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Acting Department Chair
Christopher N. Matthews, professor, received a PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University. His research interests include the archaeology of capitalism and race in the United States and the practice of community-based research. His focus is the archaeology of slavery and freedom, and he has directed field projects in this area in Maryland, Louisiana, New York, and New Jersey. He teaches courses such as: the Anthropology of Race, Archaeology in Montclair, Native North Americans, and Introduction to Archaeology. He is the author of An Archaeology of History and Tradition and The Archaeology of American Capitalism and co-editor of Ethnographic Archaeologies: Reflections on Stakeholders and Archaeological Practice and The Archaeology of Race in the Northeast. He is also the editor of the Society for Historical Archaeology’s journal, Historical Archaeology.
Cortni Borgerson, assistant professor, received a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research explores why people choose to hunt endangered species, and examines how this hunting affects both human health and primate conservation. Dr. Borgerson is currently managing numerous interventions to improve food security and reduce unsustainable hunting of lemurs in Madagascar. In addition to her field research and active development interventions, she is a National Geographic Explorer and a Commission member for the Madagascar Section of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group. She teaches many hands-on courses, including: Introduction to Physical Anthropology (ANTH101); Addressing Human-Wildlife Conflicts (ANTH165); Improving Environmental Health (ANTH404/504); Understanding and Saving Primates (ANTH402/502 at the zoo!); and Doing Primate (and other Wildlife) Research (ANTH403/503 at the zoo!).
Julian Brash, associate professor, received a PhD from the Anthropology program of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of anthropology, geography, and interdisciplinary urban studies. They include urban development and politics, economic development policy, urban neoliberalism, the politics of space and place, urban identity, political economy, and the study of North American society and culture. He teaches courses including Cultural Anthropology, Communities in Transition, and Multicultural America. He is the author of Bloomberg’s New York: Class and Governance in the Luxury City, published by the University of Georgia Press (2011). Brash’s current research focuses on the High Line and other new public parks in New York City. It has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Science Foundation.
Elsa Davidson, associate professor, received a PhD from the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. Her research interests include processes of aspiration formation and social reproduction among youth from diverse class, racial, and ethnic backgrounds, and shifting expectations of success and definitions of the normal and pathological in childhood. Her current research explores this theme in relation to emergent norms and pedagogies in the United States focused on social and emotional skill development and difference in childhood. Her course offerings include Cultural Anthropology, Multicultural America, Anthropological Theory, and the Anthropology of Childhood and Youth. She is the author of The Burdens of Aspiration: Schools, Youth, and Success in the Divided Social Worlds of Silicon Valley (New York University Press, 2011) and publishes in both geography and anthropology journals.
Julie Farnum, assistant professor, received a PhD from the University of Missouri. Her research interests include modeling health processes through the examination of activity patterns, diet, ecology, genetics, occupational stress and pathologies, and social inequalities. She teaches courses including: Physical Anthropology, Health and Healing, Human Variation, Health and Disease in the Ancient World, and Medical Anthropology. Farnum is also the director of the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies program.
Elaine Gerber, associate professor, received a PhD in Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research interests include: food security and disablement; active living; audio description; blind theater; and the cultural construction of disability. Her earlier work also centered around culture and the body, particularly in the area of women’s reproductive health. She teaches courses including Multicultural America; Introduction to Disability Studies, Rights, and Culture; Introduction to Cultural Anthropology; Health & Healing in Cross-Cultural Perspectives; Methods in Anthropological Research and Practice; Anthropology of Food and Nutrition; Medical Anthropology; and Community and Health.
Katherine McCaffrey, professor, received her PhD in anthropology from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Interested in a public facing anthropology that engages contemporary problems, Dr. McCaffrey has conducted research on a movement to remove a military live fire range in Vieques, Puerto Rico and subsequent struggles for public health and environmental remediation. Her more recent participatory action research in Orange, New Jersey looks at asset-based community development efforts to resist gentrification and displacement. With Melina Macall, she co-founded a non-profit organization, The United Tastes of America, that draws on her anthropological toolkit to welcome resettled refugees, bridge cultural divides, and fight xenophobia through shared meals. She teaches classes on Latin America, the Twentieth Century, and Building Sustainable Communities.
Peter E. Siegel, professor, received his PhD from the Department of Anthropology, State University of New York, Binghamton. He is a New World archaeologist, with work conducted in eastern North America, the West Indies, and lowland South America. Siegel’s research interests include origins and development of social inequality, historical ecology, ethnoarchaeology, and stone-tool analysis. His work has been funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, National Geographic Society, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and the Heinz Family Foundation for Latin American Archaeology. He teaches courses in general archaeology, experimental archaeology, North American archaeology, Caribbean archaeology, and Native North Americans.
Maisa C. Taha, assistant professor, received her PhD from The University of Arizona. Her research interests include language and power, migration and multicultural politics, and discourses of diversity. She teaches courses in linguistic and cultural anthropology and has conducted primary and applied research in Spain and the southwest United States. Articles based on her research with Moroccan immigrants and Spanish social workers and teachers have appeared in The Journal of North African Studies and Crossroads of Language, Interaction, and Culture.
Neeraj Vedwan, associate professor, received a PhD from the University of Georgia. An environmental anthropologist, his research interests include water resources management, environmental perceptions, perceptions of risk and vulnerability, and the linkages between consumerism, nationalism and environmental values and behavior. He teaches courses including Cultural Anthropology, Cultures of South Asia, Environmental Anthropology, Anthropology of Food and Nutrition and Environment and Community.