4 Anthropologists that Inspire Our Students

AU public anthropology students have diverse interests shaped by their experiences, their teachers, and their immersion in the work of established anthropologists. We reached out to four students to learn how their work has been inspired and guided by the work of others. Here is what they told us:


Kelci Reiss has been inspired by anthropologist and AU Associate Professor Adrienne Pine. Kelci says:

“My first day in a course taught by my academic advisor was a defining experience. It changed my life and set me on a social justice-oriented path in my approach to research and day-to-day life. Professor Pine taught me the importance of examining inequality, violence, and oppression through her own work in Honduras, and her ongoing involvement in the research community and with National Nurses United. Professor Pine has dedicated her career to fighting against systems of oppression, leading by example as she enriches the minds and passions of her students. Her dedication to anthropological research has inspired me daily, and I look forward to continuing to work with Professor Pine as I develop my master’s research.”

Kelci is interested examining the late effects of cancer and cancer treatments, and how cancer survivors experience barriers to follow-up care. She has also worked with undocumented Central American migrants, looking at their reasons for migration to the United States.


Anthropologist and Truckee Meadows Community College instructor Christine E. Boston inspires Caroline Robertson. Caroline says:

“Professor Christine E. Boston was the instructor of my first anthropology class. As my professor, she took me under her wing and became a role model. She helped me find the courage to become an anthropologist. Professor Boston introduced me to ideas such as the processes of human evolution and the ignorance behind contemporary slut-shaming—ideas I had not been exposed to in my small town upbringing. Further, Professor Boston’s fascination with Chilean mummies affirmed my own fascination with the dead, and with what we can learn from those who have gone before us. Currently, she is an instructor and discipline coordinator at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada and writes an anthropology blog with input from her students. I look forward to watching the growth of my mentor as she continues to influence young anthropologists like me.”

Caroline is interested in cultural anthropology in the United States.


Anthropologist and Messiah College professor Jenell Paris inspires Joshua Schea. Joshua says:

“Geertz, Mead, and Boaz are just a few of the great thinkers whose work has taught me what it means to be an anthropologist. However, no anthropologist has taught me more about looking into human experience, or made the work more fascinating, than my undergraduate professor and mentor Jenell Paris. Her work in queer studies, urban research, and the way she lives out her values as an anthropologist have inspired me, and are the reason I study anthropology today. Professor Paris’s work is varied, and includes researching a particular neighborhood in Washington, DC, and analyzing how women deal with the death of their young children through internet forums. She has an infectious curiosity about how the world works, demonstrating a desire to learn about the ways people experience this world.”

Joshua’s studies focus on religion and urban education. Over the next few years, he intends to examine how students and teachers interact with religion in the classroom.


Robin Svendsen found inspiration in Barbara Myerhoff’s work. Myerhoff was an American anthropologist and filmmaker, and founder of the Center for Visual Anthropology at the University of Southern California. Robin says:

“Barbara Myerhoff is the author of the 1980 book Number Our Days: A Triumph of Continuity and Culture Among Jewish Old People in an Urban Ghetto. At its time, Number Our Days was a trailblazing text—representing a new direction for anthropology. Researched and written in the late 1970s, Number Our Days was situated in a disappearing Jewish Community in Venice Beach California, and Myerhoff’s unique look at people in her ‘own community,’ so to speak, offered an insider/outsider perspective and carried deeper meaning for the preservation of culture. The elderly, immigrant Jews featured in Myerhoff’s work were given a voice in their own history, something rarely afforded in the history of anthropology, and something that is still all too rare today. Myerhoff tackled the challenge of practicing objectivity in one’s own community, and her insider status enabled her to highlight the lives of people often forgotten. Because Myerhoff was considered by the community to be ‘one of their own,’ they opened up to her in a way never achieved by previous anthropologists. Myerhoff’s research techniques, insider status, and love of her subjects—as well as her deep belief in their need to be heard—are woven through her eloquent writing style, which opened doors into the intimate lives of profusely private people and provided a deeper understanding of the individual and collective experiences of being Jewish within the diaspora.”

Robin’s studies focus on third-wave immigration to the United States and on material culture.


Some of our students find their mentors in the master’s in public anthropology program. Others find the support to continue the work they’ve already been inspired to pursue. Learn what you can accomplish with us.

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