Director of Latin American Studies (LASP)
Dual Position in Anthropology and African American Studies
Office: Gambrell Hall 427
Office Phone: 777-3797
African American Studies Office: 202 Flinn Hall
African American Studies Phone: 777-1859
(Ph.D. in Anthropology, 2002 Michigan State University)
Personal Journey to Anthropology
The personal is, without a doubt, theoretical. My anthropological leanings began to coalesce early in my life, largely due to what many people perceived to be my racial/ethnic ambiguity. People’s interest in pinpointing my racial/national identity forced me to question and explore these constructs as I lived them. Very soon, my interest expanded to general issues of social-racial formation and its embeddedness in webs of culture and power.
I was living anthropology long before I studied it formally and certainly long before I would identify myself as an anthropologist. Study abroad during my senior year at Grinnell College through the Council on International Exchange (CIEE), however, helped further me along. My time spent in Seville, Spain, proved to be an invaluable experience as it set me on a new course of cross-cultural understanding.
The upshot of my tenure abroad was a heightened sensitivity to global linkages and issues of international and domestic diversity on campus. This, in turn, led me to develop and facilitate workshops surrounding issues of cultural awareness, sensitivity, and appreciation. I continued in this vein when I graduated and worked in Student Life at Macalester College and Drake University.
When researching graduate programs, I looked closely at anthropology and was excited about the idea of learning more about other cultures. I wanted to combine Spanish (my major) and African American Studies (my minor) and explore issues of race, gender, class, and identity formation in comparative contexts. I received my M.A. in Anthropology from Iowa State University and my Ph.D. in Anthropology from Michigan State University where I was also a Researcher-in-Residence with the African Diaspora Research Project (ADRP) under the Direction of the late Dr. Ruth Simms Hamilton.
While much of my research has been in the Dominican Republic, I have begun comparative research in the United States and Brazil within the context of the African Diaspora.
Current Research Interests
My research interests include: identity formation, cultural construction of race and gender, women’s organizations, international migration, immigration and immigration policy, African American culture, Black ethnic groups in the United States, African American – Latino relationships, and African Diaspora communities.
My geographic areas of interest are: Dominican Republic, United States, Brazil, the African Diaspora, and Latin America and the Hispanic Caribbean.
Research in the Dominican Republic
Much of my research in the Dominican Republic has focused on the cultural construction of gender and female identity (for the MA) as well as issues of racial-national identity formation and competing discourses surrounding Dominicanness in terms of race/color and racial/color identities (for the PhD). The Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) has been my host institution since 1993. I’ve worked closely with colleagues at PUCMM over the years as a collaborator and as director of a study abroad program, through the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), focusing on Spanish Language and Caribbean Studies.
I conducted archival research in addition to ethnographic research. I worked closely with a self-defined Black feminist organization in Santo Domingo known as Identidad de la Mujer Negra (The Black Women’s Identity Movement). The research that I conducted with Identidad helped me to understand how ideas of race are transformed due to international migration, encountering new/different racial systems, and because of interactions with similarly positioned people throughout the African Diaspora.
Ochy and Kim
Forthcoming Reconstructing Racial Identity and the African Past in the Dominican Republic. Gainesville: University Press of Florida. Publication date: 2009.
Forthcoming “Navigating the Racial Terrain: Blackness and Mixedness in the Unites States and the Dominican Republic,” in Transforming Anthropology. Forthcoming: Fall 2008, 16(2).
2006 “Racial Enculturation and Lived Experience: Reflections on Race at Home and Abroad” in Anthropology News, 47(2): 10-11.
2005 “Somos una Liga: Afro-Dominicanidad and The Articulation of New Racial Identities in the Dominican Republic,” in Wadabagei: A Journal of the Caribbean and its Diaspora, 8(1):51-64.
2001 “A Passion for Sameness: Encountering a Black Feminist Self in Fieldwork in the Dominican Republic” in Irma McClaurin (editor) Black Feminist Anthropology: Theory, Praxis, Politics and Poetics. Rutgers University Press.
2001 “Black Students and Study Abroad.” Anthropology News, 42(3). ABA Section News. Arlington: American Anthropological Association.
2001 “A Double-Edged Sword: White Privilege.” Anthropology News, 42(4). ABA Section News. Arlington: American Anthropological Association.
2008 “Situated Passing: Black Women Who Passed for White.” Paper presented at the Women’s Studies Program 21st Annual Conference, University of South Carolina, February 28 - 29, 2008.
2007 “Before We Were Black, Some of Us Were Brown: The Emergence of the Brown Fellowship Society, Mixedness, and the Roots of Colorism in the African American Community.” Paper presented at the AAA Annual Meetings, November 28 - December 2, 2007. Washington, D.C.
2007 “Mestizo(a), Indio(a), Mulato(a) and Afro-Dominican: Competing Representations of Race and Gender in the Dominican Republic.” Paper presented at the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD) Conference, October 9 -12, 2007. Barbados.
2007 “Identidad de la Mujer Afro: Sisterhood, Feminism, and the Politics of a Black Women’s Movement in the Dominican Republic.” Paper presented at the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) International Congress, September 5 - 8, 2007, Montreal, Canada.
2007 “Mujeres Negras: Black Women and Feminism in the Dominican Republic.” Paper presented at the Women’s Studies Program 20th Annual Conference, University of South Carolina, March 1 -2.
2006 “From Mestizo to Indio to Mulato: Racial Enculturation and the Changing Significance of Blackness and Mixedness in the Dominican Republic.” Paper presented at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meetings, November 15- 19, San Jose, California.
2005 “Racial Formation in the African Diaspora: Blackness and Mixed-ness in the United States and the Dominican Republic.” Paper presented for the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD) Conference, October 5-7, 2005, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
2005 "Becoming Afro-Dominican and Mulato/a: (Re)Constructing Racial Identities in the United States and the Dominican Republic” presentation given at the Consortium of Latino Immigration to South Carolina, University of South Carolina, March 25, 2005.
2005 “(Re)Claiming the African Past: Constructing Afro- and Mulato/a Identities in the Dominican Republic.” Paper presented at the Caribbean Studies Association Conference, May 30- June 4, 2005, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
2004 “La Hermandad en la Diaspora Africana.” UNESCO-sponsored seminar entitled “La Ruta del Esclavo” (The Slave Route) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. March 24-27, 2004.
2003 “La Diaspora Africana: Articulaciones de Africanidad, Raza y Género por Identidad” en Raza y Identidad: Re-Elaborando la Africanidad (Panel), April 9, PUCMM Campus, Santiago, Dominican Republic.
2001 “On Becoming a Black Feminist Anthropologist: Integrating the Personal, the Political, and the Intellectual.” Paper prepared for the American Anthropological Association, Annual Meetings, November 28 – December 2, Washington, DC.
2001 “The Dominican Republic as Both African Diaspora and Homeland: African American and Latino/a Students’ Experiences Abroad.” Co-authored paper presented by David S. Simmons at the LASA XXIII International Congress, September 6 –8, Washington, DC.
2000 La Diversidad en el Campus: Un Conversatorio Sobre Raza, Género, y Diversidad, October 12, PUCMM Campus, Santiago Dominican Republic
Association of Black Anthropologists (ABA, President-Elect)
American Anthropological Association (AAA)
Latin American Studies Association (LASA)
Caribbean Studies Association (CSA)
Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD)
Food and Culture
African American Culture
The Cultural Construction of Identities
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Introduction to African American Studies
Latin American Cultures
The African Diaspora
Anthropological View of Blacks in Film
Introduction to Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino/a Cultures
through Film (team taught course)