Origin Stories: Anthropologist Deborah Thomas (Video)

Deborah A. Thomas, R. Jean Brownlee Professor of Anthropology, discusses her journey from professional dancer to academic, embracing her many roles as an author, activist, educator, and artist.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Recorded and edited by Alex Schein
Photos by Shira Yudkoff

Deborah A. Thomas is a Renaissance woman by any definition. An educator, author, filmmaker, artist, and professional dancer, she has spent her adult life working with victims of violence, using her expertise and artistry to examine the humanity within tragedy.

Thomas, R. Jean Brownlee Professor of Anthropology, holds appointments in the Department of Africana Studies, the Graduate School of Education, and the School of Social Policy and Practice. She is a core faculty member of the Alice Paul Center for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality, and is Editor-in-Chief of the American Anthropological Association’s flagship journal, American Anthropologist. Thomas will also lead the new Center for Experimental Ethnography. Designed to be a hub for faculty across disciplines and schools who are committed to ethical, engaged, and experimental multimodal work.

Origin Stories is a feature of OMNIA where we highlight the journeys of members of our faculty as they followed their paths from impressionable young students to world-class scholars working at the cutting edge of their fields.

Learn more about Professor Thomas' research, documentary films, and Penn Museum exhibit, "Bearing Witness: Four Days in West Kingston," in our most recent OMNIA feature article