Faculty & Staff
Assistant Professor John Davis joined the faculty at Denison in the fall of 2011. Prof. Davis is a socio-cultural anthropologist whose work explores the "social life" of rights by critically analyzing the processes by which transnational discourses and practices of human rights intersect with specific national and cultural contexts to shape everyday life. Prof. Davis's dissertation used ethnographic modes of inquiry to illuminate the cultural politics of human rights in Japan through an exploration of how the burakumin minority operationalized the idea of human rights within their movement for social change.
Prof. Davis is currently completing a book manuscript titled "Animating Rights in Japan: The Politics of Buraku Liberation". Prof. Davis has two new research projects underway. The first utilizes the case of burakumin as an opportunity to reconsider theories of race and minority subjectivity. It is at once an attempt to account for the wide-ranging and often conflicting narratives he encountered in Japan about what it meant to be "burakumin" and how his own positionality as an African American in Japan shaped his perspective on the topic. More often than not Prof. Davis became part of the focus of conversations with people as they invoked his status as a kokujin ("Black person") to illustrate points of difference or similarity "the nature of the comparison varied with the speaker" between racial minorities and burakumin. Prof. Davis's second line of research compares how concepts of race and ethnicity factor into genetics research in Japan and the United States respectively.
"My areas of specialization in anthropology include classical and contemporary theory, art and society, gender, political economy and Sub-Saharan Africa. My doctoral dissertation was an historical examination of gender among the Kedjom of the Republic of Cameroon, between female economic contributions and cultural ideologies which demeaned them. More recently, I have done research on the history of European alcohol in West Africa and the impact of transnational brewing corporations on the national and local economies of Cameroon. I am particularly interested in the relationship between rural communities and the African State. Presently, I am exploring indigenous knowledge around agricultural production and the religious significance of twinship in Sub-Saharan Africa."
Fareeda McClinton Griffith, PhD is an assistant professor of Sociology/ Anthropology at Denison University. As a quantitatively trained sociologist and demographer, Dr. Griffith advises students on research projects with interests in quantitative methods, and teaches courses on demographic changes in the continent of Africa, survey research methods and racial and ethnic relations around the globe. She received her B.A. in Sociology with summa cum laude honors from Paine College. She received a M.A. in Demography and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, Dr. Griffith has published on race relations and residential segregation patterns in South Africa and Somali immigrants and health perceptions in Columbus, Ohio. Her work appears in the Southern African Journal of Demography and is forthcoming in Health, Culture, and Society. Dr. Griffith has also received several grants to investigate racial residential segregation and chronic health outcomes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and health perceptions of Somali immigrants in Columbus, OH.
- Griffith, Fareeda M. and Tukufu Zuberi. Forthcoming. “ Demography of Race and Ethnicity in South Africa” in the International Handbook on Race and Ethnicity, Rogelio Saenz, Rodriguez, Nestor; Embrick, David (eds). Handbook 4, Springer Press: New York. Peer reviewed book chapter and invited
- Francis, Shelley and Kendall A. Leser and Emma E. Esmont and Fareeda Griffith. “An Analysis of Key Stakeholders Attitudes and Beliefs about Barriers and Facilitating Factors in the Development of a Cervical Cancer Prevention Program in South Africa.” African Journal of Reproductive Health. March 2013: 17:1. Peer reviewed article
- Griffith, Fareeda. ” Intercensal Changes in Measures of Residential Segregation Among Population Groups in Gauteng, South Africa, 1996-2001.” Southern African Journal of Demography. January 2013: Volume 14:1. Peer reviewed article
- Francis, Shelley and Fareeda Griffith and Kendall A. Leser .“An Investigation of Somali Women’s Beliefs, Practices, and Attitudes about Health, Health Promoting Behaviors and Cancer Prevention.” Health, Culture, and Society. Forthcoming 2014. Peer reviewed article
I am a broadly-trained cultural anthropologist with primary research interests in semiotic anthropology, material culture and archeology, racial, ethnic, and linguistic identity. I have secondary interests in kinship, demography, anthropology and philosophy, and the history of anthropology. Most of my fieldwork has been conducted in Ireland, in Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) communities. My recently completed projects include an analysis and critique of the logic of racial profiling, using C.S. Peirce's arguments about the various forms of logical inference including retroduction/abduction, and his theories about iconicity. My current research can be described broadly as the semiotics of material culture. I am engaged in an ongoing project investigating the phenomenological, temporal, and semiotic manifestations of material objects from the past in the present, focusing specifically on archaeological artefacts. Related to this I have recently begun a new project on the semiotic aspects of ‘vintage fashion’. I teach courses on semiotic anthropology, social theory (classical and contemporary), race and ethnicity, as well as courses in International Studies. I also teach our introductory course as well as our senior seminar.
- November 2014, Book review of Olaf Zenker’s Irish/ness Is All around Us: Language Revivalism and the Culture of Ethnic Identity in Northern Ireland. American Ethnologist, v. 41, issue 4
- Summer 2014, “Response to Sluis and Edwards, ‘Rethinking Combined Departments’” in Learning and Teaching: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences (LATISS) v.7, n.2
- 2012, “Semiotic Ideologies of Race: Racial Profiling and Retroduction” in Recherches sémiotiques/ Semiotic Inquiry (RS/SI) v. 32
- 2010, “Lessons in Racial Identity and Kinship” Anthropology News May 2010 See full article
- 2009, ” 'It's not really a nickname, it's a method': Local Names, State Intimates, and Kinship Register in the Irish Gaeltacht”. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology v. 19:1 See full article
- 2008, “Demographic Modernity” in Ireland: a cultural analysis of citizenship, migration, and fertility”. Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Europe (JSAE). v.8:1 See full article
- 2007, “Reading Dialogic Correspondence: Synge's The Aran Islands”. New Hibernia Review. Geimhreadh/Winter 11:4 See full article
- 2006, “Material Habits, Identity, Semeiotic”. Journal of Social Archaeology. 6:1 See full article
- 2005, Book Review of S. Muthu's “Enlightenment Against Empire”. American Anthropologist. v.107:2
I am a quantitative sociologist with research concentrations in social psychology, educational achievement and health disparities. I value a mixed methods approach, as ethnographies uniquely reveal the nuanced experiences within a population. My work stems from the desire to understand the processes through which social constructs such as race, ethnicity, social class, gender, and sexuality help to shape human experiences. My teaching professional and personal background experience in Jamaica, West Indies allows me to investigate these issues within a United States and Caribbean context.
My dissertation research explores several contextual and social psychological factors related to achievement among middle class high school students. I examine student perceptions of active academic stereotypes and their impact on self concept, attitudes and behavior. The research provides a unique insight into psychological and educational consequences of school based inequality. It also reveals interesting relationships between student motivation, coping mechanisms, and other factors which promote academic and personal resilience.
I have also done research to understand the ways that social background factors can shape health service experiences and contribute to health disparities. Much of this work involves examining the dynamics of communication between patients and health providers. In a recent study I investigated the relationship between patient assessments of physician trustworthiness, and patterns of follow up care after a health service visit. Based upon my research and experience as a health equity consultant I have published recommendations aimed at improving physician cultural competency through education.
Currently, I am involved in two research projects. The first is a quantitative analysis of the role that trusting the physician plays in promoting patient adherence and positive health behaviors. The second is a mixed methods study investigating diverse LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) individuals’ health related attitudes, behaviors and experiences with providers. This work will be useful for improving education and training for health providers, and enable more effective advocacy for traditionally under-served populations.
- Improving cultural competence education: the utility of an intersectional framework. Powell Sears, Karen. Medical Education vol. 46 issue 6 June 2012. p. 545-551
- The Impact of Different Types of Intimate Partner Violence on the Mental and Physical Health of Women in Different Ethnic Groups. Lacey, Krim K.; McPherson, Melnee Dilworth; Samuel, Preethy S.; Powell Sears, Karen; Head, Doreen. Journal of Interpersonal Violence vol. 28 issue 2 January 2013. p. 359-385
Assistant Professor of Sociology/Anthropology K. Russell Shekha joined the faculty in 2012. He received his B.A. in Anthropology with magna cum laude honors from Florida Atlantic University. Dr. Shekha earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in Sociology from the Florida State University. His advanced training and specializations include the Sociology of Human Rights, the Welfare State, Collective Behavior and Social Movements, Political Sociology and Public Policy, Latin America, and Quantitative, Qualitative and Comparative-Historical Methodologies.
"At Denison University I focus specifically on providing engaged and active learning experiences to our students in the use of survey research methods to analyze social patterns and problems, the impacts of universal human rights and global/transnational social movements on society and culture, and the development of socio-political forces in Latin American societies. I work to generate excitement and understanding of American and global society and culture more broadly in our introductory course.
I extend teaching beyond the classroom to mentor our students throughout their academic careers. For example, I offer office hours on a regular basis, advise students on academic course and discipline selections, and provide tools and resources to balance academic, extracurricular, and social life. Just as importantly, I mentor seniors and summer scholars students as they develop their own independent interests culminating in top quality research projects that help prepare them for the variety of work that our majors do after they leave Denison.
My research interests are fueled by a desire to understand how universal human rights, global/transnational social movements, democratization, and globalization impact poverty/inequality, access to quality public health and educations, improvements in social welfare systems, and social equality for groups such as migrant workers, children, women, and racial/ethnic minorities. I also do research on public attitudes towards the welfare state and human rights which complement my larger interests above. I do all of this primarily using quantitative, sociological methods and blend and integrate sociological, anthropological, political economy, and international theoretical perspectives. My geographic interests are primarily in Latin America and other democratizing and developing regions, but also in the United States and Western Europe."
Professor of Sociology/Anthropology Mary Tuominen received her B.A. in Education followed by her Master's in Public Administration (public policy) from Seattle University. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Oregon. Her teaching and research interests are in the areas of gender, race, and class; care work; community-based activism; and research methodology.
“My previous work as a community organizer, a public policy analyst, and a Budget Assistant to the Governor for Children and Family Services inform both my teaching and my research interests. My recent participatory action research explores the challenges of multi-racial, grassroots coalitions as tools for mobilizing child care workers – in particular the ways in which social dynamics of race and privilege create opportunities for as well as inhibit successful coalition work (see “Speaking and Organizing Across Difference: Multi-Racial Coalitions and the Grassroots Mobilization of Child Care Workers” in Feminist Formations, 2012). In a forthcoming article I use similar community-based research methods to explore the neo-liberal ideologies underlying financial literacy programs intended to aid low-income citizens (see “No Money Left to Save: Financial Literacy and the Lives of Low-Income People” co-authored and forthcoming in The Journal of Progressive Human Services).”
“My research-in-progress builds on my previous care work scholarship to include narrative care work – an analysis of the ways in which caregivers make meaning of illness, death, and grief. This work includes a Mellon Foundation Award for a project titled, “Writing Grief and Healing: Creative Nonfiction and Narrative Analysis” and an autoethnographic book manuscript currently underway and provisionally titled Strange Gifts: The Work of Death, Grief, and Healing.”
My research interests concern the role that socially shared ideas and beliefs play in shaping people’s behavior, especially their political action. In my dissertation research, I explored the question of why politicians in Jamaica chose to use Rastafarian symbols and reggae music in electoral campaigns (Race, Class and Political Symbols, Transaction Press 1985). My second book project was an examination of the way post-colonial Jamaica has revised its historical narratives and a study of heritage tourism development and unofficial community history in Port Royal, Jamaica (Planning the Past, Lexington Books 2006). I have published research articles about conspiracy theories in African-American political culture (in The Journal of Black Studies) the uses that Jamaican politicians make of historical narratives (in Caribbean Quarterly), the way Columbus residents express hostile attitudes toward Somali immigrants (in Bildhaan: A Journal of Somali Studies), and the presentation of revolutionary history in Cuban museums and commemorative events (in the Canadian Journal of Caribbean and Latin American Studies). Recently I have turned my attention to the way Cuba is portrayed in political discourse in the United States.