Kellee Caton
2008 Valene Smith Winner

smith_caton.jpgKellee Caton is an independent cultural studies scholar who conducts social research in the areas of tourism and leisure.  Since attending SfAA in March, Kellee received her Ph.D. from the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  Her research focuses predominantly on cultural and heritage tourism.  Within this context, she studies the role of tourism and leisure in the production of ideologies about race, ethnicity, and poverty, as well as the lived experience of travel and its role in individuals’ life narratives.  Her work aims to uncover and understand practical ways that tourism can better serve as a force for positive social and individual change.


Hanna Ruckman
2008 Valene Smith Winner

smith_ruckman.jpgHanna Ruckman received an M.A. in Applied Anthropology at Cal State University of Long Beach [August 2008].  Her Master’s thesis entitled "Impacts of a Rural Tourism Community Theater Project, Patricios, Argentina," examines the positive effects involvement in a theater production had on a pueblo that had suffered loss of population due to the closure of a vital railroad line.  Course work at CSULB also  included an ethnographic data-gathering study of break dancers at an ethnically diverse community center and an evaluation of the effectiveness of a volunteer program at the environmental group Algalita Marine Research Foundation.  In the spring of 2008 Hanna presented her short film "Patricios Stands United" at the Society for Cultural Anthropology conference. 

Hanna earned her B.A. in International Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara [2005], and has studied abroad in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Argentina. Hanna was an intern at Direct Relief International, Santa Barbara, CA, and helped coordinate donation of medical supplies to local relief agencies following natural disasters in Thailand, Africa, and Louisiana.

In the summer of 2008 Hanna will begin working in New Delhi, India, with a community development organization called Kriti. This organization supports marginalized communities by helping to create self-sustaining and self-dependent models of development.


Melissa Stevens
2008 Valene Smith Winner

smith_stevens.jpgMelissa Stevens just received her Master of Applied Anthropology degree May 2008 from the University of Maryland, College Park, and will begin working toward her Ph.D. in the same department Fall 2008. Her focus is on community-based tourism and the relationship between INGOs and local organizations. She is currently involved in a project with Counterpart International and a local women's organization to plan and implement a community-based tourism business in rural Vietnam. Her poster examined the methods utilized to promote inclusion of vulnerable populations in the Vietnamese project, and analyzed the ways in which INGOs attempt to work within existing local systems of governance and decision-making to reach project goals.