Matthew E. West

Matthew E. West

Matthew E. West

Assistant Professor

Globalization; legal and economic anthropology; the anthropology of science and technology; patents, copyright, property, and piracy; creativity, copying, and the knowledge economy; semiotics; social media; environmental capitalism; China; Hong Kong; Taiwan.

Dr. Matthew West is a Term Assistant Professor of Global Affairs. He earned his PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University and, prior to joining GMU, spent four year in the Anthropology Department of The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Dr. West is broadly interested in phenomena at the intersections of the legal and the economic as sites to further our critical understanding of globalization's unequal circulations of knowledge, people, and things. His research has focused geographically on Sinophone societies—on Taiwan and China in particular—as understood in the context of their ubiquitous transnational connections to other places and peoples in East Asia and around the globe. Topically, his research centers on understanding practices around intellectual property, scientific and engineering knowledge, and the “creative industries” through participant observation fieldwork, interviews, and other tools of ethnographic research. Prof. West is currently writing about his fieldwork on the production of patents in the Taiwanese LED industry and has previously worked on cultural conceptions of music and movie “piracy” in Xi'an, China. His work has been supported and recognized by international research foundations like the United States National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the Chiang Ching Kuo Foundation, the D. Kim Foundation for the History of Science and Technology in East Asia, and Hong Kong's Research Grants Council.

Courses Taught

GLOA 605: Interdisciplinary Research Methods
GLOA 615: Case Studies in Globalization: Of Property and Piracy
HNRS 110: Principles of Research and Inquiry
HNRS 131: Contemporary Social Issues: Social Media and Culture


PhD, Anthropology, Columbia University
MPhil, Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
MA, Anthropology of Chinese Societies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
BA, Anthropology (plus a Concentration in East Asian Studies), Davidson College