A Fish Out of Three Bodies of Water: Adventures of a Female Paleontologist in Niger

Dr. Allison Beck

Tredway Library, 2nd Floor

Thursday, Feb. 4

4:30 p.m.

Feeling out of place is never comfortable, but it can be positive in that it offers an opportunity to reflect on oneself and one’s place in the world.  In both 1997 and 2000 I participated in paleontological field expeditions to the Sahara Desert in Niger (Central West Africa).  In these experiences, I found myself like a fish, out of three bodies of water at once.  I was one of only two women on the team.  I was a young, white woman from a wealthy country traveling in a dark-skinned, largely Muslim society low on the UN’s development scale.  To top it off, I had never been camping prior to 1997, nor did I know much about fossils.  I was young and naïve, and if I had opportunity to do it again, I certainly would approach it differently.  In this conversation, I hope to provide some entertaining stories, and prompt reflection and discussion about when it is appropriate to assume a role in order to fit in, and when one should stand out from the crowd.

Sponsored by the Women’s & Gender Studies Program.

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