52: Anthropologist of the Fortnight

26 10 2008

Chrystal Kinsella
Dr, Henry Delcore is a much respected member of the faculty at CSUF since 2000. He graduated form George Town University with a B.S. in Foreign Service, Asian Studies in 1990. Dr. Delcore received his M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1995 and his Ph.D. also in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2005. He did his doctoral studies on Localizing Development: Environment, Agriculture, and Memory in Northern Thailand. He is has been published many times and has received many awards and grants throughout the years.

Q: What was the turning point in your life that led you to Anthropology?
A: I stumbled into anthropology. As a junior in college [Asian Studies Major], I went to Thailand for a year. In my study abroad program, we were asked to do a 12 unit fieldwork-based project. Fortuitously, I was assigned a Stanford-trained Thai anthropologist to be my advisor for the year. He linked me up a Thai grad student he was also advising, who took me where I wanted to go: a mountain village of the Karen, a minority ethnic group. Once I had the feel for the windy gravel and dirt road into the mountains, I started heading up there alone on my motorbike for weekends (I had classes during the week). I was researching Karen conversion from their own traditional religion to Buddhism, but I did the classic anthropological holism thing, studying everything from agriculture (which eventually became my real interest in Thailand) to family life. I remember one day I pulled into the village and right into the middle of a traditional Karen wedding. In retrospect, all of this was strong medicine for a 20 year old kid, and I was immediately hooked by anthropology’s promise of adventure, discovery and fun!

Q: Where were your favorite research studies done?
A: To date, some of my most interesting research experiences as an anthropologist have been in Thailand and elsewhere in Asia. Now,

I’m shifting my focus more toward things here in our local area. I’m finding that the adventure and challenge of anthropology holds up just as well here as anywhere else. People are the most fascinating

and complicated topic one can study (don’t let any astrophysicist or microbiologist ever tell you otherwise!).

Q: What else would you say was important in your Anthropological Career?
A: The other big part of my work life is teaching. There, I think the biggest jolt I get is when I provide opportunities for students to see something anew. Recently, I’ve been covering the Vietnam War in my Southeast Asia class (Anth 123). I have had multiple students tell me that they have substantially revised the way they see that war by taking in the material I’ve been presenting, which includes firsthand accounts of the war from the Vietnamese perspective (very anthropological).

Q: Do you have any advice for students?
A: When it comes to education and career, follow your heart whenever possible. For the rest of your life, you may spend 40 or 60 hours a week working. You will want it to be something you love.

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