News

Faculty Focus: Laurian R. Bowles, Anthropology

by Madeline Parker '14

Laurian R. BowlesLaurian R. Bowles recently joined the Davidson faculty as an assistant professor of anthropology. Previously, she served as an assistant professor of anthropology and African American Studies at Western Illinois University.
While growing up in Philadelphia Bowles traveled extensively with her family, which piqued her interest in people from different cultures.

"My life was enriched by those experiences, and I want to encourage others to follow a similar path, interacting with people who might push your comfort zone," Bowles said.

She earned a bachelor's degree in journalism and African American studies from Penn State University in 1999, and master's and doctoral degrees in anthropology from Temple University. In addition, she studied anthropology of media at the University of London, London, UK, earning a master's degree there in 2001.

After majoring in journalism as an undergraduate student, Bowles decided to shift her focus. "Journalism is great if you're curious about the human experience," she said. "But I always wanted to know more than could be contained in a journalistic article, so I decided to also pursue a field that let me write longer, more in-depth pieces."

Anthropology allowed her to blend multiple interests, including photography, research and the lives of migrant women in Africa. Since 1998 Bowles has visited Ghana 10 times, and lived there from 2007 to 2008. Bowles also has traveled to West African countries, including Burkina Faso, Cote D'Ivoire, Togo and Benin.

With expertise in both ethnicity and gender-related topics, Bowles attempts to address issues of inequality and their effects on societies in every class she teaches.

She noted that being at Davidson puts her in closer proximity to populations she might research, such as migrants in the South. Bowles also appreciates Davidson's values, and said the ethos of the college is congruent with her personal teaching philosophy. "This school cultivates individuals to become well-rounded people who care about the world," Bowles said.

This semester, Bowles is teaching "Introduction to Cultural Anthropology" and "Feminist Anthropology." In the spring, she will teach the introductory course again, as well as a course called "The African Continuum."