Shari Jacobson, Ph.D.

Department: Sociology/Anthropology

Associate Professor of Anthropology

  • Education
  • PHD, Stanford University
  • MA, Stanford University
  • EDM, Harvard University
  • BA, Grinnell College

I didn't always know I would become an anthropologist. After two years teaching math as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I traveled around West Africa for six months and eventually returned to New York where I landed a job at the United Nations. Still eager to see the world, I left the United States again to teach English at a university in rural, northwestern China. From there I moved to Los Angeles and taught English as a foreign language.

Now 27, I entered a graduate program in international development, with a focus on education. I loved my classes and my classmates, but I realized I was drawn more to theory and less to practice. This is what led me to anthropology and research among ultra-orthodox Jews in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and later fundamentalist and evangelical Christians in the United States.

Anthropology provides us with a way of learning about and understanding human diversity. It helps train us to the culturally particular ways in which all humans-ourselves included-live out our lives, and the myriad ways of getting through the day. Most people consider the way they live eminently reasonable, nothing more than common sense. Anthropology not only shows us why that is not the case, but it also helps us understand the very processes by which beliefs and practices come to feel like common sense.

Anthropology is liberating, because it opens our minds to different ways of life. On those days when we feel like nothing works and we just don't fit in, anthropology shows us that we are living within just one set of many possible cultural arrangements, that there is nothing exceptional or sacred about them, and that we can critique and work to change them if they are not just or meaningful.

Courses taught:

  • ANTH-162 Introduction to Anthropology
  • ANTH-220 Magic, Witchcraft & Religion
  • ANTH-310 National, Transnational Communities
  • ANTH-311 Regulating Bodies
  • ANTH-312 History & Culture of Jewish Cuisines
  • ANTH-360 Religious Fundamentalisms Modern World
  • ANTH-400 History Anthropological Theory
  • ANTH-500 Seminar
  • ANTH-501 Independent Research
  • ANTH-502 Independent Study
  • HONS-301 Communities
  • HONS-301 Regulating Bodies
  • HONS-301 Religious Fundamentalisms
  • JWST-312 History & Culture of Jewish Cuisines
  • JWST-500 Independent Study
  • OFFP-GLPGOS Sustainable Truth or Fiction
  • OFFP-GLPGOS Sustainable Truth or Fiction
  • OFFR-GLPGOS Sustainable Truth or Fiction
  • OFFR-GLPGOS Sustainable Truth or Fiction
  • OFFS-GLPGOS Sustainable Truth or Fiction
  • OFFS-GLPGOS Sustainable Truth or Fiction
  • PRDV-104 Perspectives
  • SOCI-500 Seminar
  • SOCI-501 Independent Research