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Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work

Jessica Marie Falcone, PhD


Professor of Cultural Anthropology

Program Coordinator for Anthropology

SASW, 204 Waters Hall
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506
Phone: 785-532-4979
Fax: 785-532-6978
Email: jfalcone@ksu.edu

Dr. Falcone, a Philadelphia native, began her love affair with anthropology as an undergraduate at New College of Florida (the state's tiny, eclectic Honors college).  While working towards her MA in Development Anthropology from George Washington University, Jessica Falcone spent a year in India doing fieldwork on "engaged Buddhist" charitable works, and taking anthropology courses at Jawaharlal Nehru University.  Subsequently, Dr. Falcone worked as a full-time researcher with the Pew Charitable Trust's "Religion and the New Immigrants" project to explore Hindu and Sikh American religious and civic life through sustained participant observation work.

In 2010, Jessica Falcone graduated with a PhD in Sociocultural Anthropology from Cornell University.  Her dissertation project, "Waiting for Maitreya: Of Gifting Statues, Hopeful Presents and the Future Tense in FPMT's Transnational Tibetan Buddhism," was a cultural biography of a 500-foot statue of the Future Buddha that is currently being planned as a gift to India by an international community of primarily non-heritage Tibetan Buddhists.  During the course of her PhD program, Jessica Falcone earned many awards and fellowships, including a fellowship from the American Institute of Indian Studies to support her doctoral research, and an award from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology for ethnographic fiction. Dr. Falcone received a book prize for her draft manuscript of "Battling the Buddha of Love: A Cultural Biography of the Greatest Statue Never Built" (the 2014 Edward C. Dimock Prize in the Indian Humanities). The book was published as a monograph in 2018 by Cornell University Press.

In cultivating expertise in South Asian studies through anthropological fieldwork, Dr.Falcone has tacked back and forth between different perspectives that both trace and erase the well-worn paths of "home" and "away": grassroots activism in India; transnational Tibetan Buddhist discourse regarding holy objects and prophecy in India's pilgrimage places; notions of cultural citizenship in the Tibetan diaspora in India; collegiate Gujarati-American dance competitions; extremist Hindu-American summer camps; and finally, Sikh-American activism post-9/11.  Her areas of thematic specialization include the anthropology of diaspora, transnationalism, futurity/temporality, globalization, material culture and gift exchange, as well as religious studies. Her future research projects will continue to examine the border crossings, fluidity, and the transformation inherent in the study of Asian religious cultures today. She is currently engaged in an ethnographic research project on Zen Buddhist practice and community in Kona, Hawai'i.

At Kansas State University and elsewhere, Dr. Falcone has taught anthropology courses on topics ranging from temporality to artistry: Generosity and Gifting in Asian Religions; the Anthropology of Futurity (Prophecy, Apocalypse and Hope); Anthropology and Literature; Cultures of South Asia; Utopias; Writing Cultures: Ethnographic Methods; Creativity and Culture; Introduction to Cultural Anthropology; Ethnomusicology; and, Asian Religions.

Selected Publications

Refereed Monographs, Articles, and Book Chapters

* Falcone, Jessica. 2020. “No-longer-places in Virtual Worlds: The Precarity and Impermanence of Digital Religious Places through a Buddhist Lens,” Journal of the Japanese Association for Digital Humanities. Vol 5 No 2: 6-41.

* Falcone, Jessica. 2020. “Genre-bending, or The Love of Ethnographic Fiction.” In Writing Anthropology: Essays on Craft and Commitment, edited by Carole McGranahan. Chapel Hill, NC: Duke University Press.

* Falcone, Jessica. 2019. “The Buddhist Gift: Merit-Making, Donations, and the Ambivalence of Reward.” In Buddhisms in Asia: Traditions, Transmissions, and Transformations, edited by Nicholas Brasovan and Micheline Soong, 93-117. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

* Falcone, Jessica. 2019. “Sacred Realms in Virtual Worlds: The Making of Buddhist Spaces in Second Life.” Critical Research on Religion. Vol 7 No 2: 147-167.

* Falcone, Jessica. 2018. Battling the Buddha of Love: A Cultural Biography of the Greatest Statue Never Built. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. 

* Falcone, Jessica. 2017. “A Transnational Tulku: the Multiple Lives of FPMT’s Spanish-born Lama Osel.” Revue d'Etudes Tibetaines No 38, February: 220-240.

* Falcone, Jessica. 2016. “Dance Steps, Nationalist Movement: How Hindu Extremists Claimed Garba-raas.” Anthropology Now Vol 8 No 3.

* Falcone, Jessica. 2015. “Theory-Making: From the Raw to the Cooked.” In Theory Can Be Much More Than It Used To Be, edited by Dominic Boyer, James Faubion, and George Marcus. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

* Falcone, Jessica. 2015. “Our Virtual Materials: The Substance of Buddhist Holy Objects in a Virtual World.” In Buddhism, the Internet and Digital Media: The Pixel in the Lotus, edited by Daniel Veidlinger and Gregory Grieve. New York: Routledge.

* Falcone, Jessica. 2013. “The Hau of Theory: The Kept-Gift of Theory Itself in American Anthropology.” Anthropology and Humanism Vol 38 No 2: 122-145.

* Falcone, Jessica. 2013. “Garba With Attitude: Creative Nostalgia in Competitive Collegiate Gujarati American Folk Dancing.” Journal of Asian American Studies Vol 16 No 1: 57-89.

* Falcone, Jessica. 2012. “Putting the ‘Fun’ in Fundamentalism: Religious Extremism and the Split Self in Hindu Summer Camps in Washington D.C.”  Ethos Vol 40 No 2: 164-195.

Falcone, Jessica. 2012. “Maitreya, or the Love of Buddhism: The Non-event of Bodh Gaya’s giant statue.” In Cross-disciplinary perspectives on a contested Buddhist site: Bodh Gaya Jataka, edited by David Geary, Matthew R. Sayers, and Abhishek Singh Amar. New York: Routledge.

* Falcone, Jessica. 2010. “Seeking Recognition: Patriotism, Power and Politics in Sikh American Discourse in the Immediate Aftermath of 9/11.” Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies Vol 15 No 1 (published in Summer 2010, listed as "Spring 2006"): 89–119.

* Falcone, Jessica. 2010. “A Meditation on Meditation: The Horizons of Meditative Thinking in Tibetan Monasticism and American Anthropology.” Michigan Discussions in Anthropology Vol 18 No 1: 402-441.

* Falcone, Jessica.  2010. “‘I Spy…’: The (Im)possibilities of Ethical Participant Observation with Religious Extremists, Antagonists, and Other Tough Nuts.” Michigan Discussions in Anthropology Vol 18 No 1: 243-282.

* Falcone, Jessica and Tsering Wangchuk. 2008. “‘We're not Home’: Tibetan Refugees in India in the Twenty-First Century.” India Review Vol 7 No 3.