Laura McClusky outside of Stratton 08/22/2023

Laura McClusky

Professor of Sociology and Anthropology

Zabriskie 304

Professor McClusky teaches students about corporate power and social and economic inequalities in the education and food systems. She focuses on the problems of capitalism, U.S. Relations in Latin America, and the effects of globalization on indigenous peoples. Her research looks at issues of domestic violence among Maya in Belize, as well as current social movements in the United States, particularly Critical Mass. She has also done research on Han Chinese concepts of dreaming.


1985 B.A. University at Buffalo, Anthropology & Psychology
1989 M.A. University at Buffalo, Anthropology
1998 Ph.D. University at Buffalo, Anthropology


McClusky, L.J. Here Our Culture is Hard: Stories of Domestic Violence from a Mayan Community in Belize. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001.

McClusky, L.J.., Dentan, R.K., Kramer, M., and Moffit, Alan, eds. “Pity the Bones by Wandering River, Which Still in Lovers’ Dreams Appear as Men.” Functions of Dreaming. Albany: SUNY Press, 1993.


Principles of Sociology
“Deviance” and Society
Qualitative Research Methods in Sociology
The Social Science of Food
The Sociology of Education
The Global Clash of Cultures
Mayan Lifeways
Latin America and the Caribbean
Social Inequality: Class and Ethnicity
Advanced Internship in Social Service Agencies
Senior Essay and Research Seminar in Sociology and Anthropology


Laura McClusky, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, presented her sabbatical research at the Society for Applied Anthropology meetings in Cincinnati on March 30.  Her paper Realizing ‘Social Justice’: Creating an Alternative Food System in Western and Central, NY and Haudenosaunee Territory was co-authored with Michael Niman (Buffalo State college – Communication Department).   The abstract reads:

From access to tangible resources (land, water, funds, etc.) to owning and sometimes questioning the concept of “social justice,” our participants discuss their passion, their setbacks, and their privilege in doing the work of creating a just and sustainable food system. This paper is a brief overview of an on-going project using open-ended interviews and photographic methods.

On March 9, Laura McClusky, professor of sociology and anthropology, was a guest on the WBNY radio show Talking Peace with Vicki Ross to discuss her Anthropology at the Southern Border course. Topics ranged from the role of higher education in creating a more peaceful and equitable world, the mission of Wells College, generalizations about the field of anthropology, and more specific information about the effects of U.S. policy on the lives of migrants and deportees during this period of the rising militarization of the southern border. She also briefly discussed the danger those held in detention face with the spread of the coronavirus.

Laura J. McClusky, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, appeared via video conferencing technology in Dr. Stephanie Berberick’s COM 310 Communications Research Methods class for the Department of Communication Arts at Washington and Jefferson College on October 22, 2018.  Dr. McClusky spoke of her ethnographic work among Maya in southern Belize emphasizing  ethics and the importance of developing long-term relationships with those who generously share their lives with you when doing such work.

Laura J. McClusky, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, joined anthropologist Christine Eber to deliver a presentation titled “Furthering Educational Choice for Mayas in Chiapas and Belize” at Canisius College on April 23, 2018. The event was organized by the Western New York Peace Center’s Latin American Solidarity Committee.  The two discussed their field work among Maya in relation to the work of the Maya Educational Foundation. McClusky currently serves as the Vice President of the Board of the Maya Educational Foundation, Eber is a past President. Later that week, on April 26, Christine Eber joined McClusky again to talk at Wells College about fieldwork and challenges Maya face with an education system not of their own design.

Laura J. McClusky, Associate Professor of Sociology, presented a paper at the annual meetings of a Society for Applied Anthropology on March 21st titled, “High School Graduation Parties as Public Performance: How Maya Express the Role Education Plays in Transforming Heritage and Identity in Southern Belize.” At those same meetings McClusky was elected to serve as a co-coordinator of the Society for Applied Anthropology Topical Interest Group on Gender Based Violence. She will serve with Dr. Melissa Beske, a research associate at Tulane University.

Laura J. McClusky, Associate Professor of Sociology, has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the Maya Educational Foundation (MEF). Convinced that education is key to empowerment, the Maya Educational Foundation supports all levels of educational projects from literacy classes to university scholarships for Maya people throughout Guatemala, southern Mexico and Belize. Laura J. McClusky will serve a four year term on the Board.

Laura J. McClusky, Associate Professor of Sociology, presented a paper titled, “No Where to Hide: Obstacles Women Face When Escaping Partner Abuse in Belize and Barriers to Seeking Political Asylum in the United States” at the 73rd annual meetings of the Society for Applied Anthropology in Denver, Colorado on March 22.

Principia College invited Dr. McClusky to participate in a program review of the Sociology and Anthropology program. She and Dr. Theodore C. Wagenaar of Miami University conducted the review earlier in March.

Laura McClusky, Associate Professor of Sociology, was invited by the Gender-Based Violence Interest Group of the Society for Applied Anthropology to serve as a discussant on a panel titled Shifting and Eliminating the Borders in the Anthropology of Gender-Based Violence. At the session her book on domestic violence in a Mayan community in Belize was praised as a seminal work on the topic. The meetings took place in Baltimore on March 28-31.

She also presented a paper at the 82nd annual meetings of the Eastern Sociological Society in New York City which took place from February 23 – 26. The meetings were under the theme Storied Lives: Culture, Structure, and Narrative. The title of her paper was, Revisiting Stories Once Told: Watching New Stories Unfold.

Laura McClusky, Associate Professor of Sociology, presented a paper titled “Revisiting Stories Once Told: Watching New Stories Unfold” on February 25, 2012 at the 82nd annual meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society. The theme of the conference was Storied Lives: Culture, Structure and Narrative.