Union's anthropologists have conducted research and have first-hand knowledge of a range of societies and have been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller, Ford and Fulbright Foundations, and other foundations and agencies.
Karen Brison, Professor (B.A., McGill and Ph.D., University of California, San Diego), specializes in anthropology of childhood, religion and the study of language and culture. She lived and did research in Papua New Guinea for two years and published a book on oratory and village politics. She started working in Fiji in 1997 and is currently studying gender and cultural identity among Fijian kindergarten children and in a growing Fijian Pentecostal community.
Paul Christensen, Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology (B.A. University of Washington and Ph.D. University of Hawai'i at Manoa) specializes in the anthropology of Japan. His research interests include the use of psychoactive substances, addiction recovery, masculinity, and food. He conducted fieldwork in Tokyo with two sobriety groups looking at how Japanese men renegotiate their sense of masculinity without alcohol. Paul is currently working on a book on alcoholism and recovery in Japan.
Linda E. Cool, Professor and Department Chair (B.A., Bryn Mawr and Ph.D. Duke), has conducted long-term research on the island of Corsica and in Paris, France on the development of regional/ethnic political movements, the changing roles of older people, and the relationship of land tenure, inheritance, and family structure from the eighteenth century to the present. In addition, she has focused on Portuguese immigration to California, especially the integration of immigrants from the Azores into both the Portuguese “colony” in California and the larger American society. Most recently, she has turned her attention to research on changing attitudes toward retirement among faculty members and is working on an applied anthropology project to create a consortium of higher education institutions in order to meet the health insurance needs of their retirees.
George Gmelch, Roger Thayer Stone Professor of Anthropology (B.A., Stanford and Ph.D., University of California at Santa Barbara) (on leave fall 2011 & spring 2012), is a cultural anthropologist. He did his early research in Ireland among a nomadic group known as Travellers. Since then he has done research on return migration in Ireland, Newfoundland and Barbados, studied the ecology of salmon fisherman in Alaska, government policy and Gypsies in England, professional baseball players in the United States, and tourism in Barbados and the Napa Valley. He is the author and editor of ten books dealing with these subjects.
Sharon Bohn Gmelch, Professor (B.A., Ph.D., University of California at Santa Barbara) (on leave fall 2011 & spring 2012), is a cultural anthropologist who specializes in ethnic identity and inter-group relations, ethnohistory and biography, visual anthropology, and tourism. She has conducted research with Irish Travellers, Tlingit Indians in Alaska, Barbadian villagers, and tourist guides in several countries. She is author or editor of six books and co-producer of an ethnographic film on the Tlingit. She is currently studying wine tourism in the Napa Valley and finishing her cross-cultural research on tour guides.
Stephen Leavitt, Associate Professor and Dean of Students (B.A., Swarthmore and Ph.D., University of California, San Diego), is a psychological anthropologist who did his field research among the Bumbita Arapesh people of Papua New Guinea. He studied family relations and religious change and has written on Bumbita Arapesh sexuality, adolescence, and responses to bereavement. His most recent research with Karen Brison has been in Fiji, where he is studying the personal dimensions of ethnic and national identity.
Alvaro Jarrin, Visiting Assistant Professor (B.A. Williams College, Ph.D. Duke University), specializes in the development of new biotechnologies and their relationship to the anthropological study of medicine, the body and inequality in Latin America. He has carried out research in Brazil on the expansion of plastic surgery amongst low-income patients, focusing on how the national investment in beauty establishes personal appearance as a precondition for citizenship and inclusion in the nation. Professor Jarrin is currently working on a project on the growing political role of Brazilian genomics, particularly its reaffirmation of a nationalist narrative that celebrates the hybridity of Brazilians' racial heritage, which has been used to oppose race-based policies such as affirmative action in universities.
Jeffrey Witsoe (B.A. University of California, Santa Cruz, M.A. University of Chicago, Ph.D. University of Cambridge) has done research focusing on a critical rethinking of democracy and the postcolonial state through an examination of lower-caste politics in Bihar, a populous state in north India where he has been engaged in ethnographic research since 2000. He is the author of a forthcoming book, Democracy Against Development (University of Chicago Press) and several articles and book chapters on lower-caste politics in India. His current research explores the political economy of rural development, with a focus on India's massive rural employment guarantee scheme. Another project examines the ways in which neoliberal economic growth is reshaping regional politics, with a focus on criminal networks related to natural resource extraction.
Anthropologists in Other Departments and Programs
Jennifer Milioto Matsue, (B.A. Wellesley College and M. A. and Ph.D. University of Chicago), is an ethnomusicologist specializing in modern Japanese music and culture. She has conducted research on a variety of music cultures in contemporary Japan including the Tokyo hardcore rock scene, nagauta (a type of traditional chamber music featuring the three-string lute, shamisen), electronica and trance raves, and most recently, the increasingly popular world of wadaiko (Japanese ensemble drumming). She is interested in how performers find meaning through participating in such music worlds, with a particular focus on women’s roles in music-making. She is the author of the monograph Making Music in Japan's Underground: The Tokyo Hardcore Scene (Routledge 2008), as well as several articles on related topics. She is working on a new book, which explores the transformation of tradition through the commodification of Japanese ensemble drumming in Kyoto, Japan. She is Director of the Asian Studies and World Musics and Cultures Programs, and serves as Associate Professor in Music, Asian Studies, and Anthropology at Union College in Schenectady, New York.
Affiliated Research Professors
Charles Bishop (B.A., University of Toronto and M.A. Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo) is a cultural anthropologist and ethnohistorian who has done research on Ojibwa India ns and the evolution of early hominids. He has written a book on the Ojibwa Indians and is currently doing ethnohistorical research on the fur trade and Canadian Indians. Email: email@example.com
James M. Schaefer (B.A., University of Montana, and Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo) is a cultural anthropologist with a background in cross-cultural and biomedical research techniques. His field studies include work with contemporary American ethnic groups on alcohol, drugs and gambling behavior. He heads his own consulting and research contracting firm and works with legal, corporate and governmental clients. As an adjunct professor of anthropology, he teaches courses on applied anthropology and Native Americans. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org