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Faculty and Student Updates

Faculty Updates

DDHR Affiliate Faculty

Rosalind I. J. Hackett,  professor and head, UT, Department of Religious Studies

Professor Hackett delivered the Paul Lerner Scholar’s Symposium for the Appalachian Psychoanalytic Alliance May 7, 2016, titled “Psychosocial Healing in War-affected Northern Uganda: Psychiatry, Pentecostalism, and Purification Rituals.” Professor Hackett also co-edited two books: The Anthropology of Global Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism, co-edited with Simon Coleman (NYU Press, 2015) and New Media and Religious Transformations in Africa, co-edited with Benjamin F. Soares, (Indiana University Press, 2014). Her article, “Traditional, African, religious, freedom?” appeared in Politics of Religious Freedom (University of Chicago Press, 2015). In addition, she serves on the steering committee of the African Consortium of Law and Religion Studies and continues to support various projects in northern Uganda, namely the Gulu Peace Garden Project and the Lwo Folktales Project.

Karla McKanders, associate professor, UT College of Law

In November 2015, Karla was an invited special commentator at the European Pro Bono Forum in Rome, Italy, on the topic The Middle East and North Africa at the Heart of the Refugee Crisis. In addition, she has also produced a series of publications and commentaries including:

Michelle Brown, associate professor, UT Department of Sociology

In her research, Professor Brown continues to explore the role of culture, affect, and emotion in the lived life of carceral regimes; forms of premature and slow death and dying in criminal justice in the United States; disparate penal formations in global neoliberal contexts; and emergent forms of political organizing and resistance in response to mass incarceration. She is co-editing the Sage journal Crime Media Culture (; The Routledge International Handbook of Visual Criminology; the Oxford Research Encyclopedia on Crime, Media, and Popular Culture; and the Palgrave MacMillan Crime, Media and Culture book series. Recent articles include: “Visual Criminology and Carceral Studies,” Theoretical Criminology 18(2); “Of Prisons, Gardens, and the Way Out,” Studies in Law, Politics, and Society; and “Which Question? Which Lie?”: Reflections on Payne v. Tennessee and the ‘“Quick Glimpse of Life’” in The Punitive Imagination: Law, Justice and Responsibility. When she’s not studying pain, punishment, and dislocation, Brown can be found in her garden or at the Jump Jam with her six-year-old daughter.

Rebecca Klenk, lecturer, Interdisciplinary Programs, and adjunct assistant professor, Department of Anthropology

Rebecca has continued new research focused on the social life of India’s Right to Education Act.  As a Visiting Fellow at Delhi University’s D. S. Kothari Center for Science, Ethics, and Education last June-July, she completed fieldwork in Delhi and Uttarakhand for this project and for a new introduction planned for a new edition of her book, Educating Activists: Development and Gender in the Making of Modern Gandhians.  During the last year, she has presented aspects of her new work in The Hague on a panel entitled “Accessing Justice” that she chaired at the Joint International Conference on Human Rights, at Delhi University’s Sociology Department, and at the Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference in Seattle.  She is currently working on “Accessing Justice?  India’s Right to Education Act,” a piece that has been invited for inclusion in Human Rights and Justice, a volume to be edited by Melissa Lebonte and Kurt Mills.


UT Department of Anthropology

Bertin M. Louis, Jr., assistant professor, Department of Anthropology and Vice Chair of Africana Studies

In summer 2016, Professor Louis participated in a panel at the 41st Caribbean Studies Association conference in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, called “Haiti: Then and Now” where he discussed issues of citizenship, statelessness, and identity in the Haitian diaspora of the Bahamas. His recent book My Soul Is in Haiti: Protestantism in the Haitian Diaspora of the Bahamas (NYU Press, 2015) was under consideration for the 2016 Caribbean Studies Association Gordon K. and Sybil Lewis book prize.

Louis will finish two manuscripts for publication in the 2016-17 academic year. The first is for a special edition of Transforming Anthropology, the journal of the Association of Black Anthropologists, titled “#BlackRuralLivesMatter: An Ethnography of an Anti-Racist Christian Organization in the US South.” This article deals with the rise of Blount County United, an anti-racist interdenominational Christian organization created to fight racism in Blount County, Tennessee. The other manuscript is for the International Journal of Bahamian Studies and deals with Haitian identity in the Bahamas. Louis is also scheduled to promote My Soul Is in Haiti through book talks at the University of Florida (September 2016) and Virginia Tech (January 2017).

De Ann Pendry, senior lecturer, Department of Anthropology

De Ann continues to work with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) as well as local groups in Knoxville: the immigrant-led Comité Popular, and a group she helped co-found, the Allies of Knoxville’s Immigrant Neighbors (AKIN). As of early June 2016, these groups were waiting to hear the results of the Supreme Court decision regarding the executive action by President Obama that would allow undocumented parents of children who are US citizens or lawful permanent residents to obtain deferred action and temporary work permits. Pendry recently published “Urgent Need to Address Punitive Immigration Policies” in Practicing Anthropology (38:1:51-53) as part of a discussion among scholars from the United States and Mexico about migration scholarship, which was organized and edited by Judith Friedenberg and Jorge Durand. She will have a chapter on the recent immigrant rights campaigns in Tennessee in Conflict Over Immigration in the United States, and Prospects for Emerging Human Rights, edited by Elaine Levine, Alan LeBaron, and Elaine Lacey, soon to be published by the University of Florida Press. In addition to guest lectures in various classes at UT, she gave presentations on this work at the second Disaster, Displacement, and Human Rights Conference and the annual meetings for the Society for Applied Anthropology and the Latin American Studies Association. She will be publishing the LASA presentation, which dealt with how the immigrant rights movement has been influenced by the civil rights movement in the United States and various human rights movements in Latin America. Pendry will also conduct interviews for a book project on the local immigrant rights groups. In spring 2016, she was invited to give presentations on this work and her research on diabetes among low-income Mexican Americans at two universities in Mexico City. At the same time, she read and participated in a defense of a dissertation by an Iberoamericana University student about Miskitu immigrants from Nicaragua who now live in Port Arthur, Texas.

Dawnie Steadman, professor, Department of Anthropology

Steaadman is a professor of anthropology and the Director of the Forensic Anthropology Center. She published several articles on bioarchaeology over the past year, including a co-authored paper on ancient tuberculosis in Nature. Working with Professor Hepner and other colleagues, she has also been putting in grants to help support the ongoing human rights work in Uganda.

David G. Anderson, professor, Department of Anthropology

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Archaeology program awarded funds to expand the Digital Index of North American Archaeology (DINAA) under the direction of David G. Anderson (University of Tennessee, Knoxville; NSF #1623621) and Joshua Wells (Indiana University South Bend; NSF #1623644). This new funding builds upon prior NSF support in 2012 and complements another grant to DINAA awarded from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) earlier this year to DINAA co-PIs Eric Kansa and Sarah Whitcher Kansa. DINAA is a project to integrate archaeological site file data from across North America, allowing scholars and members of the public alike to examine human settlement across the continent from the Pleistocene through the historic era. The resulting databases and maps have a low spatial resolution to protect site integrity, but otherwise permit, for the first time, the visualization and exploration of human responses to changes in the natural and social environment at local to continental scales over the entire period of human settlement in North America. The data are being used to examine future trends, including the numbers and kinds of heritage resources threatened by sea level rise. The DINAA team is obtaining, indexing, and integrating nonsensitive aspects of the site record in coordination with state, tribal, and federal personnel from across the country, demonstrating how open, collaborative efforts can yield great benefits and foster public support for scientific research.

Raja Swamy, assistant professor, Department of Anthropology

In addition to continuing work on his first book, tentatively titled Disaster Capitalism: humanitarianism and accumulation by dispossession in post-tsunami Tamil Nadu,” Swamy is completing a manuscript for a special volume of the Journal of World Systems Research focusing on humanitarianism and unequal ecological exchange and a chapter contribution to an edited volume titled Resistance to Contemporary Colonization and Rural Dispossession in South/East Asia and Africa. In the coming year, Swamy’s will expand his research to focus on the will expand to focus on the relationship between ecological vulnerability and structural violence in coastal regions.

Amy Z. Mundorff, associate professor, Department of Anthropology

Professor Mundorff, who was recently promoted to associate professor of anthropology, is finishing up a two-year study with scientists at the International Commission on Missing Persons evaluating an easily deployable and economic method for collecting postmortem DNA samples following a mass fatality incident. Recently, Mundorff began a project with Sara Katsanis at Duke University’s Duke Initiative for Science & Society, exploring model language for US-based family reference DNA sample consent forms. This summer, Mundorff’s book chapter, “Forensic Anthropology in Disaster Response,” co-authored with Paul Sledzik of the National Transportation Safety Board, was published in the second edition of Blau & Ubelaker (eds.) Handbook of Forensic Anthropology and Archeology (Routledge, 2016).

Barbara J. Heath, associate professor. Department of Anthropology

During the summers of 2015 and 2016, UTK graduate and undergraduate students worked on archaeological excavations at Coan Hall on Virginia’s Northern Neck. The team included Henry Alexander, Kendy Altizer, Mark Babin, Dan Brock, Rachel Burgess, Lindsey Cochran, Stephanie Hacker, Charles Mayes, Leslie Muller, Sierra Roark, Eric Schweickart, Samantha Upton, Greg Wehrman, Garrett Womack and Weston Vawter. UTK alumni Crystal O’Connor, Dr. Eleanor Breen, Dr. Brad Hatch  and Dr. Lauren McMillan volunteered along with participants from Mary Washington University, Monticello and Mount Vernon. Sam Upton, Ali Woods, Tiffany Haggard, Leslie Muller, Weston Vawter and Paige Stull worked with the artifacts, samples, and faunal remains from the site in the lab during fall and spring semesters 2015-2016, and participants in a fall seminar on the archaeology of the Chesapeake and Upland South, and in Anth 435/522, Historical Archaeology Laboratory, conducted research relating to the site as part of their coursework.

John Mottrom settled on the land now known as Coan Hall sometime between 1638 and 1642. He acquired the property from the Chicacoan tribal werowance (leader) Machywap, with whom he may have had a longstanding relationship as a fur trader. Mottrom’s property became the headquarters of the first English settlement on the Northern Neck, and was named Chicacoan for the tribe that it ultimately displaced. Mottrom’s house became the religious center of the community during his lifetime; the seat of the Northumberland County court by the 1650s; and home to a diverse group that included his kin, his indentured servants, and African men and women who comprised the first wave of laborers to be enslaved in Virginia. Mottrom was closely allied with a faction of Virginians and Marylanders who overthrew the proprietary government of Maryland in 1645, and the two-year-long uprising was organized from the Chicacoan settlement. The complex early history Mottrom’s occupation of the property, and its long-term occupation by his descendants and their servants and enslaved laborers into the early 18th century, provide an important context for studying the material expression of colonialism and its impact on indigenous communities and on the environment; the role of religion in colonial political and economic structures and conflicts; and the development of ideologies of race, and the implementation of racialized systems of labor.

We have begun to excavate the remains of the 17th-century post-in-ground manor house and explore the landscape of the early plantation using geophysical prospection and area excavations. We have focused on excavating architectural remains of the house in order to assign a date to its construction; began excavating a cellar on the west end of the house to better understand when the house was abandoned (and the cellar filled) and to collect a sample of artifacts that speak to the material conditions of life at the plantation; and explored areas north and east of the house, where we found evidence of outbuildings and ditches associated with fences or possibly a defensive palisade. On campus, we have been processing artifacts and sediment samples, conducting historical research on the property, and analyzing faunal remains from the cellar. The 2016 field season was supported by a grant from the National Geographic Foundation and by the Department of Anthropology.

Student Updates

Tiffany Saul

Saul, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology, is completing research at IsoForensics, Inc., and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Saul received the Inter-University Training for Continental-scale Ecology (ITCE) Research-in-Residence Award for her proposal titled, “Investigation of the Effects of Decomposition Upon Isotopic Values of Human Hair,” which is part of her dissertation research. Her project is designed to refine the use of stable isotopes from human remains to aid in the identification of unknown individuals.

Andrea Richardson

At the Seventh Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, Richardson presented a paper titled “The US Justice System, Incarceration, and the Structural Disenfranchisement of Women of Interlocking Identities,” which she wrote for the Anthropology of Justice. In her presentation, Richardson discussed some of the unique injustices faced by women of various marginalized identities. In addition to dealing with mass incarceration and police brutality, women of color and poor women also see their reproductive rights jeopardized and violated by the state. Victims of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape are often ignored or are even persecuted in courts, never seeing justice, and a significant percentage of women of color have been coercively or unwittingly sterilized. Richardson examined these issues through an intersectional and historical framework and summed up her talk with suggestions for allies who wish to work against these injustices.

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