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Michael Henry Agar Ethknoworks

Michael Agar received his undergraduate degree from Stanford and his Ph.D. in linguistic anthropology from the Language-Behavior Research Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. An honorary Woodrow Wilson Fellow, NIH Career Award recipient, and currently Fulbright Senior Specialist, he is professor emeritus at the University of Maryland, College Park, with adjunct appointments in Speech Communication and Comparative Literature, as well as an associate at Antropokaos at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina. He was recently appointed Distinguished Scholar at the International Institute of Qualitative Methods at the University of Alberta.

He works independently as Ethknoworks LLC in northern New Mexico. Ethknoworks centers on research, writing and consultation around issues in ethnography, language, complexity theory, and the organization from both theoretical and practical points of view. Kurt Lewin provides the motto: There is nothing as practical as a good theory.

He also works with the Redfish Group in Santa Fe (, particularly around the application of a blend of ethnography and computer visualization called "OrgViz," short for "making the organization visible.

His past appointments include research positions with public health agencies in Kentucky and New York as well as university positions at the Universities of Hawaii, Houston, and California in the U.S., and visits with the Universities of Mysore in India, Surrey in the U.K., and Vienna and the Johannes Kepler University in Austria.

Publications include articles in journals from the fields of anthropology, linguistics, folklore and oral history, sociology, organization research, psychology, psychiatry, public policy, artificial intelligence, complexity, intercultural communication, and the substance use and transportation fields. He also writes for general magazines like Smithsonian. His books include Ripping and Running, The Professional Stranger, Angel Dust, Speaking of Ethnography, Independents Declared, and Language Shock: Understanding the Culture of Conversation. A new book, a policy critique based on his decades in the drug field that was recently published, is Dope Double Agent: The Naked Emperor on Drugs.

In 2006 he finished work as principal investigator on a seven year NIH project to explain illicit drug epidemics. He also conducts introductory and advanced workshops on qualitative research and complexity theory and consults on the use of those methods in diverse project applications. Lately the use of complexity theory to reformulate social service organizations occupires his time and interest. Projects now underway include translation as a model for ethnography, cultural ecology, and the "serious games" field. He is a member of several editorial boards and has served on numerous research advisory committees. In 2004 he was presented with the Leadership Award in Qualitative Inquiry by the International Institute for Qualitative Methodology.