Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Bates College


Joshua D. Rubin has taught in Bates College’s Department of Anthropology since 2013, and he is also a member of the program committee for Africana (formerly African American Studies). His scholarship to date has centered on sports, art, and videogame development. At Bates, Rubin has offered courses on these topics as well as on race and gender, sensory perception, popular culture in Africa, ethnographic writing, and the discipline of anthropology and its histories. He was a co-winner of Bates’ Ruth M. and Robert H. Kroepsch Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2020.


How Video Games Work

This presentation introduces the complexities of video games as a medium. Its goal is to prepare audiences to think carefully and critically about video games they encounter in the world and to better identify how games interact with, and work on, their players. Some topics considered in this presentation include video game violence, accessibility in gaming, game design and game mechanics, and the politics of representation in video game worlds.

The Politics of Rugby in South Africa

Viewers of the film “Invictus” will know something of the political importance of rugby in South Africa, particularly its role in the country’s transition to a non-racial democracy. This presentation, based on over 10 years of research, adds significant complexity to this story. It takes rugby’s significance beyond flags, anthems, and political leaders and into the lives of South Africans who viewed rugby as a core part of their struggle against white supremacy and who continue to find political meanings in rugby today, in South Africa’s post-apartheid present.

Structures of Feeling: Understanding the Feelings That Shape our Choices and the Choices that Shape our Feelings

It is widely recognized that we are presently living through a moment of profound social upheaval. What does this moment feel like and how do our feelings of this moment shape our behavior? In this presentation, socio-cultural anthropologist Josh Rubin introduces participants to an exciting concept in social theory called ‘structures of feeling’–simply put, how the conditions in which we live produce patterns in our feelings and emotions. With the aid of straightforward examples and comprehensible language, this presentation will show how attendees can use this concept to name their feelings more precisely, identify the social conditions that produce those feelings, and to act more intentionally in response to those feelings when they are felt. This presentation is an extended version of one that was given at the Maine Humanities Council’s 2024 Big Question event.