November 17, 2015
Marlboro College is pleased to announce that anthropologist Nelli Sargsyan joined the faculty this year, filling a vital role in the social sciences. In addition to her broad background in anthropology, Nelli brings with her the possibility of new courses that have not yet been taught at Marlboro, thanks to her interest in teaching cross-disciplinary courses. She is excited to co-teach classes across subjects such as photography, performing arts, biology, religion, and political science, to name a few.
“I love the fact that working with my students and colleagues expands the limits of my imagination of the possible,” said Nelli. “Working and thinking across disciplines allows for a more creative intellectual and academic engagement. Marlboro allows that to happen very organically and synergistically among colleagues and students, based on shared interests.”
Nelli received her B.A. at Yerevan State Institute of Foreign Languages in Armenia. After teaching writing and reading to English language learners at a linguistic university in Armenia for nine years, she then moved to the United States where she studied for her M.A. and Ph.D. at the State University of New York at Albany. Using the Armenian case as a lens of inquiry, her dissertation research examined how Armenian-identified individuals negotiate their gender, ethnic, and sexual difference in the U.S. and in the (post-Soviet) Republic of Armenia.
“I was interested in what it means to be an Armenian, for people who live in the U.S. specifically,” says Nelli about her research. “I was also interested in queer artistic activism in Armenia, which later generated a broader interest in social movements in post-Soviet countries.” Nelli intends to continue her research while teaching at Marlboro, and looks forward to exploring students’ interests with them so that she can discover new questions and ideas.
One thing that attracted Nelli to working at Marlboro is “the horizontality of the governance and decision-making here,” she says. “The fact that you make decisions together as a community is exhilarating.” She appreciates that Marlboro’s small size allows people to meaningfully engage with each other and makes it easier to forge collaborations. It encourages students to explore areas of study they are intellectually drawn towards, unlike institutions with a more vocational focus. “Besides the meaningful multidisciplinary collaborations, on a community level there’s this gentleness and connection at Marlboro that I appreciate.”