Madeline Chera

Adjunct Professor

B.A., Villanova University (2009)
M.A., Ph.D. (Cand.), Indiana University Bloomington


Madeline Chera Headshot Web

I am a Cultural Anthropologist with expertise in the Anthropology of Food and in Environmental Anthropology. Most of my field research to-date has been focused on South India and the U.S., with attention to development programs, consumer behavior, and culture change. Working with community-based organizations to provide useful information they can apply to better meet the needs of those they serve is a key feature of my work, while I simultaneously take a critical view toward the ideologies, practices, and systems that are often a part of such projects.

My dissertation research explored the roles of foods and food-related practices construed as traditional, within new and changing cultural contexts in Madurai, a city in Tamil Nadu, India. My focus there was on the consumption side of the food chain, with particular concern for home cooking, eating out, and public discourse. However, the relationships these activities have with wider food system issues of public health, environmental sustainability, and local and global political economy were also of central importance to my analysis. A few foods with particular resonance in this project were minor millet grains and "country" chicken. Articles focused on these two foods appear in the primary journal for the study of food in the social sciences, Food, Culture and Society (2017, 2019).

My current projects include a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) study of how introductory students develop expertise in elements of critical thinking central to an anthropological perspective and new work on conservation and consumption as it relates to food practices in diasporic South Asian communities in the US.
I have taught several undergraduate classes in various contexts, in addition to leading farm education and outreach programs for children and teens and facilitating graduate student writing groups and programs for faculty colleagues. With everyone I teach and mentor, I embrace inclusive and accessible pedagogy that is community-engaged, active, and student-centered.

Curriculum Vitae



238 Corbett Family Hall