Susan J Terrio


Professor Of Anthropology and French Studies


Department of Anthropology
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+1 202-687-3783

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Susan Terrio is Professor of Anthropology and French Studies at Georgetown University. She holds a joint appointment in the Department of Anthropology and the Department of French. She is the inaugural chair of the Anthropology Department following its separation from the Department of Sociology in the fall of 2008. She holds a dual doctorate from the Department of Anthropology and the Institute for French Studies at New York University and spent a year of doctoral study at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales at the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme in Paris. She chaired the interdisciplinary Culture and Politics major within the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown for four years before accepting a residential fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University in 2005-2006. Her areas of expertise include the cultural anthropology of contemporary France and Western Europe and the social and cultural history of France since the revolution of 1789. Specific interests center on social class and educational systems, craft and commoditization, food and foodways, migration and the law, national identities and ideologies, youth culture and conflict, juvenile delinquency and its treatment within the French and US systems of juvenile justice.

Having published a book-length monograph on the adaptive and reproductive strategies elaborated by a contemporary community of artisanal chocolatiers facing intensified international competition in France with the University of California Press in 2000, Professor Terrio embarked on a comparative ethnographic study of the definition and treatment of juvenile delinquency within the French and American juvenile justice systems. She was awarded three Georgetown University Graduate School Summer Research Fellowships, a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Research Grant in 2001, the Radcliffe Institute Residential Fellowship at Harvard University and a 2006 fellowship from the Center for Democracy and the Third Sector at Georgetown for that research project. The book based on that research, Judging Mohammed. Juvenile delinquency, Immigration, and Exclusion at the Paris Palace of Justice, appeared in March 2009 with Stanford University Press. She is at work on a new book that examines the federal custodial system for undocumented minors in the US. Professor Terrio received the Fall 2001 Georgetown College Award for Teaching Excellence.

Beyond the university, Professor Terrio served two terms as Vice-President of the Association for French Cultural Studies. She finished four years as Book Review Editor for the distinguished anthropology journal, Anthropological Quarterly where she also served on the editorial board.

In order to conduct and analyze 5 years of ethnographic and archival research on the federal custodial system for unaccompanied, undocumented juveniles in the United States, Terrio was awarded three Georgetown University Graduate School Summer Research fellowships, a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Research Grant and residential fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, The Russell Sage Foundation, and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. She spent the 2012-2013 year at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC where she wrote her third book, Whose Child am I? Unaccompanied, Undocumented Children in U.S. Immigration Custody. The book was published in June 2015 by the University of California Press. In conjunction with that research, Terrio has been interviewed by the Congressional research Service, the Houston Chronicle, the L.A. Times, Mother Jones, National Public Radio, the Washington Post among others and has published an article in Politico in 2014. Seed money from a Presidential Reflection Grant from Georgetown University allowed her to establish a new collaborative research project on this same population. She is currently at work on an edited volume, Illegal Encounters, under contract with New York University Press. It centers on the detention and deportation of undocumented child migrants who have come to the United States since 2014.


  • French (speak, read, write)