Ruth Behar was born in Havana, Cuba, and grew up in New York. She was twenty-six when she received her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Princeton University. She is now the Victor Haim Perera Collegiate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. A writer, a cultural anthropologist, and a modern nomad, she has lived and worked in Spain, Mexico, and Cuba.
Ruth’s books include The Presence of the Past in a Spanish Village; Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza’s Story, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year;The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart; An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba; and Traveling Heavy: A Memoir in between Journeys. She is co-editor of Women Writing Culture, editor of Bridges to Cuba/Puentes a Cuba, and co-editor of The Portable Island: Cubans at Home in the World. Her personal documentary, Adio Kerida/Goodbye Dear Love: A Cuban Sephardic Journey, distributed by Women Make Movies, has been shown in festivals around the world.Her honors include a MacArthur “Genius” Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Senior Fellowship, and a Distinguished Alumna Award from Wesleyan University. She has received an Excellence in Education Award and a D’Arms Faculty Award for Distinguished Graduate Mentoring in the Humanities, both from the University of Michigan. She is also the recipient of a Breaking the Glass Ceiling Award from the Jewish Museum of Florida and was awarded an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.