Dr. Diana P. Hatchett

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  • Anthropology
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Ph.D Anthropology, University of Kentucky, 2021
M.A. Social Sciences, University of Chicago, 2011
B.A. Anthropology, Sewanee: The University of the South, 2010


I am a cultural anthropologist interested in religion, secularism, the state, education, and identity in the Middle East and North Africa Region, with a focus on the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. My dissertation, Captivating State: Youthful Dreams and Uncertain Futures in Kurdistan (2021), examines how Kurdistani young people experience contests of values in a state shaped by sectarian political cultures during a time of trial and transition for the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). The dissertation is based on approximately 20 months of ethnographic fieldwork (September 2015 - June 2017) spent among Kurdistani young people in secondary schools and fitness centers. The ethnography presents interlocutors as co-theorists in conceptualizing the society and state in which they live, particularly through descriptive vignettes. Kurdistani interlocutors describe the push and pull of living suspended in a “captivating state” in two senses of the phrase: One sense refers to a state of feeling trapped for a variety of reasons, including displacement or lacking resources to emigrate. The other sense of “captivating state” refers to the Iraqi and Kurdistani states and the power they hold over the imaginations and affections of their citizens. Throughout the ethnography, Kurdistani people negotiate the ethics of staying or emigrating; debate descriptions of and prescriptions for state and civic order; and express doubts and hopes for uncertain futures. By attending to interlocutors’ assessments of the “state of things” and strategies for generating hope, the ethnography provides a view of ethical life in Kurdistan that centers young people and their moral striving at the intersections of “sectarianism,” the “state,” and “values.”

At the University of Kentucky I taught as a primary instructor for ANT 160: Cultural Diversity in the Modern World and for ANT 102: Archaeological Mysteries and Controversies, and I worked as a teaching assistant for two semesters of ANT 160 and for one semester of ANT 101 (a four-field introduction to anthropology course). I also worked as a graduate assistant for Presentation U, a faculty development and student tutoring program integrating oral, written, and visual communication skills.

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