James Huff, Ph.D.

Visiting Assistant Professor
On Faculty since 2014

Office: Schell Hall Lower Level
Phone: (630)752-5162
Email:

Education

Ph.D., Philosophy in Anthropology, American University, Washington DC

B.A., Cultural Anthropology, Southern California College, Costa Mesa, CA, summa cum laude

About James Huff

James (Jamie) G. Huff Jr. received his Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from American University (Washington, DC) in 2004, and worked as Associate Professor of Anthropology at Vanguard University (2002-2014) prior to his faculty appointment to the Human Needs and Global Resources Program at Wheaton College. His teaching and scholarly interests focus on understanding the relationship among three particular domains of cultural and social experience – namely, religious change, community development and human flourishing. At the broadest level his scholarship explores the changing religious landscapes of contemporary Latin America, with a particular focus on the social and economic changes generated by the rapid growth of Pentecostal-charismatic forms of Christianity across the region. For the past decade he has regularly conducted ethnographic fieldwork in El Salvador where he has documented the involvement of Pentecostal churches in community-based efforts to alleviate rural poverty. As an applied anthropologist, Dr. Huff is especially interested in helping development organizations better evaluate the effectiveness of their efforts to sustain human flourishing. And since 2008 he has worked collaboratively with the staff of a Christian non-profit organization (ENLACE) to implement evaluation studies that assess the impact of local development initiatives on the social, economic and physical well-being of rural communities across El Salvador.

If he’s not hanging out in rural El Salvador, then you will most likely find him in the kitchen cooking up something good to eat for his wife, Rebecca, and his two daughters, Reyna and Emily. And if he’s not in the kitchen, then you may find him coaching his daughters’ soccer team while daydreaming that he’s walking the pitch of Camp Nou, home of his favorite soccer club, FC Barcelona! And on all other occasions he most likely will be enjoying the latest Amos Lee or Avett Brothers album, and talking with Rebecca about next year’s home garden project.

Professional Associations

  • American Anthropological Association
  • Society for Latin American Anthropology
  • Society for Applied Anthropology
  • American Evaluation Association
  • Council on Undergraduate Research

Research Experience

Fall 2009 Principal Investigator, Baseline field research & household surveying, Las Delicias, El Salvador
Fall 2008 Principal Investigator, Baseline field research & household survey, Abelines, El Salvador
Summer 2007 Principal Investigator, Two-month fieldwork project in Las Delicias, El Salvador
All year 2000 Principal Investigator, One-year fieldwork project in San Salvador, El Salvador
Summer 1998 Principal Investigator, One-month fieldwork project in San Salvador, El Salvador
Spring 1995 Principal Investigator, Senior thesis project, Vanguard University

Publications

Pentecostalized Development and Novel Social Imaginaries in Rural El Salvador. 2014. Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, Special Issue: Contradictory Legacies and Contingent Futures in the Making on a New El Salvador. Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 19(1).

The Evangelical church as community asset? An ethnographic analysis of asset-based development in rural El Salvador. 2010. NAPA Bulletin, Special Issue: Intersections of Faith and Development in Local-Global Context 31(1):105-125.

Democratic Pentecost in El Salvador? Civic Education and Professional Practice in a Private High School. 2006. In "Reimagining Civic Education: How Diverse Societies Form Democratic Citizens," B. Levinson and D. Stevick, eds. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Book Reviews

Forthcoming Review of Tanya Luhrmann, When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God. PNUEMA: The Journal for the Society of Pentecostal Studies.

Review of Sidney M. Greenfield, Spirits with Scalpels: The Culturalbiology of Religious Healing in Brazil. 2011. PNEUMA: The Journal for the Society of Pentecostal Studies, Volume 33 (2):294-295.

Review of Matthew Engelke’s A Problem of Presence: Beyond Scripture in an African Church. 2009. PNEUMA: The Journal for the Society of Pentecostal Studies, Volume 31 (2): 298.

Review of David Smidle’s Reason to Believe: Cultural Agency in Latin American Evangelicalism. 2009. PNEUMA: The Journal for the Society of Pentecostal Studies, 31 (1):125-126.

Review of Walter Fienberg’s For Goodness Sakes: Religious Schools and Education for Democratic Citizenry. 2007. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, Volume 38:1

Review of Kent Greenawalt’s Does God Belong in Public Schools? 2006. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, Volume 37:4.

Paper Presentations and Conference Participation

Nov 2012 Presenter, "’Measuring’ the impact of faith in community development: Can anthropological theory help evaluation practice?" Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, San Francisco, CA

Nov 2012 Organizer, "Creative Praxis and Productive Tension at the Intersection of Anthropology and Evaluation," Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, San Francisco, CA

May 2012 Presenter, "Novel social imaginaries and Pentecostalized Development in rural El Salvador," Comparative Christianities Conference, Department of Anthropology, University of California, San Diego

Nov 2011 Organizer and Chair, "Contradictory Legacies, Contingent Futures: Displacement and Difference in the Making of a New El Salvador," Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Montreal, Canada

Nov 2011 Presenter, "Legacies of Religious Difference in Development: Translating Pentecost to Change Social Networks," Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Montreal, Canada

March 2010 Chair, "Applied Anthropology and Community Development in Latin America" Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology, Merida, MX

March 2010 Presenter, "Incorporating sidetrackings into community development interventions in rural El Salvador: A case study in evaluation anthropology" Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology, Merida, MX

Nov 2009 Presenter, "The Entanglements of Process, Theory and Practice: Evaluating Asset-Based Development in El Salvador" Annual Meeting of the American Evaluation Association, Orlando, FL

March 2009 Presenter, "The Dynamics of Community Capacity in Rural El Salvador: The Role of Ethnographic Process Evaluation" Annual Meeting of The Society for Applied Anthropology, Santa Fe, NM

Nov 2007 Presenter, "Evaluation and the Construction of the Social Good in El Salvador: A Case Study" Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Washington, DC

October 2007 Presenter, "Participatory Evaluation of a Water Supply Project in El Salvador: Notes on the Anthropology of Evaluation" Annual Meeting of the American Evaluation Association, Baltimore, MD

March 2006 Presenter, "Democratic Pentecost in El Salvador? Civic Education and Professional Practice in a Private High School" Annual Meeting of the Comparative & International Education Society, Honolulu, HI

Nov 2005 "Democratic Pentecost? The Cautious Promise of Pentecostal Schooling in El Salvador" Presentation to the VU faculty, Faculty Lunch Research Series, Vanguard University

April 2005 Panel Chair: Gender, 31st Annual Western Anthropology and Sociology Undergraduate Research Conference, Santa Clara University, San Clara, CA

Nov 2004 Presenter, "Decentralization as a Contradictory Resource: High School Teachers: Responses to Education Reform in El Salvador," Council on Anthropology and Education Convocation, San Francisco, CA

April 2004 Panel Chair: Latin America, Phi Alpha Theta, Southern California Regional Conference, Vanguard University of Southern California, Costa Mesa, CA

Nov 2003 Presenter, Appropriating Moral Formation in the Age of Reform: Examining

Teaching Practices in San Salvador, El Salvador," Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Chicago, IL

Oct 2003 Presenter, "Professional Identity, Pentecostalism and De Facto Privatization: Teachers in Post-War El Salvador," International Studies Association – West, Las Vegas, NV

Media Center