Identity and Belonging

Conceptions of identity and belonging have been central threads within anthropological research since its inception. These themes also connect us with the interdisciplinary Gender, Race, and Identity (GRI) program at the University of Nevada, Reno. Among our cultural anthropologists, Deborah Boehm works on how both familial and national belongings and identities are entwined with (im)migration and transnationalism in Mexico and the American Southwest. In Spain, Mikaela Rogozen-Soltar looks at North African migrants' Islamic religious belonging, the social interactions between Muslim, Catholic and secular Europeans and how changing religious belonging is experienced through conversion. Erin Stiles' work focuses on belonging in the context of Islam in Zanzibar and Mormonism in the U.S. Louis Forline explores identity among indigenous and peasant groups in Brazil, as some transition from foragers to farmers.

Within archaeology, Carolyn White's work on personal adornment is a means for exploring the construction of identity in terms of gender, class, age and ethnicity. Her work in Aurora, Nevada, examines religious, ethnic and class identities in a Jewish mining community. Sarah Cowie's collaborative research with Nevada tribal members on a project at Stewart Indian School addresses indigeneity and changing senses of belonging in an institutional setting. The department's pre-historians focus on indigeneity in the Americas over the last 13,000 years, including Christopher Morgan's and Geoffrey Smith's work on the hunter-gatherer archaeology of the American West.

Finally, Marin Pilloud's and Richard Scott's forensic work helps to establish the legal identities of unknown individuals. However, personal identity encompasses more than a legal definition; our faculty are also interested in the ethics of working with human remains and the impact such research can have on individuals and their families.