Political Science

Dr. Erin Kenny

Erin KennyAssociate Professor of Anthropology
Director of Teaching and Learning Center

Office: Burnham, Room 312
Phone: (417) 873-7226
E-mail: ekenny@drury.edu
View Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Erin Kenny joined the faculty at Drury in 2005 after completed her PhD in Cultural Anthropology with an emphasis in Gender Studies at the University of Kentucky. Erin's academic research interests include
household economics, kinship and the family, cultural constructions of personhood (including rites of passage, gender, and life course), and phenomena of global pop culture, especially dance studies. She also
encourages students to be active global citizens within their communities, and to educate themselves on ethical trade practices.

Erin's doctoral fieldwork examined the experiences of return and "second-generation" migrants to Kankan, Guinea. She looks closely at how personhood is created through gendered, intergenerational, and kin-based relationships at the household level, and how notions of the self and the family transform during periods of migration. Specific findings of her dissertation research highlighted the significance of pilgrimage in the accrual of "spiritual capital" for elderly men and women of the community, as well as the continuing importance of female genital cutting in rites of passage that mark the Malinké body as culturally and morally "appropriate" for wives and mothers.
Following a successful trip to rural western Jamaica with students in 2007, Erin continues to lead study away programs for students interested in glimpsing first-hand issues of global political economy and the implications for real people in communities outside their own. Extending her professional research, she continues to ask transnational thematic questions to inform her research. Because families in the
Caribbean vary significantly from the polygynous African families she has formerly studied, Erin is finding a fertile ground to pose ethnographically-grounded, theoretically challenging questions about how the family is culturally constructed and understood as a site of personhood. Working with single-mother entrepreneurs in the beauty industry, Erin continues to ask questions informed by a feminist economic anthropological research agenda: how are household resources allocated? How do individuals understand themselves within households of relational persons? How do gender and life course play into the decision to migrate, or return?
Since arriving at Drury, Erin has been lucky to travel to India, Rwanda, and Tanzania.
Erin presents her research at academic conferences and is co-editor of a book series  called "Contributions to Transnational Feminism. She has also served as an expert witness in a number of FGC trials.

Dr. Kenny is on sabbatical for the academic year 2011-2012. She will spend this academic year teaching courses in development studies within the Centre for Gender Development at Mzumbe University in Morogoro, Tanzania. You can reach her through her Drury e-mail address or follow her blog.

Dr. Kenny will spend the fall semester of 2012 in residence at the Center for the Education of Women at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, working on a book manuscript about women's issues from the African continent.

B.S., James Madison University (Anthropology/Geology), 1991
M.A., Wichita State University (Anthropology), 1995
Ph.D., University of Kentucky (Anthropology/Gender Studies), 2005

Drury University faculty member since 2005
Associate Professor since 2011

Selected Awards:
2012  CEW Fellowship, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
2011  Fulbright CIES Award, Tanzania
2007 Edward Jones Center for Entrepreneurship Faculty Travel Award
2005 University of Kentucky Provost's Outstanding Teaching Award
2004 Beth Wilder Dillingham Dissertation Award
2002 Fulbright IIE Doctoral Dissertation Grant
2001 National Science Foundation Workshop Scholarship

2011 "Identity, Bodies, and Second Generation Returnees in West Africa." In Growing Up Transnational: Family and Kinship in a Global Era, edited by May Friedman and Silvia Schultermandl.  University of Toronto Press.

2007 "Gifting Mecca: Importing Spiritual Capital to West Africa," Mobilities 2(3):363-81.

2007 "Bellydance in the Town Square: Leaking Peace through Tribal Style Identity," Western Folklore 66(3):301-327.