liberal democracies. He examines the norm conflicts that arise when people migrate from Africa, Asia and Latin America to countries in the “North”. They bring with them culturally endorsed practices (e.g., arranged marriage, animal sacrifice, circumcision of both girls and boys, ideas about parental authority) that mainstream populations in the United States or Western Europe sometimes find aberrant and disturbing. How much accommodation to cultural diversity occurs and ought to occur under such circumstances? He has co-edited two books on this topic (with Martha Minow and Hazel Markus) (published June 2002 and April 2008) entitled Engaging Cultural Differences: The Multicultural Challenge in Liberal Democracies and Just Schools: Pursuing Equality in Societies of Difference (Russell Sage Foundation Press 2008). He is currently writing a book provisionally titled Customs Control: Un-American Activities and The Moral Challenge in Cultural Migration. During the 2008-2009 academic year he was a member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. In 2014 he delivered the Philomathia Lectures on Human Values hosted by the Research Centre for Human Values at the Chinese University of Hong Kong on the topic "The Cultural Psychology of Moral Thinking."

Contact Information


Cultural Psychology

When Cultures Collide: The Moral Challenge in Cultural Migration

If Someone Asserts It, Deny It: Critical Reason and Political Correctness in Social Science Research

Moral Psychology and Comparative Ethics

Accessible Publications

Shweder, Richard A. (In Press) "The Risky Cartography of Drawing Moral Maps: With Special Reference to Economic Inequality and Sex Selective Abortion."  Forthcoming in Universalism Without the Uniformity: Explorations in Mind and Culture (Julia Cassaniti and Usha Menon, Editors) (University of Chicago Press)

Shweder, Richard A. (2016) "The End of the Modern Academy: At the University of Chicago, For Example" Originally prepared for New School of Social Research Conference on “The Future of Scholarly Knowledge” (October 13-14, 2016) and forthcoming in the journal Social Research

Shweder, Richard A. (2016) "Cracks in the Ivory Tower: A Note on Prewitt's Indirect Consequentialism". Published in "Items: Insights from the Social Sciences" (The Newsletter of the Social Science Research Council)

Shweder, Richard A. (2016)  Let Socrates Back on Campus  (Response to a question posed by the creators and managers of the Heterodox Academy website: "What change would you like to see in universities or in your academic field by 2025?"   See the full response linked here.

Shweder, Richard A. (2016) "Channeling the Super-Natural Aspects of the the Ethical Life"  (Review of Webb Keane's "The Ethical Life: Its Social and Natural Histories"   HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory  Vol 6. no 1

Shweder, Richard A. (2016)  "Living By Means of the Law of Non-Contradiction", contribution to the Debate on "Anthropology and the Study of Contradictions"  HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory Vol. 6 no. 1

Shweder, Richard A. (2016) "Targeting the Israeli Academy: Will Anthropologists Have the Courage to Just Say 'No'?", Opinion Piece on Huffington Post, Huffpost Politics, March 24th 2016

Shweder, Richard A. (2016) "Equality Now in Genital Reshaping: Brian Earp's Search for Moral Consistency", Kennedy Ethics Institute Journal, forthcoming June issue

Shweder, Richard A. (2015). "The Ultimate Moral Arbiter, Received Tradition or Autonomous Reason? Some Questions Concerning Morality and Development in Confucian EthicsDao vol. 14, issue 2, pp 219–224

Shweder, Richard A. (2015)  "In Defense of the No Action Option: Institutional Neutrality, Speaking for Oneself, and the Hazards of Corporate Political Opinions"  A talk prepared for the panel on “A House Divided:  Politics, Professional Mobilization, and Academic Freedom in American Anthropology,” November 20, 2015 American Anthropological Association Meetings, Denver, Colorado.

2015  "Anthropology and the Non-Natural Properties of Human Nature: Relax and Enjoy Them" A Commentary on Maurice Bloch’s book Anthropology and the Cognitive Challenge prepared for the journal Social Anthropology.

Shweder, Richard A. (In Press) "Social Intelligence in a Multicultural World: What Is It?  Who Needs It? How Does It Develop?"New Persepctives in Human Development, edited by Nancy Budwig, Elliot Turiel, and Philip Zelazo, Cambridge University Press.

Shweder, Richard A. (2014). "The Tower of Appraisals: Trying to Make Sense of the One Big Thing." Emotion Review, vol. 6, no. 4, pp 1-3.

Shweder, Richard A. (2014). "Cubs Suck: Relax and Enjoy It!" in Psychology Today, 23 April 2014.

Shweder, R.A. (2014). "Let Me Tell You a Story About Hindu Temples and Run Away Trolleys: In Honor of Sudhir Kakar." Psychoanalysis, Culture and Religion: essays in honour of Sudhir Kakar. Dinesh Sharma, Ed. Oxford University Press.

Shweder, R.A. (2013). "Understanding souls: A commentary on Anna Wierzbicka’s natural semantic metalanguageThe Australian Journal of Anthropology, no. 24, pp 22–26.

2013. Robust Cultural Pluralism: An Interview with Professor Richard A. Shweder (interviewed by Séamus Power).  Europe's Journal of Psychology, 9:671-686 (Nov. 29, 2013).  Available Open Access:

Shweder, Richard A. (2013). "The goose and the gander: the genital wars." Global Discourse: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Current Affairs and Applied Contemporary Thought.

Shweder, Richard A. and Usha Menon (2013). Old Questions for the New Anthropology of Morality: A Commentary. (Forthcoming in a special issue of journal "Anthropological Theory" on the topic of culture and morality, edited by Julia Cassaniti and Jacob Hickman).

Shweder, Richard A. (2012). "The Cultural Psychology of Natural Kinds and the Deconstruction of the Emotions: A CommentEmotion Review Vol. 4, No. 4 pp 382–384

Shweder, Richard A. (2012). "To Follow The Argument Where It Leads: An Antiquarian View of the Aim of Education at the University of Chicago."  In Who's Afraid of Academic Freedom?  Ed. Jonathan Cole, Akeel Bilgrami and Jon Elster.

Shweder, Richard (2012). "In Memoriam: Bertram Cohler 1938-2012." Developments: Newsletter of the Society for Research in Child Development. July 2012 vol. 55 no. 3, pp 15-16.

The Public Policy Advisory Network on Female Genital Surgeries in Africa (2012). "Seven Things to Know About Female Genital Surgeries in Africa."  Hastings Center Report 42:19-27

Shweder, Richard A. (2012). "Anthropology's Disenchantment With the Cognitive Revolution." In TOPICS: Journal of the Cognitive Science Society. 4(3): 354-61.

Shweder, Richard A. (2012). "The Metaphysical Realities of the Unphysical Sciences: Or Why Vertical Integration Seems Unrealistic to Ontological Pluralists." In Creating Consilience, Integrating the Sciences and the Humanities. Ed. Edward Slingerland and Mark Collard. Oxford University Press, pp 56-73.

Shweder, R.A. (2012). "Relativism and Universalism." Forthcoming in Companion to Moral Anthropology (Didier Fassin, Ed.)

Shweder, R.A. (2010). "Geertz's Challenge: Is It Possible to Be a Robust Cultural Pluralist and a Dedicated Political Liberal at the Same Time?" In Law Without Nations (edited by Austin Sarat), Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press 2010, pages 185-231.

Shweder, R.A. (2009). "Shouting at the Hebrews: Imperial Liberalism v Liberal Pluralism and the Practice of Male Circumcision." Law, Culture and the Humanities. 5: 247-265

Shweder, R.A. (2009). “Interview with Fuambai Ahmadu on ‘Disputing the Myth of Sexual Dysfunction in Circumcised Women’”, Anthropology Today, 23(6): 14-17.

Shweder, R.A. (2008). “After Just Schools: Conflicting Varieties of Liberal Hope.” In M. Minow, R.A. Shweder, & H. Markus (Eds.), Just Schools: Pursuing Equality in Societies of Difference. New York: Russell Sage Foundation Press.

Shweder, R.A. (2008). "The Cultural Psychology of Suffering: The Many Meanings of Health in Orissa, India (and Elsewhere)." Ethos 36(1): 60-77.

Shweder, R.A., Haidt, Jonathan, Horton & Joseph, Craig (2008). “The Cultural Psychology of Emotions: Ancient and Renewed.” In M. Lewis, Jeannette Haviland-Jones, and Lisa Barrett (Eds.) Handbook of Emotions (3rd Edition). New York: Guilford Press.

Shweder, R.A. (2007). "The Resolute Irresolution of Clifford Geertz. Memorial essay for Clifford Geertz. Written for the journal Common Knowledge (Vol. 13 No. 2)

Shweder, R.A. (2007). "The Revival of Cultural Psychology: Some Premonitions and Reflections." In Shinobu Kitayama and Dov Cohen (Eds.), Handbook of Cultural Psychology, Pp. 821-836. Guilford Press.

Shweder, R.A. (2006). "John Searle on a witch hunt: A commentary on John R. Searle's essay ‘Social ontology: Some basic principles’" Anthropological Theory 2006; Vol. 6, No.1; Pp. 89-111

Shweder, R.A. (2006). "Protecting Human Subjects and Preserving Academic Freedom: Prospects at the University of Chicago. American Ethnologist, Vol. 33, No. 4, pp. 507–518

Shweder, R.A., J. Goodnow , G. Hatano , R. Levine , H. Markus & P. Miller (2006) "The Cultural Psychology of Development: One Mind, Many Mentalities." (Revised and Updated) In William Damon (Ed.), Handbook of Child Psychology, 6th Edition, John Wiley and Sons.

Shweder, R.A. (2005). "When Cultures Collide: Which Rights? Whose Tradition of Values? A Critique of the Global Anti-FGM Campaign. Global Justice and the Bulwarks of Localism, pp. 181-199

Shweder, R.A. (2005). "From Persons and Situations to Preferences and Constraints. This essay expands on remarks delivered on June 11, 2005 at Columbia University at a Festschrift in honor of Walter Mischel titled "Toward a Science of the Person: Paradigm Change in Psychological Models of Human Nature" (organized by Yuichi Shoda and Daniel Cervone).

Shweder, R.A. (2004). "Tuskegee re-examined. Spiked Essays, A cultural anthropologist offers a counter-narrative to the infamous story of US government scientists allowing black men to suffer from untreated syphilis, and how this story is used as an example of why we need the Institutional Review Board (IRB) system.

Shweder, R.A. (2004). "George Bush and the Missionary Position.Daedalus. 133(3): 26-36.

Shweder, R.A., N. Much, L. Park and M.M. Mahapatra (2003). "The 'Big Three' of Morality (Autonomy, Community, Divinity) and the 'Big Three' Explanations of Suffering. Originally from "Morality and Health." Allan Brandt and Paul Rozin (eds). New York: Routledge, 1997. Reprinted in "Why Do Men Barbecue?: Recipes for Cultural Psychology." Shweder, R. A. Cambridge, MA: Havrard University Press.

Shweder, R.A. (2003). "The Moral Challenge in Cultural Migration." American Arrivals: Anthropology Engages the New Immigration. School of American Research Press, Santa Fe: New Mexico.

Shweder, R.A. (2003). "Anti-Postculturalism (Or, the View from Manywheres)” In "Why Do Men Barbecue?: Recipes for Cultural Psychology." Shweder, R. A. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Shweder, R.A. (2003). "Toward A Deep Cultural Psychology of Shame." Social Research 70: 1401-1422.

Shweder, R.A. (2002). "The nature of morality: The category of bad acts." From Medical Ethics vol. 9 issue 1, pp. 6-7.

Shweder, R.A. (2002). "'What about female genital mutilation?' and why understanding culture matters in the first place.” From "Engaging cultural differences: the multicultural challenge in liberal democracies", R. Shweder, M. Minow, & H. Markus (Eds.).

Shweder, R.A. (2000). "The Psychology of Practice and the Practice of the Three Psychologies.” Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 3:207-222.

Shweder, R.A. (2000). "Moral Maps, ‘First World’ Conceits and the New Evangelists.” In Lawrence Harrison and Samuel Huntington (Eds.), Culture Matters: Cultural Values and Human Progress, New York: Basic Books, Inc. pages 158-177. Originally prepared for Conference on "Cultural Values and Human Progress," American Academy of Arts and Sciences, April 23-25, 1999.

Shweder, R.A. (1996) "True Ethnography - The Lore, the Law, the Lure" in Ethnography and Human Development edited by Richard Jessor, Anne Colby and Richard A. Shweder, University of Chicago Press

Shweder, R.A., Jensen, Lene & Goldstein, William A (1995). "Who Sleeps by Whom Revisited: A Method for Extracting the Moral Goods Implicit in Practice.” From the publication Cultural Practices as Contexts for Development. Vol 67, pp 21-39.  J.J. Goodnow, P.J. Miller and F. Kessel, eds., Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco.

Menon, Usha; Shweder, Richard A. (1994) "Kali's tongue: Cultural psychology and the power of shame in Orissa, India.Emotion and culture: Empirical studies of mutual influence. , (pp. 241-282). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association, xiii, 385 pp.

Shweder, R.A. (1994) "Fundamentalism for Highbrows: The [1993] Aims of Education Address at the University of ChicagoAcademe, Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors. Vol. 80, No.6

Shweder, R.A. (1994). "You're Not Sick, You're Just in Love": Emotion as an Interpretive System. The Nature of Emotions: Fundamental Questions. Edited by Paul Ekman & Richard J. Davidson (New York: Oxford University Press) pp. 32-44.

Shweder, R.A. (1994). "Are Moral Intuitions Self-Evident Truths?” From the journal Criminal Justice Ethics. Vol 13, no 2. pp 24-31.

Shweder, R.A. & Haidt, Jonathan (1993). "The Future of Moral Psychology: Truth, Intuition, and the Pluralist Way.” From the journal Psychological Science. Vol 4, no 6. pp 360-365.

Shweder, R.A. & Sullivan, Maria (1993). "Cultural Psychology: Who Needs It?", Annual Review of Psychology, 44:497-523

Shweder, R.A. (1992). "Ghost Busters in Anthropology." In "Human Motives and Cultural Models.” R.G. D'Andrade and Claudia Strauss (Eds.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Reprinted in Kroeber Anthropological Society Papers nos. 69-70, 1989, pp. 100-108, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley).

Shweder, R.A. & Much, N. (1991). "Determinations of Meaning: Discourse and Moral Socialization." Originally from "Moral Development Through Social Interaction." William Kurtines and Jacob Gewirtz (eds.) Reprinted in "Thinking Through Cultures: Expeditions in Cultural Psychology," Shweder, R.A., Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991

Shweder, R.A. (1991). "The Astonishment of Anthropology." In "Thinking Through Cultures: Expeditions in Cultural Psychology,” Shweder, R.A., Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991.

Shweder, R.A. & Sullivan, Maria (1990). "The Semiotic Subject of Cultural Psychology."  L. Pervin (Ed.), Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research. New York: Guilford Press.

Shweder, R.A. (1990). "In Defense of Moral Realism: Reply to Gabennesch.” Child Development. Vol 61, no 6. pp 2060-2067.

Shweder, R.A. (1990). "Ethical Relativism: Is There a Defensible Version?"  Ethos, Vol. 18, No. 2, Moral Relativism (June 1990), pp 205-218.

Shweder, R. A. (1988). "Suffering in style." Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 12(4), 479-497.

Shweder, R.A. et al. (1987). "Culture and moral development."  The emergence of morality in young children (pp. 1-83). J. Kagan & S. Lamb (eds). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Shweder, R.A (1986).  "Uneasy Social Science."  Metatheory in Social Science: Pluralisms and Subjectivities, Donald W. Fiske and Richard A. Shweder (Eds.), Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986, pages 1-18.

Shweder, R.A. (1983). "Culture as a Cognitive System.” Social Cognition and Social Development: A Sociocultural Perspective. E. Tory Higgins, Diane N. Ruble and Willard W. Hartup (Eds.) Cambridge University Press. (Deborah L. Pool, Richard A. Shweder and Nancy C. Much), pp. 193-213.

Shweder, R.A. (1982). "Beyond Self-Constructed Knowledge: The Study of Culture and MoralityMerrill-Palmer Quarterly, Vol. 28, No. 1 (January 1982), pp. 41-69

Shweder, R.A. (1982). "Liberalism as Destiny.” Contemporary Psychology. Vol 27, no 6. pp 421-424.

Shweder, R.A. & Bourne, E.J. (1982). "Does the concept of the person vary cross-culturally?" Originally from Cultural Conceptions of Mental Health and Therapy, A. Marsella and G. White (eds.) Dordrecht, Holland: Reidel. Reprinted in Thinking Through Cultures: Expeditions in Cultural Psychology, Shweder, R.A., Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991.

Much N., Shweder, R.A. and Turiel, E. (1981). "The moral intuitions of the child.” Social Cognitive Development: Frontiers and Possible Futures. John H. Flavell & Lee Ross (eds). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Shweder, Richard A. "Rethinking Culture and Personality Theory Part III: From Genesis and Typology to Hermeneutics and Dynamics." Ethos , Vol. 8, No. 1 (Spring, 1980), pp. 60-94

Shweder, Richard A. "Rethinking Culture and Personality Theory Part II: A Critical Examination of Two More Classical Postulates." Ethos , Vol. 7, No. 4 (Winter, 1979), pp. 279-311

Shweder, Richard A. "Rethinking Culture and Personality Theory Part I: A Critical Examination of Two Classical Postulates." Ethos , Vol. 7, No. 3 (Autumn, 1979), pp. 255-278

Shweder, R.A. & Much, N. (1978). "Speaking of Rules: The Analysis of Culture in Breach.” In William Damon (Ed.), New Directions in Child Development, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, pp.19-39.

Shweder, R.A. (1973). "The between and within of Cross-Cultural ResearchEthos, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp. 531-545

Selected Publications

The Child: An Encyclopedic Companion University of Chicago Press: Chicago. 2009 (Richard Shweder, Editor-in-Chief, Tom Bidell, Anne Dailey, Suzanne Dixon, Peggy Miller and John Modell, Editors)

Why Do Men Barbecue?: Recipes for Cultural Psychology. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA (2003).

Engaging Cultural Differences: The Multicultural Challenge in Liberal Democracies.  Russell Sage Foundation Press: NY (Richard A. Shweder, Martha Minow, Hazel Markus, editors) (2002).

Ethnography and Human Development: Context and Meaning in Social Inquiry. The University of Chicago Press: (Richard Jessor, Anne Colby, and Richard Shweder, editors) (1996).

Clifford Geertz by His Colleagues. The University of Chicago Press. (Richard Shweder and Byron Good, editors).

Welcome to Middle Age! (And Other Cultural Fictions). University of Chicago Press.  (Richard A. Shweder, editor).

Cultural Psychology: The Chicago Symposia. New York: Cambridge University Press. (James Stigler, Richard A. Shweder, Gilbert Herdt, editors).

Thinking through Cultures: Expeditions in Cultural Psychology. Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press.

Metatheory in Social Science: Pluralisms and Subjectivities. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. (Richard A. Shweder and D.W. Fiske, editors) (1986).

Culture Theory: Essays on Mind, Self and Emotion. New York: Cambridge University Press, (Richard A. Shweder and Robert A. Levine, editors) (1984).