Senior Instructor, Anthropology / Global Studies RAP
Democracy & Development in Bolivia: Course & Project (Coroico, Bolivia)
What is your international experience?
I have been a teacher, volunteer, service learning team leader, researcher, and tourist in 15 countries on 5 continents, and the best experiences were the ones where -- as on a Global Seminar -- I was part of an international group with common goals learning directly from local community members. I have conducted ethnographic research in Bolivia since 1997.
Why should anthropology majors study abroad?
The central teaching of the discipline is to cultivate a sense of humility and respect for others along the path to understanding different cultural perspectives on any issue, a practice that can be applied to all career paths. Such insights are best gained through careful mentorship and a safe immersive experience that pushes us out of our normal comfort zones. A Study Abroad program is one of the best ways to accomplish this goal!
What is your favorite Bolivian food?
Salteñas! They are like a small empanada style chicken pot pie, handmade and absolutely delicious-chunks of potato, carrot, chicken, other vegetables, a hard boiled quail egg, and a black olive, all in a rich broth. They are served from sidewalk stalls for breakfast only; I could eat them all day long.
Why is Bolivia such a good place to study this topic?
Bolivia has a fascinating history of ancient civilizations and persistent cultural traditions, Spanish colonialism, organized indigenous resistance, US intervention, and modern social movements. This is holistic anthropology at its finest, with opportunities to consider various issues from many disciplinary perspectives.
What aspect of this summer’s trip are you looking forward to the most?
Reconnecting with my friends and godchildren in the town where I lived for a year during my fieldwork, smelling the sweet Yungas air as you descend the eastern slope of the Andes Mountains, and walking the footpaths from community to community in this stunning rural landscape.
This course is a great opportunity to break down the misinformation that so pervades the U.S. mainstream media about Bolivia, Evo Morales, the coca leaf, indigenous social movements, and Latin American politics. It promises to expand your worldview and open your mind to the experiences of people who carry a deep historical memory of oppression and exploitation — but also a rich cultural heritage of community democracy, agriculture, innovation, and solidarity.