Jacob Hickman, Associate Professor

Department: Anthropology


Email: jhickman@byu.edu

Office: 860 KMBL

Phone: 801-422-9373



Jacob Hickman did his undergraduate at Brigham Young University, where he majored in psychology and anthropology. He then pursued graduate study at the University of Chicago in the Department of Comparative Human Development, an interdisciplinary program where psychological anthropology is one core area of specialization. There he was awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, and later received NSF funding to conduct comparative ethnographic research on the psychocultural dimensions of the Hmong resettlement experience in the United States and Thailand. In 2011 he finished graduate study and took a position in the Department of Anthropology at Brigham Young University.


  • PhD in Comparative Human Development from University of Chicago, 2011
  • Master of Arts in Comparative Human Development from University of Chicago, 2007
  • BS/BA in Psychology / Sociocultural Anthropology from Brigham Young University, 2005

Research Interests

Jacob R. Hickman’s current research interests include understanding how the processes of migration, displacement, and diaspora affect a host of cultural and psychological phenomena. He conducts transnational ethnographic fieldwork with Hmong communities in both Southeast Asia and the West, investigating religion, ritual practice, family life, moral thinking, and personhood. Jacob is particularly interested in understanding how characteristics of various resettlement communities impact these psychocultural dimensions of migrants’ experiences in various ways. His dissertation dealt with a comparative analysis of intergenerational moral discourse among Hmong in Thailand and the United States. For his next project, he is looking at new religious dynamics that are emerging in the Hmong diaspora. These include messianic movements, new forms of transnational ritual networks, and changing religious ideologies.


  • Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship from U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, 2018
  • Mellon Foundation/Social Sciences Dissertation-Year Fellowship from University of Chicago, Social Sciences Division, 2010
  • National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship from National Science Foundation, 2009

Professional Affiliations

  • Society for the Anthropology of Religion
  • Society for Research on Adolescence
  • American Anthropological Association

Recent Publications

  • Hickman, J. (2019). Culture and Hermeneutic Moral Realism. In Brent Slife and Stephen Yanchar (Ed.), Hermeneutic Moral Realism in Psychology: Theory and Practice. Routledge.
  • Hickman, J. (2016). The origins of culture. In Harold L. Miller (Ed.), The SAGE Encyclopedia of Theory in Psychology (pp. 203-207). Thousand Oaks: Sage.
  • Hickman, J. (2014). Ancestral Personhood and Moral Justification. In Anthropological Theory. Sage Publications.
  • Hickman, J. (2011). Religion in Hmong American Communities. Encyclopedia of Asian American Folklore, 445-448.
  • Hickman, J. (2010). Psychology and Anthropology. 21st Century Anthropology: A Reference Handbook, 950-959.
  • Hickman, J. (2007). “Is it the Spirit or the Body?”: Syncretism of Health Beliefs among Hmong Immigrants to Alaska. In Annals of Anthropological Practice (formerly: NAPA Bulletin) (pp. 176-195). American Anthropological Association.
  • Hickman, J. (2003). Inverse Typology and Ethnic Identity: An Analysis of Inverse Image Theory in Two Guatemalan Communities. In The Journal of the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters (pp. 153-172).