J. Montgomery Roper (Monty)

Associate Professor of Anthropology

Grinnell College
204 Goodnow Hall
Grinnell, IA 50112
Tel: (641) 269-3017


I am a cultural anthropologist interested in the political economy of natural resource management, and community development. Most of my research has focused on small-scale rural indigenous communities in Latin America, but my interests and teaching also include sub-saharan Africa.  I have done research in Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.  My longest research stint was for my doctoral degree.  In 1997, I lived in the Bolivian Amazon for one year in order to examine how the relationships between indigenous peoples, logging companies, the state, and other social actors was affecting the management and development of natural resources in an indigenous territory.

As an applied anthropologist, I am interested in addressing issues of sustainable development through program and project evaluation and policy analysis and recommendation. As a consultant, I have written a policy paper for the World Bank on Indigenous Development in Latin America, examined the impact of legislative reforms on forest management in Bolivia, and carried out analysis of the costs and benefits of commercial forestry for indigenous communities in the Northern Atlantic Autonomous Region of Nicaragua. 

I teach in both the anthropology department and the global development studies concentration.  The courses I currently teach include Introduction to Anthropology, Introduction to Global Development Studies, Cultural and Political Ecology, Applied Anthropology, and Sustainable Development in the Modern World System.  I also regularly teach the Tutorial, a writing intensive first-year seminar, and enjoy using this course to explore new topics.  My most recent iterations have included No Limits?, a consideration of the costs and benefits of consumerism, and Corporations to the Rescue?, an exploration of the potential roles of corporations in addressing development challenges in the world’s poorer countries.

I have been exploring ways to bring my applied research interests and teaching together in two courses in particular.  In one iteration of my Global Development Studies seminar, I have twice brought students to a rural agricultural cooperative in Costa Rica, first to carry out a community development diagnostic, and the second time to build off this with more focused research projects.  In my Applied Anthropology course, students worked to develop needs assessments and program evaluations focused on the campus community.  Now, I am working with a local non-profit organization to identify local NGOs and grassroots organizations that might benefit from such research.

This site provides additional information on my research, on the courses that I teach, and a little about me. If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me.

(Note that this site is still under construction.)


About Me