#ElliottExpert: Jane Henrici

Jane Henrici, PhD is a consulting Senior Researcher and Gender Advisor and Professorial Lecturer in the Elliott School of International Affairs. She is an economic anthropologist with 20+ years of experience designing, conducting, training, and teaching research on gender and intersectionality; communicating findings and recommendations; and helping to craft and undertake follow-up programming in the Americas, Asia, and North Africa. Her doctorate is from the University of Texas-Austin, her master’s from the University of Chicago, and her honors include being a Fulbright Scholar in Peru. Her subject matter expertise includes gender and intersectionality in disasters and recovery; health care and coverage; policy, planning, and development inclusion; economic opportunities and social norms; and political participation and institutional norms. She is an experienced study director and researcher specializing in mixed methods, qualitative, and multi-perspectival investigations. Most recently, Dr. Henrici has directed four COVID-19 projects using online surveys and remotely conducted interviews.

  • Area(s) of expertise: Economic anthropology; gender and intersectional issues and economic development
  • Institutions Attended: Southern Methodist University, University of Chicago, University of Texas at Austin
  • Teaching courses this or next semester: Research Methods in Global Gender Issues (G) and Migration, Gender, and Development (UG) Fall 2020; Gender, Disaster, and Development (G) Spring 2021

What made you interested in your field of study/expertise?

I have always been interested in questions of inequality and diversity and the ways that communities and institutions deal with those. I conducted my doctoral dissertation research using participant observation for a year within a southern highland Peruvian village in which the national government had invested in an economic development project based on training small-scale producers to make ceramic items for sale to tourists and through export. As part of that experience, I became aware that although we often separate social identities such as gender, ethnicity, generation, and occupation from one another in our research, policy, and programming those identities in fact are intersectional. At the same time, one context differs from another and I continue to learn with each project on which I get the opportunity to work.

What courses did you enjoy the most while in undergrad and why?

I was a Studio Art and Art History major as an undergrad although took anthropology and international studies courses. It’s hard to say which courses I liked the most, because I really had fun in college, and liked almost all of my classes. What I can say though is that I particularly found appealing professors that continued to learn and share new things about their topic, whether through keeping up with new approaches to the topic, traveling to meet with others in their field, or conducting their own original research.

If you could make any book required reading for the incoming class, what book would you recommend and why?

If I had to pick just one book for all students entering Elliott, undergraduate and graduate, I’d recommend Outside the Asylum: A Memoir of War, Disaster, and Humanitarian Psychiatry by Lynne Jones (2017). This is because, after conducting research with people during and after disasters, I find the way Jones represents persons both in all their vulnerabilities and in their methods of coping to be powerful and important. In addition, as someone concerned that we too often focus on the immediacy of crises or large-scale projects rather than long-term supports I think this book gets at why those should be considered essential. I try to assign books I consider important and relevant to the topics and given the courses I teach this book is not included, so instead I recommend it often as additional reading.

What advice do you have for prospective students who are on the fence about applying to a graduate program at the Elliott school?

This is a great program. In addition, much of what you learn in any graduate program is through peers, outside opportunities, and taking advantage of resources all across campus and ESIA helps students make all of those links. And, to me, one of the most impressive aspects of Elliott is the high quality of the other grads here, and the knowledge and experience that they can bring into class.

What happy change have you seen or experienced since being in quarantine?

My husband and I live in a Northeast DC neighborhood with a terrific public recreation center that of course has been closed since March. Some of our neighbors apparently have chosen to “bubble” together in their nearby apartment building during the quarantine and, as part of that, worked to keep all their small children (and themselves) entertained in part with periodic backyard get-togethers. As we greet the neighbors from our porch across a back alley, my husband and I see the young children allowed the freedom of lots of exercise and friendship even as they are being kept safe. It seems a happy change that the neighbors made to quarantine together as if all part of an extended family.

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The #ElliottExpert profile series is managed by the Elliott School Office of Graduate Admissions and highlights current professors to answer common questions posed by prospective, incoming, and current students. For more information on this series or to submit questions, e-mail the Office of Graduate Admissions at esiagrad@gwu.edu.

The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs.