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In Residence Faculty

Learn more about the Anthropology Department's dynamic in-residence faculty:

Kevin Caffrey — Public Anthropologist in Residence

As a scholar committed to using and teaching the anthropological toolkit, I critically analyze social and cultural phenomena in order to understand familiar and alien elements of the human world.  I am interested in general issues like politics, religion, violence,and ethnicity as topics of anthropological inquiry, but my field research in China and Southeast Asia focused on the marginality, minority, alienation, nationalism,and estrangement experienced by Muslim peoples living in southwestern China.  In a case of classical anthropological interests meeting the political-economic framework of a globalizing world, I consider the human/cultural realities that mediate both.  My inquiries are grounded in a historically rich foundation of ethnographic work that only slowly and carefully gives way to an analytic perspective where anthropology illuminates the unsaid and unseen on the margins of China—a frontier that speaks to the whole country as well.  In the course of doing this work, I have tried to understand a Chinese people on the edges of China’s social and geographic world.  In so doing, I have also given Chinese light to notions and practices of politics, religion, race, violence, and nationality in order to understand China the empire, the post-colony, and the post-socialist nation-state set against other embodiments of legitimacy in today’s global community.
My anthropological work has appeared in the journal China Information (2004), China Review International (2006,2007,2008) and The International Journal of the History of Sport (2007)—for which I am also editing a special volume dedicated to the geopolitical effects of the 2008 Beijing Olympics (forthcoming 2009).  My preoccupation with U.S. cultural politics has also driven me into a secondary focus where I write about some of the symptoms of contradiction between counterinsurgency war and our liberal democratic tradition, for which I have written a chapter to be published in John D. Kelly’s (ed.) Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency (forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press in 2009).  Finally, I am working on a monograph based on my dissertation work in China, which I am calling Descendants of Muhammad: A Chinese Way of Being Muslim.
I can offer courses on culture, the political, religion, extreme motivation, China, anthropological theory, recent Asian development history, and the conditions of human justice.

Gretchen E. Schafft - Public Anthropologist in Residence


I am a social anthropologist with a post-doctoral Masters of Health Science from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Hygiene (now the Bloomberg School). As a founder of the “practicing anthropology” movement, I have been active in increasing the scope of applied and public anthropology. I have directed more than a dozen national or regional studies of government programs and their impact on low-income and/or minority populations in health, education, and social structure. I have written and offered congressional testimony on health and education issues.

More recently, I have conducted ethnographic fieldwork and archival research in eastern Germany and central Europe with a particular focus on the construction and reconstruction within communities of historical memory of the Third Reich. In addition to a textbook in the field of health care, I have authored two books from this later work: KZ Mahn- und Gedenkstätten in Deutschland and From Racism to Genocide: Anthropology in the Third Reich , which has recently been published in Polish. I have published articles and given talks in Hungary, Poland, South Africa, Germany, as well as the U.S.. I have taught courses in applied anthropology, methods, the Holocaust, and genocide at American and have a deep interest in teaching methodology and student achievement.


Nina Shapiro-Perl — Filmmaker-in-Residence

Nina  Shapiro-Perl is an award-winning producer and director who has worked in television and video production for 25 years.  She spent many of these years documenting the lives of working men and women in cities and towns across the United States for the 1.9 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU.)  From the ground up, she built and directed SEIU's Video Services Department. After producing scores of short-form documentaries, she began to experiment with other art forms where union members could tell their stories of struggle and change in their own words. With support at SEIU's highest level, she created and directed the Greenhouse Cultural Program, which developed photography, storytelling, digital storytelling and theatre projects, some co-produced with Bread & Roses Cultural Project in New York including Unseenamerica and the Social Justice Calendar. Trained as a social anthropologist at the University of Connecticut, Nina wrote her PhD dissertation on women workers in the costume jewelry industry in Providence, Rhode Island. Leaving academia to work as a public anthropologist, she started as a writer and producer at Maryland Public Television in 1983 and has since worked as a writer, producer, director and executive producer of programs for broadcast and non-broadcast audiences. In the fall of 2006, she left SEIU to produce and direct Through the Eye of the Needle: The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz —a documentary that explores the extraordinary story and art of Holocaust survivor and artist Esther Krinitz. ( The film is now in production.  Nina is married to Peter Perl, a veteran  journalist at the Washington Post. They have two grown sons, Daniel and Matthew.


Sue Taylor – Public Anthropologist In Residence

My research has always addressed contemporary issues in the United States. My initial work in medical anthropology combined a background in nursing and anthropology focusing on health and gerontology. I developed and directed the graduate program in Applied Medical Anthropology and served as the Director of the Minority Aging Program at the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University, Detroit, MI. Most recently, my focus has been on urban anthropology, parks, memorials, and city streetscapes. I just completed an oral history project for the National Park Service that emphasized perceptions of place, meaning, memory, and memorialization with the aim of conserving the cultural heritage of people displaced in the late 1930s to create a recreation area and during World War II for the expansion of the Marine Corps Base at Quantico, VA. A study for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund focused on an analysis of proximity to aid in the site selection for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Center to be located “at or near” the memorial. My task was a study to define “at or near” in compliance with legislation.
In terms of public policy, I was appointed a state commissioner on the Michigan Commission for Services to the Aged, conducted public hearings on issues related to aging, served as a delegate to the 1995 White House Conference on Aging, and held an appointment as a Research Fellow for the Ohio Department of Mental Health.

I draw on my background as an administrator, policy maker, clinical practitioner, researcher, and teacher in developing courses geared to experiential learning and research direction for students. I have an extensive teaching history including undergraduate and graduate courses in research methods, theory, gender, medical anthropology, urban anthropology, applied anthropology, and aging. I am developing a new course on the anthropology of tourism. I continue to combine research and praxis on issues of public policy for presentation in the classroom, as well as for professional and community groups. My work appears in the form of technical reports, chapters in books, and in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology.