Meet our Faculty

Adjunct Faculty
     Dr. Erin Gibson

Dr. Michel Bouchard
Professor and Department Chair
BA (Toronto), MA (Laval), PhD (Alberta)

Office:  3061 ADM
Tel:  250.960.5643

Research Interests:

Russian-speaking diaspora
Russian Federation and its constituent populations

• French North America
• Nationalism and ethnicity
• Religion and Community
• Sociolinguistics and ethnolinguistics
• Language and education

For the past four years, Dr. Bouchard has been conducting research and fieldwork in the Komi Republic in the Russian Federation and  was recently awarded a SSHRC grant to study the French-speaking populations of Prince George and the Peace River Region, Alberta.

Dr. Bouchard states that given his range of interests, he would entertain proposals from students interested in conducting various research topics around the world and in Canada. This would include: an examination of Canada's Russian-speaking populations (Old Believers, Dukhobors, recent immigrants); a study of the Russian-speaking population in Israel; research anywhere in Eastern Europe (the Baltic States, Ukraine, Romania, etc.) or any research proposal examining one of North America's French-speaking populations either in B.C., elsewhere in Canada or anywhere in the world.

At the outset, the research he conducted took for granted the recent invention of nations. However, as new lines of inquiry emerge, he has developed a new theoretical framework for understanding nationhood and other forms of community. Rather than accepting the easy premise that states create nations, he is proposing that other institutions are equally (if not more) important than states in the emergence of national communities. Currently, he is examining the role of the Orthodox Church in the rise of the concept of 'narod' or 'people' in Russian. Other highlights of his research include an examination of graves and the ways in which they are a focus for community among Russians, the concept of the Russian soul and the ways in which this metaphor defines not only Russian nationhood but many others and finally the significance of memorials and museums in defining identity.

Dr. Richard Lazenby
BA, MA (Simon Fraser), PhD (McMaster)

Office:  3012 ADM
Tel:  250.960.6696

Research Interests:

Biological anthropology
Skeletal Biology
Forensic anthropology
Human adaptability
Nutritional anthropology

Prior to joining UNBC in 1994, Richard Lazenby was an NSERC post-docoral fellow at the University of Guelph, School of Human Biology. His NSERC-funded research areas include primate functional skeletal biology, forensic anthropology, and human ecology and adaptability.

Dr. Lazenby has authored a number of articles in journals, including the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, the American Journal of Human Biology, the Journal of Theoretical Biology, The Anatomical Record, the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, Current Anthropology, Investigative Radiology and the Journal of Forensic Sciences. Dr. Lazenby's current research program addresses the origins of human handedness through a comparative study of geometric morphometric variation in the hand skeleton of human and non-human primates.

He is past-President of the Canadian Association for Physical Anthropology, and is a consulting forensic anthropologist for the Office of the Regional Coroner for northern British Columbia, and with the RCMP 'E' Division, attached to the Missing Women's Task Force in Vancouver.

"Man is a wolf to man."     Boris Pasternak 'Dr. Zhivago'

Dr. Alex Oehler
Assistant Professor
BA (UNBC), MA (UNBC), PhD (University of Aberdeen)

Office: 3088 Charles McCaffray Hall
Tel:  250-960-6495

Research Interests: 

  • Human-animal relations
  • Sentient and sacred landscapes
  • Hunting and herding societies
  • Ancestral language revitalization and identity
  • Circumpolar ethnography, Inuit Studies
  • Siberian & Inner Asian Studies

Between 2012-2016 Dr. Oehler worked with Oka-Soiot herder-hunters of the Eastern Saian Mountains of South Central Siberia, where he conducted ethnographic and ethnohistorical research on human-animal relations. His PhD dissertation, entitled “Being Between Beings: Soiot Herder-Hunters in a Sacred Landscape,” explored local notions of the household and its multi-species members, emplaced in a landscape seen as sacred from both shamanist and Buddhist perspectives. His work on human-reindeer, horse, yak, dog, sheep, fish, and wolf relations problematizes conventional notions of 'wild' and 'tame' in the context of a posthumanist anthropology.

From 2009-2012 he conducted community-based research with the Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre, the Beaufort-Delta Education Council, and Aurora College. The project focused on the role of human-landscape-language relations in maintaining Inuvialuit (Inuit) cultural identity in the Western Canadian Arctic. His Master's thesis, entitled “Inuvialuit Language and Identity,” explored Inuvialuit language history, its contemporary symbolic meaning, as well as linguistic ideologies that continue to influence the state of ancestral language revitalization in the northern Northwest Territories. He also has an ongoing interest in the material culture of the north.

His teaching spans the four sub-fields of the discipline, ranging from introductory courses in social and medical anthropology to theory courses and special topics and upper division courses, including “Museums, Archives, and Source Communities,” “Environmental Anthropology,” and “Animals in Anthropology.”

Dr. Oehler is currently affiliated with Arctic Domus, a five-year project headed by Prof. David G. Anderson (University of Aberdeen) and funded by the European Research Council (ERC), which investigates “how people and animals today, and in the past, build sustainable communities around the circumpolar Arctic” ( Previously he was part of the “Northern Colonialism” research program, headed by Prof. Tim Ingold's “The North” theme at the University of Aberdeen, UK (

Dr. Farid Rahemtulla
Assistant Professor
BA (Alberta), MA (Toronto), PhD (SFU)

Office:  3008 ADM
Tel:  250.960.6691

Research Interests:

• Archaeological theory, technology and subsistence
• Complex foragers
• Archaeology of human origins
• First Nations and archaeology
• Northwestern North America
• Northeast Asia, Eastern Africa

Dr. Rahemtulla is an archaeologist with a wide range of research interests. He has been involved in several archaeological projects throughout the coast and interior of British Columbia, and in Eastern Africa. His current geographic foci are the North Pacific Rim, specifically, British Columbia and Siberia. Topical interests include: archaeological theory; lithic and bone technology; zooarchaeology; complex societies; household archaeology; archaeology of human origins; archaeological resource management; Indigenous Peoples and archaeology; and public archaeology.

Current Projects:

  • Ancestral First Nations land-use and settlement patterns between 11,000-5,000 years ago on the central coast of British Columbia. Using newly developed techniques and theoretical frameworks, Farid is examining the stone tool technology at the site of Namu, which is located in Heiltsuk Traditional Territory.
  • Use of terrestrial mammal bone in coastal archaeological communities. An examination of the way in which land mammal remains in coastal sites are conceptualised by archaeologists.
  • Pebble tools and fish processing. Experimental projects to assess the potential of using pebble tool technology to process salmon.The development of early hominid cognition during the Lower Palaeolithic, based on palaeoenvironmental and archaeologic evidence from Eastern Africa.

Dr. Angèle Smith
Associate Professor
BA Hons (Toronto), MA (McMaster), PhD (Massachusetts)

Office:  3057 ADM
Tel:  250.960.6492

Research Interests:

• Landscapes place and space
• The construction of negotiation of cultural identities and the politics of representation

Dr. Smith's research focuses on landscapes, place and space, the construction and negotiation of cultural identities, and the politics of representation. She explores these concepts primarily in Ireland, in both historic and contemporary time periods. Spatial relations and material culture are central to her research, thus her work bridges many sub-disciplines: cultural anthropology, ethnohistory, and historical archaeology and reaches out to a broader audience that includes geographers and historians.

Her PhD dissertation entitled "Mapping Meanings: Representing Landscapes and Pasts in 19th Century Ireland", focused on the representation of social landscapes and the construction of competing identities on the colonial maps. Her research explores how the landscape and the past have been shaped by and help to shape the social meanings and social relations of power at the local level.

In keeping with these issues of place and identity, Dr. Smith's current research project, funded by the Social Sciences Research Council of Canada (SSHRD), deals with contemporary concerns of changing identity in Ireland within the European Union, and the results of the new urbanization process in Dublin, Ireland. Her interest is in the spatial marginalization of the new influx of refugees and asylum seekers and their experience with racism in Ireland. Specifically, she focuses on how the Irish State spatially engineers the social experiences of asylum seekers in Direct Provision Accommodation Centres, where they are housed for as long as 3-5 years as they await a decision on their refugee status.

Her teaching, like her research, crosses sub-disciplinary boundaries. She has taught widely across all fields of Anthropology: Introductory courses, theory courses and upper level thematic courses, including "Social Inequality", "Feminist Anthropology" and "Landscape, Place and Culture". In all of these she has emphasized the integrated and holistic nature of anthropological material. She is committed to teaching and mentoring both at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Social/Spatial Mapping of Asylum Seeker Centres in Ireland
As part of the larger project "Articulating Place and Identity: Social and Spatial Exclusion/Inclusion of Asylum Seekers in Ireland" this research maps the location of the State controlled asylum seeker Direct Provision Accommodation Centres across Ireland.
For details click here.

Adjunct Faculty

Dr. Erin Gibson
Adjunct Professor
BA (SFU), MPhil, PhD (Glasgow, Scotland)

Marie Sklodowska-Curie Research Fellow, Archaeology, University of Glasgow, Scotland -   

Research Interests:
•The archaeology and anthropology of movement and social interaction
• Heritage formation
• Contested landscapes

Dr. Gibson's research explores the cultural aspects of movement - where, why and how people move - while also investigating the material traces of that movement - the roads, paths and places of significance born through that movement. Her ongoing program of research explores the intersection of heritage, identity and movement in two contexts - in British Columbia with the indigenous Stl'atl'imx of the Lower Lillooet River Valley (SSHRC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship 2011-2013) and in Cyprus among the people of the Adephi Forest, Cyprus.

Currently a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Research fellow (2016-2018) at the University of Glasgow, her community-based participatory research in Cyprus explores the dynamics of heritage formation and its articulation.  To do this she focuses on the heritage of pathways within the Adelphi Forest - what they mean to the local villagers who built, used and maintain(ed) them.  In so doing, she aims to learn more about not only how such attachments are made, but how they might articulate with national and international heritage values.

"Negotiating Space: Routes of Communication in Roman to British Colonial Cyprus"
Read more:

Dr. James A. McDonald

BA Hons (Manitoba), MA (Alberta), PhD (UBC)

December 10, 1951 - February 20, 2015

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our friend and colleague.

Top of Page