2006-Present PhD candidate (ABD August 2008), Cultural Anthropology, University of South Carolina (expected August 2011)
2007 Graduate Certificate, Visual Anthropology, University of South Carolina
2006 MA, Cultural Anthropology, University of South Carolina
2003 BA Hons, Cultural Anthropology, Carleton University
1999 BA Hons, Archaeology, Carleton University
Areas of Specialization:
Anthropology of Tourism
Anthropology of the Middle East
Anthropology of the City
Areas of Interest:
Ideas surrounding identity creation and negotiation, issues of visual representation, anthropology of tourism (globalization, marketing images, embodied practices, and souvenirs), anthropology of landscape, urban anthropology, social change through development, and Jordan
Fellowships and Scholarships:
2008 Fulbright Fellowship (sponsored by U.S. Department of State): Jordan (April 2009-December 2009)
2008 Critical Language Enhancement Award (CLEA) (sponsored by U.S. Department of State: Jordan (September 2008-March 2009)
2005 American Center of Oriental Research/Council of American Overseas Research Center
2010 Dot O’Dell Student Travel Award, Department of Anthropology, University of South Carolina
2010 Graduate School Travel Award, University of South Carolina
2007 Graduate School Travel Award, University of South Carolina
2007 College of Arts and Sciences Travel Award, University of South Carolina
2006 Department of Anthropology Travel Award, University of South Carolina
2005 Walker Institute of International Studies (WIIS) International Experience Award
2005 Graduate School Travel Award, University of South Carolina
1. Instructor of Record
Understanding Other Cultures (Spring 2007, Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Summer I 2008, Summer II 2010, Fall 2010)
Anthropology of Tourism (Maymester 2007, Summer II 2008, Spring 2011)
2. Teaching Assistant
Understanding Other Cultures (Fall 2004, Spring 2005, Fall 2005, Spring 2006, Fall 2006)
Anthropological View of Blacks in Film (Maymester 2008)
Dissertation Working Title: “Shifting Landscapes of Identity: the Social and Economic Development of Aqaba, Jordan”
Dr. Kimberly Simmons (Chair), Departments of Anthropology and African American Studies
Dr. Karl Heider, Department of Anthropology
Dr. Thomas Leatherman, Department of Anthropology
Dr. Ann Kingsolver, Department of Anthropology
Dr. Kenneth Perkins, Department of History
Dr. Drucilla Barker, Departments of Anthropology and Women’s Studies
Dissertation Research (September 2008-June 2009, January 2010-July 2010):
Using the lens of development in Aqaba, Jordan, this dissertation explores how social, economic, and physical landscapes shape identity and the ways in which people see their identities shifting as government and private industry restructure their communities. My research charts the changing social and economic landscapes of Aqaba as the physical landscape is altered due to increasing development-related expansion, and examines how this relates to the negotiation and politicization of identity.
Space and place create, contest, and reshape identity reflecting the changes affected by macro processes with micro consequences. This study attempts to understand the role of the global in defining the local by considering the anticipated impact of the planned large-scale urban development on the local identity. Identities change as the city itself undergoes ‘renovation’ through political adjustments, globalization, tourism development, and commercialization. These transformations may provide opportunities, albeit often limited, of empowerment for marginalized populations, who can attempt to broaden the dominant local identity by taking advantage of new economic opportunities and increasing their agency within the city. Employing a gendered, multi-scalar approach to data collection and drawing on ethnographic mapping as a key methodology; this dissertation attempts to situate the interpretive experiences of residents, business owners, and policy makers within the broader political economic framework of development.
In order to explore the interpretive experiences surrounding the political economy of tourism development, I employed a multi-sited, multi-tiered approach beginning with residents of one building in a neighbourhood designated to be razed for tourist development. Using cognitive mapping methodology, I explored the perceived implications for the social networks of residents of the neighbourhoods that have started to be displaced due to resort, lagoon, and condominium construction; as well as look at what the impact of large-scale urban tourism development on local identity in relation to public versus private space in the city might be.
Resort development in Aqaba has already drastically reduced the amount of public access beaches in town. To use one of the existing resorts’ beachfront will cost local residents approximately $50 USD/person per day. Another example can be found in the case of a former children’s park, which was located directly beside a mosque that has been developed into several multi-national fast food chain restaurants and a gym/spa. While these places are accessible to the local population, the price of eating at one of these restaurants is prohibitive for the average Aqaba family.
From here, I expanded my investigation to include local business owners, through the use of participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and questionnaires. An over arching question I examined was how Aqaba’s economy deals with changing consumption patterns of tourists. In other words, how will the local businesses deal with tourists remaining in the resorts instead of contributing to the larger town’s economy, such as in locally owned restaurants and local markets? As well, I was interested in exploring new industries, both formal and informal, which are developing as a result of this increased tourism and their impact on the larger community.
Armed with the concerns and perceptions raised by community members and business owners, I intend to address these issues with policy makers, such as the Jordanian Tourism Board (JTB), the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (MOTA), and the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) by means of interviews and roundtable discussions. By employing a scalar approach, from the local, to business, to policy, I anticipate an increase in communication possibilities that will ideally lead to a smoother identity shift as a result of the increasing tourism development.
MA Thesis Title: “Serving up the Imagined: An Image-Based Examination of Jordan’s National Identity Created through Hospitality”
MA Thesis Committee:
Dr. Karl Heider, Department of Anthropology
Dr. Thomas Leatherman, Department of Anthropology
Dr. Kimberly Simmons, Department of Anthropology
Professor Laura Kissel, Department of Media Arts
MA Thesis Abstract:
I explore the webbed nature of how the state, the local population, and tourists co-create Jordanian tradition through the Bedouin ethos. Using still images and video, I highlight how certain aspects of Bedouin culture are appropriated to represent an idealized Jordanian national identity. Tourism industries often construct 'authentic' displays of local, ethnic identities to appeal to the tourists’ sense of imagined destinations. The Jordanian tourism industry commercializes the image of the Bedouin in order to attract both domestic and foreign tourists. The use of food, setting, and hospitality as representations of Bedouin and thus of Jordanian culture are key aspects of this tourism tactic. Bedouin coffee served under a ‘Bedouin tent’ is frequently seen on tours, in restaurants and in many of the major hotel lobbies, enticing guests to ‘experience’ a taste of Jordanian life. In fact, entire package tours are geared toward the experience of food and hospitality rituals within the host culture.
Drawing on interviews, observations, and surveys of images found in Jordanian tourism artifacts (brochures, hotels, menus, posters, and websites) I explore how Jordanian identity is both represented and consumed differently by each of the three contributors. Finally, this research considers how all the participants negotiate and reinforce this imagined identity in order to reflect the changing demands of global tourism.
Conference Participation (Session, Papers, and Posters):
2010- AAA (American Anthropological Association), New Orleans, LA
- Paper: “Mapping Landscapes of Identity: Tourism Development in Aqaba, Jordan” in the “Commodity Aesthetics and Media in the Middle East” session
2008- AAA (American Anthropological Association), San Francisco, CA
- Co-organizer of invited session “Ethnographic Film, Ethics and Emotion: Honoring the Work of Karl G. Heider”, sponsored by the Society for Visual Anthropology.
2007- AAA (American Anthropological Association), Washington, D.C
- Co-organizer of session “A Dialogue Surrounding the Ethical Practices and Perspectives of Visual-Based Research” sponsored by the National Association of Student Anthropologists (NASA)
2007- SfAA (Society for Applied Anthropology), Tampa, FL
- Poster: “Selling Bedouin: An Image-Based Examination of the Commodification of Jordan’s ‘Authentic’ Identity”
2006- AAA (American Anthropological Association), San Jose, CA
- Co-organizer of invited session “Working Ethics for Visual Anthropology”, sponsored by the Society for Visual Anthropology.
- Paper: “Buying the Imagined: Tourist Consumption of ‘Authentic’ Jordanian Identity” in the “Expressive Culture, Ideology and Identity in the Middle East” session.
2005- GAVA (Graduate Association for Visual Anthropology), Washington D.C
- Paper: “Dishing up the Imagined: Examining the Bedouinization of Jordan’s National Identity for Tourism through Cuisine and Hospitality”
2005- SCASC (South Carolina Anthropology Student Conference), Columbia, SC
- Paper: “The Sociability of the Lucky Ron Show”
Anthropology News (Volume 48, No. 4, April 2007), “Working Ethics for Visual Research” p. 65 (co-authored with Bridget McDonnell)
American Anthropologist (Volume 108, No. 3 September 2006), Pacific Pattern book review p. 518
ACOR Newsletter (Vol.17.1, Summer 2005), “Dishing up the Imagined: Examining the Bedouinization of Jordan’s National Identity for Tourism through Cuisine and Hospitality”
Historically Speaking (Volume 45, No. 1, Summer 2006)
American Journal of Archaeology (Volume 107, 2003)
National Geographic Magazine (February 1999)
Journal of Archaeology (Volume 103, 1999)
Journal of Roman Archaeology (Volume 12, 1999)
2007/2008 - Co-organizer of the South Carolina Anthropology Student Conference (SCASC), Charleston, SC
2007/2008 – Guidance Committee, USC PhotoVoice (Title TBA) sponsored by Student Wellness Promotion
2007- Filmmaker, USC PhotoVoice International sponsored by Student Wellness Promotion
2006/2007- Co-organizer of the South Carolina Anthropology Student Conference (SCASC), Clemson, SC
2005/2006- Co-organizer of the South Carolina Anthropology Student Conference (SCASC), Aiken, SC
2005-present-Co-organizer of CABLE, a bi-weekly cultural anthropology workshop series at the University of South Carolina
American Anthropological Association (AAA)
American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR)
Development Studies Working Group, University of South Carolina
Middle East Studies Association (MESA)
South East Regional Middle East and Islamic Studies Association (SERMEIS)
Society for Visual Anthropology (SVA)
National Association for Student Anthropologists (NASA)
Middle East Section of AAA (MES)