Cultural Anthropology


I am a cultural anthropologist who has conducted field and archival research among the Abenaki, a First Nations people whose homeland encompasses portions of New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Quebec. This work has been particularly focused on three overlapping concerns: a) the work of Abenaki lay/family historians as they engage in research, outreach, and/or preservation projects of various sorts; b) questions of belonging linked to race, gender, labor, and kinship, as well as changes in Canadian law; and c) histories of residence on- and off-reserve, north and south of the border, between the United States and Canada. This research formed the basis of my dissertation, which I have been working to revise and expand for publication.

In addition to my work in Abenaki country, I have diverse research and teaching interests and am committed to a broad and comparative reading of the ethnographic record, informed by study of the history of anthropology and attention to disciplinary practice. In all of this work, I strive to follow the example of Edward Sapir, an important figure in the development of anthropology and linguistics in North America, who wrote in 1921 that "Our analysis may seem a bit labored, but only because we are so accustomed to our own well-worn grooves of expression that they have come to be felt as inevitable." In my courses, students will be challenged to work against this feeling of inevitability and to defamiliarize the taken-for-granted while, at the same time, working to better understand unfamiliar beliefs and practices.

Selected Publications

  • Roy, Christopher. 2003. “Un bref survol de la situation abénaquise aux États-Unis.” Recherches amerindiennes aux Québec 33(2):127-130; special issue on the Abenaki in Quebec.