Nancy J. Smith-Hefner

Faculty Profiles

Nancy J. Smith-Hefner

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Associate Professor

smith-hefnerOffice: 232 Bay State Road, #415
Office Phone: 617-353-2198

Fall 2018: W 1:30-3:30; F 12:30-1:30

Dr. Nancy Smith-Hefner is a linguistic anthropologist and specialist of religion and gender in Southeast Asia. Her early research included projects on language, identity, and gender socialization in Java, Indonesia, as well as identity and moral education among Cambodian refugees in the United States. Her current research takes up questions of gender and sexuality among Muslim Javanese youth.

During the 2009–2010 academic year, Dr. Smith-Hefner was on sabbatical, completing a book manuscript that traces recent trends and controversies in Muslim youth culture in Java. The book examines new practices of language, dress, courtship, and marriage in relation to public cultural debates on masculinities and femininities, and middle-class subjectivities. Rather than a unitary Muslim conformity, the study emphasizes the increasing pluralization of options for contemporary youth—and the contest to which the new gender diversity has given rise.

Dr. Smith-Hefner is the author of Khmer American: Identity and Moral Education in a Diasporic Community (University of California Press, 1999). Her work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Spencer Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and the Fulbright Senior Scholar Program.

View Professor Smith-Hefner’s CV


  • AN 351/751 Language, Culture, and Society
  • AN 462 Ethnography and Anthropological Theory II
  • AN 260 Sex and Gender in Anthropological Perspective
  • AN 350/750 Asians in America


PhD University of Michigan
MA University of Michigan
BA University of Michigan


  • Advanced Capability: Indonesian, Javanese, French
  • Working Capability: Old Javanese (Kawi), Khmer/Cambodian, Spanish