Career Biography

Mark Schuller

Mark Schuller, an applied anthropologist, explores the dynamics of globalization, nongovernmental organizations, social movements, and development in the context of disasters. Through his intensive studies on the impact of neoliberal globalization on Haiti, Schuller has provided valuable insight on the ways in which to rebuild Haiti after the earthquake of January 2010.

Current Position: Assistant Professor of Anthropology and African-American Studies at York College (CUNY)

Areas of Interest: Anthropology, Haiti, Globalization, Development, Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs), Gender, Social Movements, Disasters

Professional Honors, Prizes, Fellowships:

  • Association for Political and Legal Anthropology student paper prize: November 2007.
  • National Association for the Practice of Anthropology – third prize: November 2006.

Classes Taught:  Cultural Anthropology, Introduction to African American Studies, The Black Experience in the Caribbean, Political Anthropology, Seminar: Haiti and the World, and Honors Seminar: Global Inequalities

Why Mark Schuller?

We chose Mark Schuller as our anthropologist because of his extensive research in disaster recovery in the Caribbean.   His past research on Haiti provided valuable insight on how structural violence was the root of many of the struggles Haiti faced in fighting the cholera outbreak.  His continuous research and activism were important for us to study in order to learn how anthropologists are engaged in contemporary issues.

Major Publications Related to Cholera Outbreak
Professor Schuller has written and contributed to a number of books, articles, and blogs, which examine how countries can rebuild after devastating disasters.  Please click the above link if interested in learning about how Professor Schuller’s anthropological lens helps to understand the cholera outbreak in Haiti.

Timeline of Schuller’s Career Trajectory 

If interested in learning more information about Schuller’s career path, please check out his curriculum vitae (York College 2012).

Interview with Mark Schuller, April 17, 2012  

Question: In many of your works you challenge the role of NGOs and their effectiveness.  I was wondering if you could expand on how you think your role as an anthropologist and your position as an anthropologist allows you to better understand the situation in Haiti in regards to health and development?

Schuller: Being an anthropologist means that we have access to perspectives and that we respect the multiplicity of perspectives in multiple arenas.  For example, we speak to aid recipients themselves and we value that as knowledge.  We help to spread the idea that these are real people.  For example, I went to Washington, DC last weekend and we were testifying for congress and the US state department.  I organized a panel with my students who had spent five weeks in IDP camps.  Their stories from the camps is what got people to put away their blackberries.  When people in Washington start to put away their blackberries and start to pay attention, that’s when things can happen…The anthropological approaches that get people excited and move people to act…Well, that is the lesson I hope to impart to people.  

Question: Do you find any medium of your ethnographies to be any more effective?
Schuller: The most effective is having people out there to be learning about other people.  More effective than that is the video that I made.  It is a documentary that gave a visual understanding of how people are living and how organizations change situations – it’s moving in a way that I never could have hoped to do.  The women themselves are more important and articulate that better than anybody else.

Question: I was wondering whether your role as an applied anthropologist changes your objective in creating ethnographies?
Schuller: …All of my professional energy, my time, my PhD, my resources that I can bring to the table, the credibility that the doctorate brings and that the professorship brings, all of it is in the service of the people that I work with and the social justice vision that we share.

Question: How do you think your ethnographic mediums can reach a greater audience outside of the academy?
Schuller: The Huffington Post is one vehicle.  But, we also need to think of how to get out into the public and pushing it.  Having organized town hall meetings and being involved in town hall meetings… getting people actively aware of what is going on is one way.  Putting short documentaries like 10 minutes on youtube, like that KONY crap, that inspired people… I mean social media, can anthropology be tweeted?  Can cultural knowledge that are situated in complex situations, is that tweet-able? The social media revolution should inspire us all that more is possible than we thought…
(Schuller, April 17, 2012, personal communication)