Dr. Stephanie Bjork is Chair of the Social Science Division and Residential Faculty in Anthropology. She has been teaching at PVCC since 2008 and offers a variety of courses: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Ethnic Relations in the U.S., Magic, Witchcraft & Healing: Introduction to Comparative Religion, and Women in Other Cultures (honors). Stephanie is committed to teaching students through an equity-minded lens and engages students by doing anthropology. Students might conduct participant observation at music festivals or coffee shops or interview immigrant and refugee women. Dr. Bjork has worked alongside students in a special topics class conducting customer and survey research at a Phoenix farmers’ market to investigate how sustainability can be measured through environmental, social, and economic indicators. She also facilitated local service-learning projects with her students: 1) a shelter-tutoring program for Somali Bantu youth; and 2) a conversational English and citizenship exam preparation program for Somali Bantu women.
Stephanie’s research interests include the Somali diaspora, identity politics, gender, kinship, and transnational practices. She has conducted research among Somali refugees in the United States and Finland since 1999. Stephanie’s connection to Finland began over 25 years ago as a high school Rotary exchange student. Her exchange year coincided with the influx of Somalis seeking asylum in the country. Her research among Somalis in Finland from 2000-2004 was supported by The Fulbright Foundation, The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and The American-Scandinavian Foundation. From 2003-2004, she was affiliated with the Department of Sociology at the University of Helsinki as a visiting researcher.
Her monograph Somalis Abroad: Clan and Everyday Life in Finland (2017, University of Illinois Press) is the first work to consider the role of clan in the diaspora and the only book that considers women’s perspectives in addition to the traditionally recognized men’s perspectives on the topic of clan. Her difficulties finding accessible, engaging, and timely ethnographies that immerse students in fieldwork and theory inspired her to write Somalis Abroad.
Bjork is co-editor of From Mogadishu to Dixon: The Somali Diaspora in a Global Context (2007, The Red Sea Press) with Dr. Abdi M. Kusow and is a founding member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Somali Studies.
Her more recent work has focused on Somali Bantu identity politics in the U.S. (2016, Bildhaan). Stephanie has presented her research nationally and internationally and is a peer reviewer for a number of journals and book publishers. Stephanie Bjork serves on the PVCC Honors Committee, Women & Gender Studies I.C., and American Indian Studies I.C