Photo of Frances Slaney

Frances Slaney

Adjunct Research Professor

Degrees:PhD (Laval)

Areas of Interest

Frances Slaney is a socio-cultural anthropologist whose research areas include Tarahumara ethnography, anthropology of art, material culture, anthropology of museums, ritual, landscape aesthetics, the history of anthropology and anthropological theory. She began her studies in anthropology at the University of British Columbia (BA), and completed them at Université Laval (MA, PhD). As a graduate student, she participated in seminars at the Centre National de Recherche (CNRS) in Paris, and at the Summer Institute for Structuralist and Semiotic Studies in Toronto and in Bloomington, Indiana.


Frances’ PhD fieldwork in Mexico was funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research in New York. Following fieldwork in the Sierra Tarahumara of northwestern Mexico, she wrote an analysis of duplicated ritual practices among Tarahumaras (Rarámure Pagótame) as a reflection on Spanish colonialism. She also critically re-evaluated the Tarahumara texts written by French surrealist Antonin Artaud.

With support from SSHRC post-doctoral and standard research grants, Frances has done archival research in France, England and Canada. She is particularly interested in the career of C. Marius Barbeau at Ottawa’s Museum of Man (now the Canadian Museum of Civilization) and his collaborations with modern Canadian artists, including landscape painters from the Group of Seven. She is currently completing a book that explores Barbeau’s European education under the direction of R.R. Marett at Oxford and Marcel Mauss in Paris (1907-1910) with particular attention to the question of how this education influenced his early 20th C. museum practices and hopes for a Canadian (proto-) multi-cultural aesthetics and art history.

Frances came to Carleton in 2005 from the University of Regina where she taught anthropology from 1996 to 2005.

Non-academic publications:

2015 Slaney, F. “A Brief History of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, From its 19th century origins to its recent demise” Bytown Pamphlet Series, No. 94, Ottawa History Society.

2015 Slaney, F. “Faber-Sociality’ in Urban Sheepdog/Human Relations: The materiality of Inter-Species Dwelling and Crafting” (8 pp). (Catalogue essay for a visual arts Installation at RIA (Research In Art) exhibition, Ottawa: Being Human).

2014 Slaney, F. Slaney, F. “Harper’s history museum betrays First Nations” CAUT Bulletin, Comment/Opinions, vol. 61 No. 2, February. (Reprinted in Culture (The Canadian Anthropological Society Newsletter), spring/printemps, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 7-8.

2013 Slaney, F. “A military museum coup” op-ed, Ottawa Citizen, January 30.

Selected academic publications:

2013 Slaney, F. “Cosiendo ropa en Panalachi: el mundo florido de las mujeres Tarahumaras” in Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel (ed.) Hilando al NorteÑ Nudos, Redes, Vestidos, Textiles. San Luis Potosí: El Colegio de San Luis.

2010 Slaney, F. “Vitalism in Canada’s Anthropology and Art: Barbeau’s Early Twentieth-Century connection to Modernist Painters, Especially Emily Carr” The Journal of canadian Art History XXXI: 62-96.

2009 Slaney, F. “Matéria e Memória no Museu Nacional do Canadá,” António Madeiros, trans., in António Medeiros and Manuel Joāo Ramos eds. Memória e Artifício: Memória do Património II. Sociedade de Geografia de Lisboa:Lisbon, pp. 103-29.

2008 Slaney, F. “Artistic Labour and the Embodiment of Culture: Barbeau’s Canadian anthropology of art as a vision from Oxford and Paris” Chapter 2 in L. Jessup, A. Nurse and G. Smith, eds. Around and About Marius Barbeau: Writings on the Politics of Twentieth-Century Canadian Culture. Ottawa: Museum of Civilization Press, Mercury Series, pp. 27-63.

2007 Slaney, F. “Marius Barbo i kanadskie khudozhniki-peizazhisty”[“Marius Barbeau and Canadian Landscape Painters: At the Crossroads of Ethnology and Art”] Etnograficheskoe Obozrenie [Ethnographic Review] November, no. 6, Moscow: Russian Academy of Sciences, pp. 58-79.

2000 Slaney, Frances. “The Role of Landscape Painters in Marius Barbeau’s Ethnology: Working For A Canadian Sense of Place(s)” in Richard Handler (ed.) Excluded Ancestors, Inventible Traditions: Essays Toward a More Inclusive History of Anthropology. History of Anthropology, Vol.9. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, pp. 81-122.

1997 Slaney, Frances. “Double Baptism: Personhood and Ethnicity in the Sierra Tarahumara of Mexico.” Featured article: issues in debate. American Ethnologist. 24:2, pp. 279-301.

1994 Slaney, Frances. “Un paysage entièrement moderne: Antonin Artaud dans la Sierra Tarahumara.” Anthropologie et Sociétés. 18:1, pp.133-155.

1989 Slaney, Frances. “Psychoanalysis and Cycles of ‘Subversion’ in Modern Art and Anthropology.” Dialectical Anthropology. 14, pp. 213-234.

Undergraduate courses taught:

Personhood (ANTH 4780)
Mesoamerican Ethnography (ANTH 2650)
Contemporary Theory in Anthropology (ANTH 3006)
History of Anthropological Theory (ANTH 2005, now ANTH 3007)
Material Culture and Museums (ANTH 3580)
Anthropology of Symbols (ANTH 3500)
Studies in Art, Culture and Society (ANTH/SOCI 3570)
Contemporary Material Culture & Embodiment in Theory & Ethnography (ANTH 4007)

Graduate courses taught:

Personhood Revisited: From salvage ethnography to post-humanism (ANTH 5708)
Theories and Methods I (ANTH 5401)
Theories of Visual and Material Culture (ANTH 5807/CLMD 6103) co-taught with Dr. Ruth Phillips
Semiotics of Material Culture and Embodiment (ANTH 5807)
Special Topics in Symbolism and Culture (ANTH 5807)

Graduate directed readings given:

Embodiment & the Anthropology of Dance: Hermeneutics and Phenomenology (ANTH 6900)
Material Culture, Embodiment and Death (ANTH 5900)
Martial Arts, Personhood and Embodiment (ANTH 5900)
Personhood, Material Culture and Embodiment (ANTH 5900)
Material Culture and Consumption (CDNS 5901)
Anthropology of the Body and Phenomenology (ANTH 6900)

Graduate supervisions:


Paul Schissel – M.A. 2008. (With Distinction). “Muai Thai and the embodiment of fighting forms in a rural, northeast Thai household”

Leanne Davis – M.A. 2009. “Negotiating social space through fair trade coffee consumption”

Charisma Thomson – M.A. 2010. “Roadside Memorials in rural North America: symbolic Performance of Double Burial”

Ana Fonseca – M.A. 2010. (With distinction). “’It’s not just about money’: An Ethnography of Rebusque Performances and Life-Stories on Public Transportation buses in Downtown Bogotá, Colombia”

Melissa Savastano. “Remembering Internment: an oral history of Montreal Italians during World War II”


Leanne Davis. “Re-emergence of the ‘Good Death’: Volunteerism, Relatedness and Local Knowledge in Contemporary Hospice Care and Patient Households.”

Laura Alfaro. “Embodied Transnationalism: Bharata natyam as global practice.”