UO anthropology professor Lynn Stephen, a renowned Latin America scholar, has been awarded a prestigious Philip H. Knight Chair in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Stephen is Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences as well as a member of the graduate faculty in ethnic studies. She is also a participating faculty member in women’s, gender and sexuality studies and Latin American studies.
She was awarded the honor as a way of “recognizing a limited number of truly outstanding professors,” according to her letter of appointment from Jayanth Banavar, provost and senior vice president.
“The Knight Chair honors what I believe to be the defining ideal for the University of Oregon — the joint pursuit of excellence in both teaching and research — and is an opportunity for all of us to celebrate this ideal,” Banavar wrote.
Stephen's scholarly work centers on the effects of globalization, migration, nationalism and the politics of culture on indigenous communities in the Americas. She engages political economy, ethnohistory, gender analysis and ethnography to create a hemispheric lens on major challenges faced by indigenous peoples — such as out-migration, tourism, economic development and low-intensity war — and their creative responses to these challenges.
Her work also engages the history of Latino communities spread across multiple borders through her concept of transborder communities and migrations.
Stephen is committed to collaborative research projects that produce findings accessible to the wider public. Her work includes documentaries such as “Sad Happiness: Cinthya’s Transborder Journey” and websites as well as scholarly publications.
The Philip H. Knight professorships and chairs were endowed in 1995 with a $15 million gift from Penny and Phil Knight. The program is designed to fend off more affluent schools and help UO retain star faculty members. The gift for endowed chairs and professorships requires matching funds from other donors and has led to more than 30 such positions.
“I am honored to join the distinguished group of scholars at the UO who previously received a Philip H. Knight Chair,” Stephen said. “This recognition, which comes with a generous financial award, helps me to continue to carry out new research and develop new projects and classes at a level of excellence that honors the meaning and purpose of our great university and which work towards social justice.”
Stephen founded the UO Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies and served as its director from 2007 to 2016. With colleagues and UO graduate and undergraduate students, she built the “Latino Roots” traveling exhibit, which has been viewed by more than 60,000 people throughout Oregon, and developed the Latino Roots classes, which she co-teaches with Gabriela Martínez, associate professor of journalism and communication.
Stephen currently serves as president-elect of the Latin American Studies Association and will assume the presidency in June 2018. The group is the largest professional association in the world for individuals and institutions engaged in the study of Latin America, currently with 16,000 members in up to 90 countries.
She has authored or edited 12 books, three special journal issues and more than 90 scholarly articles and chapters. Recent books include “We are the Face of Oaxaca: Testimony and Social Movements,” “Otros Saberes: Collaborative Research on Indigenous and Afro-Descendent Cultural Politics” and “Transborder Lives: Indigenous Oaxacans in Mexico, California, and Oregon.”
Stephen’s research and institution-building has been supported by grants and fellowships from the National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University, National Institute of Mental Health, the U.S. Department of Education, the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, the Mexican Academy of Sciences, the Ford Foundation, the Inter-American Foundation and the Whiting Foundation among other sources.
Stephen is currently working on two large projects. The first, a book titled “Remembering Mexico: Emotion and Testimony in Elena Poniatowska’s Crónicas,” is under contract with Duke University Press. The second is a collaborative research project with Martínez and assistant professor Erin Beck of the political science department.