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Jackson Montgomery Roper
Chair, Anthropology Department
Monty Roper is a cultural anthropologist interested in the political economy of natural resource management, indigenous social movements, Non-governmental organizations, and community development. His research has focused on small-scale rural indigenous and agricultural communities in Latin America, but his interests and teaching also include sub-Saharan Africa. He has conducted fieldwork in Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. In 1997, he spent one year in the Bolivian Amazon studying how the relationships between indigenous peoples, logging companies, the state, and other social actors was affecting the management and development of natural resources in the Multiethnic Indigenous Territory.
As an applied anthropologist, he is interested in addressing issues of sustainable development through program and project evaluation and policy analysis and recommendation. He has written a policy paper for the World Bank on Indigenous Development in Latin America, examined the impact of legislative reforms on forest management in Bolivia, and carried out analysis of the costs and benefits of commercial forestry for indigenous communities in the Northern Atlantic Autonomous Region of Nicaragua.
Monty teaches courses in both the anthropology department and the global development studies concentration. These include Introduction to Anthropology, Introduction to Global Development Studies, Cultural and Political Ecology, Practicing Anthropology, and Sustainable Development in the Modern World System. He also regularly teaches the Tutorial, a writing intensive first-year seminar, and enjoys using this course to explore new topics. His most recent iterations have included No Limits?, a consideration of the costs and benefits of consumerism, and Corporations to the Rescue?, an exploration of the potential roles of corporations in addressing development challenges in the world’s poorer countries.
In addition to mentoring independent research and summer internships, Monty has endeavored to engage students in hands-on applied research in two courses in particular. In one version of his Global Development Studies seminar, he takes students to El Silencio, a rural agricultural cooperative in Costa Rica. This has resulted in a detailed community development diagnostic as well as numerous papers assessing various aspects of the community’s development. All of this research has been presented back to the community. In his course Practicing Anthropology, Monty pairs student research teams with Grinnell non-profit organizations to perform needs assessments, program evaluations, or other research that can serve to advance the mission of the respective organization.
Monty’s most recent publication, “NGOs and Community Development: Assessing the Contributions from Sen's Perspective of Freedom” is published in D. Caulkins and A. Jordan (eds.) 2012 A Companion to Organizational Anthropology, published by Wiley-Blackwell. In it, Monty provides a thorough review of the pros and cons of intermediate non-government organizations in developing countries, considering these from the perspective of Sen’s notion of development as freedom.
For more information on Monty’s research, including student research opportunities, his publications, or his teaching, visit his personal web page.