o challenge is too big for Deborah Winslow. Not even one
from Richard Nixon and the Indian government.
In the early 1970s
when she was denied her request for a visa to study the countrys
weekly market system, Winslow knew it was the presidents involvement
in the war between India and Pakistan that caused retaliation by the Indian
But instead of getting frustrated, she got busy. Putting
aside undergraduate experience in India, a year of intensive language
study, and guaranteed funding, she rewrote her dissertation proposal and
worked the phones until she found an embassy that would welcome American
Twenty-seven years later, a small Sri Lankan potter village
is her home away from home. Shes studied the impact of changes in
the national economic policy on the village, and will return soon to look
at the consequences of the countrys declining birth rate. Because
public transportation is dangerous and unreliable, she rents a car when
shes there and shares it with the villagers. It is her way of saying
thanks, along with lending money and helping with basic first aid.
Winslow brings the same tenacity to her teaching. So when
Robyn Vockrodt, one of her senior thesis students, expressed doubts about
dowsing as a topicthe use of a divining rod to locate something,
most commonly waterbecause she didnt have transportation,
Winslow handed over the spare set of keys to her own car.
Deb is more than just a professor, Vockrodt
says. You might laugh, but I mean it when I say she fixed my whole
life in one semester. I had her spare set of car keys for the whole semester.
When I got stuck in my research, she would send me to her office to borrow
a book. She always knows just what to say to keep you from giving up.
Her expectations are high and Ive had to work
hard, she adds, but she motivates you. You dont want
to let Deb down.
And she doesnt let them down. When it came time
to decide whether to continue working with her four senior thesis students
while on sabbatical, Winslow says she never considered turning them over
to another professor.
When Ive taken other semesters off and not
had contact with students I got depressed, she says. Going
into the classroom can cure anything.
Nicole Soucy, another one of her advisees, says Winslow
really wants us to learn, and encourages us to take the extra step,
do something youd never do on your own. Shes pushed me to
get my thesis published, and I was joking around about wanting to send
it to Renato Rosaldo, whos my hero. Hes this famous anthropologist,
and she just pulls out a pen and writes down his address for me.
Winslow has found a balance between nurturing her students
and treating them like colleagues.
Although Im critiquing their work and pushing
them, I think of them as able to read or do anything I can read or do.
They are doing real research, finding out things that no one else has.
Like Nicole. She spent a lot of time with a group of women in Nashua looking
at their experiences as immigrants from Latin American countries. Its
really good work.
Winslow is confident she has the best of both worlds.
Anthropology is the chance to stand outside your
own society, to see what you like and dont like, to see what it
looks like to others, she says. And when youre in a
discipline that you love, what could be better than teaching it and sharing
it with others. You have a captive audience and a chance to convince them
that its as great as you think it is.
Erika L. Mantz, UNH News Bureau