Teaching and Other Academic Positions

My long-term teaching career has been at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I began in 1983.

Over the years I’ve held shorter teaching positions at many other campuses as well, including Princeton University, Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium), Sun Yat-Sen University (Guanghzou, China), Minzu University (Beijing, China), University of Virginia, Lewis and Clark College, Virginia Union University, and Virginia Commonwealth University.

I’ve also had research or visiting scholar positions at several other campuses, including the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (Paris) and the Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas (Lisbon).  Since 2014, I have been a Visiting Scholar in Anthropology at Brown University.

Supervisory Work with Doctoral Students

I consider it an honor to work with doctoral students who will be the next generation of leaders both within and outside the academy.

At the University of Illinois, I closely supervised 16 advisees who completed their doctorates in anthropology.  Of these, seven have achieved tenure, two are on tenure-track positions, and two have upper-level administrative positions at universities in the U.S. and abroad; one works as an applied medical anthropologist for a US government agency; two work internationally as consultants and researchers; and one works as a librarian.

I also enjoy serving as an external member on doctoral committees for students at other campuses.
Alma, Tim Landry, Lance Larkin at UIUC Graduation, 5-18-14With Lance Larkin (left) and Tim Landry (right) receiving their doctorates in anthropology from the University of Illinois in May 2014.

Teaching and Mentoring Awards

For my work mentoring doctoral students at UIUC, I am honored to have received a campus-wide award from the Graduate College.

UIUC Grad Coll Mentor Award Certificate

Within the Anthropology department, I also received two mentoring awards for my work with graduate students (2011 and 1995).

UIUC ANTH Dept Mentor Award, 1995

At U Illinois, I appeared on the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent 23 times for teaching:

  • Cultural Images of Women (undergraduate class)
  • Memoirs of Africa (undergraduate honors seminar)
  • Women’s Lives (undergraduate honors seminar)
  • Ethnographic Writing (combined graduate/upper-level undergraduate seminar)
  • Kinship/Culture/Africa (combined graduate/upper-level undergraduate seminar)
  • Fieldwork in Cultural Anthropology (combined graduate/upper-level undergraduate seminar)
  • Writing Ethnography (combined graduate/upper-level undergraduate seminar)
  • Interpretive Anthropology (combined graduate/upper-level undergraduate seminar)
  • Religions of Africa (combined graduate/upper-level undergraduate seminar)
  • Religion in Anthropological Perspective (combined graduate/upper-level undergraduate seminar)
  • Infants and Young Children in Cross-Cultural Perspective (combined graduate/upper-level undergraduate seminar)
  • African Immigrants in Europe (combined graduate/upper-level undergraduate seminar)
  • Explorations in Feminism and Postmodernism in Anthropology (doctoral seminar)
  • Feminism, Gender and Sexuality (doctoral seminar)
  • Kinship and Social Structure in Africa (doctoral seminar)
  • Research Proposal Seminar (doctoral seminar)
  • Dissertation Writing Workshop (doctoral seminar)

Working with Undergraduate Students

I enjoy teaching and mentoring undergraduate students across all majors. Currently, I am supervising Aviva Weinstein (Brandeis University) as a research assistant for my current research and writing project (Cape Verdeans with Jewish heritage).  For four years (2016-20), I supervised Erica Sheeran, as a research assistant and Facebook page manager for A World of Babies (second edition).

In earlier years, I supervised several undergrad students who worked as my research assistants, as part of the wonderful Researchers Initiative program at UIUC.  Huiyi Chen has worked on constructing genealogies from my fieldnotes with Cape Verdeans.  Juliana Snarski has worked to help establish the Beng Community Fund (BCF) as a legal entity recognized by the state of Illinois, and served as the BCF’s secretary for two years.
Huiyi Chen w Poster on CV Genealogies Project, Researchers Initiative Conference, 4-19-15

Huiyi Chen presented a poster about her work as my research assistant during AY 2014-15 (UIUC Researchers Initiative conference, April 2015).  


Juliana Snarski Poster re BCF Project at Researchers Initiative Conf, 4-19-15Juliana Snarski presented a poster about her work as my research assistant during AY 2014-15 (UIUC Researchers Initiative conference, April 2015).  

At UIUC, I regularly taught courses for our Campus Honors Program (usually one course/year). Capped at 18 students, these small seminars always produced lively and engaged conversations with some of the campus’ most academically impressive students.

A w Kathleen Downes CHP Grad Party 5-15-15Congratulating Kathleen Downey at the UIUC Campus Honors Program reception for new graduates, May 2015.  Kathleen graduated as a Bronze Tablet scholar (among the top 3% of her graduating class), majoring in Community Health, with a focus on Rehabilitation and Disability Studies. After graduating, she completed an M.S. in Social Work from UIUC, with an emphasis on disability studies. I am honored to have taught Kathleen, an outstanding and exceptionally thoughtful student, in an anthropology course on Women’s Lives.  You can read some of her awesome writings here and here.

Doctoral Students’ Awards

Since 1991, under my direction, 16 doctoral advisees have won 50 predoctoral, doctoral, and postdoctoral research grants, fellowships, and prizes in national competitions (average 3/student), including:

  • Social Science Research Council (10)
  • Fulbright-IIE, Fulbright-Hays, and Fulbright Group Project Abroad (10)
  • Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (6)
  • Woodrow Wilson Foundation (4)
  • Rockefeller Foundation (3)
  • Ford Foundation (2)
  • Andrew Mellon Foundation (2)
  • West African Research Association (2)
  • American Council of Learned Societies (2)
  • Other agencies (3)
  • National graduate student paper awards (6)

Courses Taught

I love teaching and enjoy developing new courses! Many of my courses have been cross-listed in several departments, including Anthropology, African Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, Religious Studies, Global Studies, and European Union Studies. Over the years, I have taught over two dozen courses, including:

Graduate Level:

  • Immigrant and Minority Communities in Urban Spaces
  • Feminism, Gender and Sexuality
  • Feminist Theory in Anthropology
  • Explorations in Feminism and Postmodernism in Anthropology
  • Cultural Images of Women
  • Research Proposal Seminar
  • Dissertation Writing Seminar
  • Kinship/Culture/Power/Africa
  • Kinship and Social Structure in Africa
  • Integrated Four-Subfield Seminar

Combined Graduate/Advanced Undergraduate Level:

  • African Immigrants in Europe
  • Writing Ethnography
  • Infants and Young Children in Cross-Cultural Perspective
  • Fieldwork in Cultural Anthropology: Theory and Method
  • Religions of Africa
  • Symbolic and Interpretive Anthropology
  • Religion in Anthropological Perspective
  • Cultures of Africa

Undergraduate Level:

  • Cultural Images of Women/Women’s Lives
  • Women Cross-Culturally/Women in World Cultures
  • Women’s Bodies, Women’s Lives
  • Memoirs of Africa
  • Images of the “Other”: Anthropological Perspectives
  • Personal Anthropology
  • Introduction to Modern Africa
  • Anthropology in a Changing World
  • Global Politics of African Women’s Bodies
  • Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
  • Introduction to Social Anthropology and Ethnology