Meet the New CFS Postdoc: Jasper Waugh-Quasebarth

August 30, 2019
Jasper W-Q sits with guitar in hand.

From CFS Director Katey Borland:

Greetings from your returning Director! It gives me great pleasure to introduce our first CFS Postdoc, Jasper Waugh-Quasebarth, who is joining us this fall for a two year stint at OSU. We hope the following short interview gives a sense of the many talents Jasper brings to our community.

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KB: Could you tell us how you came to study anthropology?

JWQ: I’ve always been interested in the diversity and breadth of human experience. As an undergrad, I was waiting in line to sign up for more information about being an archaeology major and noticed that the line was much shorter for cultural anthropology. After switching lines, I was encouraged to enroll in a class exploring the lives of Amazonian peoples and I was humbled and inspired by what I learned about the vastly different ways of seeing the world and writing ethnography. This class led to my first field experience in Guyana as an undergrad, and I’ve been working at the intersections of the humanities and social sciences ever since.

KB: What do you most like about fieldworking?

 JWQ: I really enjoy connecting with people through learning from them. I see fieldwork as a process of learning, be it a skill, a language, a craft, or a worldview. Being able to connect with someone over a song, story, recipe, or broken alternator bridges so many gaps and really opens up the ground to cultivate relationships.

KB:  If I ask you to share a single moment of intensity in your most recent fieldwork experience, what’s the first thing that you think of?

JWQ: During my fieldwork apprenticing with instrument makers in West Virginia, I lived in my great-grandparents' old house. Though the region is not isolated, living on top of a mountain in a house by myself throughout the winter certainly was isolating at times. I really struggled with the sense of loneliness that a lot of us encounter in fieldwork. Thankfully, the close relationship I developed by apprenticing with violin maker Paolo Marks and his family helped me through the winter months and onto a fantastic spring.

KB:  Fieldwork is like that.  One moment you feel far away from everything you know and love. The next, you’re knee deep in a fascinating world of new experiences.

KB: I notice that you are already an award-winning teacher. What are you most excited to explore with students here at Ohio State?

JWQ: Methods! I love talking ethnographic methods and writing. There’s a vast methodological tool-kit that can get lumped into the category of ethnography. I’m really looking forward to exploring how students’ specific research interests and experiences will guide their ethnographic projects.

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We are thrilled that Jasper is contributing his expertise in Appalachian Studies, Community-Museum relations, and environmental humanities to the Ohio Field School’s current engagement project, Sharing Visions: Intergenerational Succession Planning in Appalachian Ohio. Jasper is teaching 2367.05: The U.S. Folk Experience in autumn 2019 and will co-teach the Ohio Field School with me, Dr. Katherine Borland in spring 2020.

Jasper holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Kentucky, where he defended his dissertation, “Finding the Singing Spruce: Craft Labor, Global Forests, and Musical Instrument Makers in Appalachia.” Dr. Waugh-Quasebarth has also worked with the Smithsonian Institution on their Asian Cultural History Program at the National Museum of Natural History. He has conducted Comparative fieldwork on instrument making in Appalachia and the Carpathian Mountains of Romania.

You may reach Jasper at Waugh-quasebarth.1@osu.edu.