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I am a linguistic, cultural, and psychological anthropologist. I am also engaged with the interdisciplinary fields of education and communication and I have worked with the Chabad-Lubavitch, the K’iche’ Maya in Guatemala, and the Marshallese in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). Currently I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
My research focuses on the politics of language and exchange, the social construction of age and childhood, the role of deception in social life, and variation in understandings of truth and knowledge across cultures and contexts. My current book project, Producing Age: Children, Deception, and Avoiding Giving in the Marshall Islands, is based on sixteen months of fieldwork in the RMI. I analyze immaturity and the production of age differences in the RMI, arguing that avoiding giving (and giving) in the RMI depend on children’s unique communicative power to say things to adults that adults may not. In this manuscript I show how a basic and central issue in anthropological theory and ethnography—exchange in Oceania—cannot be understood without attention to the life-course or children— revealing the relevance of age to anthropological theory. I also challenge standard understandings of socialization and cultural reproduction by demonstrating that, paradoxically, children learn mature modes of giving and speaking by engaging in activity that is inappropriate for adults.
My work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Society for Psychological Anthropology, the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study, the University of Chicago, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.