Department: Anthropology Program
Jean E. Jackson received her B.A. from Wellesley College in Sociology/Anthropology in 1965, and her M.A. (1966) and Ph.D. (1972) from Stanford University. She began teaching at MIT in the fall of 1972. She carried out fieldwork in Mexico, Guatemala and, beginning in 1968, in the Vaupés region in southeastern Colombia, also known as the Central Northwest Amazon. Her M.A. thesis was on "An Anthropological Study of Pinta, A Treponemal Disease of Tropical Zones of the Western Hemisphere," and she had originally planned to study beliefs about disease, health and the body in the Vaupés. Research conditions made this impossible, and she left medical anthropology at that time. Her subsequent Latin American research interests included small-scale societies, kinship and marriage, gender, and anthropological linguistics, in particular multilingualism; her 1983 book, The Fish People: Linguistic Exogamy and Tukanoan Identity in Northwest Amazonia, focused on these topics. Her continuing interest in social and ethnic identity led her to turn her attention to indigenous mobilizing in Colombia, and has resulted in fourteen articles and book chapters, as well as a book co-edited with Kay B. Warren on Indigenous Movements, Self-Representation and the State in Latin America, published by U. Texas Press in January, 2003. A long-standing interest in the epistemology of ethnography led to a 1985 research project in which she interviewed 70 anthropologists about their fieldnotes practices; two articles resulted from this research. She also has published several pieces on gender, and two self-reflexive pieces: one on the role of gender in her fieldwork, the other, published in Colombia, on her 30 years of research in the Vaupés. She returned to medical anthropology in 1986, carrying out NIMH-funded ethnographic research in an inpatient chronic pain center in New England. Seven shorter publications on this research have been published, as well as "Camp Pain": Conversations with Chronic Pain Patients (2000, U Penn).