Lindsey King, an associate professor of Anthropology at ETSU, bought a one-way ticket to Europe when she was a sophomore in college and believed she was never coming back.
After spending time backpacking through Europe, King, a Bristol native, did eventually return to the United States, where she received her undergraduate degree in art history and her master’s degree in folk studies.
It was at the age of 40 she decided to get a doctoral degree in cultural anthropology, after working in museums.
“One reason I went back to get my doctoral degree is because I was tired of having ethnic artifacts, and I didn’t know what they were for,” she said. “So I wanted to study cultures.”
According to King, she has always been fascinated by different cultures around the world.
“I think like a lot of people I grew up looking at ‘National Geographic,’” she said. “I am a book worm. I read about as many cultures as possible. I just loved knowing about people who were different than me and seeing how similar we all are.”
King currently teaches several courses in the Anthropology Department, including Introduction of Cultural Anthropology, as well as various upper-level courses.
She does not just teach anthropology, though; King conducts research on the material cultures of different belief systems. She has spent time doing research on religious offerings in Cornwall, England, as well as studying artifacts shaped like heads, hands and other body parts from a Roman Catholic shrine in Brazil.
“These offerings are people that have crafted what is physically, socially or mentally wrong with them and given it to a saint to thank him for healing them,” she said.
King is currently on sabbatical this semester, a period of paid leave granted to a university teacher or other worker for study or travel. She plans to travel to New Orleans, Louisiana, to continue studying similar offerings in a cemetery created in 1878 due to yellow fever.
King says after hurricane Katrina in 2005, people who survived the hurricane in the eighth ward of the city began to revive the tradition of leaving the offerings.
According to King, while cultures have always fascinated her, the reason she finds her area of research so interesting is simple.
“It’s passion,” she said. “I’m very interested in passion.”