Research

The faculty in the Department of Anthropology at UNC Charlotte are committed to a holistic approach to the field. Our research bridges the traditional four fields of anthropology: biological anthropology, cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and archaeology. In addition, several of our faculty have interests in using their expertise in applied anthropology projects of various kinds. Although we are a small department, our geographic interests include Latin America, North America, the Middle East, the Pacific Island, Africa, and Europe. Our research interests are diverse, but the department has research strengths in evolution, gender, ideology, globalization, and ethics in anthropology.

BIOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY

Dr. Diane Brockman is a biological anthropologist. Her research focuses on the impact of environment on the social strategies and reproductive careers of sifaka, an endangered prosimian primate endemic to Madagascar. Using a field endocrinology approach to behavioral ecology, she combines fecal hormone analyses and behavioral field studies with investigations of reproduction, life history, and social behavior in sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi) at Beza Mahafaly, Madagascar. Additional new research concerns the impact of environmental toxins on the health and well-being of wild primate populations. The initial phase of this project involves investigating the biomarkers of Agent Orange exposure in captive and wild Vietnamese primates. This research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation, Schwartz Family Foundation, and UNC Charlotte Faculty Research Grants.

Prof. Jon Marks awarded the First Citizens Bank Award for scholarship (with Dr. Janet Levy)

Professor Jonathan Marks is a biological anthropologist with wide-ranging interests. His primary area of research is molecular anthropology - the application of genetic data to illuminate our place in the natural order - or more broadly, the area of overlap between (scientific) genetic data and (humanistic) self-comprehension. Nevertheless, his research interests range from the relationships between genetics and society (especially as understood in earlier eras) to the relationships of humans to apes (both bio-historically and bio-ethically) and the relationships of human groups to one another. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  Learn more on Dr. Marks's web page.

CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY

Dr. Catherine Mitchell Fuentes is a medical anthropologist with special interests in family abuse and women's health. She has conducted research among Hispanic immigrants in the U.S., and with women in the criminal justice system.

Dr. Nicole Peterson is an ecological anthropologist who has conducted research in the Baja California region of Mexico and in Ethiopia.  She is interested in culture and environment, sustainable development, political ecology, climate change, and environmental policy.  She has published on natural resource management among fishing people in Mexico, and is currently working on how African farmers adapt to uncertainty in agricultural production.  Dr. Peterson is the principal investigator for a five-year National Science Foundation grant: Integrated Network for Social Sustainability.  For more information on this project, visit the Social Sustainability Network website.     Learn more on Dr. Peterson's web page.

Dr. Peterson's research location along the coast of Baja CaliforniaDr. Peterson's research site in Baja California

Prof. Gregory Starrett is an anthropologist of religion, with additional interests in education, globalization, and ideology. Dr. Starrett's major research has concerned the production and circulation of knowledge in material form. Working largely with Muslim communities in Egypt and the United States, he has examined how markets and schools shape and distribute knowledge about Islam. These processes are influenced not only by the nature of different media (from bumper stickers and books to broadcasts, computer software, and the Internet), but by state and international politics and by a globalized market in cultural commodities. For the past several years he has also been studying cultural perceptions of threat and fear, including the way that contemporary American writings about bioterrorism mirror classic historical and anthropological case studies of witchcraft.  Learn more on Dr. Starrett's web site.

Dr. Coral Wayland is a medical anthropologist. She has conducted fieldwork in the urban, Brazilian Amazon. Her research explores the relationship among knowledge, power, policy and practice as they pertain to health and health care and focuses on medicinal plant use and primary health care. Her current research is an analysis of contemporary travel narratives written by ethnobotanists who work in the Amazon. This research explores the themes of gender, race/ethnicity, and culture change in these narratives.  She is also conducting research on the impact of gender on active learning groups among students.

LINGUISTIC ANTHROPOLOGY

Dr. Elise Berman is a linguistic anthropologist who has conducted field work in the Maya region of Central America, among orthodox Jews in New York, and most extensively in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific.  She focuses on the politics of language, the social construction of childhood, and the role of deception in social life.  In Spring, 2013, she is a Distinguished Guest Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, University of Notre Dame.  Learn more on Dr. Berman's web site.

ARCHAEOLOGY

Archaeological site of Stonehenge in southern EnglandDr. Janet Levy is an archaeologist who has conducted research in northern Europe and in the southeastern U.S., including both historic and prehistoric sites near Charlotte. She is interested in the development of ranked societies in prehistory, the material expression of religion in prehistoric societies, and gender in the past. She has also published on ethics in anthropology and archaeology. More recently, her research has focused on the representation of archaeology in museums. She has been a Fulbright scholar in Finland.

Dr. Dennis Ogburn is an archaeologist who specializes in the Andean region of South America. He utilizes remote sensing, field survey, excavation, and GIS to study the expansion of imperial Inca culture throughout the region. He also studies geochemical sourcing of obsidian in the region, to understand exchange systems. In addition, he has conducted cultural resource management research in California. Learn more at Dr. Ogburn's web site. View of archaeological site in Ecuador
The site of Pisaq in Ecuador