Anthropology Chair to retire

Professor Rose-Marie Chierici will step down as chair of Geneseo’s anthropology department at the end of this academic year.

Associate professor of anthropology Paul Pacheco will become department chair upon Chierici’s retirement. Pacheco comes from an archaeological background and has been a member of Geneseo’s faculty since 1999.

Chierici’s work has focused extensively on Haitian society and culture over the course of her career; she added that coming to Geneseo in 1994 gave her the opportunity to continue her work in this region.

Shortly after becoming a faculty member, Chierici organized annual student trips to rural Haiti, where students worked on various community development projects.

Chierici coordinated these trips through the nonprofit organization Haiti Outreach Pwoje Espwa, which she founded in 1998. She said that students were “instrumental” in establishing her organization that works with Haiti’s Ministry of Health to bolster the region’s health care system. Students also work with community organizers to strengthen the local economy and education systems.

“The area we were responsible for was very, very rough and remote,” Chierici said. “There was a lot of walking around since there are no roads in the area. We serve about 80,000 people.”

Chierici got her start studying zoology at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. before going on to complete her graduate work in anthropology. Chierici, who is originally from Haiti and spent time living in Italy, said she has always been fascinated by the migration patterns of people.

“Migrant labor is a very strong interest of mine,” Chierici said. “Migration in general and the plight of refugees became central to the way I view myself as an anthropologist.” She conducted her dissertation research with migrant farm laborers in western New York.

Chierici said that the highlight of her tenure at Geneseo was working closely with students and conducting extended research projects with them. Though she said she would miss mentoring students the most, Chierici will continue to instruct students, albeit in a reduced capacity.

Upon her retirement, Chierici will continue to teach one course in the fall and will work with students during summer sessions. While she will no longer be a full-time faculty member, the added free time will give Chierici a chance to pursue her other passions, such as traveling.

“I would love to go back to Australia,” she said. “My sister lives there and I would love to meet some aboriginal women that she worked with.”

Along with focusing on developing marketable skills for when they graduate, Chierici said she would love to see Geneseo’s anthropology students take advantage of service learning opportunities and internships, both on a local and international level. She also urged students and faculty to take up a collaborative spirit and explore more interdisciplinary areas of anthropology.

For Chierici, her time at Geneseo “exceeded all expectations.” She praised her students and colleagues for making her time at Geneseo “literally awesome.”