Kyle Knight, B.A. 2008

Senior Researcher on Health, Gender, and Sexuality / Human Rights Watch / San Francisco, CA

B.A. in Cultural Anthropology (2008)

How has being a Cultural Anthropology graduate from Duke helped shape you personally and/or professionally?

"Immensely! Understanding how to read ethnography and engage in ethical fieldwork while still being productive is a tricky balance to strike. Because my job involves original research, all the skills I learned as a CA major are relevant -- and being exposed to the breadth of content under the heading of "anthropology" means I at least know where to go looking for solid background reading on virtually anything. One perspective (maybe you can call this a skill) I gained by majoring in CA was an appreciation for critique -- of almost anything -- not being received as devastating. Any job in which you have to write, for example, will immediately expose you to an intense editing process unlike anything you've ever experienced in college. I think CA got me ready for that by exposing me to a discipline where ever-pedantic critique is part and parcel of how anthropologists think and re-think some really complex problems."

What advice would you give students in Duke's Cultural Anthropology programs?

"Major! It's a really versatile and respected degree. Even in job interviews where I've gotten the "so what is anthropology exactly?" line of questioning, it allows me to sort of show off the breadth of skills and exposure I gained. In other words, there is no way to answer that question that's boring. I get the temptation of taking public policy classes that seem extremely timely and "relevant," or political science classes that appear to tackle "theory of everything" type problems, but I actually think CA has more to offer precisely because the discipline is refreshingly self-critical. You'll also be taking classes from instructors who chose to do really interesting things with their lives."


Kyle Knight