Claire NicholasAssistant Professor
PH.D., 2014, Socio-cultural Anthropology, Princeton University
D.E.A., 2005, Social Anthropology and Ethnology, L'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, France
B.A., 1999, Plan II Honors Program, College of Liberal Arts / Theater and Dance (Costume Design Concentration), College of Fine Arts, University of Texas at Austin
Trained as a socio-cultural anthropologist, I employ primarily ethnographic and historical methods in the study of Moroccan textile craft and North American design education. My central research questions have to do with the politics of expertise, gender, and the development of cultural practices and material culture. I am especially interested in practices of making and designing, as they occur in interactions happening in real time. My current book project examines socio-economic development and “traditional” textile artisans in Morocco. I also conduct research on the social dimensions of design and collaborative pedagogies in design education with “real world” applications, including healthcare contexts and the built environment. As a teacher, I ask students to engage in thinking with/about their local environments through ethnographic fieldwork, collections and object-based research, and service-learning projects. Cultural anthropology is fundamentally concerned with difference(s), their social construction, and their implications for living with others. I therefore encourage students to think and study textiles and material culture holistically, with attention to materiality, context, and the benefit of cross-cultural perspectives in de-familiarizing taken for granted assumptions about other cultural groups (or time periods) and our own.