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Beloit College students headed to Caribbean in new field study program

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

MEDIA CONTACT: Hilary Dickinson at dickinsonh@beloit.edu or 608-363-2849

A group of Beloit College students will be heading to Jamaica this December as part of the anthropology department’s first-ever field school in the country.

While college students nationwide will be sleeping in and recovering from a busy fall term, 10 anthropology students will venture to the Caribbean country for a three-week period between Christmas and the spring semester where they will conduct ethnographic field work, intern at places including museums and a women’s center, and attend cultural events.

Prior to the trip, students will take a half-unit course, followed by another half-unit course afterwards to write their research reports.  The trip itself is one unit, making the course a total of two units. Anthropology Professor Nancy Krusko and Associate Anthropology Professor Lisa Anderson-Levy, who created the ethnographic field school, hope to conduct it every other year.

Jamaica was selected as the site of the field study because the college has a small institutional footprint  in the Caribbean, especially compared to parts of Africa, Asia and Central America, which are more regularly frequented by Beloit students and faculty. Jamaica is also comparatively close and more affordable than other spots.

 “In terms of a field school, the Caribbean is different enough from what I expect most students are used to,” said Anderson-Levy, adding that the region will take them outside of their comfort zone and stretch their boundaries. “It’s good to get them thinking about how they fit with various communities and how they see the world.”

“I hope they gain a greater appreciation of cultural differences and what are the factors that lead to it,” Krusko added. “It will give them a better perspective about our own lives – coming from the U.S. we’re much more privileged than other parts of the world.”

Sources: Krusko is a biological anthropologist who teaches courses in introduction to biological anthropology, primate behavior and ecology, lab methods in behavioral observation, human osteology, and medical anthropology. Her Ph.D. research focused on reproductive and social interaction patterns of captive female langur monkeys, and current projects include working on the “hygiene hypothesis”- a theory we are too clean - and working with the City of Beloit to research African American infant mortality. She can serve as a media resource on topics related to her research and teaching interests. A full bio and vitae are available at http://www.beloit.edu/anthropology/faculty/krusko/.

Anderson-Levy is a cultural anthropologist with areas of interest in whiteness studies, feminist theory and methodologies, postcolonial theory, citizenship, nationalism, ethnographic methods, and critical race theory. In addition to introductory courses in anthropology, she teaches classes on race and culture, whitenesses, gender and society, citizenship, and areas studies in the Caribbean. Her current research focuses on the production of whitenesses in Jamaica and the impact of “studying-up” in anthropology.  She can serve as a media resource on topics related to her research and teaching interests. A full bio and vitae are available at http://www.beloit.edu/anthropology/faculty/andersonlevy/.