Lisa Maya Knauer


Lisa Maya Knauer, PhD

Associate Professor / Chairperson

Sociology / Anthropology




Liberal Arts 392G





An introduction to the basic concepts of social and cultural anthropology. Readings emphasize the comparative study of societies at different levels of socio-cultural integration and from different areas of the world. This may include a brief introduction to physical anthropology and archaeology.

Work experience at an elective level supervised for academic credit by a faculty member in an appropriate academic field. Conditions and hours to be arranged. Graded CR/NC. For specific procedures and regulations, see section of catalogue on Other Learning Experiences.

Explores vital events in human life such as when and who we marry and sometimes divorce, how we pace and stop childbearing, and why and when we die. Fundamental questions include how the adoption of agriculture, changing patterns of disease, industrialization, urbanization, and international migration have shaped the human lifespan, fertility and health. The course will also examine the impact of consumption on environmental degradation and different paths to sustainability.

An exploration of the social, cultural, and political dynamics of transnational migration which takes the U.S. as a case study. Specific questions include: why people leave their homes; how they establish new ways of life, identities, and communities; and what kinds of challenges they face along the way. We will also examine the impact immigration has had on U.S. society and develop a critical understanding of current controversies and policy debates around immigration in the U.S. This course is an upper-level elective for majors and open to non-majors.

Research problem formulation, study design, and the gathering and analysis of data in Sociology and Anthropology, with primary emphasis upon field work. In addition to reading and seminar discussions, each student will participate throughout the seminar in supervised field inquiry. Interested students should talk with the instructor about field work possibilities and arrangements. Upon the approval of the instructor, students may register for 407 and 408 in a single semester or three semester hours in each of two successive semesters.

Research project under independent faculty supervision, by permission. May be taken in sequence with 493 over 2 semesters for a total of 6 credits.


Online and Continuing Education Courses

Exploration of how understandings of the past are shaped by present-day politics. Students investigate how collective memories are represented and contested in public spaces such as memorials, museums and schools while honing research and writing skills. Why do we celebrate some aspects of a nation's past, while ignoring or suppressing others? Case studies include controversial events from around the world.
Register for this course.

Dr. Knauer’s teaching, scholarship and community service are closely linked. They are rooted in her passion for social justice and the idea that anthropology – the study of human culture and difference -- can provide tools to understand, engage with and help foster change in a transforming world.

Dr. Knauer’s dissertation on Afrocuban music and religion in Cuba and New York explored the intersection of racialized identities and transnational cultural flows. An active participant in the NYC Afrocuban scene since the mid-1990s, her current work looks at cultural performance, the politics of representation and the role of digital media. In 2007, following an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid on a factory in New Bedford, she began to work with and study the local Central American community, and helped found an immigrant workers’ center and a Mayan women’s organization. She spent 2011 in Guatemala as a Fulbright scholar, and her current research looks at the representation and self-representation of Mayan women, focusing on community radio. Additional areas of interest include public history and the politics of memory; and the gendered dynamics of genocide, violence and migration.

She believes the best way to learn anthropology is by doing anthropology, and to read what anthropologists write (rather than textbooks) and so students in all her classes conduct original ethnographic fieldwork, and read classic and cutting edge anthropological studies. .

A committed interdisciplinary scholar, she is a affiliate of the Women, Gender and Sexuality Program, the Black Studies Program, and Sustainability Studies.