Dr. Ellen Bigler

Ellen Bigler head shot
  • Professor Emerita

After completing a BA in Sociology, Dr. Bigler participated in National Teacher Corps. She subsequently taught secondary Social Studies in New York for 13 years before leaving to pursue graduate work in cultural anthropology. In her doctoral research she examined a community conflict between Latinos and senior white ethnics in upstate New York, where struggles over multiculturalism and bilingualism came to the fore. Dr. Bigler served as consultant for the New York State K-12 curriculum project Latinos in the USA: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, and has led teacher training sessions on diversity-related issues. In 2002 she received a Fulbright to teach and conduct research in Salvador Brazil, focusing on race, identity, and educational well-being in Brazilian schools. More recently she participated in the Rhode Island–Israel College Consortium Project (RIICC), joining colleagues in two Israeli universities to pursue research and offer conferences on multiculturalism and education in diverse societies. She holds a joint appointment in Anthropology and Educational Studies, and is co-founder of RIC’s Dialogue on Diversity, which recently celebrated its twentieth year.


State University of New York at Albany, PhD, Cultural Anthropology
State University of New York at Albany, M.A. in Cultural Anthropology
State University of New York at Albany, Certificate in Latin American, Caribbean and Puerto Rican Studies
State University of New York at Albany, M.A.T. in Basic Classroom Teaching, Social Studies
Ohio State University, B.A. in Sociology

Selected Publications

Panel Organizer: “Critical Issues in Culturally Pluralistic Societies.” International conference Not in My Back Yard (NIMBY): Inter-Cultural Inclusion in Educational Systems and in Society. Beit Berl College and Oranim College, January 7 and 8, 2015, Israel. Presentation: “Naming and Confronting Privilege: It’s not about Difference.” Beit Berl College, January 7, 2015.

Book Review: "Rebecca M. Callahan and Chandra Muller. Coming of political age: American schools and the civic development of immigrant youth," Journal of Interdisciplinary Feminist Thought: Vol. 8: Iss. 1, Article 6 (2014). At: http://digitalcommons.salve.edu/jift/vol8/iss1/6/

Co-author, with L. Willox and J. Shiller. “The Teaching of Race and Class in American Social Studies Classrooms,” In The Status of Social Studies: Views from the Field, J. Passe and P. Fitchett, eds. Information Age Publishers, 2013. (Based on a national research study of social studies educators across the country; also responsible for administering the Rhode Island component of the study.)
"Hispanics/Latinos in the U.S.A." (significantly revised/ updated chapter) In Race and Ethnicity: The United States and the World. Raymond Scupin, ed. Prentice Hall, 2011, 203 - 245.

Four encyclopedia entries (Chicano Movement; Brazilians [in the USA]; Afro-Latinos; American GI Forum) in Latino History and Culture: An Encyclopedia. Editors David J. Leonard and Carmen Lugo-Lugo, published by M.E. Sharpe, October 2009.

“In Search of America: Latina/os (Re)Constructing the USA” in Revista da FAEEBA (journal published by the State University of Bahia, Brazil), January/June 2006, pp. 239-257. At: http://digitalcommons.ric.edu/facultypublications/254/
"Hispanics/Latinos in the U.S.A." In Race and Ethnicity: An Anthropological Focus on the U.S. and the World,. Raymond Scupin, ed. Prentice Hall, 2003.

“White Teachers Race Matters: Preparing Teachers for the New Millennium.” Electronic Magazine of Multicultural Education (EMME), originally available at http://www.eastern.edu/publications/emme/2002spring. vol.4, no.1, Spring 2002. At: http://digitalcommons.ric.edu/facultypublications/266/

American Conversations: Puerto Ricans, White Ethnics, and Multicultural Education. 1999. Temple University Press. 
"Dangerous Discourses: Language Politics and Classroom Practices in Upstate New York." In Centro Journal, Theme Issue "The Education of Puerto Ricans," Volume IX - Number 1 (Winter 1996-97).

Research Interests & Awards

Research Interests

Educational Anthropology

Race and Ethnicity


Identity Formation

Latino Cultures

Race and Education in Brazil

Brazilians in the USA

Language Ideology

Portuguese Speakers in USA


Rhode Island College Alumni Association Faculty Award Winner 2016

Fulbright Lecture and Research Award - Salvador, Bahia, Brazil 2002