NEW Spring 2024 - Composing a Life: Finding One’s Place, Voice, and Direction in a World in Motion

Charles D Thompson
LS 780-01
Spring 2024
Tuesdays, 3:30-6:00 PM
GLS House, 2114 Campus Drive

An exercise in exploring one’s life story in the context of human movement through time and space led by a veteran anthropologist and documentary fieldworker.  We will delve into our own cultural geographies through mapping, interviewing, reading, and writing – memoir, creative nonfiction, poetry and even visual storytelling. Our goal will be to detail where we come from and where we’re headed, not just physically, but also in our vocation, avocation, and life in general.

We will acknowledge differences of origin and future possibilities based on power dynamics.  We will place our personal travel and arrival (international, domestic, philosophical, and spiritual) in the context of privilege and constraints; open borders and closed; free choice and barriers, all the while endeavoring to take stock of where we are personally in a globalized world. 

Participants can expect to end up with a narrative about themselves, having engaged in looking and listening with every encounter of persons and places new and old along the way. This GLS program is filled with adventurers.  Everyone has a story of movement from somewhere.  A major feature of the course will be to acknowledge those stories of fellow travelers and to join in a collective journey onward to somewhere, hopefully enriching and having been enriched by those around us.

About Charles D Thompson
Cultural Anthropology

GLS Advisory Committee Term: 2022-2025

Charles D. Thompson, Jr. is Professor of the Practice of Cultural Anthropology and Documentary Studies at Duke University, and Senior Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. He holds a Ph.D. in religion and culture from UNC-Chapel Hill, with concentrations in cultural studies and Latin American studies. He also holds an M.S. degree in Agricultural Education from NC A&T State University. A former farmer, Thompson remains concerned about issues affecting laborers within our food system. He has written about farmworkers, and he is an advisory board member of Student Action with Farmworkers, the Duke Campus Farm, and other Duke food and agriculture initiatives. 

Thompson is author or editor of seven books, including Going Over Home: A Search for Rural Justice in an Unsettled Land, Border Odyssey: Traveling the US/Mexico Divide (2015), Spirits of Just Men: Mountaineers, Liquor Bosses, and Lawmen in the Moonshine Capital of the World, and, with Melinda Wiggins, The Human Cost of Food: Farmworker Lives, Labor, and Advocacy. He is also the producer/director of seven documentary films, including Rock Castle Home,  Homeplace Under Fire, Border Crossing 101, Faces of Time, Brother Towns/ Pueblos Hermanos (2010), We Shall Not Be Moved (2008), and The Guestworker (2007). His current work includes a project hosted by Kenan Institute for Ethics entitled, “America’s Hallowed Ground.”