Bretton Alvare

Bretton T. Alvaré, PhD

  • Associate Professor
Areas of Expertise:
  • Race, Gender & Sexuality
  • Arts & Culture
  • Criminal & Social Justice

Programs I Teach

Education

  • PhD, Cultural Anthropology (2011)
    Temple University (PA)

About Me

Because my family has roots in Cuba, I have always been interested in the history and culture of the Caribbean region, particularly the various forms of "Afro-Caribbean" spirituality that emerged there during the colonial era, including Voudou, Shango, Kumina, Orisha, and Rastafari. My dissertation research focused on a faith-based Rastafari non-government organization (NGO) in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, whose leaders were part of a sustained guerrilla movement, the National United Freedom Fighters (NUFF), from 1972–1975. By comparing their NGO-based activism with the NUFF's armed struggle, I attempted to identify the structural factors that predispose populations to engage in different modes of political participation. I was only able to gain these insights by spending extended periods of time in the field, face-to-face with the people I meant to study.

This kind of research experience is essential to the field of cultural anthropology and, for that reason, I give all of my students multiple opportunities to conduct their own original fieldwork locally, abroad, or both. Students in my courses do not only learn about anthropology; they must actually go out and do it for themselves.

Research Interests

I am an ethnographer whose research focuses on Afro-Caribbean worldviews and faith-based political participation in the Anglophone Caribbean. I have been conducting fieldwork with grassroots, faith-based NGOs in Trinidad and Tobago since 2005. I am also interested in studying urban issues related to institutional racism, and I'm currently collaborating with a local community partner on an ethnographic study of the barriers to academic success facing students at Chester High School.

Publications

  • Alvaré, B.T. (2014). Haile Selassie and the gospel of development: Exploring the role of hegemony in faith-based development in Trinidad, West Indies. Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, 19(1), 126–147.
  • Mchenry, N., Alvaré, B.T., Bowes K., & Childs, A. (2013). Sharing the environment: Cultural exchange through inquiry-based environmental education in Trinidad and Tobago (T & T) and the United States. International Journal of Environment and Science Education, 8(2), 381–400.
  • Alvaré, B.T. (2010). "Babylon makes the rules": Compliance, fear, and self-discipline in the quest for official NGO status. PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review, 33(2), 178–200.

Professional Affiliations & Memberships

American Anthropological Association (AAA), Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology (SLACA)

Awards

  • Hartford Undergraduate Community Research Award (2014)
  • Advanced Fellow, Widener University Service-Learning Faculty Fellowship (2014)
  • Faculty Researcher, National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) Teaching Study (2012–2014)