Dr. Keeler is interested in the ways that people in the societies of Southeast Asia where he has worked (Java and Bali, and lowland Burma) take hierarchy as the grounds upon which all social relations are based, whereas in the U.S. people are endlessly troubled by contradictions among equality, autonomy, and hierarchy. The contrast helps to make sense of what people in these societies do and say in their performing arts— which are the main focus of Keeler's research—as well as in religious, domestic, and other matters.
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