Teaching Statement

Throughout my university teaching career, I have encouraged students to engage critically with visual and written materials in anthropology. In my classes, I ask students to think about the perspectives embedded in texts, especially with respect to race, gender, nation, ethnicity, historical situatedness, disciplinary training, and expertise. I encourage students to be active learners in the way that they read these texts, search for information, present their findings or consider an argument. This approach characterizes my classroom teaching as well as my interactive mentoring of students outside of the formal classroom. My advanced undergraduate students and early career graduate students write reading responses that use rhetorical analysis and comparative reading techniques before taking on longer writing and research projects focused on their individual interests. I enjoy meeting students for debate and deconstruction of texts and films so that together we reach a better understanding of the materials and meanings before us. I consider myself an active learner and enjoy that collegial exchange immensely.

During my approximately 25 years at the University of Colorado, I have regularly taught undergraduate classes ranging from 30 to 100+ students (1000-4000 level), combined undergraduate and graduate classes (4000/5000 level), and a diverse array of 7000-level advanced graduate classes (more than 15 total). I have spent a great deal of time mentoring graduate and undergraduate students outside of the classroom, and I have found this to be an extremely rewarding aspect of my teaching career, as I mentioned above. It is important to me that my advisees carry out relevant and interesting research projects and engage with ideas in a way that recognizes their potential as transformative of intellectual and social life. My MA and PhD students have worked on diverse issues such as reproductive politics, environmental regulation, pharmaceutical politics, urban violence and scientific uncertainty from Latin America, Europe to South Africa, the US and Kazakhstan. These scholars share fierce curiosity, independent thinking and a drive to use anthropological thinking to produce engaged scholarship.

Courses Taught

Advanced Seminars (7000 level)

Medical Anthropology; Writing in Anthropology; Ethnography and Biography; Anthropology of Science, Technology and Political Economy; Anthropology of Neoliberalism; Anthropology of Bodies, Medicines, and Illness; Anthropology’s Engagement With Colonialism, Empire, & Sovereignty; Nationalism and Cultural Citizenship; The Anthropology of Latin America; Anthropology of Gender and Feminist Anthropology; and Political Economy, Globalization and Cultural Processes, Great Ethnographies of Latin America, Environment, Science and Neoliberalism, Core I: History of Anthropology to 1970, Compelling Ethnographies of Capitalism.  

Advanced Undergraduate Classes (4000 level or 4000/5000 level)

Nationalism, the Nation-State, and Ethnic Conflict, Anthropology of Brazil, Medical Anthropology; Latin American Politics Through Film and Text

My Medical Anthropology class (4610/5610) has become one of the most significant experiences of my teaching career, enabling me to present materials relevant to science, medicine, and human experimentation in a manner that encourages thoughtful and respectable debate and strong differences of opinion in the context of class discussion. I assign a new book every week in this class and have organized it thematically to speak to contemporary topics of concern. Examples of themes I introduce include: human experimentation and subjectivity, political economy, medical research, health and illness in impoverished settings, global trafficking in organs and organ transplants, and the construction of medical illness and disease categories.  I have also chosen literature that speaks to these concerns in a range of settings—a cancer ward in Botswana, clinical trial volunteers/anarchists in Philadelphia, the desire for plastic surgery among impoverished Afro-Brazilian women in urban Rio de Janeiro, and dispossessed residents of Hispanic descent living through drug addiction in rural New Mexico. I have found that the material I bring to this class speaks to the concerns of advanced undergraduate and graduate students in compelling ways. The shared experience of reading a full-length ethnography together always proves to be enlightening. I have designed a series of writing assignments in this class that ask students to build their knowledge base after each book. 

In my Latin America (4730/5730) class we consider, among other topics, the Conquest, colonialism, the role of the Church in Latin American history, North American interventionism, imperialism, parliamentary democracy, state violence, military culture, and neoliberal capitalism. I have been able to incorporate visual and textual assignments in ways that take advantage of D2L’s capabilities. For example, I assign two-hour films to watch at home and I use online prompts to initiate debates on the online D2L discussion board. I have noticed that students who are too shy to participate in the large lecture class are sometimes the very best participants in an online forum. These technological capabilities have been useful and have enabled me to share diverse perspectives and materials with students on issues relevant to the class. I also help students navigate online archives, such as those associated with the “Chile Declassification Project,” a digital archive that navigates through key documents related to U.S. involvement with the Chilean dictator (1973-1998) Augusto Pinochet.

Introductory Undergraduate Classes (2000 level)

Frontiers of Cultural Anthropology (Anthropology 2100) and Anthropology of Gender (2000-level). 

Graduate and Undergraduate Advising and Mentoring

Much of my time with students is spent outside of the traditional classroom setting.  Because I have a broad range of interests, I have mentored graduate students with foci that include race, class, and violence in Latin America, public health and reproductive issues in Eastern Europe and Germany, nuclear toxicity issues in Kazakhstan, pharmaceutical interests in South Africa, environmental movements in Brazil, and many other heterogeneous topics. I enjoy learning alongside my students, and I share in many lengthy conversations as students make their way to new discoveries. Since tenure, I have invited graduate and undergraduate students to accompany me to carry out research in Argentina and Mexico during three different extended field research visits. More recently, I invited a graduate student and a public health student (former Honors thesis mentee) to work with me on my nuclear energy research project in Brazil. These have been extraordinary experiences and beneficial to the mentoring process. They have also made the process of learning that much more “up close and personal.”

During my time at the University of Colorado, I have been the advisor of 9 completed MA students and 9 completed PhD students. I am pleased that my PhD students are doing well in a very competitive anthropology marketplace. All of them are using their PhD degrees: Three of my former PhD students are tenured or tenure-track professors at major research institutions (Simon Fraser, University of Central Florida, George Mason University, and University of South Carolina); one is directing a global climate change initiative at CU’s law school; one is a director within the President’s Leadership Class (PLC) at CU; and one is a postdoctoral researcher at a juvenile justice NGO in New York. 

In addition, I have devoted much of my time to mentoring undergraduate students, particularly honors undergraduate students, whose curiosity and enthusiasm give me optimism for the future. During my time at CU, I have mentored 23 undergraduate students in the writing of a senior honors thesis. I have also hosted numerous postdoctoral scholars including Guilherme Passamani from UNICAMP (University of Campinas, São Paulo) on a special scholarship provided by the Brazilian government, Kristen Drybread (PhD, Columbia University, 2008), Tamara Hale (PhD, London School of Economics, 2014) and Silke Oldenburg (University of Basel, 2019).  

Teaching Recognition and Awards

Outstanding Graduate Student Mentor Award, 2013