One of the real joys I find is connecting my research process to the ways I can mentor students doing their research. For example, for Drugs, Thugs, and Diplomats (P. 28) I did a huge range of research over a decade: analyzed declassified government documents, went to workshops with peasant farmers in the Amazon, interviewed U.S. officers at military bases. So all of these different kinds of research experiences I can bring to the classroom and use to mentor my students for the range of different kind of research projects they come up with—really bring the hard-won lessons of this research that I’ve been conducting to bear on their projects.
Being involved in research and writing and being involved in those conversations, you can bring that to the students in a real way. I can go into my class and say, ‘I’m trying to write this chapter and it’s really hard. I have to figure out how to connect these ideas, and these are the techniques I use.’ Talking about the different genres of writing, being asked to write blog posts—all of those things can really show students this is how all of this actually works. I think it’s good for them to understand that we’re all in this. It’s work that we’re all doing together. And they can be part of it. And they can have opportunity in their research to find out new things and write something that gets out there and becomes part of the conversation. You’re making something. You’re creating something. It’s the magic of anthropology.
Assistant Professor of Anthropology Winifred Tate is the author of Drugs, Thugs, and Diplomats: U.S. Policymaking in Colombia (Stanford University Press, 2015). This year Tate will be teaching the courses Militaries, Militarization and War; Illegal Drugs, Law, and the State; Anthropology of Latin America: City Life; and a Jan Plan, Globalization, Democracy, and Political Transformation in Bolivia, based in Cochabamba, Bolivia.