WGST faculty & staff are excited to announce that Dr. L. Kaifa Roland, associate professor of Anthropology, has accepted their invitation to serve as Chair of Women and Gender Studies. She assumed the position officially on July 1, 2020, succeeding Dr. Lorraine Bayard de Volo who has served valiantly as WGST Chair since 2014. Roland shares that “while the COVID-19 pandemic presents numerous challenges to the University and the department, I am looking forward to working with this dynamic group of scholars to creatively produce and disseminate knowledge related to our core missions.”
Dr. Roland has taught at CU Boulder since 2006, and has served our department for many years as an associate faculty member. Roland received her PhD in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University, and has studied African and Third World Studies at Howard University and Oberlin College. Her specific research interests include tourism, national identity, racial and gender constructions, popular cultural practices, and critiques of capitalism. She has conducted extensive field research in Cuba, with a regional focus on the Caribbean and the broader African Diaspora. This research has informed both her writing and her course curriculum.
Dr. Roland teaches many courses which "consider how global processes have shaped cultural practice in Cuba and the Caribbean historically, and analyzes a variety of popular responses to the pressures of global capitalism today," as well as courses in general cultural anthropology. These courses include: Anthropology of Tourism; Brown Studies; Cuban Culture: Race, Gender, and Power; Popular Culture(s), Star Trek and the Next Generation of Anthropology, and Zora Neale Hurston–Anthropologist. "My teaching philosophy recognizes students to be knowledgeable subjects rather than empty vessels and encourages them to develop their own interpretations of the texts under review," notes Roland.
Cuban Color in Tourism and La Lucha: An Ethnography of Racial Meanings (Oxford University Press 2011), Dr. Roland's first book-length ethnography, describes the shifting intersections of race, class, sexuality, and belonging. "Through vivid vignettes and firsthand details, Roland exposes the lasting effects of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent rise of state-sponsored segregated tourism in Cuba... [she] uses conversations and anecdotes gleaned from a year of living among locals as a way of delving into these struggles and understanding what constitutes life in Cuba today."
Dr. Roland's current research includes a book project regarding AfroCubana entrepreneurial experiences, and journal articles about travel to Cuba - analyzing travel historically, and also writing with advice for first-time travelers. Her numerous writing credits also include the book chapter “Between Belonging and the F/Act of Niggerisation” in Trayvon Martin, Race, and American Justice: Writing Wrong (Sense Publishers, 2014), and the poem I Will Not Call Her Name: An Ethno-poem on Racial and Gendered Violence, which was published in Savage Minds: Notes and Queries in Anthropology.