Education is the greatest gift; a life spent with students is a lucky life. I have been teaching at Western Washington University since the 1980s, classes of over four hundred students to small seminars where I help graduate students in archaeology, linguistics, applied, biological, and cultural anthropology build the theoretical scaffolding of a master’s thesis.
I consider the University classroom a special place, unlike any other. Undergraduate students in my various classes can expect to discuss sex and gender, death and dying, religion, violent trauma, war, human rights, and the development of philosophy and theory in a safe, respectful environment, with the expectation of privacy and decorum.
I sometimes use examples from my “little life” to show the relationship between theory and practice, “different ways of knowing,” and the practical applications of cultural anthropology. There is a saying from the 17th century that makes a worthy pedagogical mission statement for anthropologists, “to make the strange familiar and the familiar strange.”
- TOP: 1,541 red chairs were displayed along a main street in Sarajevo as the city marked the 20th anniversary of the start of the Bosnian war on April 6, 2012. Photo © Amel Emric / AP
- ABOVE LEFT: Bust of the goddess of Issa, Vis Museum, Croatia
- RIGHT: Bust of the goddess Aphrodite, Vis Museum, Croatia
Society for Applied Anthropology
At the Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology in Vancouver British Columbia, I delivered a paper on Workplace Bullying in Higher Education: The Misunderstood Academicus in a session on Anthropological Research Suggesting Positive Outcomes for Challenging Issues in Higher Education.
Anthropology 301, The Development of Anthropology, is an integrative history and analysis of the development of Western thought and anthropological theory and practice. The class is directed at anthropology majors, especially those undergraduates who intend to continue in the discipline.
Sex and Gender Roles in Culture
Anthropology 353, Sex and Gender Roles in Culture, examines the intersection of sex, sexuality, and gender through the lens of the anthropological analysis of culture and everyday life.
War and Human Rights
Anthropology 456, War and Human Rights, attempts an understanding of the various ways war and concepts of human rights are central to anthropology. Ultimately, the class will help you consider the ways in which history, society, and values in culture construct war, violence, and abuse as normative and the theory and methods useful in the edification of human rights across cultures.
Trauma and Recovery
Anthropology 490, Trauma and Recovery, is a senior capstone course that critically examines the anthropology of trauma, recovery, and resilience with an emphasis on rethinking the human experience as a physiological, psychological, and socio-cultural process.
The History Of And Development Of Anthropology
Anthropology 501 examines the development of principal theoretical orientations and methods in the cultural and historical setting; development of anthropology as a discipline. Anthropology 501 is a reading and discussion seminar, augmented with essays and class presentations.
I have always pursed an interest in “what it means to be human,” particularly research essential to an understanding of violence and trauma in culture.
One of my first publications (1989), “The Imperishable Virginity of Saint Maria Goretti,” is about the rape of a young religious virgin girl, part of my own lived experience, and her fast track to sainthood because, in the words of my parish priest, “she chose death over rape.” My education at the University provided the skills to objectively analyze and articulate in writing what I could not speak about directly because of fear and shame.
I was writing a dissertation about immigration from islands off the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia, when the tanks rolled into Croatia in 1991. My scholarship changed direction as I studied the war in Croatia and Bosnia, the mass rapes, war crimes, and the genocide in Bosnia. I attended trials at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and participated in conferences on war crimes and genocide. I was able to bring students with me to the ICTY and genocide conferences in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and to see them pursue their own careers in social justice and international criminal law.
Research informs my teaching and humble scholarship concerning what Ludwig Wittgenstein described as subjects more easily “passed over in silence.” My experience suggests the research itself provides the available light to continue with the mission.