Middlebury

 

David Stoll

Professor of Anthropology

Email: 
Phone: work802.443.2441
Office Hours: Mondays 1:30-2:30; Tuesdays 11:00-12:00; Wednesdays 1:30-2:30; or by appointment.
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I come from the Midwest, have a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan (1974) and a Ph.D from Stanford University (1992). My research in Latin America began as part of the movement to study up rather than down in the power structure. My first big project was about an evangelical Protestant mission called the Summer Institute of Linguistics.  It was working in hundreds of indigenous languages around the world, and it was accused of being a CIA front.

When the U.S. religious right joined the Reagan administration's war against the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua, I realized that the Latin American left, as well as many Latin Americanists in the U.S., were failing to deal with the many issues posed by the rapid growth of evangelical churches. Is Latin America Turning Protestant? (1990) explored why evangelical churches have appealed to far more Latin Americans than liberation theology has.

Since the 1980s I've been doing field research on political violence and the peace process in Guatemala. Between Two Armies in the Ixil Towns of Guatemala (1993) started out as an ethnography of an area in Quiché Department that suffered heavily in the violence. Based on interviews with survivors, I found it necessary to question the guerrilla movement’s interpretation of the war, including assumptions that have been picked up by the human rights movement.  The most widely-read product of this research is Rigoberta Menchú and The Story of All Poor Guatemalans (1999).

Because prevailing opinion in cultural anthropology and Latin American studies no longer regards Western science as reliable or beneficial, increasing numbers of scholars in these fields derive our authority from identification with victims. Many of us have also been stressing the need for multivocal inclusivity by listening to more voices.  But in the case of Guatemala, I showed that some scholars were being rather selective as to whom they were listening, to the point of lionizing a particular native voice and the assumptions she represented, because it reflected their own. 

Since 2007 I’ve been gathering material for a book about Guatemalan peasants who crashed shortly before Wall Street did. In the international media, the Ixil Mayas of Nebaj pop up only as victims of genocide in the civil war.  In 2012 a former chief of state is on trial for the murder of 1,771 non-combatants by army units under his command. The trial is being attended by survivors and is doubtless being followed closely by Nebajenses. Usually, however, being victims of genocide is less on their minds than being without work. They have been producing large families for several generations and they are running out of land.  So great is the need for employment that, when they became a magnet for international aid projects, including a generous flow of microcredits, Nebajenses invested the loans in an enterprise not forseen by aid experts.  They smuggled themselves to the United States. 

Just as U.S. investment bankers borrowed many times their net worth to produce higher returns, Nebajenses borrowed sums many times their annual income in order to seek higher wages in U.S. labor markets.  Those who couldn’t go borrowed to invest in the journeys of those who could.  Just as the Wall Streeters relied on the latest technology to minimize their risks, Nebaj’s investors had their own high-tech assurances: television to show what life was like in the U.S., cellphones to stay in touch with debtors, and bank wires to facilitate transfers. Remittances poured home and thousands more Nebajenses jumped into the game.

Until 2006 Nebaj migrants who applied themselves could send their families $1,000 or more per month. Since then many Nebajenses have been unable to find steady employment, in a harbinger of the jobs crisis that now affects all but the wealthiest Americans. In debates over U.S. immigration policy, most attention focuses on the political theater of anti-immigration forces agitating for crackdowns and pro-immigration forces agitating for amnesties. Overlooked are the millions of underemployed Guatemalans, Dominicans, and other foreigners who continue to pin their hopes on a U.S. job.  What are the implications of the 2008 U.S. financial crisis, and of the high unemployment rates since then, for people like the Nebajenses who see U.S. jobs as their lifeline?

The results of this research are now available from Rowman and Littlefield under the title El Norte or Bust! How Migration Fever and Microcredit Produced a Financial Crash in a Latin American Town (2013)

http://sites.middlebury.edu/dstoll/

www.nodulo.org/bib/index.htm

 

 

Courses

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

ENVS 0500 - Independent Study      

Independent Study
A one- or two-semester research project on a topic that relates to the relationship between humans and the environment. The project, carried out under the supervision of a faculty member with related expertise, must involve a significant amount of independent research and analysis. Students may enroll in ENVS 0500 no more than twice for a given project. (Approval only)

Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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ENVS 0700 - ES Senior Honors Work      

Senior Honors Work
The final semester of a multi-semester research project on a topic pertinent to the relationship between humans and the environment. Students may enroll in ENVS 0700 only once. (Previous work would have been conducted as one or two semesters of an ENVS 0500 Independent Study project.) The project, carried out under the supervision of a faculty member, will result in a substantial piece of writing, and will be presented to other ENVS faculty and students in a public forum. (Senior standing; ENVS 0112, ENVS 0211, ENVS 0215, GEOG 0120, and ENVS 0500; Approval only)

Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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IGST 0703 / INTL 0703 - LAS Senior Thesis      

Latin American Studies Senior Thesis
(Approval Required)

Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013

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INTL 0503 - African Studies Ind Project      

African Studies Independent Project
(Approval Required)

Spring 2012

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SOAN 0103 - Topics in Sociocultural Anthro      

Selected Topics in Sociocultural Anthropology
This course introduces students to the varieties of human experience in social life and to the differing approaches and levels of analysis used by anthropologists to explain it. Topics include: culture and race, rituals and symbolism, kinship and gender roles, social evolution, political economy, and sociolinguistics. Ethnographic examples are drawn chiefly from non-Western societies, from simple bands to great agrarian states. The ultimate aim is to enable students to think critically about the bases of their own culture and about practices and beliefs previously unanalyzed and unexamined. 2 hrs. lect./1 hr. disc./2 hrs. screen (Anthropology)

CMP SOC

Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012

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SOAN 0221 - Indigenous Peoples of Americas      

Indigenous Peoples of the Americas
This course introduces students to the indigenous peoples of North and South America, from before European conquest to the present. Following a brief look at the mound-builders of North America, we will explore the connection between social stratification, religious ideology, and imperial expansion in the political economy of the Aztecs and the Incas. Ethnographies of Quechua peasants in the Peruvian Andes, Yanomami Indians in the Amazon, and Oglala Sioux in the Dakotas will show how contemporary Native Americans are dealing with the never-ending process of colonialism. How Europeans have imagined indigenous peoples has had a profound impact on how the latter defend themselves. The resulting images of authenticity and resistance have always been double-edged. The course will conclude with the debate over the reservation paradigm in the U.S. Limited places available for students to satisfy the College writing requirement. (Formerly SOAN 0321) 3 hrs. lect./disc. (Anthropology)

AAL CMP SOC

Spring 2012

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SOAN 0302 - Ethnographic Research      

The Research Process: Ethnography and Qualitative Methods
The aim of this course is to prepare the student to conduct research, to analyze and present research in a scholarly manner, and to evaluate critically the research of others. Practice and evaluation of such basic techniques as observation, participant-observation, structured and open-ended interviews, and use of documents. Introduction to various methodological and theoretical frameworks. Thesis or essay prospectus is the final product of this course. Strongly recommended for juniors. Three-hour research lab required. (SOAN 0103 or SOAN 0105) 3 hrs. lect./disc./3 hrs. research lab (Anthropology)

DED SOC

Fall 2012

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SOAN 0326 - Latin American Culture Society      

Latin American Culture and Society
Latin America is a paradise for cultural anthropologists because, with its long history of invasion and cultural hybridization, it is a meeting ground for people from all over the world. This course looks at how the Americas south of the Rio Grande have been symbolized, constructed and contested in debates over national character, the culture of poverty, and dependency on foreign powers. Case material includes peasants, shanty-town dwellers, immigrants to the U.S. and the iconic figures of the Vodoun healer, pop star, druglord and guerrillero. Topics include the polarities of identity along the U.S.-Mexican border, African possession cults of the Caribbean, the requirements of survival for the poor of the Brazilian Northeast, the hegemony of "whiteness" in the mass media, and the frustrated messianic strivings of revolutionary Cuba. This course is primarily for students doing study abroad in the region. 3 hrs. lect./disc., 2 hrs. screen (Anthropology)

AAL SOC

Fall 2010, Spring 2013, Fall 2014

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SOAN 0329 / FYSE 1287 / SOAN 1021 - Latin Migrations to U.S.      

Latin American Migrations to the U.S.
The United States is a nation of immigrants that enjoys the most unsustainable rates of consumption on the planet. In this course we will focus on migration streams from Latin America, the social forces that create them, and their contribution to the increasing diversity and inequality of U.S. society. The course will apply ethnographic research to debates over the southern borderlands, remittance economies in Mesoamérica and the Caribbean, low-wage labor markets in the U.S., and U.S. immigration policies. (This course is not open to students who have taken FYSE 1287) 3 hrs. lect./disc. (Anthropology)

AAL CMP SOC

Winter 2011, Fall 2011

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SOAN 0340 - Anthropology of Human Rights      

The Anthropology of Human Rights
Human rights has become the master narrative for understanding moral responsibility between nations. High expectations have collided with brutal realities, raising difficult questions. Since cultures vary greatly in the rights they recognize, particularly for subordinate groups such as women and ethnic minorities, campaigning for human rights can become hard to distinguish from international intervention, complicating the issue of who is victimizing who. This course explores the anthropology of pre-state violence; contradictions between human rights and solidarity; the competing priorities of truth, justice and reconciliation; the synergy between international humanitarian relief and warlordism; ethnic fratricide and the failed state. Case studies include repression in Guatemala, vigilante justice in Peru, the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the flow of political and economic refugees to zones of safety such as the United States. 3 hrs. lect./disc., 2 hrs. screen (Anthropology)

CMP SOC

Fall 2010, Spring 2013, Fall 2014

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SOAN 0447 - Moral Economy      

Moral Economy
Moral economy is how social groups produce moral authority through ritual exchange. Wherever human beings mistreat each other in the name of religion or justice, moral economy provides a way of specifying the ideological imperatives at work. In this seminar we will begin with how groups produce sanctity through sacrifice, then explore the moral economies at work in a range of conflicts including the Culture War in the U.S. revolution vs. revivalism in Latin America, and witch wars in Africa. Our goal is to develop a typology of moral economies that can be applied to a wide range of situations (SOAN 0103, or SOAN 0105, or RELI 0110, or RELI 0120) 3 hrs. sem. (Anthropology)

AAL CMP SOC

Spring 2011

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SOAN 0500 - Advanced Individual Study      

Prior to registering for SOAN 0500, a student must enlist the support of a faculty advisor from the Department of Sociology/Anthropology. (Open to Majors only) (Approval Required) (Sociology or Anthropology)

Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Winter 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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SOAN 0700 - One-Semester Senior Project      

One-Semester Senior Project
Under the guidance of a faculty member, a student will carry out an independent, one-semester research project, often based on original data. The student must also participate in a senior seminar that begins the first week of fall semester and meets as necessary during the rest of the year. The final product must be presented in a written report of 25-40 pages, due the last day of classes. (Sociology or Anthropology)

Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Winter 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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SOAN 0710 - Multi-Semester Senior Project      

Multi-Semester Senior Project
Under the guidance of a faculty member, a senior will carry out an independent multi-semester research project, often based on original data. The student must also participate in a senior seminar that begins the first week of fall semester and meets as necessary during the rest of the year. The final product must be presented in a written report of 60-100 pages, due either at the end of the Winter Term or the Friday after spring break. (Sociology or Anthropology)

Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Winter 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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SPAN 0500 - Independent Study      

Independent Study
The department will consider requests by qualified juniors and senior majors to engage in independent work. (Approval only)

Spring 2013

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