William Kenneth Little
Department of
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William Kenneth Little, PhD
Associate Professor (tenured)

2043 Vari Hall
4700 Keele Street
North York, ON M3J 1P3

Phone: (416) 736-2100 Ext. 22327
Fax: (416) 736-5768
Email: wkl@yorku.ca




My research focuses most generally on the analysis of society as spectacle, visual culture, and popular cultural performance in both Euro-North American and postcolonial societies. My earliest fieldwork with the European one-ring circus focused on politics and poetics of spectacle and performance in the making of an entertainment culture.


My circus work concerned itself with the cultural production of the circus, with the dialogics and discourses of sight, and with contemporary encounters with circus artists. I am now in the process of writing the life histories of three circus artists in concert with a cultural and historical analysis of European circus spectacles and fascism in hopes of developing an idea about the varied crises of the modern, most significantly revealed by fascism. I have conducted research on tourist safaris in Kenya as spectacle productions, analyzing the visual politics of tourist experience and I am now conducting research on the rise of the tourist state in Belize . The Belize research turns its attention to how tourism becomes a significant modality through which transnational, late-modern, everyday life is organised and how tourist encounters opened imaginative spaces that stimulate new identity productions, highlight new aspects of social relations and interactions with nature that actively ensure new "fantasies of becoming" even as new social pressures develop to try and control the flows of tourist desire. I am interested in new ways of thinking about and through flows, processes, and interconnections in touristic encounters, productions and narratives as a means of tracking the enactments of citizenship under the pressures of local and global transformations. In sum, I work on questions of spectacle consumption, capitalism, and everyday life. Related to these interests are my concerns with questions of representation and interpretation opened up by post-structural approaches to socio-cultural analysis and an abiding interested in ethnographic writing as a performative process. I am also committed to keeping the crucial importance of politcal/historical/cultural reflection in the forefront of my research, teaching, and ethnographic practice.


1988      Ph.D, Anthropology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.   Dissertation Title: Inventing Circus Clowns: The Irony and Parody of Pastiche In the Modern European Circus.

1979      M.A., Anthropology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario.  Thesis Title: Life History and Understanding Personal Meanings.

1975      B.A., Anthropology, University of Victoria, Victoria, B.C.



2011   “On Edge in an Impossible Topics”  In David Picard and Mike Robinson, eds., Emotion in Motion: Tourism, Awe and Inner Journeys, Pp. 163-186. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.

2011  “The Tourists are Just Wild about Harry, or Not: Becoming Insensible on a Beach in Belize.”  In  David Picard, ed. Tourism and the Seductions of Difference. Conference Proceedings of the Tourism Contact, Culture Research Network (TOCOCU), Lisbon, Portugal.

2010   “Paradise is as Paradise Doesn’t: Tourist Encounters on Edge, at the Edge of a Beach in Belize” In Mike Robinson, ed. Resorting to the Coast: Tourism, Heritage and Cultures of the Seaside. Conference Proceedings, Blackpool, UK. Centre for Tourism and Cultural Change and the Institute of Northern Studies, Leeds-Metropolitan University (On line)

2010  “On the Nervous Edge of an Impossible Tropics” In Jeremy Kuster and Mike Robinson, eds.  Emotion in Motion: The Passion of Tourism, Travel, and Movement.  Conference Proceedings, Centre for Tourism and Cultural Change, Leeds-Metropolitan University, (On Line).

2010  “Paradise from the Other side of Nowhere: Troubling a Troubled Scene of Tourist Encounter in Belize.” Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change. Vol. 8, No. 1-2: 1-14.

2009  “On the Nervous Edge of an Impossible Tropics.” In-Tensions Vol. 3 (Fall):1-28(http://www.yorku.ca/intent/issue3/).

2009      “Slobodin as Example: A Note on the Dialectics of Style” In Richard J. Preston,

ed. A Kindly Scrutiny of Human Nature: Essays in Honour of Richard Slobodin, pp. 25-32. Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

2007   “Belize Ephemera” In Mike Robinson, ed. Things that Move: The Material World of Tourism and Travel. Conference Proceedings, Centre for Tourism and Cultural Change, Leeds, UK: Leeds Metropolitan University. (On-line)

2006   “From Sacrificial Victim to Tourist Icon: An Elvis Presley Pilgrimage and the

Making of a Globalized Culture of Spectacle Consumption.”  In Mike Robinson and David Picard, eds., Journeys of Expressions V: Tourism and the Roots/Routes of Tourism. The Belfast Conference Proceedings, Centre for Tourism and Cultural Change, Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Halam University. (On-line)

2006 “Circus In Ruins: A Comment on ‘Lions on Display: Culture, Nature, and Totality in a Circus Performance,’ by Yoram Carmelli.” Poetics Today 27(3): 597-614.

2006 “Pitu’s Doubt: Entrée Clown Self-fashioning in the Circus Tradition” In Joel Schechter, ed., Popular Theatre: A Sourcebook. Pp. 138-149. London and New York: Routlegde.  (re-issued 1986 article)  

2005      “Paradise from the Other Side of Nowhere: Troubling a Troubled Scene of Tourist Encounter” In David Picard and Mike Robinson, eds., Tourism and Performance: Scripts, Stages, and Stories. Conference Proceedings, Centre for Tourism and Cultural Change, Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Halam University.  (On-line)


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