Sociocultural Anthropology Profiles

Alexia Arani

Alexia is working towards a PhD in Anthropology with a specialization in Critical Gender Studies at the University of California, San Diego. Her doctoral research examines everyday practices of care among queer, trans, and feminist activists in Southern California. She is interested in potentiality, affective politics, ethics, and queer and feminist epistemologies.


Maya Azarova

Devin Beaulieu

Devin Beaulieu works on indigenous politics in Bolivia. His work focuses on enactment of the new constitution defining Bolivia as a plurinational state to the benefit of an indigenous majority. He is interested in the questions of liberal governance, political economy, decolonization, and territorial rights. Devin is also a member of the Selva Rica film cooperative that works to promote indigenous and environmental activism. He played a featured role in the award winning 2010 Peruvian film “El Perro del Hortelano”.

Michael Berman


Maddie Boots

Maddie is working on politics and citizenship performance of the post-dictatorship generation in Chile. She hopes to explore trajectories of youth political participation as they are shaped by collective memory, family relations, neoliberal subject formation, and discourses of democracy, rights, and social consciousness.

Waqas Butt

Waqas H. Butt is a sociocultural anthropologist whose work focuses on the intersections of caste labor, governance, infrastructures, markets, and development in urban Pakistan. His dissertation, Life in the Wasteland: Work, Infrastructures, and Value in Urban Pakistan, is an ethnographic and historical account of the enduring role that caste labor has had within waste infrastructures in Lahore.

William Dawley

William Dawley is a student of anthropology at UC San Diego with a focus on the anthropology of Christianity, Latin America, and gender. His research focuses on the many organizations in Ciudad Quesada de San Carlosthat offer men support in their effort to transform their gender identity by “spiritual” means, including Catholic, evangelical, and other Christian churches, as well as groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and men’s support groups like WEM which focus on men’s struggles.

William has spent almost two years in Ciudad Quesada de San Carlos since2003. This small city is the growing urban hub of Northern Costa Rica, a largely rural area where “masculine” work such as cattle ranching is quickly being replaced, at least in the city, by office and clerical work, threatening men’s conceptions of their roles and identities both at work and at home (cf. Phillippe Bourgois’s /In Search of Respect/ and Paul Willis’s /Learning to Labor/). As a result, many men are showing interest in men’s groups that provide spiritual and religious solutions to what Costa Ricans generally refer to as the male identity crisis (cf. Matthew Gutmann’s /Meanings of Macho/, David Smilde’s /Reason to Believe/, and Stanley Brandes’s /Staying Sober in Mexico City/).

William recently returned from a nine-month stint in Costa Rica and is currently working on his dissertation. He is a Melford Spiro fellow at the University of California, San Diego and a visiting researcher at the University of Texas’s Teresa Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies.

Esin Duzel

Esin is a social and cultural anthropologist who received a B.A. from Sabanci University (2004, Cultural Studies, an M.A. from Ohio State University (2008, Comparative Studies), and PhD candidacy from University of California (2011, Anthropology). Her research interests focus on violence and trauma, human rights, post-conflict reconstruction processes, nationalism, political memory, gender, race and sexuality, and biopolitics with an emphasis on Turkey and the Middle East. Her M.A. thesis, Toward an Anthropology of the State: Unsettling Effects of the September 12 Military Coup on the Ultranationalist Movement in Turkey, explored the survival of the idea of the ‘holy state/our state’ in the eyes of the ultranationalist movement in Turkey amid a period of state terror and repression. The research and her M.A. education was supported by J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship. Currently Esin is in the field, Diyarbakir (a Kurdish-majority city in south eastern Turkey) for my doctoral research. Supported by UCSD Department of Anthropology’s Research Project Grant, the research addresses the role of trauma, both as a discourse and an experience, in the politics of the Kurdish conflict in Turkey. It seeks to understand the cultural dynamics that shape the continuation and reproduction of violence and trauma in Turkey as well as the potentials and limitations of human rights work on the conflict.

As a Teaching Assistant, she has taught courses such as, Gender, Sexuality, and Society, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Debating Multiculturalism, Language and Society, Health Disparities and Public Health, Photography and Visual Culture, Culture and Emotion.

She also participates in non-academic work. As a member of a women’s collective since 2004, she partakes in collecting women’s sexuality stories, which resulted in a reader’s theater book işte böyle güzelim… (this is how it goes my darling…), published in 2008 in Turkish, and in 2009 in German (so ist das, meine Schöne: Türkische frauen erzählen von frausein, begehren und liebe). Having organized over 50 reading performances based on the book in different parts of Turkey and Germany, they are currently working on a new book to be published in 2012. Since 2011, Esin is also a volunteer at the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, which provides support to torture survivors and conducts research on ongoing social trauma. Here, she has co-edited Proceedings of the International Workshop Coping With Ongoing Trauma in Turkey.

Benjamin Ellerby

Natasa Garic-Humphrey

Natasa Garic-Humphrey has two M.A. degrees in Sociocultural Anthropology and is currently working on a Ph.D. in Sociocultural Anthropology. Before coming to UCSD, she worked with Hopi Indian youth and elders in the area of ethnographic filmmaking and storytelling. Currently, her dissertation project explores Bosnian activists’ search for alternative ways of citizenship that transcends ethnic polarization, and their incorporation of ethics, morality, and hope for a better future amidst post-war struggle, economic devastation, and nationalist ideologies. She is interested in the ways Bosnian activists perform resistance against the current socio-political situation in the country, and which stances they may take vis-à-vis the state, to ultimately understand the model of citizenship they are enacting or aspiring to. Research interests: activism, performance, citizenship, nationalist ideologies, postsocialism, lived experiences, morality, ethics, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Balkans.

Jordan Haug

Jordan Haug is a graduate student in sociocultural anthropology with an interest in religious movements, development, and cultural change in Papua New Guinea. From 2014-2016 Jordan will be conducting long term fieldwork on the island of Misima in Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea. In 2004 a large industrial open pit gold mine was permanently closed on the island. In response to the mine’s closure Misimans have witnessed a kind of religious revival. Through his research on Misima, Jordan seeks to answer how people go about hoping for greater equality in times of dramatic geopolitical and economic inequality. By investigating how multiple visions for “the good life” coexist (competitively or synergistically) and are hoped for (concretely or abstractly) amidst deindustrialization and geopolitical decline, he will be exploring how people respond to moral crises of development and change.

Amy Kennemore

Amy Kennemore received a M.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte in 2012. Her Master’s thesis considered the political framework of plurinationalism in Bolivia through an examination of recent tensions between indigenous autonomy and liberal political representation in the highland municipality of Jesús de Machaca. She is interested in power and changing discourses of indigeneity, decolonization, and citizenship.

website-pictureFrances King

Frances is currently working on a project concerned with the historical role of women missionaries in colonial and post-colonial East Africa through the examination of women’s writing as expressions of morality and modernity. Her other research interests include US based conservative Christian groups, nationalism, social media, other media, politics, gender, religion, extremism, non-western modernities, and whatever she just heard on a podcast.

Vanessa Lodermeier

Vanessa’s research interests lie in the confluence of migration, citizenship, and human rights. She comes to UCSD with experience in immigrant workforce development in rural Canadian communities and will focus on Latin American immigration to the US.

Genevieve Okada Goldstone

Genevieve Okada Goldstone is specializing in sociocultural and psychological anthropology and her dissertation advisors are Drs. Joe Hankins and Esra Ozyurek of the London School of Economics. She received her B.A. in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley and her M.A. in the psychology of parenthood from New York University. She is also a teaching assistant in the Dimensions of Culture Writing Program at Thurgood Marshall College at UCSD.

Genevieve conducted fieldwork in the exotic land of Los Angeles where she studied an ancient tribe -(American) Jews. Her dissertation focuses on conversion to Judaism and, in particular, on converts “of color” (Asian, Latino, and African American). Her primary research interests include race, ethnicity, identity, religion, conversion, Judaism, and the Jewish community.

Raquel Pacheco

Raquel is a student in the sociocultural track of anthropology. She follows indigenous movements in Latin America. Specifically, she is looking at the way liberalism shapes indigenous peoples’ relation to land and each other. She is using models of affect, the state, and resistance.

Ian Parker

Ian is interested in social and environmental interactions, as well as processes of articulation and emergence. His doctoral research focuses on social dynamics of marine conservation in the Raja Ampat archipelago of West Papua, Indonesia- a seascape of diverse species and peoples. His research intends to contribute to ethnographic accounts of ethical pluralism, intersocial relations, climate change adaptation and the modeling of socio-ecological relations. Other topics of interest include transnational governance, alterity and tourism. Ian’s primary research area is Melanesia and the Asia-Pacific rim, though I am also interested in South America and Central Eurasia. He has conducted applied anthropological research in Vietnam, Namibia, Mexico, Georgia and Azerbaijan, and have coordinated projects in the Philippines, Indonesia, Yemen, and West Bank and Gaza.

C.Phil, Anthropology, University of California San Diego, 2013
MA, Anthropology, University of California San Diego, 2013
MA, International Relations, Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies, 2007
BA, Anthropology, Reed College, 2003

Marisa Peeters

Belinda Ramirez

Belinda is a graduate student of sociocultural anthropology and works in San Diego County investigating the concepts of urban agriculture, sustainability, food (in)security, social movements, and political economy. This work builds off of her previous research. She has experience with ethnographic fieldwork in northern Thailand where she analyzed the intersection between ethnicity, nationalism, religion, and recognition among a Hmong messianic religious group. She has also conducted linguistic and cultural fieldwork in the Ecuadorian Amazon, where she analyzed the spatial deixis of two dialects of lowland Kichwa as well as the political mobilization around indigenous (Kichwa) cosmology and human-nature relations. Her Master’s Thesis, “An Anthropological Perspective: The Cultural, the Political, and the Ontological in Kichwa Studies,” delved into popular and productive ways of studying Kichwa political cosmology.

Amy Rothschild

Amy started the program in 2007 and is a sociocultural anthropology student, currently doing fieldwork in Timor-Leste. Her main research interests include political violence, postcolonialism, nationalism, collective memory and human rights (particularly transitional justice).

Whitney Russell

Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith headed west from a small town in the Appalachian mountains and has been moving ever since. Her dissertation research focuses on the relationship between high-stakes educational testing, social inequality, and extended kinship networks in Tamil Nadu, India.

Jennifer Thunstrom

Alexis E. Tucker Sade

ABD PhD Candidate, UC San Diego – Sociocultural Anthropology
Associate Faculty, MiraCosta College, Department of Social Sciences
PhD Research – Solomon Islands 2011 – 2013
Funded by the UC Pacific Rim Dissertation Research Fellowship and the F.G. Bailey Field Research Grant

M.A., 2010, UC San Diego, Sociocultural Anthropology, “Why Don’t Things Fall Apart? A Study of the Survival of the Solomon Islands State”

B.A. with Academic Distinction, 2004, University of Hawai’i at Manoa, Biological Anthropology and Philosophy

Archaeological Field School, 2004, Rapa Nui (Easter Island), University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Marianinna Villavicencio

Marianinna is a graduate student who works on reproductive health, indigeneity, and human rights in rural Guatemala. Her work focuses on how women’s understanding of reproductive rights and choices are impacted by religion, generational gaps, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. She is interested in analyzing changing discourses of the body, family, and gender relations. Her research focuses on the daily interactions between healthcare professionals, NGOs, community health volunteers, and patients―categories that often overlap―in order to analyze how reproductive health is negotiated at different levels.

Leanne Williams

As a student of Joel Robbins and Rupert Stasch, Leanne works on the Anthropology of Religion, with a geographic focus on Southern and Eastern Africa. She is particularly interested in Christianity and how it interacts with the ways in which people think about themselves in relation to their world. Her Master’s thesis was an attempted analysis of constructions of space in ritual life in one specific historical ethnographic case. She hopes to carry out her fieldwork in urban Zimbabwe, looking at the ways in which morality gets talked about in contexts of social change. Having completed her undergraduate degree in the Midwest, and having grown up outside of the United States, she is currently enjoying the singular experience of being a California resident.


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