Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Carole E. Hill, March 13, 2014

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:04 - Childhood in Leighton, Alabama

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Partial Transcript: Okay, uh, my name is Susan Abbott-Jamieson and I am interviewing Carole Hill in her home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Segment Synopsis: Hill discusses growing up in Leighton, Alabama, a small town her family had lived in for generations. She talks about her family history and her experiences growing up in what she describes as southern Appalachia. Hill shares the occupations and businesses which were owned and operated by her family, including her grandfather’s pharmacy and her father’s work as an electrical engineer.

Keywords: Family businesses; Migration; Southern Appalachian culture; Southern migration patterns

Subjects: Appalachian Region; Appalachian Region--Southern; Childhood; Early childhood education; Electrical engineering; Families; Family histories; Family-owned business enterprises; Leighton (Ala.); Tennessee River

00:06:53 - Undergraduate studies at Auburn University

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Partial Transcript: So you graduated in nineteen sixty--

Segment Synopsis: Hill recalls graduating high school in 1961 and then attending Auburn University, where she received a dual degree in history and sociology. Hill discusses how she was able to take anthropology courses through the sociology department. Hill then shares how she was first exposed to archaeology while she was in high school, becoming interested in the Stanfield-Worley Bluff Shelter dig site in her county and eventually working at the site while at Auburn. She discusses how this experience, along with her anthropology courses, inspired her to pursue a career in anthropology. Hill recalls her family's reaction to her interest in anthropology.

Keywords: Anthropology courses; Cultural anthropology; Ethnologists; Gender roles; Stanfield-Worley Bluff Shelter; Teaching certificates

Subjects: Anthropology; Archaeological sites; Archaeologists; Archaeology; Auburn University; College majors; Ethnology; Excavations (Archaeology); History; Leighton (Ala.); Sociology

00:12:55 - Graduate studies at University of Alabama

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Partial Transcript: So you, you graduated from Auburn and then you decided to go to graduate school.

Segment Synopsis: Hill details her education after Auburn, graduating in 1964 and then attending the University of Alabama for her masters degree. She recalls participating in an archaeological dig at Sand Mountain in Alabama during the summer. She describes the daily operations of the dig and her interactions with her colleagues and professor, who was in charge of the dig. Hill talks about the difficult relationship she had with her archaeology professor during the dig. Hill describes her interest in social anthropology during this time and her transition from archaeology to social anthropology. She discusses the gender issues and sexism she experienced in the archaeological field, which was a factor in her decreased interest.

Keywords: Archaeological digs; Cultural anthropology; Graduate students; Sand Mountain (Ala.); Social anthropology; Works Progress Administration (WPA)

Subjects: Archaeologists; Archaeology; Auburn Universities; Education, Higher; Excavations (Archaeology); United States. Works Progress Administration.; University of Alabama

00:22:58 - PhD at the University of Georgia

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Partial Transcript: So, where did you decide to go for your PhD, then?

Segment Synopsis: Hill recalls completing her masters degree at the University of Alabama and being recruited to complete her PhD at the University of Georgia. Hill describes her education at the University of Georgia, which was a new program, combining anthropology and sociology courses. She talks about the professors at the university and the various projects they created. Hill details one project in particular, a series of mini ethnographies created for soldiers to study before being deployed in a particular area of the world.

Keywords: Cultural anthropology; Doctoral dissertations; Ethnographies; Master's degree; Material culture; Mini ethnographies; PhD programs

Subjects: Anthropologists; Anthropology; Doctor of philosophy degree; Education, Higher; Ethnology; University of Alabama; University of Georgia

00:30:12 - PhD research projects

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Partial Transcript: So did you take your quals then, or?

Segment Synopsis: Hill discusses her first research project, a sociological project focused on healthcare. She describes the project as a “rural sociology” project. Hill then recalls racism her colleague faced while working on the project in 1967, getting pulled over because she had a black colleague travelling in her front seat. She talks about how she became interested in Latin American culture during her PhD, receiving a travel grant to study Mexican and Guatemalan cultures in 1967 as well as travelling to Costa Rica in 1969 to do cultural research. Hill recalls visiting a village and an ancient mural site in Guatemala with Lacandon Indians. She also discusses other Native sites she visited while in Mexico and Guatemala.

Keywords: Anthropological research; Latin American anthropology; Mayan murals; Research proposals; Rural sociology programs

Subjects: Anthropology; Costa Rica; Doctor of philosophy degree; Guatemala; Lacandon Indians; Latin America; Maya painting; Mexico; National Endowment for the Humanities

00:37:08 - Medical anthropology research in Costa Rica

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Partial Transcript: Can I back up just a minute then? So you had de--declared Central America as your culture area?

Segment Synopsis: Hill discusses her chosen “culture area,” medical anthropology in Central America. She talks about her interest in the belief systems of folk healing, both of the healers and their patients. Hill recalls receiving a grant to research folk medicine in Costa Rica, where she lived with the Boruca people for a year. She discusses aspects of the Borucan culture she witnessed while living in the community.

Keywords: Belief systems; Folk healers; Idealistic theories; Latin American anthropology; Material theories

Subjects: Anthropologists; Anthropology; Anthropology students; Boruca (Costa Rica); Central America; Costa Rica; Ethnography; Medical anthropology; Medical care; Research grants; Traditional medicine; University of Georgia

00:47:28 - Personal crisis and culture shock / First published article

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Partial Transcript: Now, I had something that, it turns out not to be as unusual as I thought, um, it was at the time.

Segment Synopsis: Hill discusses the personal and mental issues she began to experience while she was still living with the Boruca people in Costa Rica. Hill recalls how she decided to leave Costa Rica to care for her sick father, describing her reactions to forfeiting her research grant and moving back home with her family in Alabama. Hill discusses the possible reasons for her issues in Costa Rica and how she used this experience to write her first published article about negative field experience. Hill talks about how her research allowed other anthropologists to discuss their negative field experience with her throughout her career.

Keywords: Field experiences; Isolation; Personal crisis; Published articles

Subjects: Adjustment (Psychology); American Anthropologist Association; Anthropologists; Anthropology--Fieldwork; Behavior and health; Boruca (Costa Rica); Culture shock; Research grants

00:53:26 - Professorship at the University of West Georgia / PhD dissertation

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Partial Transcript: So, did you have to get a new topic then--

Segment Synopsis: Hill recalls receiving a teaching position as an assistant professor at the University of West Georgia (UWG), as she believed she would be unable to complete her PhD. She discusses how she developed an interest in the intersection of education and anthropology while at UWG. Hill talks about how she was convinced to finish her PhD from the University of Georgia, which she completed by studying traditional healers in rural Georgia.

Keywords: Alternative medical practices; Belief systems; Folk medicine; Georgia--Folk culture; Healing; New Age healing; Southern folk culture; Traditional healers

Subjects: Alternative medicine; Anthropology--Research; Dissertations, Academic; Healers; Medical anthropology; Medicine, Rural; New Age movement; Traditional medicine; University of West Georgia

01:01:43 - Creating University of West Georgia anthropology B.A. and department

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Partial Transcript: You know, at the same time, I wrote a--a, uh, B.A. degree.

Segment Synopsis: Hill recalls how she created a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree program in anthropology while teaching at the University of West Georgia. She discusses how, through the degree being approved, an independent anthropology department later developed. She talks about the strengths of the program, particularly archaeology, due to the donations they were able to obtain to build laboratories and hire part-time professors. Hill remembers when she completed her dissertation and the process of doing so.

Keywords: Anthropology--education; Archaeology laboratories; Social sciences--Education; Undergraduate anthropology degrees; Women in anthropology

Subjects: Anthropology; Archaeology; Bachelor of arts degree; College majors; Social sciences; University of West Georgia; Women in the social sciences

01:05:28 - Professorship at Georgia State University

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Partial Transcript: And, so Georgia State started recruiting me.

Segment Synopsis: Hill recalls the various universities who recruited her for a professorship after completing her PhD at the University of Georgia. She talks about her work outside of her teaching position, such as serving on the committee of the Society for Applied Anthropology, which focused on the intersection of anthropology and education. Hill discusses accepting a position at Georgia State University in 1973, eventually serving as interim chair of the anthropology department before becoming full-time chair for 27 years.

Keywords: Anthropology departments; Anthropology--Education; Folk medicine; Language acquisition; Medical anthropologists; Rural life; Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA)

Subjects: Alternative medicine; Anthropologists; Anthropology; Applied anthropology; College teachers; Georgia State University; Medical anthropology; Society for Applied Anthropology

01:10:58 - Georgia State University Department of Anthropology

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Partial Transcript: So, when you were hired, uh, uh, how did you see the department at that point and what--how did you want to see it develop?

Segment Synopsis: Hill discusses her improvements to the Georgia State University anthropology department, such as developing medical anthropology studies, urban anthropology studies, and archaeology. She also wanted to collaborate with various governmental agencies to resettle ethnic groups in Atlanta after the Vietnam War. Due to this work, Hill received a grant in 1974 to study ethnicity in Atlanta. Hill talks about another on-going project at Georgia State, studying the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) system. Hill also discusses the process of creating a graduate anthropology degree at Georgia State, installing the program after five years of work.

Keywords: Archaeology departments; Garbology; MARTA (Atlanta, Ga.); Multiculturalism; Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA); Urban archaeology

Subjects: Anthropologists; Anthropology; Anthropology--Research; Applied anthropology; College teachers; Georgia State University; Master of arts degree; Medical anthropology; Society for Applied Anthropology; Urban archaeology