Nathanael Vlachos

Curriculum Vitae

Areas of Interest: 
Ethics; Race; South Africa; Theatre.


My research interests stem from a broad interdisciplinary background. I received a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science from Seattle Pacific University in 2005 and an MA in Philosophy (focusing on ethics and aesthetics) from Texas Tech University in 2009 prior to entering the department of anthropology at Rice. I have taught a number of undergraduate courses both as a philosopher and an anthropologist related to my research interests, most recently “Race and Society in Post-Apartheid South Africa,” a First-Year Writing-Intensive Seminar in the Spring of 2015. As a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology, I am currently completing a dissertation on theatre artists in South Africa based on fieldwork research in Johannesburg, Soweto, and Grahamstown.

My dissertation engages questions of how art is used to form and shape the self, and more broadly, intersections between aesthetics, race, and class in South Africa. When Nelson Mandela died in late 2013, my project grew to encompass South African theatre in the aftermath of Mandela’s death, a period characterized by widespread ambivalence for Mandela himself (and the governing African National Congress), skepticism about democracy, and a country that seems as racially fractured as ever. I hope to answer two broader questions in my dissertation: 1) How are aesthetics are mediated by race? 2) What social, political, and ethical questions are theatre artists addressing in a Post-Mandela South Africa? Through my dissertation, I hope to build bridges between politics, ethics, aesthetics, and culture.

Published Work: 

“Brett Bailey’s Traveling Human Zoo: Aesthetics, Whiteness, and Border Crossings” in Unsettling Whiteness, eds. Lucy Michael and Samantha Schultz, 59-67. Oxfordshire: Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2014.

Nathanael Vlachos
Graduate Student