The American Anthropological Association Leadership Fellows Program provides an opportunity for promising new scholars to learn more about the governance of our professional organization. In selecting fellows for this program we look for AAA members three to five years beyond completion of their terminal degree who have demonstrated leadership potential in the field of anthropology. Fellows are paired with mentors from the AAA Executive Board who provide insight into leadership and service roles within the association, share career planning advice, and provide a point of entry into the AAA governance system. The Leadership Fellows Program is overseen by A Lynn Bolles (U Maryland–College Park), executive board cultural seat and leadership fellows liaison, and Courtney Dowdall, AAA professional fellow and staff contact for the Leadership Fellows Program. The awardees listed below have been recognized as potential leaders in the AAA, and we hope you will join us in congratulating them for receiving this prestigious honor.
Paul Christensen is a visiting assistant professor in the anthropology department at Union College. He is a cultural anthropologist specializing in contemporary Japan and the study of addiction, psychoactive substance use, and recovery. He is interested in how understandings of recovery, definitions of addiction, and gender intersect, particularly the consequences of such encounters for individual addicts in and around Tokyo. Additionally, he is broadly interested in issues of masculinity, sports, popular culture, and works on Brazil and the Pacific.
After graduating from the University of Washington in 2000, he moved to Japan, living first in Fukuoka and then Tokyo for two years. He returned to the United States in 2002 to begin graduate school. He earned his MA from San Francisco State University, then completed doctoral work at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. He received his PhD in 2010, working under the supervision of Christine R Yano.
Currently he is revising his dissertation into a book manuscript tentatively titled Suffering Sobriety: Alcoholism and Masculinity in Japan. The book describes and theorizes ways in which alcoholism is understood, accepted and taken on as an influential and lived identity among Japanese men. His other publications include “Struggles with Sobriety: Alcoholics Anonymous Membership in Japan” in Ethnology, “Real Men Don’t Hold Their Liquor: The Performance of Drunkenness and Sobriety in Japan” in Social Science Japan Journal, and “Darvish in Texas: Haafu Identity and Athletic Celebrity” in The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus.
Lauren Miller Griffith is currently an instructional designer at Central Michigan University (CMU), and co-directs a study abroad program in Belize for Central Michigan students. She earned her PhD in cultural anthropology at Indiana University in 2010.
Her research agenda focuses on the intersections of performance, tourism, and education in Brazil, Belize and the US. Her dissertation, Capoeira Pilgrims: Negotiating Legitimacy in a Foreign Field, examines the Afro-Brazilian martial art capoeira, as it is practiced by a diverse group of international practitioners. Because non-Brazilians are frequently concerned about proving their legitimacy within the social field, travel to the source of capoeira’s birth, Bahia da Brasil, is one way to alleviate these anxieties. Griffith introduced the term “apprenticeship pilgrimage” to explain this process. However, in the case of non-Brazilian capoeiristas, merely becoming apprenticeship pilgrims does not ensure their success in the social field. Successful capoeiristas walk a fine line between adhering to traditional form and developing an innovative personal style. This balance is best learned under the individual tutelage of a master; however, this has become untenable in the face of widespread demand for instruction. In her dissertation, Griffith explains how pilgrims deploy various forms of cultural capital in order to claim a legitimate peripheral participation role within Brazilian capoeira academies.
From this work, she has published an article in the Journal of Sport and Tourism as well as in Annals of Tourism Research. In a new manuscript currently under development, Griffith argues that capoeira teachers use problem-based learning techniques as they teach students how to mediate between tradition and innovation. As an educational anthropologist working in an applied setting, Griffith also publishes within the field of teaching and learning. She has recently published two articles on teaching within anthropology and has additional manuscripts under review. The common thread running throughout each manuscript is the how university power structures influence learning environments.
Tami Navarro is currently a presidential postdoctoral fellow in anthropology at Rutgers University. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wesleyan University, as well as a Master of Arts degree and a PhD from Duke University. Her research interests include Caribbean studies, gender and labor, development, identity formation, globalization/transnationalism, capital, neoliberalism, race/racialization and ethnicity. She has received funding from the Mellon Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Social Science Research Council and the Ford Foundation.
Navarro is revising her dissertation, Virgin Capital: Foreign Investment and Local Stratification in the US Virgin Islands, into a manuscript that explores the racialized and gendered underpinnings and outcomes of contemporary neoliberal circuits. She is the author (with Bianca Williams and Attiya Ahmad) of the forthcoming article “Sitting at the Kitchen Table: Fieldnotes from Women of Color in Anthropology” to be published in Cultural Anthropology (August 2013).
Lavanya Murali Proctor is currently a lecturer in anthropology at SUNY Buffalo State in Buffalo, NY. She grew up in New Delhi, India. She began her graduate studies at the Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, where she received her MA and MPhil in sociology. She then moved to the University of Iowa, where she received her MA and PhD in anthropology. Her research focuses on English in India and its relationship to gender, class and social mobility, and on the effects of colonialism and globalization on language politics and identities in India. She can be found online at twitter.com/anthrocharya.
Bianca C Williams is an assistant professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. She received both her BA and PhD in cultural anthropology at Duke University, with a Graduate Certificate in African & African American Studies. As a feminist cultural anthropologist, Williams’ research centers on the racialized and gendered experiences of Black American women in the US and Caribbean, specifically focusing on their pursuits of happiness and strategies to maintain emotional wellness.
In her book under contract with Duke University Press and tentatively titled Exporting Happiness, Williams examines how African American women use international travel and the Internet as tools for pursuing leisure, creating intimate relationships and friendships, and critiquing American racism, sexism and ageism. Based on four years of ethnographic research in the US, Jamaica, and a virtual community, Exporting Happiness explores how and why these African American tourist women cross transnational lines to pursue happiness and seek social belonging within the context of diasporic diversity. This multi-sited ethnographic and interdisciplinary study brings together Black feminist thought and studies of the African Diaspora, new media, tourism, affect and transnationalism to highlight the difficulties Black American women have in making themselves visible within the US.
The investigative thread that binds Williams’ research, teaching and service together is the question “How do Black people develop strategies for enduring and resisting the effects of racism and sexism, while attempting to maintain emotional wellness?” Recently, this investigation led Williams to co-author an article titled, “Sitting at the Kitchen Table: Fieldnotes from Women of Color in Anthropology,” with fellow anthropologists Tami Navarro and Attiya Ahmad. As mentioned above, this article is forthcoming in Cultural Anthropology.
Committed to the notion that anthropology can be an important and powerful motor for institutional and cultural change, Williams is a proud member of the Association of Black Anthropologists (ABA), the Association of Feminist Anthropologists (AFA), and the Society for the Anthropology of North America (SANA).