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Lynn Stephen Research

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Lynn Stephen is a cultural anthropologist whose interdisciplinary research has been at the forefront of illuminating major challenges facing Mesoamerican indigenous peoples–out-migration, tourism, state assimilation programs and nationalism, economic development, violence and low-intensity war—and of analyzing the spectrum of local and global responses they have developed to these issues, including social movements, unique educational and knowledge systems, innovative forms of media and governance and rights claiming. Gender and its intersection with race, class, ethnicity, and nationalism has been the primary lens for much of this work. Her research over three decades has anticipated the ways that globalization is creating new forms of transborder social and political organization. Her theoretical concept of transborder communities has been widely adopted by scholars of migration in many fields, as has her research on gender in indigenous populations. A highly productive academic author, Stephen has also been brought her research to a broad audience through innovative public education and multi-media projects. She has authored or edited 11 books, three special journal issues and has published more than 75 scholarly articles.

Stephen has carried out fieldwork in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and the U.S. Her most recent books include: We are the Face of Oaxaca: Testimony and Social Movements (2013, Duke University Press) with an accompanying website:, /; Otros Saberes: Collaborative Research on Indigenous and Afro-Descendent Cultural Politics (co-edited with Charles R. Hale, School for American Research Press, 2013,) and Transborder Lives: Indigenous Oaxacans in Mexico, California, and Oregon (2007, Duke University Press).

Lynn Stephen has received several major national book and achievement awards in anthropology. She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for Humanities (twice), The Center for U.S.- Mexican Studies at the University of California, San Diego (three times), the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University, The Mexican Academy of Sciences, and research and program development grants from the National Science Foundation, The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, The Ford Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Inter-American Foundation, among other sources.

Stephen’s work is distinguished by being highly collaborative with indigenous and Latino communities and organizations and by her engagement with public education. She has worked closely with a wide range of indigenous, immigrant, labor, and human rights organizations to document indigenous and migrant histories, human rights violations, physical and mental health challenges for immigrants and indigenous peoples, and to produce websites, videos, and multi-platform products that highlight these issues. She served for more than ten years as an active board member and mentor for Amigos Multicultural Services and its affiliated Latino immigrant youth group. Working with colleagues, graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Oregon and elsewhere, she has built a model project titled “Latino Roots,” a fifteen panel travelling exhibit, bilingual book and 36 short documentaries that circulate to schools, libraries, and universities in Oregon. “Latino Roots” has reached more than 30,000 people. She is also an institution builder, as a founder of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program and the Latino/a Student Cultural Center at Northeastern University, and as the founder and director of the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies at the University of Oregon. Her strong commitment to mentoring Latino and Native American and other minority students to diversify the academy was recognized by the University of Oregon with the 2010 Martin Luther King Jr. Award for contributions to equity and diversity. As co-coordinator for the Otros Saberes (Other Knowledges) Project of the Latin American Studies Association, she raised funds for and mentored research teams of afro-descendent and indigenous community members and academic researchers in Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Puerto Rico. The Otros Saberes project resulted in a path-breaking trilingual book. She is currently working as a core committee member of AAA to develop the next large public education project of the American Anthropological Association focused on migration, immigration, and diaspora.

Her newest projects include a book on renowned Mexican author Elena Poniatowska , a film on citizen children of undocumented Lynn Stephen researchcitizens focused on gender, participating in a team project documenting health challenges and solutions for farmworkers in Oregon, and a comparative research project on gender and Mexican and Central American refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers in the U.S. The last project is carried out in collaboration with colleagues in Mexico, Guatemala, and other parts of the U.S.