I have been teaching at the College of Charleston since 1982.
What were you doing before coming to CofC?
Before that I was a graduate student at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and I taught at Queens College, Lehman College and Rutgers University.
What inspired you to study anthropology and become a professor?
As an undergraduate I traveled a lot and this made me curious to learn more about the world. When I started my graduate studies there was intense interest in the nature of rural agricultural populations and this led me in the direction of wanting to learn more about people and plants from an anthropological perspective.
Are you involved in any research at the moment? If so, what is it about?
I have been studying the history and cultural significance of the African baobab in the Americas and currently I am documenting the location and history of the oldest trees in the region which occur in Brazil and the Caribbean.
What is your favorite class to teach?
My favorite classes to teach are the origins of agriculture which I regard as one of the most important topics for understanding the making of our present world system and a class on the anthropology of time which has been especially interesting to me in terms of the impact of seasonality on human adaptation.
What was your favorite class when you were in school?
My favorite class when I was an undergraduate was the history of anthropological theory, especially in terms of the materialist traditions that have been concerned with human adaptations from a variety of perspectives.
Do you have any advice for current or prospective anthropology students?
The College of Charleston’s Center for International Education is excellent and I encourage students, especially anthropology majors, to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities to study abroad in an area of the world in which they are especially interested and where they have a chance to learn a language in which they are particularly interested.
What do you like most about CofC?
I can say without hesitation that the College of Charleston is a wonderful institution and I feel privileged to be a part of it.
What do you like to do outside of teaching? Any hobbies/interests?
I have always enjoyed playing music and playing drums for the College of Charleston’s African Dance Class has been an especially enjoyable experience.
What is your favorite book or are you reading anything interesting?
My favorite anthropology book is Eric Wolf’s Europe and the People Without History which presents an anthropological perspective on the making of our present world system.
My favorite food – the national dish of Jamaicans – is ‘ackee and saltfish’. The ackee is a native fruit tree of West Africa that is generally considered deadly poisonous by most people of the Caribbean but is a favorite of Jamaicans.
If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead, who would it be?
My choice for a dinner partner would be Thelonious Monk, one of my favorite composers and pianists.
Where is your favorite place on earth- vacation spot, writing/reading corner, etc.?
My favorite place on earth is wherever I happen to be whenever I am asked this question!