Albert Wahrhaftig

Professor Emeritus

Albert Wahrhaftig
Albert Wahrhaftig

The Anthropology Department is saddened to announce the passing of Dr. Wahrhaftig on January 25, 2021. His obituary can be found here.


Ph.D., University of Chicago 1975

Academic Interests

In my final years at Sonoma State University and thereafter, I have become increasingly interested in visual anthropology. Working with my long time film maker friend, Bruce "Pacho" Lane, I have participated in the making two films in the Totonac Indian community of Huehuetla in the mountains of the State of Puebla Mexio - "Indian Democracy"( Ethnoscope Video, 1992) and "Warriors of the Sun" (Ethnoscope Video 2011)-  and two films in Tepoztlan, Morelos, Mexoci - "A Defender of His People: the Legend of El Tepozteco" and "The Language of the Seeds: Seed Mosaic Murals of Tepoztlân" (Etkhnoscope Video 2005). My independent research in visual anthropology is best represented in “Pictorial State of the Culture Representations in Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico.” XXVI International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association. San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2006.

Also, since retirement, I have been invited by members of the Cherokee Nation tribal government to revisit and discuss my research during the late mid 1960's and early 1970's, for they still considered it to be the best description of traditional Cherokee life ever written and it is widely read by staff of the tribal government. The best summary of this is “Making Do with the Dark Meat: A Report on the Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma” in San Stanley, ed. American Indian Economic Development.  The Hague: Moulton. 1978 Pp. 409-510, and my best reflection to date on this experience is “Robert K. Thomas and the Monteith Theory” in Steve Pavlik, editor. A Good Cherokee, A Good Anthropologist: Papers in Honor of Robert K.Tomas. UCLA American Indians Studies Center. 1998. Pages 9-16. More recent thoughts on this experience are currently in press.


Anthropological theory and method, applied anthropology, sacred processes and ritual systems, identity and cultural persistence; North America, Mesoamerica, visual anthropology.


Born in Oakland California, I drifted from an undergraduate degree in Architecture with Honors in the Humanities from Stanford to graduate work in Anthropology at the University of Chicago. Mexico was responsible for the transition. I went there to learn Spanish and study mural painting, discovered the monumental sites left by the Aztecs and other masterbuilders, and was instantly hooked by the cultures of Mexico, both ancient and contemporary.

Highlights of my career before and during my years of teaching at Sonoma State University have been fieldwork in Maya villages in Chiapas Mexico, two years of rural community development in Colombia as a member of the very first group of Peace Corps Volunteers, ethnographic research in traditional Cherokee Indians communities of eastern Oklahoma, "action anthropology" participation in the resettlement of Southeast Asian refugees in Sonoma County including membership on the Board of Directions of the Indochinese-American Council, Project Director of Sonoma State's Preventing Homelessness program and Board Member of the Sonoma County Taskforce on Homelessness, Consultation to the Burbank Housing Development Corporation, and Consultant to Social Advocates for Youth.

Selected Publications & Presentations

Email me for a list of my publications and presentations.