I am an economic anthropologist who conducts both interdisciplinary and applied research. I study global issues from an ethnographic perspective examining local phenomena and placing it within their global context. My work has covered a variety of topics from spirituality and health to remittance strategies of Peruvian migrants. My dissertation research, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, examined the use of microfinance loans on rural livelihoods in Nicaragua. Currently I am examining the intersection of development, socialism, and sustainability in Latin America.
I truly believe that as anthropologists our work should make a difference. After witnessing dozens of unsuccessful development projects as a Peace Corps volunteer I realized that something needed to change. Over the years I have come to realize that it is not only development that needs to adjust to a new global society but it is also anthropologists that have to recognize our role in making these changes possible. Whether working in academia or as a practicing anthropologist I promote public anthropology and I strongly advocate that anthropologists use their knowledge to inform public policy and debate.
Dr. Kurlanska has been published in Ethnology, American Journal of Health Promotion, and AnthroNews and has received research grants from the National Science Foundation, The Institute for Meso-American Studies and the New York Latino Research Network. She has also received awards based on her research from the Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology and the Society for Economic Anthropology. In 2010, The Center for A Public Anthropology honored her with the Eleanor Roosevelt Global Citizenship Award which seeks to highlight teachers who emphasize civic engagement in introductory anthropology courses. In 2016 Dr. Kurlanska was recognized as Leadership Fellow by the American Anthropological Association.