Jen K Hughes

I am a doctoral candidate in Sociocultural Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (Ph.D. expected Jan. 2021). Currently, I am finishing my dissertation and working as the Research Assistant and Program Coordinator for the Race, Indigeneity, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (RIGS) Initiative at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. In Spring 2021, I will begin a Postdoctoral Fellowship for the RIGS Initiative and wrap up my documentary film project. My book project and documentary film trace how Iceland is narrativized and imagined through future talk and nostalgia for pre-colonial sovereignty and the impact of these practices on the construction of whiteness, gender, and sexuality in “Europe” from the “periphery”. Storytelling practices within Iceland (particularly due to ongoing crises) circulate and produce often-untranslatable concepts of value, gender, human/non-human relations and time. However, many stories about Iceland posit the “Icelandic Model” as key to economic recovery and democratic superiority despite ongoing scandals, busts and government instability. In my work, I argue that queer and trans studies, post-colonial, critical race and ethnic studies and critical queer indigenous studies provide tools necessary to understand the influence of colonialism and racism on the formation of contemporary capitalism. By centering Icelandic storytelling by young people in politics along with cultural production around post-millennial financial and political crises, I show how uneven political-economic practices and place-specific queer possibilities come to be lauded and exported as templates for global economic futures. Ethnographic research, writing and film production for my dissertation project were funded and supported by the American-Scandinavian Foundation, Leifur-Eiriksson Foundation, the Hella Mears Graduate Fellowship in German and European Studies, and the Graduate School and the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • B.A.: Anthropology and Gender Studies, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA, 2010.


  • Capitalism, Economic Crisis, Utopia and Economy as concept
  • Iceland, Northern Europe and North Atlantic
  • Time, Language, Sovereignty, Translation, Humans/Non-Humans, Ontology and Cosmology
  • Storytelling, Narrative, and Film
  • Feminist, Indigenous and Queer Theory and Methods; Critical Theory
  • Settler Colonialism, Whiteness, Decolonization, Race and Inequality
  • Lesbian and LGTBQ ethnography, film and history
Courses Taught
  • Course Instructor, ANTH 4053: Economic Anthropology (Economy, Culture, Critique): Queering Capitalism
  • Course Instructor, GLBT 1001/GWSS 1007: Introduction to GLBT Studies
  • Teaching Assistant, ANTH 1003, Section 005 & 007, Understanding Cultures (Introduction to Cultural Anthropology), University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Spring 2017
  • Course Instructor, ANTH 3212/GLOS 3212: Globalization, Markets and Inequality, Summer 2018
  • Guest Lecturer (Spring 2013), ANTH 5980/ ANTH 3980 (cross-listed with German Studies): Art, Politics and Diversity - Degenerate Art in Nazi Germany
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • Walker Art Center Film/Video Curatorial Oral History Project : Project Coordinator, Video Producer, Interviewer, Historian, Archival Researcher, Content Supervisor for Video Interviews with Former Film/Video Dept. Curators , August 2013 - November 2013
  • Digital Producer,, Discovery Channel: May 2011 - May 2012


  • Co-convener, IAS Collaborative: Moving Image and Media Studies Interdisciplinary Graduate Group: February 2018 - Present
  • Contributing Editor: Cultural Anthropology, Visual and New Media Review, Contributing Editors Program, May 2017 - Present
  • Co-president, Anthropology Graduate Student Organization, University of Minnesota: September 2014 - September 2015
  • Dissertation Writing Fellowship, Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowship ($25,000), Institute for Advanced Study, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, September 2017 - August 2018
  • Course Development Grant ($5000) for "Queering Capitalism", Steven J. Schochet Endowment for GLBT Studies, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, June 2017 - August 2017
  • International Thesis Research Travel Grant ($5,000), Graduate School, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, September 2016 - December 2016
  • Dissertation Fieldwork Grant ($23,000), American-Scandinavian Foundation Fellowship, Thor Thors Memorial Fund, September 2015 - September 2016
  • Dissertation Fieldwork Grant ($25,000), Leifur Eiriksson Foundation Fellowship, Administered by The Icelandic Government, The Central Bank of Iceland and University of Virginia, August 2015 - August 2016
  • Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Summer Fellowship, Intermediate and Advanced Icelandic, U.S. Dept. of Education and University of Minnesota (declined award), May 2015 - August 2015
  • College of Liberal Arts, Video Production & Media Services Fellowship, University of Minnesota, August 2014 - May 2015
  • College of Liberal Arts, Video Production & Media Services Summer Fellowship, University of Minnesota, May 2014 - August 2014
  • College of Liberal Arts, Video Production & Media Services Fellowship, University of Minnesota, August 2013 - May 2014
  • College of Liberal Arts Graduate Fellowship ($22,500), University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, September 2012 - May 2013
  • Mount Holyoke College, Dean of Faculty Fellowship, Jan - Feb 2009
  • Space History Fellowship, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Jan - Feb 2009