Faculty

Faculty Board Members

Alice Ammerman is the Director of the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and the principal investigator of the Center of Excellence for Training and Research Translation at UNC. Her recent research focuses on childhood obesity and school nutrition programs, sustainable agriculture as it relates to improved nutrition, and the potential of social entrepreneurship as a approach to addressing public health concerns, charged with identification, translation, and dissemination of evidence-based interventions for obesity and cardiovascular disease control and prevention. She is the author of more than 75 articles and book chapters.

Jean Dennison is a professor in the Department of Anthropology at UNC, and a member of the Osage Nation. Her research focuses on the Osage Nation’s reform process in order to analyze the lasting effects of colonialism and to illuminate the possibilities for indigenous sovereignty. Her book, Colonial Engagement: Constituting a Twenty-first Century Osage Nation was released in 2012. At UNC, she teaches courses on visual and participatory methodologies as ways of exploring politics of difference in settler colonial societies.

Geni Eng directs the Community Health Scholars post-doctoral program. She teaches community organization, cross-cultural aspects of health education practices, community diagnosis and health issues relevant to women, ethnic minorities, and developing nations. Her current research projects apply community-based research principles to the design and evaluation of lay health advisor interventions and look at the influence of sociocultural factors on STD’s and early detection of breast cancer.

Hannah Gill is an anthropologist with a specialization in Latin American/Caribbean migration studies. She is the author and co-author of two books, “North Carolina and the Latino Migration Experience: New Roots in the Old North State” and “Going to Carolina de Norte, Narrating Mexican migrant experiences.” Dr. Gill’s APPLES service learning course INTS 390, “Latin American Immigrant Perspectives: Ethnography in Action” involves a spring break trip to Guanajuato, Mexico each year. She received a DPhil in Social Anthropology from the University of Oxford, England in 2004. She is a native of North Carolina and an alumna of UNC Chapel Hill.

Dorothy Holland is Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her publications, including several books, edited volumes and articles, theorize a social practice approach to identity, and focus on social movements, activism and local democracy. She is co-founder of the Center for Integrating Research and Action (CIRA) at UNC, and co-founder and Director of the Graduate Certificate in Participatory Research.

Lauren G. Leve is Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies. She studies the cultural dynamics of religion in South Asia using ethnographic methods. Her research led her to Nepal, where she became interested in development, NGOs, and women’s empowerment in addition to, and as they intersect with, Buddhist modernist movements and the growth of Christianity. Work on these issues fueled her dedication to participatory research and the certificate program at UNC.

Alex Lightfoot is the assistant director for the Community Engagement/Partnerships Core and CBPR Unit of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at UNC. She is also the project director for the W.K. Kellogg Health Scholars Program, and serves as the Executive Director of the Paul Green Foundation. Her research and work examine the intersections of educational inequities and health disparities.

Patricia A. McAnany, Kenan Eminent Professor of Anthropology, is a Maya archaeologist who has conducted field research and cultural heritage programs through the Maya region. She is the recipient of several research awards from the National Science Foundation and of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Institute for the Arts & Humanities (UNC, Chapel Hill), the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Radcliffe Center for Advanced Study at Harvard University. Her professional interests include the intersection of ritual and economy, ancestor veneration, the creation and abandonment of place, and the cross threading of cultural heritage with indigenous identities. She founded the Maya Area Cultural Heritage Initiative (www.machiproject.org) and co-founded InHerit: Indigenous Heritage Passed to Present (www.in-herit.org). Her current research project is a community-based archaeological investigation of life conditions for Yukatek Mayan peoples during the early Colonial period in Yucatán, Mexico.

Patricia Parker is Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is Director of Faculty Diversity Initiatives for the College of Arts and Sciences, and the 2013 recipient of the UNC Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Award. She is founder and executive director of The Ella Baker Women’s Center for Leadership and Community Activism, a venture supported by a Kauffman Faculty Fellowship for social entrepreneurship. Her research explores questions about access, equity and participatory democracy at the intersections of race, gender, class and power in organization processes. She is currently completing a book based on a five-year community-based action research project engaging girls and their allies in under-resourced communities leading social change initiatives. She is the inaugural recipient (2010) of the Engaged Scholars Service Award, National Communication Association, Organizational Communication Division.

 

Faculty Teaching Courses This Semester

Renee Alexander-Craft, Communication Studies

Alexander Craft is an Assistant Professor in the Communication Studies department where her work focuses on Performance and Cultural Studies particularly as they are reflected in the “dialectical constructions of ‘blackness’ and performances of black cultural nationalisms in the Americas.” She is currently engaged in a major interdisciplinary digital humanities initiative collaborative that seeks to: 1) establish a digital space for researchers to return the stories and interviews we have collected to the population most intimately connected with them; 2) foster a collaborative digital environment in which community members and researchers may share information, correct absences and errors, and create on-going dialogues related to Congo traditions and culture; 3) create a mechanism for local community members to archive and share their cultural practices and memories.

Subjects of interest include: the relationship among colorism, nationalism, nationality, language, gender, sexuality, class, history, religion, and region in discourses of black inclusion, exclusion, representation, and belonging.

Geni Eng directs the Community Health Scholars post-doctoral program. She teaches community organization, cross-cultural aspects of health education practices, community diagnosis and health issues relevant to women, ethnic minorities, and developing nations. Her current research projects apply community-based research principles to the design and evaluation of lay health advisor interventions and look at the influence of sociocultural factors on STD’s and early detection of breast cancer.

Arturo Escobar, Anthropology

Arturo Escobar is the Kenan Distinguished Professor in the Anthropology Department whose work is focused on postdevelopment theory and political ecology.

His current field research focuses on the interrelations among state, capital, and social movements in a Colombia rainforest region. He examines the interaction among these actors from the perspective of the cultural and political struggles over the definition of, and control over, the region’s biodiverse resources. He also studies anti-globalization social movements. With Wendy Harcourt, Escobar co-directs the Society for International Development in Rome, bringing together intellectual-activists and activists-intellectuals working with place-based movements across the globe, particularly involving women. He was a co-founder of the project for a World Anthropology/ies Network to facilitate the beginning of a self-organizing, non-hierarchical and decentralized anthropology network that builds chiefly on subaltern anthropologies and that questions current patterns of knowledge production. Finally, he is a member of the UNC faculty and graduate student Social Movements Working Group (SMWG), which aims to infuse the field of social movements theory and research with new ideas arising from both interdisciplinary conversations in the academy and intellectual-political conversations within and among social movements themselves, taking social movement activists as knowledge producers in their own right, instead of “theorizing” about movements only from academic positions.

Subjects of interest include: Political ecology; anthropology of development, social movements, and science and technology; design; Latin America; Colombia.

Glen Hinson, Anthropology

 Glenn Hinson is an Associate Professor in the Anthropology Department whose work is focused on the study of Folklore. Much of his research explores African-American expressive culture. He has collaborated with the Smithsonian and the Folk Arts Section of the North Carolina Arts Council and is currently engaged in a project that will “re-center the curricula in 4th-grade public school classrooms around the study of local musical traditions.” His latest work with African-American gospel singers has led him to investigate the “traditions of ‘collaborative communication’ when mortal speakers and transcendent entities are said to share responsibility for communication.”

Subjects of interest include: ethnography, belief studies, folklife, experience-centered anthropology, public folklore, African American expressive culture, vernacular art; African diaspora, The North American South

Sherryl Kleinman, Sociology

 Sherryl Kleinman is a Professor of Sociology with a focus on gender and social and economic justice through the lens of symbolic interactionism. Her diverse body of work has become increasingly critical and feminist over the last two decades, exploring the reproduction of gender inequality in progressive politics and developing a feminist perspective in examining inequality in everday life. She has been invested in pedagogical strategies for teaching qualitative methods as a significant part of research. Her writing has contributed to academic conversations, but Kleinman has been committed to bringing a sociological perspective to a wider audience through personal essays and creative nonfiction.

Subjects of interest include: symbolic interaction, social psychology, qualitative research, sociology of emotions, race, class and gender.

Alex Lightfoot is the assistant director for the Community Engagement/Partnerships Core and CBPR Unit of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at UNC. She is also the project director for the W.K. Kellogg Health Scholars Program, and serves as the Executive Director of the Paul Green Foundation. Her research and work examine the intersections of educational inequities and health disparities.

Torin Monahan, Communication Studies

 Torin Monahan is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies focusing on Media and Technology. Much of his work explores the impact of new technologies on institutions with “a particular emphasis on the ways in which surveillance and security programs tend to reproduce social inequalities.” His current project examines the data-sharing practices of Department of Homeland Security “fusion centers.”

Subjects of interest include: ethnography, science and technology studies, surveillance studies, critical criminology, urban studies, and contemporary social and cultural theory.

Mai Nguyen, City and Regional Planning

 Mai Thi Nguyen is an Associate Professor in the Housing and Community Development Specialization of the Department of City and Regional Planning. Much of her work is conducted with communities as they seek to assess and plan for challenges that confront communities and socially vulnerable populations. This has included disaster planning with Asian immigrants on the Gulf Coast of the United States and immigration integration planning with community leaders in North Carolina.

Subjects of interest include: social and spatial inequality, urban growth phenomena and governance, housing policy, immigration, community development, the relationship between the built and social environments, and socially vulnerable populations.

Della Pollock, Communication Studies

Della Pollock is a Professor of Communication Studies focused on Performance and Cultural Studies. Her research has developed around questions central to understanding the politics of performance, including:  How do staged events articulate and distribute power?  What are the biopolitics of everyday representation?  What does or might the performance of memory lend to the formation of new political aggregates?  What happens to given subjectivities and cultural narratives in and through performance? Pollock is currently working on two manuscripts, one on the incommunicability of pain and the second on the power of performance to catalyze community action, to engage difference across multiple borders, and to articulate history and change, spiritual tradition and claims for equity in/as public pedagogies. She is the Executive Director of the Jackson Center, a public history and community development center located at the gateway to the historic Northside of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Pollock helps with the multifaceted projects of the center including oral history and media collection as well as neighborhood justice initiatives around food and housing.

Subjects of interest include: Performance studies, American studies, culture, community-based research and action, documentary film, folklore, memory, sexuality and gender.

Sara Smith is an Assistant Professor in the Geography Department.  She is a feminist political geographer interested in the relationship between territory, bodies, and the everyday. Her research seeks to understand how political and geopolitical conflict is constituted or disrupted through intimate acts of love, friendship, and birth.  Sara’s work has included surveys and interviews, as well as oral history and photography projects with Ladakhi youth.