Andrew Nelson | Department of Anthropology

Andrew Nelson

Associate Professor of Anthropology, Director of Graduate Programs
Sycamore Hall 104C


My research explores what policy means in practice, or more specifically, how people (organized, for example, as neighborhoods, diasporic communities, students, tenants) respond to the failures and violence of policy. I find ethnographic inspiration in the ways groups forge notions of solidarity, community, and home amid precarious conditions. Research fieldsites have ranged from the urbanizing periphery of Kathmandu Valley, Nepal, to resettled refugees buying houses in Texan suburbs, and global migrants negotiating the bottlenecks of Latin American transit migration.

My current research on housing justice in north Texas has two aims. One is to make the eviction court process more transparent for tenants and housing advocates. The second is to privilege a tenant's perspective in reconceptualizing the value of housing beyond current market-dominant notions. More broadly, I seek to combine research with writing and teaching pursuits that contribute to applied anthropology. For instance, how ethnography-journalism collaborations might contribute to public anthropology, and project-based teaching/mentoring might strengthen local advocacy and activism efforts.


2013, Ph.D. Anthropology, University of Virginia
2004, M.A. Anthropology of Media, University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies
2000, B.A. Anthropology, Grinnell College

Selected Consulting Projects

2020-2021. Advised student-led project on student housing insecurity for UNT Dean of Students, and Colorado Housing and Finance Authority.

2019-2020. Project on gas station safety for the Non-Resident Nepali Association-Global Health & Hygiene Committee.

2019. Advised student-led project on student debt for the policy institute, New America.

2017. Advised student-led project on affordable housing for national non-profit organization, National Housing Conference.

2014, 2016. Lead ethnographer for the National HIV Behavioral Survey for Texas Department of Health and Human Services.

Recent Publications


2022. Curran, Rob and Andrew Nelson. Journey without End: Migration from the Global South through the Americas. Vanderbilt University Press.

Edited Volumes

2019. Nelson, Andrew, Alexander Rödlach & Roos Willems, eds. The Crux of Refugee Resettlement: Rebuilding Social Networks. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books.


2022. Nelson, Andrew. "Seeking Samaj: Refugee Resettlement Beyond Self-Sufficiency and Dispersal." In Refugee Resettlement in the United States: Loss, Transition, and Resilience in a Pose-9/11 World, edited by Marnie Watson and Pritha Gopalan, pp. 138-152. Routledge Books.

2021. Nelson, Andrew. "The Free Trade Zone and the Ethnic Restaurant: South Asian Emergent Space in a Chilean City of Labor Migrants." In Emergent Spaces: Change and Innovation in Small Urban Spaces, edited by Petra Kuppinger, pp. 85-104. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.

2021. Nelson, Andrew and Kathryn Stam. "Bhutanese or Nepali? The Politics of Ethnonym Ambiguity." South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 44(4): 772-789.

2021. Nelson, Andrew. "From Romance to Tragedy: House Ownership and Relocation in the Resettlement Narratives of Nepali Bhutanese Refugees." Journal of Refugee Studies 34(4): 4053-4071

2019. Nelson, Andrew. "Architectural Tradition and Modernity as Crypto-Colonial Ways of Seeing: A Comparison of Kathmandu's 1934 and 2015 Post-Quake Reconstructions." History Compass 17(8),

Regularly Taught Courses

ANTH 1150: World Cultures through Film
ANTH 3700: Peoples and Cultures of South Asia
ANTH 4760/5760: Inequality, Social Justice & the City
ANTH 5021: Theory & Praxis II
ANTH 5031: Ethnographic & Qualitative Methods
ANTH 5300: Migrants & Refugees