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Faculty Profile - James Huff

James Huff, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of HNGR and Anthropology, Associate Director of HNGR

On Faculty since 2014
630.752.5162
Schell Hall Lower Level


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 scholarly interests focus on international and rural community development, religion in Latin America, faith-rooted social movements and non-government organizations (NGOs), and comprehensive community initiatives. He also has an interest in the pedagogy of study abroad programs and cross-cultural learning. His writing examines 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 development projects. As an applied anthropologist, Dr. Huff has worked with various NGOs and community-based organizations to evaluate the effectiveness of their programs to alleviate poverty and strengthen human well-being and community resiliency. 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.

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

South California College, Costa Mesa, CA
B.A., Cultural Anthropology

  • American Anthropological Association
  • Society for Latin American Anthropology
  • Society for Applied Anthropology
  • American Evaluation Association
  • Council on Undergraduate Research
  • Community & International Development
  • Religion in Latin America
  • Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
  • Central America Pedagogy in Higher Education
  • Program Evaluation

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,
Nov 2012

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

  • 2014 Consulting Contributor, Informe de la Linea de Base - La Labor. Entidad Natural Latinoamericano de Cooperación Estratégica (ENLACE). San Salvador, El Salvador
  • 2013 Consulting contributor, Informe de la Linea de Base - Chantusnene. Entidad Natural Latinoamericano de Cooperación Estratégica (ENLACE). San Salvador, El Salvador
  • 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

Practicing Lament to Teach for Justice: Reflections from a Survey Course
Christian Higher Education: An International Journal of Research, Theory, and Practice
James Huff, 2018

Of Specters and Spirit: Neoliberal Entanglements of Faith-Based Development in El Salvador
Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development. Special Issue: The Impact of State-Level and Global-Level Neoliberal Agendas on NGOs in Latin America
James Huff, 2017

Pentecostal Socialities and Transforming Rural El Salvador
In “Global Renewal Christianity: Spirit-Empowered Movements Past, Present and Future, Volume 2: Latin America,”
V. Synan, A. Yong and M. Alvarez, editors, 2015

Pentecostalized Development and Novel Social Imaginaries in Rural El Salvador
Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 
James Huff, 2014