“Maintaining Hope for a Better Future:” An Interview with Dr. Crystal Felima
Dr. Mark Schuller, et. al.
Annals of Anthropological Practice, August 2023
Crystal Felima, Abigail DeeWaard, Clara Barbier, Erica Cano-Garcia, Gonzalo Jeronimo, Nari Coleman, Nataliya Hryshko, Mark Schuller
“This piece not only offers advice to students about how to maintain activist engagement within the academy, but I love how this is coming from students themselves. Undergraduate students have lots of amazing things to say! With proper encouragement students *can* publish in peer reviewed journals. I’m so inspired by them.”
–Dr. Mark Schuller
While anthropologists have played roles speaking out for marginalized groups, formalized to combat Antisemitism, racism, and xenophobia, they have also aided in the marginalization and oppression of communities, justified colonialism, and put the communities they have studied at risk. In recent decades, anthropologists have rethought the way research is conducted, presented, and justified to reduce harm to communities. Despite these shifts, anthropological training has been slow to include activist work by women of color and other marginalized people, leaving anthropologists-in-training with limited concrete guidance on how to apply their anthropological lens to social justice.
Addressing this gap, this article centering a Black feminist analysis offers an interview conducted between anthropology students and a professor of anthropology, giving insights into how anthropological thought can be applied to activism and advocacy. Centering Black feminism is not only important to redress historical marginalization within the discipline. By centering the lives of marginalized people within an intersectional lens, Black feminist analysis provides a mandate to rethink theoretical models, such as political ecology, the dominant frame anthropologists have used to address disasters and climate change. Also importantly, centering Black women’s bodies and embodied experience uncovers the urgent necessity for self-care during fieldwork. Prof. Felima embodies both these challenges, and offers candid advice to students, inspiring a two-way dialogue.
NACC Member Representative
Mark Schuller is Acting Director of the Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies as well as Presidential Research Professor of Anthropology at Northern Illinois University and affiliate at the Faculté d’Ethnologie, l’Université d’État d’Haïti. Supported by the National Science Foundation Senior and CAREER Grant, Bellagio Center, and others, Schuller’s research on NGOs, disasters, globalization, and gender in Haiti has been published in fifty peer-reviewed articles or book chapters as well as public media. He authored or coedited eight books including Humanity’s Last Stand. He is co-director / co-producer of documentary Poto Mitan: Haitian Women, Pillars of the Global Economy (2009). Schuller is co-editor of Berghahn Books’ Catastrophes in Context and University of Alabama Press’ NGOGraphies. He is Co-Chair of the Risk and Disaster Topical Interest Group at the Society for Applied Anthropology and Secretary of the Association for Political and Legal Anthropology. Recipient of the Margaret Mead Award, the Anthropology in Media Award, and the Haitian Studies Association’s Award for Excellence, he is active in several solidarity efforts.