“I want people to leave class with an understanding that anthropology is not just a look at exotic people and cultures, but a questioning of how society is possible.”
Helping people discover the social structures that influence their immediate world is part of Hande Ozkan’s mission as an anthropologist and teacher. She raises questions about how race, class, gender, and ethnicity influence our interactions and policies.
Ozkan relishes the give and take with students and the varied backgrounds and disciplines that come together in Transy’s liberal arts setting. She’s a champion of how anthropology lends itself to interdisciplinary collaboration and the value of ethnographic research across fields of study. She points, for example, to a pre-med student she is supervising whose experience in medical anthropology will complement his training in biology. He plans to intern in a medical clinic in Ecuador and conduct research to better understand the social and cultural components of health and healing.
Ozkan’s own research focuses on members of society who typically don’t have a voice. In her native Turkey, Ozkan’s academic journey evolved from history to anthropology as she sought out the peasant’s perspective in her work on how the state and society respond to forestry issues in Turkey. The state’s point of view had been recorded, she explains, but the people’s everyday experience in the natural world had not.
“What is most important at the end of the day,” Ozkan says, “is to know who we are, who others are and to go beyond those binaries. Study within the liberal arts is about becoming a full human,” she adds. “Anthropology captures everything.”