St. Olaf College | News

Chiappari to deliver fall Mellby Lecture

Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology and Latin American Studies Chris Chiappari will deliver the fall Mellby Lecture November 12.

St. Olaf College Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology and Latin American Studies Chris Chiappari will deliver this fall’s Mellby Lecture, titled “Beings, Relations, and Power: The New Animism in the Highlands of Guatemala.”

The lecture will begin at 7:30 p.m. on November 12 in Viking Theater. It is free and open to the public, and will also be streamed and archived online.

Chiappari’s research focuses on religious and spiritual practices in highland Guatemala, but he got his start in biology at Santa Clara University. While earning his undergraduate degree, he researched with Howard Riessen in the field of freshwater ecology.

Chiappari went on to study at the University of California, Davis, where he earned an M.S. in international agricultural development and developed his interest in cultural anthropology. Studying with Stephen Gudeman at the University of Minnesota, Chiappari worked toward a Ph.D. in anthropology. He was the recipient of a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation and used the funding to conduct fieldwork in the Guatemalan highlands. After earning his doctorate in 1999, he began teaching at St. Olaf.

Chiappari initially studied economic anthropology and small craft producers in Guatemala, but shifted to studying evangelical Protestantism for his dissertation. As his research expanded, he explored Maya spirituality, and his theoretical approach was influenced in no small part by the time he spent translating Hybrid Cultures: Strategies for Entering and Leaving Modernity by Néstor García Canclini. 

In the past few years, Chiappari has been expanding upon this research by developing new approaches to studying relationships between humans and non-human beings and the anthropology of the body and embodiment. Currently, he is compiling this work into a manuscript titled From Ánimas to Animism: Subjectivity and Power in Maya Spirituality and Protestantism in Highland Guatemala.

About the Mellby Lecture
The annual Mellby Lectures remember St. Olaf faculty member Carl A. Mellby. Established in 1983, they allow professors to share their research with the public. Mellby, the “the father of social sciences” at St. Olaf, started the college’s first courses in economics, sociology, political science, and art history. He was professor and administrator from 1901 to 1949, taught Greek, German, French, religion, and philosophy, and developed the college’s honor system.