Profile on a Professor — Brian Watkins

Recently, I had the chance to sit down with one of Albion College’s newest professors, Dr. Brian Watkins. Watkins is a visiting professor in the Anthropology and Sociology Department. He received his PhD in Sociocultural Anthropology at Michigan State University and studies the United States’ system of political asylum.

What would you do with if a zombie apocalypse happened?

You know, Michigan’s really well situated for that.  Lots of lakes. I think I would go home and get everything sharp I could, get everyone important I could with me and go to the UP. I think it would take them a really long time to get up there.  It’d be a really good run.

If you could live anywhere, during any time, where would you live and why?

That’s tough because I’m in a field that demystifies a lot of the past. I think I would go back to the 20s and 30s and be in the United States and be in the same field I am. You get a lot cooler finery, like pith elements and stuff and you still get to go out and learn about the world and bring it to other people.  Nice twin-engine planes and cool hats.

If you could have any superpower what would it be?

I always liked the very basic flight one.  It gets you out of a lot of situations, puts you in a lot of situations.

If the world ended tomorrow, what would you do tonight?

I would probably just eat and drink everything bad when I get home and spend the night playing my bass and hanging out with my girlfriend.

If your house was on fire, what would be the one thing you’d grab?

That would be my partner, Mary.

What’s your favorite band?

Favorite band is a Norwegian melodic black metal band called Winged Deer.

What’s your favorite movie?

I don’t watch a whole lot of movies, but there’s a Norwegian film called Head Hunters.  [It] came out last year. It’s about an art thief that steals from someone who used to be a tracker. They set up a ridiculous situation and follow it through to their ridiculous conclusion.

What are your hobbies?

Play around on the computer a bit, play bass.  I used to have a band in Lansing.

What’s your favorite book?

Voodoo Eros, the thrilling 1925 sexology book from Africa with every stereotype you can possibly imagine. I got it for about $5 in Ann Arbor. It’s just a nice repository of well-articulated racisms.

What’s your favorite trip?

I actually did my research in north Texas with what you call legal anthropology, a system of political asylum. I basically spent like a year following victims of torture as they try to gain legitimacy in this country and legal authority of the state versus getting sent back to their country. So, basically, they have to wait 18 months without the right to get a job. These are people that manage to get into shipping containers or paid smugglers, so they’re pretty resourceful and pretty tapped when they get here. They just couch surf and wait and work on their English and try to figure out how to prove in this country that they’re a competent doctor and things like that. If you want a challenge harder than being homeless, then be homeless without speaking English.



About Joshua Van Laan 39 Articles
Josh Van Laan is currently a sociology major from Clinton Township.

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