Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

M. Gabriela Torres

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

What I teach: I teach culture! I want to work with students to understand how people in different contexts make sense of their lives, but I am particularly interested in the role that inequality plays in structuring the forms that culture takes.

What keeps me excited about teaching: Having the privilege to be in a room when students question what they think is “true” and “natural”! I am inspired to lead students to learn about how knowledge of cultural difference can allow us to better understand ourselves.

Why I chose Wheaton: At Wheaton I am able to teach students who are genuinely interested in making a difference in their world, and I can work with colleagues who care deeply about the classroom and their community and who share my interest in engaged research.

My research focus: I work on understanding how violence works to shape individuals, institutions and society. The disruptions of violence produce culture.

My academic claim to fame: Acts of violence communicate and are actively used by states and individuals to construct notions of citizenship and belonging. The study of violence inflicted on women’s bodies is a particularly productive way to understand how society defines who matters and how they matter.

The connected course I’m teaching now and what I hope students get from it: “Peoples and Cultures of Latin America” focuses on how identity is shaped by history, geographies, culture and economies. I hope students understand how Latin Americans are active agents in making their world—even those living within deep economic constraints.

What I want every Wheaton student to learn: Difference matters. I want students to learn that opening up to different perspectives, points of view, and different ways of being human can enrich their own lives and our world.

One of the best books I’ve read: For me it is a toss up between Tamarind Mem by Anita Rau Badami and  A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. Their narratives engaged my essence.

What few people know about me: I love reading Postcolonial literature, and I have a cat named Melon Head.