A-to-Z Index

Latest Newsletter


Our newest edition of the department newsletter is here!

Sign Up!

To receive e-mail notifications on when the next newsletter is published, e-mail Sharon Loyd to be added to the mailing list: loydsl (at) dukes.jmu.edu.


Fall 2013

Letter from the Department Head

Greetings!  It’s been an exciting and productive two years since our last newsletter.  We’ve hired some new faculty and accepted the retirements of long-valued colleagues.  In addition, we’ve created and taught some interesting new courses, produced some stellar honor’s theses, journal articles, books, and book chapters.  You can read below for more information on all of these and more.


We would like to showcase alumni on our homepage to highlight for current students all the interesting ways in which sociology and anthropology degrees can be used.  Have a degree in either Sociology or Anthropology from JMU?  We’d love to have you share your own professional trajectory or come to campus and give a talk to our current majors.  Contact the Department Head, Beth A. Eck, at eckba@jmu.edu.  You can also “link in” with her using that email address.  If you like how we are serving our majors and would like to help provide more students the opportunity to study abroad, intern, or have scholarships, we hope you’ll consider giving to our department.  You can do so through our alumni link.


Click on one of the following links to catch up:







Dr. Clarence Geier retired in June 2012 after 37 years at JMU.  His accomplishments are many and his reputation renowned.   

Dr. Geier is well-known throughout the university and his work is widely recognized throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia and the mid-Atlantic region in particular. Clarence has gathered a treasure-trove of artifacts, housed at JMU, which will be analyzed by students and archaeologists for years to come.  Even though he is “retired,” Dr. Geier continues to be a superb contract archaeologist. To date, he has brought in close to eight million dollars in contracts and grants to James Madison University. Dr. Geier has not taken a penny of this money for his work.  Instead, he has employed, equipped and trained hundreds of undergraduates; and he maintains a high level of expertise in the Archaeology Lab. 

Because of this, our Archaeology Lab and student involvement in field and lab archaeology are among the best of undergraduate programs in the mid-Atlantic region. Beyond archaeology, Dr. Geier was an essential contributor to the development of the anthropology major beginning in 1979, and it is largely on his shoulders that we have established one of the finest undergraduate Anthropology Programs in the country. Each year students from excellent universities throughout the nation transfer into our anthropology program.  Throughout his tenure at JMU, Dr. Geier’s dedication to teaching and mentoring has been at the core of all he does; he typically taught 6 or 7 different classes a year and 3 to 5 individualized study courses while keeping a busy research agenda including 5 or 6 contracted projects, presenting his research at profession conferences, publishing technical reports, peer reviewed manuscripts and university press books each year.  Dr. Geier continues to do contract research and teach on a part-time basis in the department.




Dr. Timothy J. Carter joined JMU in 1982; he retired in 2013. Dr. Carter’s research and teaching areas are in criminology and deviance and he has co-authored books on rural crime and deviant behavior. He has also authored or co-authored many peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on the topics of crime, adolescent drug use, juvenile court sentencing, and arrest decisions and use of force by and assaults on game wardens, just to name a few.  For years, Tim taught in the areas of crime and deviance, teaching criminology, deviant behavior, and juvenile delinquency.  

Dr. Carter’s outreach and networking with local agencies and organizations that deal with criminal justice issues and populations have benefitted our students in terms of internships, honors theses, and independent studies which have allowed them to apply their sociological knowledge to real life.  In particular, Dr. Carter was instrumental in founding Gemeinschaft Home, an organization that provides community-oriented programs and supervision for individuals in transition from prison to free society with the goal of returning responsible, law-abiding residents to their communities. Over the years, he worked with Gemeinschaft in a professional capacity, advising in program development and doing research to evaluate the program.  Dr. Carter has been a dedicated and passionate teacher and a strong proponent of the value of sociology to thousands of undergraduates during his time at JMU.  Fortunately for us, Dr. Carter will continue to teach on a part-time basis.




Dr. Laura Lewis took early retirement in 2012; she was at JMU from 1996-2012. She now lives in London and teaches at the University of Southampton, where she is Professor of Latin American Anthropology. During her time at JMU Dr. Lewis won numerous awards, including a prestigious Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. She published two books on race in Mexico with Duke University Press: Hall of Mirrors: Power, Witchcraft and Caste in Colonial Mexico (2003 – Winner Best Book Award, American Society for Ethnohistory) and Chocolate and Corn Flour: History, Race and Place in the Making of “Black” Mexico (2012).

She is currently working on a project on Mexican migration to the U.S. Dr. Lewis co-edited the journal Visual Anthropology Review with her JMU colleague Dr. Liam Buckley. She was also an active member of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies minor, which she coordinated for a number of years. She taught Peoples and Cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean, U.S. Latin American Borders, Afro-Latin America, Cultural Anthropology, the Idea of Race, Topics in the Anthropology of Gender, History of Theory in Sociocultural Anthropology, and Ethnographic Genres and Methods. She also ran occasional study abroad programs to Mexico and to London. She continues to occasionally teach Topics in the Anthropology of Gender online for JMU students.



click here to return to the top of the page


New Hires

Dr. Rebecca Howes-Mischel joined the JMU faculty in the fall of 2012 after receiving her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from New York University.  Broadly her work centers on medical anthropology, reproductive politics, and indigenous Latin American communities.  Her dissertation, Gestating Subjects: Negotiating Public Health and Pregnancy in Transborder Oaxaca, focused on how medical personnel, pregnant women, indigenous communities, and health activists in Southern Mexico addressed prenatal health.  Ethnographically grounded in clinical encounters, it argues that individuals within Mexican public health institutions employ multiple forms of expertise about indigenous women’s pregnant lives to produce a newly “modern” and healthy populace.  Her ongoing research project about how women’s reproductive bodies symbolically circulate throughout transnational, medical, and political domains reflects long-standing interests piqued when she was first introduced to Anthropology’s (and Sociology’s) possibilities as an undergraduate student at Swarthmore College.  While the Shenandoah Valley’s beauty is a big change from California’s beaches, Becca is enjoying exploring this new home (especially the Farmer’s Market!) and excited to start a local research project with its growing Latino immigrant communities.  Find out more about Becca here.





Dr. Dennis Blanton joined our faculty this fall.  He is an archaeologist with broad experience and diverse interests. Most of his work has focused on eastern North America and is marked by extended periods in Virginia, Georgia and Illinois. His education in anthropological archaeology began at the University of Georgia (B.A. 1980) and continued at Brown University (M.A. 1983) and the University of Virginia (Ph.D. 2012). Most recently, Dr. Blanton has returned from two years in Costa Rica where he was involved with various archaeological projects sponsored by the National Museum of Costa Rica.

A prominent aspect of his research concerns the effect of climate and weather on human affairs. Early collaborative work in that realm included the discovery of how severe drought affected the Jamestown colony. More recently he has examined how such factors might also have affected events associated with the Spanish colonial occupation of La Florida.  Support for such studies has been awarded by the National Park Service and the National Science Foundation, among others.  Past Virginia experience includes 15 years as Co-director or Director of the Center for Archaeological Research at the College of William & Mary, and a year creating and directing a public archaeology program at Shirley Plantation.

He returned to Georgia in 2005 as Curator of Native American Archaeology at Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta. His work there focused on the St. Catherines Island Collection featuring remarkable evidence of the Spanish colonial mission of Santa Catalina de Guale (Georgia). He also initiated research, still ongoing, that focuses on evidence of early Spanish-Indian interaction across southern Georgia. With partial support from the National Geographic Society, the project documents evidence of direct contact in the early 16th-century between a Native American community and the infamous entrada of Hernando de Soto.  Find out more about Dennis here.




Dr. Jenny Davis also joined our department in this fall.  She recently finished a postdoc in the Department of Sociology at Texas A&M University, where she graduated with her PhD in December 2012. Her areas of specialization are social psychology and cultural sociology, with a focus on self, identity, and micro-processes within social structures. Current projects include individual and collaborative experimental work that examines how power and status affect identity negotiations and small group interactions; an ongoing Facebook-based qualitative study; and several studies of various stigmatized groups, including those with "fat" bodies, people who identify as transabled, and families of transracial adoptive children and children with disabilities. Dr. Davis has taught several courses, including social psychology, research methods, and social deviance. She is a strong proponent of public sociology. She blogs weekly at Cyborgology and tweets actively @Jenny_L_Davis.  Coming to JMU marks a return to her home state of Virginia! Find out more about Jenny here.




Dr. David Trouille joined the faculty in the fall of 2013 as well.  He was born and raised in Evanston, IL. As a child he spent many summers in France with his father's extended family. Dr. Trouille attended Dartmouth College for undergrad where he majored in sociology and played on the soccer team. After college he joined the Peace Corps in Morocco and then taught high school social studies in New York City for two years; he also spent a year teaching in Costa Rica.  He is an ethnographer interested in a variety of topics, namely urban sociology, immigration, work, and leisure and will be teaching courses in those areas at JMU. Professor Trouille completed his PhD in sociology at UCLA in August 2013; David’s dissertation focuses on the vital role of play and public parks in developing social ties and facilitating settlement among working class Latino immigrant men.  He is married with two young children and enjoys playing soccer, traveling, and the outdoors. He is very excited about his family’s move to Harrisonburg and joining the Sociology Department at James Madison University.  Find out more about David here.


click here to return to the top of the page

Outstanding Seniors 2013

Outstanding Senior Anthropology Student: Paige Ober

Paige majored in anthropology and minored in Middle Eastern Communities and Migrations. She completed an honor’s thesis on social technologies and concepts of home among Iraqi refugees in Harrisonburg. The Anthropology Program nominated her thesis for the Phi Beta Kappa/Phi Kappa Phi Honors Societies best senior honors thesis award. She has served as an editorial assistant for the Journal of ERW and Mine Action, and published short articles there. While pursing varied coursework, including studying Arabic, she maintained an outstanding cumulative and major GPA.  The title of Paige's thesis is: "Alhamdulillah I have my iPhone 4S: Social Technology and the Conception of Home"


Outstanding Senior Sociology Student:  Kristi Kao


Kristi double majored in Sociology and Speech Communication and was also a double degree student earning both the Bachelor of Science and the Bachelor of Arts.  Kristi not only had one of the highest GPAs among her peers but also the largest number of credit hours at a whopping 164.  She served as a student assistant for several faculty during her time at JMU and fellow students found her both kind and helpful.  Upon graduation Kristi began a one year master’s program in higher education at the University of Pennsylvania where she is the graduate assistant for the Executive Doctorate Program in Higher Education.


click here to return to the top of the page

Honors Theses 2013

Nathan Alvarado-Castle: Green Capitalism: How the World Will (Not) Be Saved:  A Discourse Analysis of GE & the UNEP.

Ansley Luce: “’Something More’ – Class Separation, Hegemony and Activism”

Julia Nashwinter: “The Folk Artist as Minstrel: John L Heatwole and His Role in Shaping Shenandoah Valley Folk Culture”

Paige Ober: “Alhamdulillah I have my iPhone 4S: Social Technology and the Conception of Home”


click here to return to the top of the page


Faculty Publications and Awards


Dr. Julie Solometo, Associate Professor of Anthropology, received JMU’s Women’s and Gender Studies Award for Feminist Scholarship.

Dr. Joshua Linder, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, received 2 teaching awards:

  • Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners (NCEP) Professor of the Month, January 2013
  • JMU Dolley Award, Outstanding Faculty Achievement

Dr. Beth A. Eck, Associate Professor of Sociology received the College of Arts and Letter’s 2013 Distinguished Service Award.




2012. H.B. Cavalcanti, Almost Home: A Brazilian American’s Reflections on Faith, Culture, and Immigration.  Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

From the publisher’s website:  In Almost Home, H. B. Cavalcanti, a Brazilian-born scholar who has spent three decades working and living in the United States, reflects on his life as an immigrant and places his story within the context of the larger history of immigration.  Due to both his family background and the prevalence of U.S. media in Latin America, Cavalcanti already felt immersed in U.S. culture before arriving in Kentucky in 1981 to complete graduate studies. At that time, opportunities for advancement in the United States exceeded those in Brazil, and in an era of military dictatorships throughout much of Latin America, Cavalcanti sought in the United States a nation of laws. In this memoir, he reflects on the dynamics of acculturation, immigrant parenting, interactions with native-born U.S. citizens, and the costs involved in rejecting his country of birth for an adopted nation. He also touches on many of the factors that contribute to migration in both the “sending” and “receiving” countries and explores the contemporary phenomenon of accelerated immigration.


2012. Amy Paugh. Playing with Languages: Children and Change in a CaribbeanVillage.  New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books.

From the publisher’s website: Over several generations villagers of Dominica have been shifting from Patwa, an Afro-French creole, to English, the official language. Despite government efforts at Patwa revitalization and cultural heritage tourism, rural caregivers and teachers prohibit children from speaking Patwa in their presence. Drawing on detailed ethnographic fieldwork and analysis of video-recorded social interaction in naturalistic home, school, village and urban settings, the study explores this paradox and examines the role of children and their social worlds. It offers much-needed insights into the study of language socialization, language shift and Caribbean children’s agency and social lives, contributing to the burgeoning interdisciplinary study of children’s cultures. Further, it demonstrates the critical role played by children in the transmission and transformation of linguistic practices, which ultimately may determine the fate of a language.


Peer Reviewed Articles:

Christopher R. Colocousis. 2013. “The Biophysical Dimensions of Community Economic Addiction: Examining the Emergence of Biomass Energy in a Northern Forest Community.”  Society & Natural Resources. 26(6):688-701.

Christopher R. Colocousis. 2012. “It was Tourism Repellent, That’s What We Were Spraying”: Natural Amenities, Environmental Stigma, and Redevelopment in a Post-Industrial Mill Town.” Sociological Forum. 27(3):756-776.

Beth A. Eck. 2013. “Identity Twists and Turns: How Never-married Men Make Sense of an Unanticipated Identity.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. 42,1:29-61.

Sherryl Kleinman and Matthew B. Ezzell. 2012.  “Opposing ‘both sides’: Rhetorics, reproductive rights and control of a campus women’s center.”  Women’s Studies International Forum. Vol. 35(6): 403-414.

Matthew B. Ezzell. 2012. “‘I’m in control’: Compensatory Manhood in a Therapeutic Community.” Gender & Society. Vol 26(2): 190-215.

Josh M. Linder and Richard R. Lawler. 2012. “Model Selection, Zero-Inflated Models, and Predictors of Primate Abundance in Lorup National park, Cameroon.”  American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 149:417-425.

Amy L. Paugh. 2012.  “Speculating about Work: Dinnertime Narratives Among Dual-earner American Families.”  Text & Talk. 32(5):615-636.

Mieka Brand Polanco.  2012.  “Not to Scale”: Mapping Race in a Virginia Historically Black Community.”  Transforming Anthropology. 20:118-130.

Julie Solometo and Joshua Moss. 2013. “Picturing the Past: Gender in a National Geographic Reconstructions of Prehistoric Life.”  American Antiquity. 78(1): 123-146.

Kimiko Tanaka and Nan E. Johnson. 2012.  “the Effect of Social Integration on Self-rated health for Elderly Japanese People: A Longitudinal Study.” Journal of Comparative Family Studies. 43(4):483-49.

Megan Tracy. 2013. “Pasteurizing China’s Grasslands and Producing Terror.” American Anthropologist, 115.


Book chapters:

Josh M. Linder, S.C. Sawyer, and J.S. Brashares. 2013. “Primates in Trade.” In Primate Ecology and Conservation: A Handbook of Techniques. First edition.  Edited by E.J. Sterling, N. Bynum, and M.E. Blair.  Oxford University Press, pp. 323-345.

Stephen C. Poulson, Thomas N. Ratliff, and Emily Dollieslager. “You Have to Fight! For your Right! To Party!: Structure, Culture and Mobilization in a University Party Riot.” In Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change. Edited by Patrick G. Coy. Vol.36:271-305.


click here to return to the top of the page