House Bilinda in Kenya Friend

Bilinda Straight is a cultural anthropologist and creative writer. She teaches in the Institute of the Environment & Sustainability at Western Michigan University. .

Her 2007 book, Miracles and Extraordinary Experiences in Northern Kenya is the first book-length ethnography completely devoted to Samburu divinity and belief.

Her 2005 edited volume, Women on the Verge of Home interrogates the comfortable and stable contours of "home," asking what it means to women in different social, class, sexual, ethnic, and racial contexts in different times and places.

The recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, her most recent National Science Foundation grant assembles an interdisciplinary team to investigate the intergenerational, biological effects of drought and food shortages on mothers and their infants in a rural population of East African pastoralists inhabiting an extreme environment.

Straight's scholarly work has appeared in such journals as Current Anthropology, American Anthropologist, Social Science & Medicine, and Material Religion.

Her poems have been selected as

First Runner Up for 2015 Faulkner Wisdom Awards, Finalists for 2012 New Letters Literary and 2014 Faulkner Wisdom Awards, Semi-Finalists for Mid-American Review's 2012 & 2014 Fineline Competition, and her poetry and fiction have been selected as Semi-Finalists for the 2012 Faulkner Wisdom Awards.

She holds degrees from University of Michigan (Ph.D, M.A., Anthropology; Graduate Certificate, Gender & Women's Studies), Western Michigan University (M.F.A., Creative Writing), and Lake Erie College (BA, summa cum laude).

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Praise for Miracles and Extraordinary Experience:

"one of the most original, compelling, and thoughtful ethnographies that I have read in years""—American Ethnologist

"An engaging, provocative intervention in cultural theory."—Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"Straight's . . . work reminds the reader of the important ways that theory and ethnography can mutually inform and illuminate, and the book is an important contribution to the existing literature for both area specialists and the theoretically inclined."—American Anthropologist

Praise for Women on the Verge of Home:

"What is unique about this book—and what I like most—is its range in the geographical/cultural areas and time periods covered and the various approaches to the topic. This makes the book attractive to wide readerships in anthropology and sociology, gender studies, and literary/cultural studies. All of the contributions are excellent, and some are outright wonderful." — Maria Grosz-Ngaté, coeditor of Gendered Encounters: Challenging Cultural Boundaries and Social Hierarchies in Africa

"Teachers of globalization, cultural anthropology, and gender studies will find this book a powerful teaching tool. The writers reveal the complex politics and poetics of home and move readers to think, rethink, and revalue the everyday lives of themselves and others." — William F. Kelleher Jr., author of The Troubles in Ballybogoin: Memory and Identity in Northern Ireland



Photo Credits: Photo of Bilinda by Charles Hilton. All other photos copyrighted to Bilinda Straight, including Miracles book cover photo. Women on the Verge of Home cover photo is of Straight's grandmother and uncles.