I grew up in Massachusetts, majored in history and political science at Washington University, and lived in a village in the Ecuadorian Andes for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer. Having fallen in love with Ecuador, I pursued graduate work in anthropology at the University of Michigan and spent another three years in Ecuador conducting dissertation research. After receiving my doctorate, I taught at the University of the South (Sewanee) before joining the Wayne State Anthropology Department in 1999. I have enjoyed teaching a diverse range of students at WSU in courses from Introductory Anthropology to advanced graduate seminars.
Research interest(s)/area of expertise
- Climate change, climate communication
- Religion (Catholic liberation theology, evangelical Christianity, indigenous Andean religion)
- Agrarian class relations, hacienda system, agroecology
- Race, ethnicity, indigenous movements, mestizaje
- Language and exchange
I am a sociocultural anthropologist whose research has mostly focused on agrarian class relations, ethnicity, and religion in highland Ecuador. Since 2016, I have turned my attention to climate change, with a focus on how evangelical Christians in the United States and Ecuador experience and respond to it. This has resulted in an award-winning documentary film that presents the spiritual journey and climate testimony of a conservative homeschooling mom in Virginia, VIRGINIA'S CALLING. The film is part of a public engagement project developed in close consultation and collaboration with evangelical Christian leaders. I am also developing a research project on agriculture and sustainability, in conjunction with a new Virtual Field School online course that I'll be teaching from Ecuador next semester.
Much of this work is driven by a passion for telling human stories that can spark empathy and reflection. For example, "Ojos de Respeto"/"Eyes of Respect" is a short essay recounting some Ecuadorian children's experiences of colorism, published in an Ecuadorian newspaper magazine supplement and shared with students from diverse backgrounds in my classes in Detroit. My book, Remembering the Hacienda, centers indigenous Ecuadorians' first-person accounts of life on haciendas, while "Aurelio's Song" tells of indigenous self-affirmation in the post-hacienda period. The same interest in human stories shapes my film work with evangelical Christians grappling with climate change in highland Ecuador and coastal Virginia.
I am actively recruiting MA and PhD students who are interested in climate change/environmental anthropology, environmental communication, Latin America, or the anthropology of Christianity. Contact the department for more information about our graduate programs, or email me to discuss the possibility of coming to study with me at Wayne State.
- B.A., Summa cum laude, Washington University in St. Louis, 1980, History and Political Science
- M.A., University of Michigan, Anthropology, 1988
- Ph.D., University of Michigan, Anthropology, 1994
Awards and grants
2021 Wayne State University College of Liberal Arts, Teaching Innovation, Development and Excellence (TIDE) Award, "Virtual Ethnographic Field School in Highland Ecuador"
2018 Wayne State University Sabbatical Award, for Fall 2019
2018 WSU Arts & Humanities Research Support grant, “Climate Change and Evangelical Christians: Public Engagement through Film”
2011 Humanities Center Faculty Fellowship, “More or Less White: Mestizo Identities and ‘Post-racial’ Multiculturalism in Ecuador”
2009 Wayne State University Sabbatical Award (for 2009-2010), "More or Less White"
2009 ACLS/SSRC/NEH International and Area Studies Fellowship
2008 Wayne State University Board of Governors Faculty Recognition Award
2007-08 Wayne State University Humanities Center Resident Scholar
2006 Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research
1993 Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (Woodrow Wilson Foundation)
1989 SSRC-ACLS International Doctoral Research Fellowship
1984-88 National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship
2020. VIRGINIA'S CALLING (30-minute film). Online, www.virginiascalling.org.
2018 “El respeto y la teología de la liberación: Religión, autoridad e identidad en Chimborazo en los 1990,” in Juan Illicachi, Lenin Garcés and Rómulo Ramos, eds., Religión: Protestantismo y catolicismo indígena, desde una perspectiva antropológica. Riobamba: Universidad Nacional de Chimborazo.
2016 Sociedad, cultura e interculturalidad en Chimborazo. Quito: Editorial Abya-Yala.
2013 “Esquemas de identificación mestiza: Continuidades, cambios, y posibilidades de solidaridad étnica.” Ecuador Debate (Quito) 88 (abril):51-68.
2009 “Simple People,” in Steve Striffler and Carlos de la Torre, eds., The Ecuador Reader. Durham: Duke University Press, pp.403-414.
2006 Remembering the Hacienda: Religion, Authority, and Social Change in Highland Ecuador. Austin: University of Texas Press.
2005 “Discipline and the Arts of Domination: Rituals of Respect in Chimborazo, Ecuador.” Cultural Anthropology 20(1):97-127.
2002 “‘To Act Like a Man’: Masculinity, Resistance, and Authority in the Ecuadorian Andes.” In Lessie Jo Frazier, Rosario Montoya, and Janise Hurtig, eds., Gender’s Place. Palgrave Macmillan: New York. pp.45-64.
2002 “Aurelio’s Song.” In Linda Walbridge and April Sievert, eds., Personal Encounters: A Reader in Cultural Anthropology. McGraw Hill: New York, pp.157-162.
2001 "Religion, Authority, and Identity: Intergenerational Politics, Ethnic Resurgence, and Respect in Chimborazo, Ecuador." Latin American Research Review 36(1):7-48.
1999 "'Taita Chimborazo and Mama Tungurahua': A Quichua Song, A Fieldwork Story." Anthropology and Humanism 24(1):1-14.
- ANT 1100, Introductory Anthropology, 3 credits, Fall 2021
- ANT 3540, Cultures and Societies of Latin America, 3 credits, Fall 2021
- WINTER 2022 COURSES (January-early May)
- ANT 1100, Introductory Anthropology, 3 credits (asynchronous)
- ANT 3600 & 6270, Virtual Ethnographic Field School in Highland Ecuador, 3 credits: an online cultural and language immersion course for students in anthropology, Spanish, global studies, Latina/o/x and Latin American studies, environmental science/environmental studies, and other areas, taught from Ecuador, connecting students virtually with people in the village where I was a Peace Corps volunteer.
Please contact me for more information about the virtual field school course!
ANT 1100, Introduction to Anthropology
ANT 3100, World Cultures
ANT 3540 & 6680/6290, Culture Area Studies / Latin America
ANT 6300, 6310, 7020, Anthropological Theory
ANT 6680/7630, DR 6992, Topics/Conflict, Violence, & Peace
ANT 7005, Thinking and Writing Anthropology
ANT 7630, Problems & Concepts in Cultural Anthropology
ANT 7777, Teaching Anthropology
ANT 7900, Synthesis