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Kristen C

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of Michigan - Ann Arbor


Environmental History; Medical Anthropology; colonial, post-colonial, de-colonial studies; feminist anthropology; the social study of science and technology; East African history; Imperialism; social science; creative writing & ethnographic writing/autoethnography


I am PhD candidate in History and Anthropology at the University of Michigan. My research examines the interconnected histories of science, labor, and colonialism in western Uganda. I draw on insights from fields as diverse as social and environmental history, the social study of science and technology, critical geography, and decolonial and anti-colonial feminist scholarship. My teaching expertise is in Global Environmental History and British Empire. I have mentored students on projects such as the History of Whaling, Nuclear Energy & Indigenous politics in Taiwan, and racial segregation and public parks in Chicago. Other topics that I specialize in include East African history, medical anthropology, the history of computing and AI (artificial intelligence), and environmental history. In my free time, I love to sew, to create, and make art!

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

The Anthropology of Time and COVID-19

This project examines the experience of time during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this project, students will write a research paper or visual essay that asks how the pandemic altered our perceptions of time? Students will select a group to focus on (nurses, doctors, delivery workers, High School students, parents), and consider this question from their perspective by drawing on newspaper articles, social media posts, and/or personal experience ("autoethnography"). We will consider: Who or what gets to "slow down"? Who or what must continue apace? How has COVID changed or introduced new cultures of time?

Environmental Impacts of ChatGPT & AI Technologies

In this project, students will create a research paper, poster presentation, or visual essay that asks: what are the environmental impacts of advanced computing, including new AI technologies like ChatGPT? Drawing on academic research papers, journalistic articles, and environmental impact studies students will learn about the environmental consequences of various dimensions of computing, datacenters, and/or the manufacture of hardware. Together, we will explore the physicality of the "Cloud."

Segregation and colonialism in an East African City

For this project, students will write a research paper, visual essay, or interactive blog post about the history of segregation and colonialism in an East African city of their choice, for example Kampala or Nairobi. Drawing on colonial archives, newspapers, urban town plans, research papers, and more, students will examine how, under colonialism, East Africa's cities were designed to segregate communities along racial lines. We will look at the arrangement of space, the materials used in the construction of neighborhoods, laws, and urban infrastructure to understand how and why the city was segregated, and the afterlives of this segregation in the post-colonial era.

The Politics of Childbirth

In this project, students will ask: what are the politics of childbirth? Students will first select a vantage point from which to ask this question: this could be a country, a culture, a community (migrants, PoC, speakers of a certain language), and one dimension of childbirth (conception, pregnancy, labor, postpartum, etc). From this vantage point, they will investigate the experience and politics of childbirth for that community. What are the birth outcomes for this group? What influences those outcomes? How do intersecting identities such as gender, race, class, citizenship status, etc, impact the experience of childbirth for that group? What are the dominant ideas of childbirth in the society in question? What are competing, or marginal ideas about birth? Students will write a research paper, blog, or poster presentation about their findings.

A multi-species study of wildfires in California

Wildfires are increasing in frequency and scale across the world: in California, Portugal, Australia, among other places. These fires bring untold damage and harm to human life, and to property (buildings, infrastructure, etc.). But what about plant and animal life? What are the "biosocial" impacts of wildfires (themselves the product of society and ecology)? What does a "multispecies" approach to the study of wildfires contribute to our understanding of the various interventions, solutions, and approachs to the management and control of wildfires? For this project, students will pick a fire event (a single year or series of years), and a handful of non-human species (plants, animals, fungi...) around which to center their study. Through a creative essay, research paper, or poster presentation, students will be able to confidently discuss and argue about the multispecies consequences of wildfires from a social science perspective.

My Pandemic Autoethnography

For this project, students will write a creative essay, or visual essay, within the genre of "autoethnography" - a unique genre of academic writing most often used by Anthropologists and Sociologists to analyze and interpret the author's own lived experience. As a High School student, you likely spent 1-2 years of your Middle or High School experience studying remotely on Zoom. How can we make sense of (interpret) this experience, and connect it to the experience of others in society? Students will be prompted to write reflexive journal entries every week over the course of 10 weeks, and also to draw on any of their personal archives from the pandemic (social media posts, diary entries, memories), to tell a story about their lived experience through a world-historical pandemic with the aim of analyzing their experience not only as an individual, but to reflect upon the shared dimensions of that experience that have and will continue to shape a generation.

Coding skills

coding for qualitative research (atlas.ti)

Languages I know

Portuguese (Intermediate), French (Intermediate), Spanish (Intermediate)

Teaching experience

My teaching experiences comes from teaching undergraduates at the University of Michigan and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I've worked as a Graduate Student Instructor/Teaching Assistant for several courses in the fields of History and American Studies, as well as taught my own course on Global Environmental History.


Work experience

University of Coimbra - Centre for Social Studies (2020 - Current)
Visiting PhD Researcher


Smith College
BA Bachelor of Arts (2012)
African History and Anthropology
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
MA Master of Arts (2018)
History and Anthropology
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Anthropology, History, Science & Technology Studies (STS)

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