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water lily by Graham Tobin

Elizabeth Bird

Writer, Anthropologist

Photo by Graham Tobin


Until recently, I mostly wrote for academic journals and books, with the occasional freelance piece in newspapers and magazines. Now I enjoy writing creative non-fiction and essays.

Links are below; I mark the newest in red.


Interlude: 1941

Under the Sun (Readers' Choice Award)

Named as Notable in Best American Essays, 2023

Stories from a Forgotten War

International Human Rights Arts Festival Winner 

For Ali


The Comfort of Birds

Ariel's Dream

(10 Word Challenge Winner)


Taming the Devil's Testicles

Dorothy Parker's Ashes

The Grandma you Get

Longridge Review

Finalist in Anne Barnhill Prize for Creative Non-Fiction



Below are a few pieces written as opeds for newspapers, dating from the early 1980s to 2023!

Debunking Creation Science

Des Moines Register, 1982

Florida's War on Knowledge

St. Petersburg Times, 2008

Why Secretaries' Day?

Des Moines Register, 1982

The Power of the Poetic

Tampa Tribune, 2012

Women's Place in Religion

Des Moines Register, 1984

The Demonization of Drag

Tampa Bay Times, 2023


I have taught at the University of Iowa, University of Minnesota-Duluth, and University of South Florida, from where I retired as Professor Emerita. I taught classes in cultural anthropology, anthropology of media, folklore, research methods, ethics and other topics. My earlier research focused on the cultural role of media; in the last 10 years of my academic career, I researched the history and significance of a civil war massacre in Nigeria, where I traveled often. A list of my academic articles can be found here. My Nigerian research is documented on my website:


Click on thumbnail for more information

Asaba Massacre book cover.webp

Annual Book Award, Oral History Association, 2018

Performance of Memory.jpg
In The Press

International Communication Association Best Book Award, 2004


 Outstanding Book: Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in America, 1997



Elizabeth Bird Writer

Born and raised in north-east England as one of four siblings, I graduated from Durham University with a degree in Anthropology. I went on to Leeds University for an M.A. in Folklife Studies, before receiving my Ph.D. from Strathclyde University. I moved to Iowa in 1980, where I added an M.A. in Journalism.

After living in Iowa City and then Duluth, MN, I found myself in Tampa, teaching at the University of South Florida. Happily retired, I still live in Tampa with my husband, also a retired USF professor.

Our two grown sons caught the academic bug, and are now college professors, one in Geology and one in Theatre.

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