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Current Folk Studies and Anthropology Faculty and Staff

Dr. Ryan Begley
Dr. Ryan Begley
- Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology

ANTH 120 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

ANTH 360 Applied Anthropology

ANTH/FLK 388 Foodways

Background and Interests

I am an anthropologist trained in evolutionary approaches to cultural and social behavior across our species. Most of my research has been ethnological in nature and focused on traditional lifeways in transitional contexts, drawing upon ethnographic records and insights derived from evolutionary theory to illuminate some of the processes through which the contemporary world came to be. My earlier scholarship explored continuities between indigenous and world religions, as well as the role of stories in facilitating cooperation between unrelated ethnic groups within multicultural contexts. More recently, I investigated factors driving transitions away from matrilineal kinship systems across societies in the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample. My attention has since turned to ethnographic research and filmmaking. I have conducted fieldwork in rural Bangladesh as part of an NSF-funded project that explored how wealth and health disparities emerge and/or change with market integration. The fieldwork included filmed interviews designed to elicit emic perspectives on economic development and social change in the region. I am now editing the footage into an interview archive and a feature-length film. As for teaching, my courses emphasize the critical, methodological, and technological skills that students need to explore their humanistic and scientific interests both in- and outside of academia. This is part of an overall effort to prepare my students for graduate school and the job market.

Selected Scholarship

Shenk, M. K., Begley, R. O., Nolin, D., & Swiatek, A. (2019). When does matriliny fail? The frequencies and causes of transitions to and from matriliny estimated from a de novo coding of a cross-cultural sample. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B374(1780), 20190006. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2019.0006

Palmer, Craig T., Begley, Ryan O., Coe, Kathryn, & Steadman, Lyle B. (2013). Moral elevation and traditions: Ancestral encouragement of altruism through ritual and myth. Journal of Ritual Studies27(2), 83-96.

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 Last Modified 2/17/22