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Jennifer Esperanza

Jennifer Esperanza
Office phone: x2144

General Interests

Cultural Anthropology; Linguistic Anthropology; Southeast Asia (Indonesia & the Philippines); Globalization; Political Economy; Consumerism; Handicrafts; International Development; Refugee Resettlement, Food and Sustainability; Social Justice Movements; Popular Culture and Authenticity

Professor at Beloit Since: 2008

Ph.D., Anthropology. 2007. University of California, Los Angeles.
M.A., Anthropology. 1999. University of California, Los Angeles.
B.A., Anthropology and Linguistics. 1996. University of Southern California.

Teaching Philosophy
I am one of two socio-cultural anthropologists in the department of anthropology. My primary areas of expertise include political economy, Southeast Asia (Indonesia and the Philippines), tourism and handicrafts, language and identity, consumerism and more recently, immigration and refugee resettlement in the United States.

As a political economist, my primary goal is for students to learn that culture cannot be properly understood without examining the economic and political contexts from which this concept emerges. I teach courses that critically examine power as it is wielded within institutions, among individuals and between groups. I think that this is one of the most surprising things that students discover upon taking a cultural anthropology class.

A common misconception among students who have not yet taken an anthropology course is that they already know what culture is; that anthropology classes merely provide overviews of different groups around the world. This is far from what we do! In my anthropology courses, students read, reflect upon and write about a variety of political and economic conditions that create what societies interpret as culture. I use creative and academically rigorous methods to teach students how to reconsider categories they take for granted or deem as “natural” (i.e. gender, race, sexuality, etc.). This, in turn, trains students to think about and approach social problems from alternative perspectives.

Selected Professional Accomplishments

2015 Beloit College Professional Programming and Development Committee, Grant for Senior Capstone Course Enhancement Development

2015 Marvin Weissberg Foundation for Human Rights, Beloit College, Faculty Research Grant

2013-2014 Beloit College/Margaret Carfill Foundation Sustainability Fellows Grant to fund a “Sustainable Citizen” course (Anthropology 100: Society and Culture, Spring 2014)

2012-2013 Mellon Foundation/Labs Across the Curriculum Grant to fund team-taught course, “Keepin’ It Real?: The Pursuit, Defense, and Deconstruction of Authenticity” in Spring 2013, with Professor Daniel Barolsky, Music Department, Beloit College

2010-2011 Associated Colleges of the Midwest, FaCE (Faculty Career Enhancement) Grant to fund two-part workshop, “Teaching International Development in the Liberal Arts”

2006-2007 Scholar in Residence Fellow, Consortium for Faculty Diversity (CFD) Program, Southwestern University, Georgetown, TX.

2003-2004 UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies Fellowship (Title VI/FLAS)    

2001-2002 SSRC/Rockefeller Foundation Dissertation Fellowship on the Arts

1999 Ford Foundation Pre-Dissertation Research Grant


2015 Ellett, R., Esperanza, J. and Phan, D. "Developing Interdisciplinary Thinking through an International Development Case Study" 
Journal of College Teaching.

2011 “Bali’s Ethnic Arts Industry: Crafting Global Identities amidst a National Tourist Agenda” Material Culture Review, Vol. 71: 14-23

2008 “Outsourcing Otherness: Commodifying Culture and Modernity in the Global Handicrafts Market” Research in Economic Anthropology, Vol. 28: 71-95.

2004 “Crafting Place: Discourses of Culture and Otherness in the Handicrafts Industry of Tegallalang, Bali” Antropologi Indonesia: Indonesian Journal of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 28 (75), 22-32. 

2014 “Bypassing the National, Engaging the Global: (Re)Negotiating Terms of Global Belonging In the Balinese Handicrafts Industry” for  Small Scale Producers and Rural Economies in the 21st Century: Retrenching, Redefining and Reenergizing. Deborah Sick and Richard Wilk (eds.). London: Routledge Press.

2012 Review of “Five Centuries of Indonesian Textiles,” Mary Hunt Kahlenberg (ed.). Museum Anthropology Review. Vol 6, No. 2, pp. 106-107 Fall 2012

2016 Esperanza, Jennifer. “Judging Books by their Cover” (2016 12 September) Anthropology News. Retrieved from

2016 Esperanza, J. and Tunstall, D.  (2016 June 20) “Decolonizing Anthropology Textbook Covers” Savage Minds: Notes and Queries in Anthropology. Retrieved from

“The Anthropologist as Consultant: Teaching with Problem-Based Modules” (manuscript in progress, to be submitted for publication in a pedagogical journal, TBA)

Asian Journal of Social Science                        

Journal of Museum Anthropology                                   

Journal of International and Global Studies                   

Museum Anthropology Review                                        

National Science Foundation

Selected Presentations
2016 Critical Thinking in Character: Museum Objects and LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) in the Classroom. Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Conference. Vancouver, BC.

2015 “Race and Racism in Anthropology” Central States Anthropological Society Annual Conference. Minneapolis, MN.

2014 Panelist, “Ways of Knowing: The Struggle to Produce Anthropologists of Color“American Anthropological Association Annual Conference, Washington, DC.

2013 “Deconstructing the Boundaries of the ‘Ethnic Art’ Industry” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Society Annual International Conference. National University of Singapore. July.

2013 “Pan-Ethnic Aesthetics and Other Exotic Imaginaries in Bali, Indonesia.”  Paper presented at U-Mass Amherst Center for Heritage and Society Annual International Conference, Amherst, MA, May.

2012 “Visual Ethics” Roundtable Presenter, American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, November.

2012 “The Anthropologist as Consultant: Teaching with Problem-Based Modules” Paper presented at the Central States Anthropological Society Annual Meeting, Toledo, OH, March.

2011 “Bypassing the National, Engaging the Global: (Re)Negotiating Terms of Global Belonging in the Balinese Handicrafts Industry” Paper presented at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Montreal. November.   

2011 “Making Critical Connections: Teaching International Development in the Liberal Arts” Colorado College. May.

2011 “Crafting Culture, Crafting Cosmopolitanism:  Invited lecture to the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison. February 4.

2009 “This is Wild, Wild East” Paper presented at the Association for Asian Studies Meeting, Chicago, IL, March 29.

Professional Service
2015-2017 Committee Member, Faculty Status and Performance Committee, Beloit College

2013-2016 Executive Board Member, Central States Anthropological Society

2013 Beloit College Representative, Associated Colleges of the Midwest Institute on College Futures.

2013 Faculty Fellow, Beloit College Intercultural Engagement Leadership Circle.

2013 Beloit College representative; ACM Faculty Site Visit, Costa Rica Program, April.

2012 US Delegate (Midwestern US representative), Slow Foods International. Terra Madre meetings. Torino, Italy. October 2012.

2011-2013 Committee Member, Academic Performance Committee, Beloit College

2011 Co-organizer, FaCE Grant Workshop on Teaching International Development in the Liberal Arts. January 2011: Chicago, IL and May 2011: Colorado Springs, CO.

2008-present Faculty Sponsor, Beloit College Slow Food Chapter

2010-present Member, Beloit School District Nutrition Committee

2009 National Women’s Studies Association, Women of Color Leadership Project

2007 Panel Organizer, Visual Art in Asia, American Anthropological Association Meetings, Washington, D.C.