AFA Officers

Jennifer Wies
AFA President (2019-2021)

Jennifer R. Wies is an applied medical anthropologist dedicated to teaching and practicing anthropology.  Her research focuses on structures of violence as experienced by local populations in the United States.  This includes her research and advocacy with victims of gender-based violence, families affected by incarceration, people with HIV/AIDS, and first-generation college women.  Her first edited volume, Anthropology at the Front Lines of Gender-Based Violence (with Hillary J. Haldane, Vanderbilt University Press, 2011) presents global ethnographies of local-level advocacy and activism in the gender-based violence movement.  In Applying Anthropology to Gender-Based Violence: Local Practices, Global Responses (with Hillary J. Haldane, Lexington Books, 2015), authors address gaps in theory, methods, and practices that are currently used to engage the problem of gender-based violence.

Jennifer is professor of anthropology at Ball State University in the Department of Anthropology.  An important aspect of her anthropological practice is engaging students in service-learning experiences that apply anthropological insights and methods to social inequities.  She also works with higher education institutions to develop student-centered, equity-focused, and transformative assessment practices to assure learning at the course, program, and organizational levels.

Jennifer is also passionate about her role within the AfA: “As an AFA Board member, my commitment is to advance the core tenets of our Association: analysis, connection, education, integration.  These tenets form the core of the AFA’s purpose and define the work of its members and allies, who advance feminist perspectives and action in anthropology practices from academic to public domains.  This is endless work, and continues to mount in importance in the U.S. and around the world.  To support and advance AFA’s efforts, and drawing from academic and practitioner experiences, I envision continuing collaboration across section membership and advancing deliberate partnerships with scholars, activists, and advocates aligned with other professional organizations. Influencing my interest in furthering the AFA mission is my research as a medical and applied anthropologist focusing on structures and experiences of violence in the United States- including gender-based violence, sexual harassment and discrimination, and gendered, structural poverty.  My leadership approach routinely draws from the array of cross-cultural examples that illustrate the power of community, mechanisms for mobilization, the continuum of leadership authority styles, and coalition methodologies to inspire my leadership practice.  In this way, I lead in a manner informed by feminist social theory and focus on empowering, sustainable solutions.”

Jennie Burnet
AFA Treasurer and Chair of Special Events (2018-2021)

Jennie Burnet is Associate Professor of Global Studies and Anthropology in the Global Studies Institute at Georgia State University. Before joining Georgia State University, she was an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Louisville in Kentucky (USA). She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005. Her work explores the social, cultural and psychological aspects of war, genocide, and mass violence and the micro-level impact of large-scale social change in the context of conflict. The majority of her research has focused on changing gender roles, the politics of memory, and local coping mechanisms in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda. She is currently conducting research on (1) organized resistance, rescuer behavior, and rescuers during in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda; (2) the long-term cultural, social, and psychological consequences of gender-based violence during conflict on women’s agency; and (3) women’s social movements and women’s roles in democratization, conflict resolution, and peace building. Her book,Genocide Lives in Us: Women, Memory & Silence in Rwanda, published in 2012 by the University of Wisconsin Press won the 2013 Elliot P. Skinner Award from the Association for Africanist Anthropology. Her research has appeared in Politics & Gender, African Affairs, and African Studies Review. She teaches courses in peace and conflict studies, development, refugee studies, ethnographic and qualitative research methods, and African politics and culture.

Erica Lorraine Williams
AFA Secretary (2017-2020)

Erica Lorraine Williams is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Department Chair of the Sociology and Anthropology department at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Stanford University, and her B.A. in Anthropology and Africana Studies from New York University. Her research has focused on the cultural and sexual politics of the transnational tourism industry, and Afro-Brazilian feminist activism in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. Her first book, Sex Tourism in Bahia: Ambiguous Entanglements (2013), won the National Women’s Studies Association/University of Illinois Press First Book Prize. She is also the co-editor of African American Pioneers in Anthropology: The Next Generation, 1950-1970 (University of Illinois Press, 2018). She is also Contributing Editor to the Handbook of Latin American Studies (Sociology: Brazil section). She has published peer-reviewed journal articles in Feminist Studies and Gender, Place, and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, and book chapters inthe Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbook on Gender: Love, Transatlantic Feminisms: Women and Gender Studies in Africa and the Diaspora (Rodriguez et. al., 2015), Policing Pleasure: Global Reflections on Sex Work and Public Policy (Kelly and Dewey 2011); Taking Risks: Feminist Stories of Social Justice Research in the Americas (Shayne, ed. 2014), the Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography, andthe Encyclopedia of Globalization (2012). She teaches courses in anthropology on gender and sexuality, race and identity in Latin America, globalization, transnationalism, and human rights, and feminist ethnography, and was the recipient of the Vulcan Teaching Excellence Award in 2013. Erica Lorraine Williams is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She earned her Ph.D and M.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Stanford University, and her B.A. in Anthropology and Africana Studies from New York University. Erica’s research has focused on the cultural and sexual politics of the transnational tourism industry in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. Her first book, Sex Tourism in Bahia: Ambiguous Entanglements, winner of the National Women’s Studies Association/University of Illinois Press First Book Prize, was published in November 2013. She has also published articles in Gender, Place, and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, Policing Pleasure: Global Reflections on Sex Work and Public Policy (Kelly and Dewey 2011);Taking Risks: Feminist Stories of Social Justice Research in the Americas (Shayne, ed. 2014), the Encyclopedia of Globalization (2012), and The Feminist Wire. She is currently embarking on a new research project on Afro-Brazilian feminist activism in northeastern Brazil. 

A. Wilkinson
AFA Elected Member at Large – Graduate Student Representative (2018-2021)

A. Wilkinson is currently a doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of California at Irvine and holds a Master in Social Sciences from FLACSO-Ecuador. Her research interests include the social politics of security, geopolitics of gender, sexuality, and the family, and contemporary transnational politico-religious movements, in Latin America. With the support of the National Science Foundation, the Wenner Gren Foundation, and a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship, she is currently conducting her dissertation fieldwork in Mexico on how security culture shapes activism in defense of the traditional family. 

Omotayo Jolaosho
AFA Elected Member at Large (2018-2020)

Omotayo Jolaosho is a socio-cultural anthropologist and software engineer. As a faculty member in the School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies, her research advances feminist political theory by elaborating the dissonance between activist practices and avowed commitments to gender equity. It is based on extensive fieldwork with a South African social movement organization that involved analysis of complex gender dynamics. The resulting ethnography considers the emergence of South African feminist critiques of activist practices, divergent initiatives to promote gender equity responding to such critiques, and the inevitable frictions that destabilized those interventions. Her work has appeared in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Women’s Studies Quarterly, and Journal of Material Culture, among others. She is the co-editor of African Women Writing Resistance: Contemporary Voices, a transnational anthology focused on African women’s narratives of resistance to challenges they experience on the continent and within its diaspora.

Michelle Ramirez
AFA Elected Member at Large (2018-2021)

Dr. Ramirez is a medical anthropologist who received her PhD from the University of Iowa, and her MPH from Portland State University in Portland, OR. She has conducted field work in many parts of Mexico and the U.S. and specializes in women’s health issues. Her research has examined sexuality, gender, cancer survivorship, Pentecostalism, and healing.

Rebecca Howes-Mischel
AFA Elected Member at Large (2017-2020)

Currently Rebecca is researching the gendered contexts of human microbiome research, which involves interviewing scientists and birth workers and tracking academic and popular narratives about its import and applications.

She conducted research in Oaxaca, Mexico in 2005-2008 looking at the broadly overlapping “stakes” of local, national, and global interest in indigenous women’s reproductive lives public health spaces (rual clinics, activist seminars, and community education and health campaigns); in 2009 she spent seven months researching health seeking and community-building in the Oaxacan dispora in Southern California. She returned to Oaxaca in 2013 to interview activists and policy makers about how shifts in the global development agendas focused on maternal mortality reductions influences their local projects.

Jennifer Patico
AFA Elected Member at Large (2017-2020)

Jennifer Patico is a sociocultural anthropologist who has conducted ethnographic research in both Russia and the United States. Her work centers on how people in urban, capitalist settings use both material commodities and abstracted notions of value and sentiment to understand their social worlds and selves. Her 2008 book, Consumption and Social Change in a Post-Soviet Middle Class (Stanford University Press and Woodrow Wilson Center Press), examined how consumers who were once part of a Soviet professional middle class struggled to get along in a newly marketized – and often disheartening – Russian economy. Specifically, Patico details how St. Petersburg schoolteachers experienced radical consumer shifts and, in the process, came to question and to reimagine their own places in national and global hierarchies of value. Subsequently, she investigated the highly contested phenomenon of Russian-American internet matchmaking, a project for which she conducted fieldwork in St. Petersburg and U.S. cities as well as online. Drawing upon interviews and participant observation in all of these communities, she challenged assumptions frequently made about the industry and its clients by U.S. media and policy-makers, exploring instead the narratives of both female and male participants as well as industry advocates and critics to illuminate conflicting ideologies about gender, wealth, and inequality that emerge such debates.

More recently, Patico has focused her research in the United States and returned to the topic of consumption with a study of children’s food and parenting ideologies in urban Atlanta. Food for children has been cast in popular U.S. discourse as a “crisis” with various proposed solutions, and concern about children’s nutrition is doubly intense since it draws both upon Americans’ widespread tendency to imbue eating with moral meanings and on the anxieties surrounding the near-sacralized work of childrearing in the contemporary United States. Patico argues that children’s food thus offers a valuable opportunity to better understand U.S. models of personal success, standards for parental care, and how these are entangled with the ways people perceive, challenge, and reinforce social differences, particularly class. Her ethnography, funded by the National Science Foundation (2013-16), situates children’s nutrition within broader considerations of the cultures of neoliberalism and middle-classness, providing a context in which to analyze closely how everyday material and consumer practices mediate and legitimate widely experienced structural pressures and social inequalities. Sugar and Selfhood: Children’s Food and Middle Class Ways of Being is under contract with NYU Press and is expected for publication in 2020.  Patico’s work has also been published in journals including American Ethnologist, Critique of Anthropology, Ethnos, Slavic Review, and Gastronomica.

At Georgia State, Patico teaches courses in anthropological theory, ethnographic methods, consumption and material culture, and gender, self and emotion. She is an active affiliate of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Institute at GSU and is the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Anthropology.  She is a past Program Chair for AFA and is currently heads the Nominations Committee as an AFA Member-at-Large.

Eda Pepi
AFA Program Senior Co-Chair (2019-2020)

Eda Pepi is a sociocultural anthropologist of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.  She is Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University, where she works at the intersections of feminist studies, political anthropology, and the anthropology of kinship.  Her research and publications focus broadly on the cultural and historical processes through which gender, ethnicity, citizenship, sovereignty, and the state have been forged in contemporary MENA territories, as well as across the Class A League of Nations mandates in the Middle East (1917–1948).

Pepi is at work on her first book, Marital States: Ethnicity and Gendered Citizenship in Jordan, which explores how states manage political and economic problems, like statelessness, through families.  This project examines ethnographically how Jordan polices its borders by regulating the marital and reproductive choices of Jordanian women, showing that our understandings of the state cannot stand separate from analyses of gender and kinship.  She is currently developing a second ethnographic project—States of Collision: Policing Mixed-Race Families in the Western Sahara Borderland—to continue her inquiry into gendered and racialized policing of marriage.  This book project shines ethnographic light on the militarization of the contested Western Sahara borderland through the policing of mixed-race and mixed-nationality families by local paramilitary movements, national militaries, and international peacekeeping forces. 

Vivian Lu
AFA Incoming Program Co-Chair (2019-2020)

Vivian Lu is a Postdoctoral Associate at the Macmillan Center, Council on African Studies. She is a a cultural anthropologist whose work focuses on capitalism and diasporic mobilizations amongst the Global South. Vivian received her PhD in anthropology from Stanford University in 2018. Her first book project focuses on the extensive migratory circulations of Nigerian merchants amongst contemporary trade sites across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Drawing from academic genealogies in the anthropology of capitalism, critical race studies, and postcolonial African studies, her work examines how transnational south-south diasporic formations have transformed Nigerian social imaginaries and discourses of postcolonial political and economic sovereignty.

Emily De Wet
Anthropology News Contributing Editor (2015-2019)

Emily de Wet is a PhD candidate at University of Notre Dame and a PhD fellow at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies (Notre Dame, IN). She is completing her dissertation research in three townships in Cape Town, South Africa. Her work considers how the textures of daily life (“vibes”) are creative of alternative spatiotemporal geographies to the political economy. These alternative geographies are at once contingent upon and in contradistinction to lived experiences of racism, unemployment, apartheid and post apartheid policy, and gender inequality. She explores how this occurs through forms of social labor, interrogating ideas about urban ‘margins’ and (racialized) narratives of productivity, through theories of expressive culture. Her work does so through attention to that which is deemed unique (and of value) to township spaces – movement and senses of safety through ‘being known,’ style and embodied aesthetics, and the preparation and consumption of meat in social spaces such as isiXhosa ceremonies and at Shisa Nyama (butcheries).

Megan Steffen
Anthropology News Contributing Editor (2019-2020)

Isabelle LeBlanc
AFA Digital Co-Manager (2018-2020)

Isabelle LeBlanc is a Ph.D. candidate who is currently finishing her dissertation on Acadian women and language at l’Université de Moncton in New Brunswick Canada. Her dissertation historicizes the processes through which women submit or resist to certain linguistic norms in order to construct a sense of legitimacy as Francophones in a minority setting that is consistently negotiating a space of existence within a larger Francophonie. The dissertation examines how the reproduction of language ideologies and the positioning of women in regards to linguistic norms through their own voices on the matter is determinant in understanding their performance of a gendered identity. The thesis is based on interactional fieldwork as well as on the collection of archived discourses from Acadian women. Isabelle LeBlanc is also a course lecturer in linguistics with experience in teaching such courses as Language and Gender; Sociolinguistics; Language and Society; Language Acquisition and Introduction to Language.

Emily Allan
AFA Digital Co-Manager (2018-2020)

Emily Allan is a recent graduate from the Master of Arts program in Anthropology at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Her research focused on NGOization and women’s empowerment projects in Tanzania, and the relevant power asymmetries between local and international NGOs and their donors. Rooted in feminist theory, her research contributed ethnographic data, and a focus on African feminisms, to discourses of intersectionality in North America.

Holly Okonkwo
Special Events Coordinator

Holly Okonkwo is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Purdue University. As a cultural and applied anthropologist, her work explores the situated knowledge production of women of the African diaspora and the material and cultural practices of scientific knowledge production, learning and innovation, with special interests in computing and engineering. Drawing on Black feminism and postcolonial feminist science and technology studies, her research focuses on the politics of race, gender and the dimensions of place and how they function as interlocking systems, to reconceptualize and preserve racialized, gendered and colonial divisions of labor. Her current project explores the experiences of women scientists and technologists engaged in local and transnational science and innovation communities in Ghana and Nigeria. Dr. Okonkwo’s work has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Advance Institutional Grant at the University of California Riverside, the NSF Science of Science Policy and Innovation program and the NSF SBE Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Dr. Okonkwo has also conducted research and worked as a civic innovation researcher in local government. She has lead team research projects employing human-centered design towards the development of interventions concerning poverty, unemployment and public safety in the City of Long Beach, CA. Dr. Okonkwo holds a PhD in Anthropology, an M.A in Education Leadership and Policy and a B.S. in Anthropology from the University of California Riverside.

Specializations: Anthropology of Science, Postcolonial and Feminist Science and Technology Studies, Anthropology of Education, Applied Anthropology, Human-Centered Design, Black Feminist Theory, Intersectionality, Gender

Tony Pomales
Special Events Coordinator

Dr. Tony Pomales was born and raised in Paterson, N J. He received his BA in anthropology from the University of Notre Dame, his MA and PhD in anthropology from the University of Iowa, and a graduate certificate in gender, women’s and sexuality studies also from the University of Iowa. 

Dr. Pomales completed his dissertation research with the assistance of a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Diversity Fellowship. After completing his PhD, Dr. Pomales worked as a teaching fellow at Augustana College and as a housing program manager and family advocate at a non-profit family shelter and advocacy project in the Greater Boston area. 

Dr. Pomales’ research interests explore how the discourses of gender, race, class, sexuality and age work at the level of lived experience and of the body. His dissertation research is more specifically organized around the concerns of development and subalternization, aging and the life course, and women’s organizing and grassroots movements in Central America. 

His current project examines a sex workers’ rights organization in Costa Rica and the ways in which empowerment, as a discourse of development, has served to further the marginalization of women sex workers. From a feminist medical anthropological perspective, this project also looks at strategic uses of suffering and the creation of embodied solidarities among subaltern women in the context of gendered power relations within a non-governmental organization and public health project. 

Ather Zia
AFA Book Review Editor (2017-2020)

Ather Zia is an Assistant Professor in the Anthropology Department and Gender Studies Program at University of Northern Colorado Greeley. She is currently finishing her book, which is to be published by Washington University Press (Book Series on Decolonizing Feminisms: Antiracist and Transnational Praxis). Ather’s other major writing projects include “Resisting Occupation in Kashmir” (U Penn, April 2017), a non-fiction anthology based on ethnographic narratives of politics in Kashmir with Harper Collins India, and an anthology of ethnographic poetry based on her fieldwork in Kashmir titled, “Field In-verse.” In 2013 she won the second prize for ethnographic poetry on Kashmir from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology (American Anthropological Association). She is the founder-editor of Kashmir Lit (, a digital journal based on writings on Kashmir. In 2011 she co-founded Critical Kashmir Studies (, an interdisciplinary network of scholars working on the Kashmir region.

Lauren Hayes
AFA Co-Coordinator of Social Media (2018-2020)

Lauren’s research centers on the intersection of globalization, gender, and labor. She has a particular interest in new technologies, industry transformation, and the consequences of precarious work.

Lauren is currently working in the Appalachian region of the U.S. and has also conducted research in Honduras on microlending and women’s participation in the informal economy.

Elisha Oliver
AFA Co-Coordinator of Social Media (2019-2021)

Elisha Oliver is a biocultural anthropologist and visual ethnographer.  Her research explores the intersections space and place, health, and language in rural and urban communities, with particular focus on structural violence, women’s biopsychosocial health, intergenerational and historical trauma, and the use complimentary and alternative medicine and syncretic religion to produce positive health outcomes. She has worked extensively on research to improve birth outcomes for pre-term babies and reduce infant mortality. Elisha is working on a variety of research projects. Currently, her top three projects are: Suicide Prevention in American Indian/Alaska Native Communities, The Role of Caregivers for Parents with Early Onset Dementia, and Infant Mortality in Urban African American Communities.

Elisha is an adjunct professor at OSUOKC and serves as the Executive Director of Cultural Intelligence for Thick Descriptions. She is a STEM mentor for the national organization, Melanin in STEM. Elisha earned her Ph.D. and M.A.  in Anthropology from the University of Oklahoma.