Janet Hoskins is professor of anthropology at the University of Southern California. Her first book The Play of Time: Kodi Perspectives on Calendars, History and Exchange (winner of the 1996 Benda Prize in Southeast Asian Studies) was both an ethnographic study of the politics of time in an Eastern Indonesian society and a theoretical argument about alternate temporalities in the modern world. Her second book, Headhunting and the Social Imagination in Southeast Asia (1996), continued this interest in history and anthropology by examining the reasons why headhunting rituals are still performed in the postcolonial era, several generations after pacification. Her third book Biographical Objects: How Things Tell the Stories of People's Lives (1998) explores the relationship between persons and their possessions, and in particular the ways in which both men and women may choose to tell their own life histories by using a domestic object as a pivot for narrative articulation. Her current book project, "The Left Eye of God: Caodaism travels from Vietnam to California," looks at the changing historical contexts of a new millenarian religion that articulated an Asian synthesis of world religions in the context of anti-colonial resistance, the American war in Vietnam, and the post 1975 diaspora.
Janet discovered Anthropology at the age of 18 while studying in Paris, and perhaps as a result French theorists have often loomed as important influences. She was drawn to Indonesia because of the great variety of different cultures, religions and influences in the Malay archipelago, and the remoteness of certain islands. She chose to do her dissertation research on Sumba, the last island in the archipelago to maintain a pagan majority until the 21st century. She has also done research in the Spice Islands of the Moluccas and in Flores, Timor, Bali, Java and Sumatra. Since 2003, her research focus has moved to mainland Southeast Asia, and she has studied French Indochina and the modern nations of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, as well as overseas Vietnamese religious communities in the United States. She has taught at universities in Australia, Norway, France and The Netherlands on various visiting appointments.