Toni Shapiro-Phim

Photo of Toni Shapiro-PhimToni Shapiro-Phim is Assistant Director of the Center's Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts and Associate Professor of Creativity, the Arts, and Social Transformation (CAST).

Dr. Shapiro-Phim is a cultural anthropologist and dance ethnologist whose research, writing, community work and teaching focus on the history and cultural contexts of the arts in discrete regions of the world, particularly in relation to violence, migration, conflict transformation and gender concerns.

She’s held teaching and research appointments at the University of California-Berkeley, Yale University and Bryn Mawr College, and worked in Cambodian, Lao and Vietnamese refugee camps  in Indonesia and Thailand. She’s also conducted years of ethnographic research inside Cambodia. She received her doctorate in cultural anthropology from Cornell University.

Dr. Shapiro-Phim has dedicated her professional career to nurturing the arts as part of social justice transformations. Co-author of Dance in Cambodia and co-editor of Dance, Human Rights and Social Justice: Dignity in Motion, she has also contributed to Annihilating Difference: The Anthropology of Genocide and The Choreography of Resolution: Conflict, Movement, and Neuroscience, among other publications. Her latest book (co-written with colleagues at the University of Auckland), Talking Dance: Stories from the South China Sea, was published in 2016.

Before coming to Brandeis, Dr. Shapiro-Phim served as Director of Programs at the Philadelphia Folklore Project, an arts and social justice organization. There she conducted ethnographic research, curated exhibitions, and produced performances, humanities forums and publications highlighting aspects of the cultural practices of Philadelphia’s diverse communities.

Dr. Shapiro-Phim’s documentary film Because of the War shares the stories of four women: mothers, refugees, immigrants, singers, dancers and survivors of Liberia’s civil wars. The movie highlights ways in which these superstar recording artists harness the potency of their arts to address violence at home in West Africa and in exile in North America.