Jennifer Cole conducts research on processes of social memory and forgetting; she has recently begun to focus on youth as a pivotal group through which to understand the social dynamics of intergenerational reproduction and change. Her first book, Forget Colonialism? Sacrifice and the Art of Memory in Madagascar (University of California Press, 2001), was based on extensive fieldwork in rural east Madagascar. In it, she explored the social practices that mediated how people remembered the colonial past and the implications of memory practices on the construction of postcolonial subjectivity.
While at Radcliffe, Cole will write a book provisionally titled “Sex, Money, and God: Youth, Families, and the Intimate Politics of Globalization.” The book will examine the impact of Madagascar’s move from state socialism to neoliberal reform on youth and families. In particular, she will explore two competing responses to recent social and economic reform: those youth engaged in practices of prostitution and transactional sex and those who join new evangelical churches.
Cole has received fellowships from the Wenner-Glen Foundation, the Fulbright Program (Madagascar, 1992–1993; 2000–2001), and the National Humanities Center. She received her doctoral degree in anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley and taught in the department of anthropology at Harvard University before joining the Committee on Human Development at the University of Chicago, where she is currently an assistant professor.