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Ken Liberman

Ken Liberman profile picture
  • Title: Professor Emertius
  • Phone: 541-346-5014
  • Office: 727 PLC
  • Office Hours: Retired: No office hours.
  • Affiliated Departments: Asian Studies, Religious Studies
  • Curriculum Vitae


Professor Liberman received his Phd from the University of California, San Diego in 1981. He joined the University of Oregon in 1983. His specialties are ethnomethodology, intercultural communication, race relations, and social phenomenology.

Liberman has completed ethnomethodological studies of mundane interaction among traditional Australian Aboriginal people (Understanding Interaction in Central Australia, Routledge), the practices of reasoning of Tibetan scholar-monks (Dialectical Practice in Tibetan Philosophical Culture, Rowman & Littlefield), and the uses of objectivity in coffee tasting by professional coffee tasters in 14 countries (Tasting Coffee, SUNY Press). He provided a detailed ethnomethodological account and assessment of sophistry based on a video-recorded Tibetan debate in his Husserl’s Criticism of Reason (Lexington Books). His More Studies in Ethnomethodology (SUNY Press) won the Best Book Award from the EMCA Section of the American Sociological Association.

He is presently undertaking a long-term comparative study of negative dialectics in Tibetan Buddhist and postmodern epistemological practice.

Research Interests

  • practices of reasoning in non-Western societies
  • intercultural communication
  • cross cultural studies of self and identity
  • neocolonialism and the survival of indigenous cultures

Teaching Areas

  • ethnomethodology
  • race and ethnic relations
  • phenomenology and postmodernism

Selected Publications

1985  -  Understanding Interaction in Central Australia: An Ethnomethodology of Australian Aboriginal People, London: Routledge. Reprinted 2017.

2004  -  Dialectical Practice in Tibetan Philosophical Culture: An Ethnomethodological Inquiry Into Formal Reasoning, Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. Paper edition 2007. Translated into Chinese by Lau as Xi Zang Zhe Xue Wen Hua Zhong De Bian Jing Huo Dong, Beijing: China Renmin University Press, 2006.

2007  -  Husserl's Criticism of Reason, With Ethnomethodological Specifications, Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. Chapter 5, “Garfinkel’s Uncompromising Intellectual Rigor,” translated into Italian in Quaderni di Teoria Sociale 11 (2011), pp. 103-152.

2009  -  Yoga for Surfers. Huntington Beach, California: Yoga Shakti Wellness Center.


2013 -  More Studies in Ethnomethodology. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

2015  - The Panchen Lama’s Debate Between Wisdom and the Reifying Habit  [Translation of bdag ’dzin gshags ’debs dgra dpung brag ri ’joms pa’i gnam lcags ’khor lo ’bar ba  (“The Blazing Wheel of Thunderbolts That Split Asunder the Rocky Mountain of Egoistic Reflections”)].  With Introduction and Appendix including “Reflections on the Hermeneutics of Translating Tibetan: on translating bdag and bdag ’dzin”), Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

2016 -  Practical Buddhism: Living Everyday Life. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass

2020 -  Filosofia ed Etnometodologia: lezioni calabresi. Milano: Mimesis.

2022 -  Tasting Coffee: An Inquiry into Objectivity. Albany, NY: SUNY Press. Translated into Italian, Pisa: Edizioni ETS, 2023. Translated into Korean, Seoul: Coffee Libre, forthcoming.

2022 -  Streams, Lakes, Trees, and Trails of the Salmon Mountains: Poems by Kenneth Liberman. Sawyers Bar, Calif.: Salmon River Restoration Council.


Lectures and Seminars

Series: Phenomenology for Ethnomethodologists

1. “Husserl for Phenomenologists”

2. “Heidegger for Ethnomethodologists: Being and Time, Section 7(v),”

3. “Heidegger for Ethnomethodologists: Being and Time, Sections 15 & 16”

4. “Heidegger for Ethnomethodologists: Being and Time on Attunement”

5. “Heidegger for Ethnomethodologists: Being and Time on Understanding”

6. “Merleau-Ponty for Ethnomethodologists: ‘The Intertwining – The Chiasm’ Part 1”

7. “Merleau-Ponty for Ethnomethodologists: ‘The Intertwining – The Chiasm’ Part 2”

8. “The Documentary Method of Interpretation: Mannheim and Garfinkel, Part 1”

9. “The Documentary Method of Interpretation: Mannheim and Garfinkel, Part 2”

Series: A Guide to Ethnomethodology’s Program by Harold Garfinkel

1. “Author’s Introduction,” Chapters 1 & 2

2. Chapters 3, 4 & 5

3. Chapters 6 & 7

4. Chapters 8 & 9

Lecture: “Two Paragraphs by Harold Garfinkel”

Lecture: “Making Coffee Taste Descriptors Objective”

Lecture: “The Status of Analytic Thinking in Middle Way Buddhist philosophy”

Interview: Kenneth Liberman on Challenging Analytic Slogans

Lecture: “An Introduction to Ethnomethodology,” at Aalborg University, Denmark

Lecture: “Rules as Ethnomethods: the surfers’ lineup,” University of Southern Denmark, Kolding, Denmark