Luke Forrester

Anthropology Graduate Student

Degrees prior to starting this degree program:

BA in Anthropology, summa cum laude, Yale University, 2016

MA in Anthropology, Princeton University, 2020

Areas of Interest:

Racial capitalism & white supremacy, The Francophone world, Psychoanalysis & sexuality, Enlightenment & the Frankfurt School, Primitivism & fetishism, Celtic & Nordic paganisms

Field Research Plans/History:

Forrester’s ethnographic work focuses on two key groups: white French people in Paris, Benin, and Martinique who exclusively date Black people, and white Parisian practitioners of “Primitive Expression,” a dance therapy that draws from so-called “primitive” cultures to reconnect secular Europeans with purportedly “universal” rhythmic, ecstatic rites. Through an in-depth exploration of the fantasies, desires, and experiences of these two groups, respectively branded as “fetishists” and “primitivists,” Forrester’s dissertation grapples with the historical, ethical, and epistemological implications of a conspicuous irony in the humanities and social sciences. The irony is that the term fetishism, once used in the explicit service of anti-Blackness (a means of denigrating Africans’ purportedly irrational, primitive practices) is now used to criticize anti-Blackness (to brand those who desire and mimic the very primitivism embedded in the moniker’s etymology). His dissertation contends that the historical shift in the term’s valence is no coincidence, but rather, points us to a negative dialectical movement inherent to the racial capitalist Enlightenment project that previous post-colonial and de-colonial critiques have overlooked. This negative dialectical movement emerges as white French people attempt to negotiate the existential dilemmas of modernity by way of a series of recursive translations between sex and the sacred. In investigating these translations, Forrester walks a razor’s edge between critique and ethnographic sincerity: rather than rejecting primitivists as merely mystified (and thus, ironically treating them as backwards “primitives”), what would it mean to take primitivists’ fantasies seriously without relinquishing the possibility of anti-racist critique?

Forrester also writes on racial paranoia, philhellenism, and cannibalism. He is currently an editor at the journal EuropeNow.

Publications, Multimedia Projects:

Peer Reviewed Publications

Forrester, Luke. “The Deception that Proves the Rule: Cannibalism and the Problem of Ethnographic Belief” (Under review).

Forrester, Luke. Book Review. The Copy Generic: How the Nonspecific Makes our Social Worlds. MacLochlainn, Scott. Anthropological Quarterly, vol. 96, no. 4 (Forthcoming).

Johnson, Luke Forrester. “Racial Reverb: ‘Paranoia within Reason’ and the Sounding of the Social.” Symplokē. vol. 29, no. 1-2, 2021.

Johnson, Luke F. “Foreign Food, Foreign Flesh: Apathetic Anthropophagy and Racial Melancholia in Houellebecq’s Submission.” SubStance. vol. 48, no. 1, 2020.


General Interest Publications

Johnson, Luke Forrester. “Campus Spotlight - Princeton University: Introduction.” EuropeNow, Jan. 2022.

Johnson, Luke Forrester and Christy Wampole. “Institutionalizing Interdisciplinarity: An Interview with Christy Wampole.” EuropeNow, Jan. 2022.



“The Lion, the Witch, & the Temporal Lobe:                                               

Reality & Religion in Anthropology.” Guest lecture, Anthropology Department, Brown University. April, 2023.

“The Predicament of Preference: Race, Sex, and the Psyche in Anthropology.” American Anthropological Association (AAA) annual meeting, for the seminar “Sameness and Difference in Contemporary Europe.” Discussant: Damani Partridge, University of Michigan. November, 2022.

“The Edible Complex: Structuralism, Dialectics, and Cannibalism.”

American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) annual meeting for the seminar “Cannibalism and its Metaphors.” April, 2021.

“The Limits of Sexuality: LGBT Asylum in France.” Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po), Reims, France. March, 2017.