Alumna Receives Prestigious Award for Doctoral Work

Alumna Amy Kennemore – who faculty recall as a rising star – is one of 21 Charlotte Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellows for 2018; this honor is presented by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

Kennemore is an anthropology Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, San Diego. Her dissertation, “Searching for Indigenous Justice: Navigating the Value of Legal Pluralism in the Uncertain Terrain of the Bolivian Andes,” examines the historical conditions that have facilitated a recent emphasis on the value of indigenous justice as the new moral-ethical foundation of the Bolivian state and society, asking what effects this might have on indigenous peoples’ access to security and material well-being in marginalized rural highland communities.

She earned her master’s degree in Latin American Studies from UNC Charlotte in 2012 after graduating summa cum laude in 2009 with her bachelor’s degree in International Studies from UNC Charlotte. This followed the completion of an associate degree in liberal arts from Central Piedmont Community College in 2007. Her master’s thesis at UNC Charlotte debated indigenous autonomy in the Bolivian Highlands, considering identity politics and the Ayllu Movement in a plurinational state. She completed a second master’s degree in 2014 in Political Anthropology at the University of California, San Diego.

While at UNC Charlotte, she was recognized as a strong scholar in her work, including the publishing of an article in the Bulletin of Latin American Research 2011 with her advisor Gregory Weeks, chair of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration and, at that time, director of Latin American Studies. She currently serves as editorial assistant for the journal Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies. 

“Amy proved she was adept at crossing disciplines and understood the styles and methods of more than one,” Weeks said. “She was clearly a rising star and did first-rate work while she was at UNC Charlotte, including co-authoring a peer-reviewed article with me.”

Jurgen Buchenau, chair of the History Department and faculty in Latin American Studies, recalls Kennemore as a stand-out scholar. “When I think of Amy, I remember a brilliant and hard-working student who came to UNC Charlotte after several years away from education,” he said. “In a program where most students focus on history or other humanities, Amy showed an ability to do first-rate social science research.”

Kennemore has been an affiliated researcher of the La Paz Departmental Association of Anthropologists since August of 2015, collaborating on research with social scientists, non-governmental workers, activists, and indigenous community members in the highland region of Bolivia.

In 2017, she was a second-place winner of the Peter K. New Award, presented by the Society for Applied Anthropology, which published an interview with her, conducted by Sara Wilson.

In that interview, she recalled her days at UNC Charlotte in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

“In addition to a bachelor’s in international relations, I received a master’s degree from UNCC (UNC Charlotte) in Latin American Studies,” Kennemore said. “Both programs were interdisciplinary and offered interesting approaches to broad topics that interested me, such as race and power relations, human rights, governance, and market capitalism. I found that anthropology offered particularly useful insights to explore the complex ways in which these topics intersected and shaped peoples’ everyday lives. In particular, I have found ethnography useful as a tool that a wide range of actors can use to locate and respond to different historical forms of injustice.”

The Newcombe Fellowship is the nation’s largest and most prestigious award for Ph.D. candidates in the humanities and social sciences who are addressing questions of ethical and religious values. Each fellow receives a 12-month award of $25,000 to support their final year of dissertation work. Funded by the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation, the Fellowship was created in 1981 and has supported just over 1,200 doctoral candidates, most of them now noted faculty at domestic and foreign institutions.