Bilinda Straight is a Cultural Anthropologist (Ph.D in Anthropology and Graduate Certificate in Women's Studies, 1997, University of Michigan; M.A. in Anthropology, 1990, University of Michigan; B.A. in Women's Studies and English Literature, summa cum laude, 1987, Lake Erie College). She works with Samburu pastoralists in northern Kenya on issues relating to gender, sexuality, inter-ethnic violence, religion, and material culture. Her book, Miracles and Extraordinary Experience in Northern Kenya examines human experience as a topic in its own right, through what Samburu refer to as the 'astonishing' or 'miraculous' on the one hand, and what Euro-Americans consider extraordinary, on the other. Most recently, she has turned to poignant aspects of human experience generated through inter-ethnic violence. A project in 2004-2008 (based on primary research generously funded by National Science Foundation Grant #0413431) merges a micropolitical approach focused on the gendered dimensions of violence as a cultural form with a critical analysis that both emphasizes and challenges the explanatory power of 'culture' in shaping ethnic conflict. Her current collaborative project (dual PIs Bilinda Straight, WMU and Ivy Pike, University of Arizona, also funded by National Science Foundation, Grant #0822915/ 0822951) seeks to determine how chronic, low-intensity violence creates a special class of vulnerable and impoverished persons, making violence-created inequality distinct from other forms of poverty and inequality.
1001 Moore Hall
Departments of Anthropology, and Gender & Women's Studies
Western Michigan University (email: Bilinda DOT Straight AT wmich.edu)
Kalamazoo, MI 49008 (tel: 269-387-0409) ON LEAVE Jan - Dec 2008