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ResearcH & Publications

Anthropological approach to studying academic culture & scientific communities

Academia is full of Unspoken Rules

While academia is meant to be meritocratic, there are unspoken rules that people from other countries struggle to navigate. 

From cultural-shock to navigating US visa requirements, international students and scholars face extra hurdles in their academic journey. 

I began my career in the UK and then travelled to the US to do my graduate studies. While I didn't face a major language barrier, the experience of being an international student was harder than I'd ever anticipated. 

Scholars from non-European countries and non-English speaking countries can face additional challenges in being taken seriously. My PhD research focused on the subtle prejudices scholars from the Global South face when they work in the US or with US researchers. 

First-generation scholars, or those from minority backgrounds, can also face these barriers. 

Sometimes what feels like a personal failure is really a structural problem that academia is failing to solve. But you still need help navigating it day-to-day.

Academic Publications

Myths of meritocracy, friendship, and fun work: class and gender in North American academic communities. American Anthropologist (2020), 122(3), 444-458.

Exploring dietary patterns in a Mexican adolescent population: A mixed methods approach. Appetite (2019): 104542. Jansen, Erica C., Hannah Marcovitch, Julia A. Wolfson, Mary Leighton, Karen E. Peterson, Martha Maria Téllez Rojo, Alejandra Cantoral, and Elizabeth FS Roberts

Bioethnography as a Methodological Approach to Social and Chemical Life in Mexico City.  Anthropology News website, March 27, 2018. Mary Leighton and Elizabeth F.S. Roberts.

Indigenous Field Technicians at Tiwanaku, Bolivia: A Hybrid Form of Scientific Labor.  American Anthropologist (2016) 118: 742–754 

Excavation Methodologies and Labour as Epistemic Concerns in the Practice of Archaeology. Comparing examples from British and Andean archaeology. Archaeological Dialogues (2015), 22 (01): 65-88

Personifying Objects/Objectifying People: The Ambiguity of Human Remains in the Practice of Contemporary Archaeologists. Ethnos (2012), 75 (1): 78–101

Breathing Life into the Archives: reflections upon decontextualisation and the curatorial history of V.G. Childe and the material from Toszeg. European Journal of Archaeology 7 (1): 41-60. (2004). Mary Leighton, and M.L. Sorenson


“An Oasis on Campus”: Experiences of Community, Trust, and Employment Among Students Who Work at the Smart Museum of Art. Report commissioned for the Smart Museum of Art, Chicago. (Aug 2014) (PDF)

Predicting Student Success: Student, Family, and Pre-Matriculation Factors at a Diverse, Urban University. UIC Office for Research on Student Success Research Brief Farruggia, S., Bottoms, B.L., Leighton, M., Wellman, M., Moss, T. and Brow, M. (Aug 2015) 

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