Dr.Tobias Rees

Office: 3647 Peel St., Room 205
Phone: 398-2893
Email: tobias.rees [at] mcgill.ca


Associate Professor, William Dawson Chair

Ph.D. University of California at Berkeley, Anthropology, 2006

Tobias Rees holds the William Dawson Chair in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University and is both a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Advanced Research (CIFAR) and of the Nicolas Berggruen Institute (Los Angeles).

His expertise lies at the intersection of anthropology, art history, the history of science, and the philosophy of modernity and concerns the study of knowledge/thought. More specifically, he is interested in how categories that order knowledge mutate over time –– because of humans, microbes, snails, the weather, AI or other events –– and in what effects these mutations have on conceptions of the human/the real.

The main areas of Professor Rees’ research have been the brain sciences,  global health, the microbiome, and AI (big data based machine learning).



Selected Books: 

Designs for an Anthropology of the Contemporary, Durham: Duke University Press, 2008 (together with Paul Rabinow, George Marcus, & James Faubion).

Plastic Reason: An Anthropology of the Effort to Think the Adult Human Brain in Embryogenetic Terms, forthcoming with the University of California Press, 2016.

After Ethnos. Forthcoming with Duke University Press. 2017.

On How the Brain Outgrew Its Histories. Forthcoming with the University of Fordham Press. 2017.

Selected Articles and Book Chapters:

“Being Neurologically Human Today: Life, Science, and Adult Cerebral Plasticity (An Ethical Analysis),” in: American Ethnologist, Volume 37, No. 1, pp. 150-166, 2010.

“To Open up New Spaces of Thought: Anthropology BSC (Beyond Society and Culture),” in: Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 158-163, 2010.

“The Challenge – and Beauty – of (Contemporary) Anthropology,” in: Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 16, No. 4, pp. 895-900, 2010.    

“As if Theory is the only Form of Thinking and Social Theory the only Form of Critique,” in: Dialectical Anthropology, Vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 341-365, 2011.

“Medical Anthropology Enters the 21st Century,” in: Journal of Nervous and Mental Disorders, Vol. 199, No. 8, pp. 592-596, 2011 (with Allan Young).

“So Plastic a Brain: On Philosophy, Fieldwork in Philosophy, and Adult Cerebral Plasticity,” in: BioSocieties, pp. 263-267, 2011. 

“Humanity/Plan –– On the Stateless Today (Also Being an Anthropology of Global Health),” in: Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 29, No. 3, pp. 457-478, 2014.

“Developmental Diseases: An Introduction to the Neurological Human (in Motion),” in: American Ethnologist, Vol. 42, No. 1, pp. 161-174, 2015.

“Once Cell Death, Now Cell Life. On Plasticity and Pathology ca. 1800 to 2014,” forthcoming in: David Bates Nima Bassri (eds.), Plasticity and Pathology, Bronx: Fordham University Press 2016. 

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