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Letter from the Department Head

Greetings! Again this year I am pleased to share with you some of the many successes enjoyed by our faculty and students during the 2010-2011 academic year. Before I do, however, I would like to acknowledge changes in our faculty. Last year

 closed with the departure of Dr. Joe Rumbo, who is now teaching at Texas State University. We will miss Dr. Rumbo for sure and we all wish him our best. Looking ahead, we are excited to welcome Dr. Kimiko Tanaka to our sociology faculty. Dr. Tanaka received her PhD from Michigan State University in 2008. She was a Post Doctoral Fellow at the University of Wisconsin from 2008-2010. She joins our department from the Rochester Institute of Technology where she was an Assistant Professor of Sociology. Her areas of expertise include the Sociology of Health, Aging and Life Course, Demography and Quantitative Methodology.

During 2010-2011 the Sociology and Anthropology faculty taught over 5,000 students including 122 students in independent studies, internships, research practica and honor theses. Our faculty had four books in print or in press, 12 peer reviewed articles in print or accepted for publication in our disciplines leading journals. Our faculty also received $280,000 in new grants.

Special congratulations are due to Dr. Amy Paugh who received the College of Arts and Letters 2011-2012 Madison Scholar Award. We would also like to highlight some of the many student accomplishments, honors and awards during the 2010-2011 academic year. To begin, anthropology major Devyn Hunter was selected as the Flag Bearer for the College of Arts and Letters spring 2011 Graduation Ceremony. Devyn achieved the highest grade point average in the College. Congratulations Devyn, and thank you for this high honor....

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Faculty Focus on: Dr. Kimiko Tanaka

Kimiko Tanaka started teaching at James Madison University in the fall of 2011.  She completed her post-doctoral fellowship at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and she completed her MA and Ph.D degree at Michigan State University.  Her dissertation looked at the importance of social integration and community involvement (Non-Profit Organizations for the elderly) on Japanese elderly to remain physically and mentally healthy, which will be a key for Japan as well as many other industrialized nations to prevent them from the financial pressure to take care of the ever-increasing number of the elderly. 

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New Summer Study Abroad Expierence in Cameroon | Interview with Dr. Joshua Linder

You've introduced a new study abroad program to Cameroon.  Where is Cameroon and what's this program all about?

When people decide to travel to Africa most people visit Kenya or South Africa - few think of the country of Cameroon. Cameroon is located in western Africa, just north of the equator.  The program takes place in the forested, south west region of Cameroon. This 3-4 week long program introduces students to the biological and social complexities of doing wildlife conservation in a tropical rainforest.  Students learn by experience, not lecture, on this program.  They spend 1 week camping and hiking in a rainforest national park called Korup, learning the methods conservation biologists use to survey plants, monkeys, and other mammals.  This is one of the most biodiverse places on this planet - it has an incredible number of plant and animal species, many of which are not found anywhere else in the world.  Many of the species including many of the monkey species, are also seriously threatened with extinction due to overhunting. 

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New Courses 


Dr. Liam Buckley - ANTH 395: Economic Anthropology

Dr. Richard Lawler - ANTH 395: Monkey Love

Dr. Megan Tracy - ANTH 395-005: Pastoral Landscapes and Mobilities

Dr. Amy Paugh - ANTH 405: Anthropology of Language


Dr. Keo Cavalcanti - SOCI 395: The Social Animal

Dr. Beth Eck - SOCI 480: Senior Seminar in Families, Cultures and Societies

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Summer Study Abroad in London with Dr. Lewis: Britain & The Caribbean

During the summer, 2010, student good works continued in our field schools in Montpelier, VA, Salinas, NM, and Kenya, Africa.  At James Madison’s Montpelier archaeological field students worked to recover evidence of the stable complex dating back to Madison’s presidency.  A site often visited by foreign dignitaries, the stable is a historically important location.  Work continues on the slave quarter thought to have been connected to the stable. Click here for more...



Dr. Keo Cavalcanti and the Sociologically Examined Life

In 1959, C. Wright Mills called on all of us to develop our sociological imaginations, to develop a critical engagement with the world around us that made sense of the interactions and interplay of biography and history, of the individual with the social world around her or him. This, he argued, was both the task and the promise of sociology as a discipline.

To see the sociological imagination in action, we need look no further than the lived example of Dr. Keo Cavalcanti. His life and scholarship demonstrate the potential of sociological inquiry and analysis to make sense of our own biography in the broader context of the social world. Said another way, Dr. Cavalcanti’s example points out the ways that our personal struggles and experiences can speak to larger public concerns and patterns in social life.

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Dr. Amy Paugh Selected as the Recipient of the JMU College of Arts and Letters 2011-2012 Madison Scholar Award

We are very excited in the Department to report the selection of our own Dr. Amy Paugh as the recipient of the 2011 College of Arts and Letters Madison Scholar Award. Candidates for this prestigious award are nominated by their colleagues, and winners are chosen based on the excellence of their scholarly achievement in their respective field.

We are very excited in the Department to report the selection of our own Dr. Amy Paugh as the recipient of the 2011-2012 College of Arts and Letters Madison Scholar Award. Candidates for the award are nominated by their colleagues, and winners are chosen based on the excellence of their scholarly achievement in their respective field.

Dr. Paugh specializes in linguistic and cultural anthropology, with principal areas of focus on the anthropology of children and childhood, linguistic contact and change, and language endangerment and revitalization. Her research, which has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and other grants, explores the complex interrelations between language and culture in the Caribbean and the United States. One of her primary research projects addresses the shift from Patwa, an Afro-French creole language spoken in rural areas of Dominica, to English, the official language of the island nation. Dr. Paugh’s research, which represents over 20 months of observations since 1995, highlights the critical role of children in this process. Though forbidden from speaking Patwa by adults, children find ways to navigate this complex political and cultural landscape by creating “safe” spaces among peers in which they can speak and maintain Patwa as they negotiate their identities, power dynamics, and play.

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