Hey, I’m Dr. Charis Boke. I’m a community organizer, an anthropologist, an herbalist, and an unashamed radical deeply committed to moving collectively with folks in practices of cultural healing and ethics of care. I walk in the world as a scholar-practitioner, bringing multiple perspectives on social justice and healing into all aspects of my work. I draw on my background as an anthropologist of medicine, environment, healing, and religion. As an earth-honoring spirit practitioner influenced by Buddhism, my attention to the world is shaped by the numinous and inexplicable. I seek and make magic alone and with groups, in the mountains and the deserts, always learning to listen better to what the earth has to say, a set of practices that I strive to share with others.
My life path has been characterized by dual commitments to intellectually rigorous learning and experiential, engaged exploration of the world. My doctoral research in cultural anthropology focused on herbalists, healers, and community organizers in the United States through an ethnographic lens. My first extended research experience, though, was in Nepal, beginning in 2005 and recommencing in 2007-2009. As a study-abroad student with the School for International Training, followed by time as a Fulbright-IIE research fellow, I discovered a love for participant-observation, ethnographic research and writing (otherwise known as hanging out with people, talking about what they think, and wondering why they do what they do–then asking them about it, in a good way). These first forays into anthropological research wove themselves into the fabric of my M.A. thesis, and helped me to learn how to paying attention to, and love, the world – a way that I strive to open up for all students I work with.
I am informed, in teaching and in life, by my long-term commitment to building socially and environmentally just relations. In that mode, I teach as an “act of radical love,” to borrow bell hooks’ excellent phrase. I seek to guide students toward their own truest life-path through intellectual engagement and direct experience together. The broad goal of my work in and out of learning spaces is to provide people not only with historical and cultural frameworks to understand situations or places, but also with the relevant tools, experiences, and relationships to engage more deeply with the world we live in and all its challenges. I have deep roots in community organizing and activism, and see my work as a mode of discovery not just about what our world contains, but about how to make it better.
B.A. English, Mills College; M.A. Social Sciences, University of Chicago; Ph.D. Anthropology, Cornell University