Setha Low

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Setha Low
Born Los Angeles, California
Education Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley (1971)
Occupation Anthropologist

Setha Low is a former president of the American Anthropological Association, a professor in environmental psychology, and the director of the Public Space Research Group at the City University of New York. Low also served as a Conservation Guest Scholar at the Getty Conservation Institute. Low received a B.A. in Psychology from Pitzer College, Claremont, California in 1969 and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley in 1971 and 1976. Her most recent research includes an ethnography of residents in gated communities in San Antonio, Texas and on Long Island and a study of urban parks with case studies including New York City's Prospect Park, Orchard Beach in Pelham Bay Park, and Jacob Riis Park in the Gateway National Recreation Area. More broadly Low's research includes work on the anthropology of space and place, medical anthropology, urban anthropology, historic preservation, landscapes of fear, security/insecurity, and gating in Latin America, the United States, and the cities of Western Europe. Low grew up in Los Angeles and currently resides in Brooklyn.


  • 2003 Behind the Gates: The New American Dream. New York and London: Routledge.
  • 2003 The Anthropology of Space and Place: Locating Culture [with co-author Denise Lawrence-Zuñiga]. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • 2000 On the Plaza: The Politics of Public Space and Culture.. Austin: University of Texas Press.
  • 1999 Theorizing the City: The New Urban Anthropology Reader. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
  • 1996 "Spatializing Culture: The Social Production and Social Construction of Public Space," American Ethnologist 23(4): 861-879.
  • 1995 Children of the Urban Poor: The Sociocultural Environment of Growth, Development and Malnutrition in Guatemala City [with co-author F. Johnston]. Boulder: Westview.
  • 1995 "Indigenous Architectural Representations: Mesoamerican and Caribbean Foundations of the Spanish American Plaza," American Anthropologist 97(4): 748-762.


Getty Conservation Institute (2002). "Conservation Guest Scholars". GCI Newsletter. 17 (2). Retrieved 2009-01-16. 

Marquardt, Katy (2008-04-25). "Recipe for a City Park's Success: The cultural diversity of its users can make or break an urban space". U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 

Robinson, Eugene (2007-12-04). "Eugene Robinson - We the Paranoid". The Washington Post. ISSN 0740-5421. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 

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