Debra PicchiDebra Picchi, Ph.D.

Professor of Anthropology
Behavioral Sciences Division

  • Ph.D. in Anthropology, University of Florida.
  • Former Coordinator of the Global Citizens Certificate Program

  • Field research in western Brazil with indigenous peoples.
  • Published second edition ethnography in 2006 called The Bakairi Indians of Brazil: Politics, Ecology and Change (Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press).

Courses Taught

  • Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
  • Human Sexuality
  • Violence and Aggression
  • Global Problems
  • Anthropological Theory and Ethics
  • Women Around the World

Teaching Interests
At Franklin Pierce University, I offer a number of courses. In addition to introductory survey courses such as Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, I teach such courses as Global Problems, in which we use the cross-cultural and historical perspectives to understand our rapidly-changing world.  We explore how the life ways of traditional peoples -- such as the indigenous groups I work with in Brazil (see photos) -- are transformed when they come into continuous contact with cultures such as our own.

Dr. Debra Picchi at Young African Leaders InstituteYoung African Leaders' Institute
In July of 2010, I was invited to give a presentation on global citizenship to a group of young Africans who had been brought to the University of Connecticut with a Department of State grant. Most of the people were from the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Senegal, and Mali.  They were bright, funny, and hardworking.

Islamic Culture Studies
In January 2005 I was invited to attend a month-long seminar on Islamic culture in Amman, Jordan at ACOR (the American Center for Oriental Research). This seminar was sponsored by the US Department of State, and twelve professors were chosen to attend from over 200 applicants. It was an exciting mix of lectures, discussions, visits to “ordinary” Jordanian homes, and travel to Palestinian refugee camps as well as archaeological ruins.

In March 2005 I was given an opportunity to visit another Muslim country. I traveled to Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (one of the Gulf countries) to attend the first Women as Global Leaders Conference. I gave a paper about the Global Citizenship Certificate Program at Franklin Pierce University and exchanged ideas about the political and economic role of women in an increasingly complex world with Arab, African, European and Asian attendees.


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In January 2006 I visited yet another Muslim country – Egypt. For two weeks, I visited archaeological and historical sites of interest. One of the high points was taking the overnight train from Cairo to Aswan, a city in southern Egypt. This was the point of embarkation for the trip down the Nile to Luxor and Thebes. While in Aswan, I traveled with a group by camel to visit a traditional Nubian village in the desert. (It was on this trip, I discovered I didn’t like camels!) I also flew by small plane to Abu Simbel, the beautiful temple built by Ramses II for his wife Nefertare. It was moved to high ground when the Aswan High Dam was built with the help of the Soviet Union.

I am convinced that as the regrettable tension builds between the governments of Islamic and Western societies, ordinary people like myself and the wonderfully friendly and open citizens of Jordan, Dubai, and Egypt that I met must come together to build bridges of trust, respect, and caring.

Criminal Justice
My contributions to our criminal justice program are courses in introductory anthropology and violence and aggression, both taught with a cross-cultural perspective that trains criminal justice students to appreciate how individual and group behavior has ethnic, gender and cultural explanations. This perspective shows our students that there are criminal justice systems other than our own, and that, like our system, they are influenced by economic, historic and cultural forces.


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Global Leadership Certificate Program
I was attracted to the University because of the small class size and the commitment to quality undergraduate education. I have not been disappointed in what I have experienced, finding Pierce to be a place where students are the ones who really matter. This Certificate Program is an example of this. A number of interested faculty members came together to develop a program that will expose students to an interdisciplinary sequence of courses. Students from any major will find courses that will appeal to them from the provided selection.  The program also gives students the opportunity to practice their leadership skills in an internship and to have a cross-cultural experience.

Recent Publications

  • Unlikely Amazons: Brazilian Indigenous Gender Constructs in a Modern Context.  (2003) History and Anthropology Vol. 13(1):23-39.
  • Indigenous Americans Managing Their Own World.  (2003) Reviews in Anthropology.
  • Bakairi.  Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender

Research Interests
In 2002-2003 I received a Franklin Pierce University Faculty Grant to survey about 50 percent of the seniors on campus and to follow up with one-on-one interviews with some of these same students. My goal was to gain a greater understanding of how students envisioned their lives for the first five years following graduation. I also wanted to discover whether there were gender-based differences in their expectations. I presented a report of my findings to the faculty in the spring of 2003, to the Board of Trustees in the summer of 2003, and Celebrating the Liberal Arts in the fall of 2003. Read the summary report here: Five Years After Pierce: Strategies for Life After College Graduation  PDF 

Other research interests include:

Contact Information
Address: Department of Anthropology, Franklin Pierce University, Rindge, NH 03461
Phone: (603) 899-4264
Fax: (603) 899-4324
E-mail: picchids@franklinpierce.edu