- Associate Professor
- Director of Undergraduate Studies
Dr. Vanderhurst is an associate professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Kansas, with courtesy appointments in the Departments of Anthropology, African and African American Studies, and Global and International Studies. She earned a PhD in cultural anthropology from Brown University in 2014 and then served as the Jerome Hall Postdoctoral Fellow with the Center for Law, Culture, and Society in the Michael Maurer School of Law at Indiana University. Her research explores the fraught intersections between public outrage and public policy in Nigeria, where she has conducted fieldwork since 2008. That work has been funded by the Fulbright Program, National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the West Africa Research Association.
More recent and ongoing research explores how other state projects police mobility and sexuality in Nigeria, including police harassment of women accused of being sex workers and feminist organizing against the police tactical unit that led to the worldwide #EndSARS protests. This research was funded by a US Fulbright Scholar Award with the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, at the University of Lagos.
Dr. Vanderhurst specializes in teaching qualitative research methods for the WGSS Department. She has developed and maintained the first undergraduate research requirement for WGSS majors and minors, helping students harness their own interests and goals into meaningful independent research and senior capstone projects. She also regularly teaches the graduate-level research methods class for the WGSS department, designed for doctoral and graduate certificate students in WGSS, with an emphasis on feminist epistemology and its applications in feminist research ethics and methods. Other previously taught courses address topics in international migration, global feminisms, and introduction to WGSS.
Dr. Vanderhurst has served as the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the WGSS Department since 2017. In that role, she has worked to expand the role of undergraduate research in WGSS programs to meet student interests and professional goals. Dr. Vanderhurst is also a Fellow with KU’s Office of Fellowships, where she helps students pursue national scholarship awards and other funding opportunities.
Dr. Vanderhurst's first book, Unmaking Migrants, examines anti-trafficking campaigns in Nigeria that rescue women by force and work to rehabilitate them into a life they no longer want for themselves. It asks, who do anti-trafficking programs target and why (or why not) would those women see themselves as victims? How do those in charge of intervention programs understand their responsibilities to migrant women and to the public? What happens when migrant women resist the security protections ostensibly designed to help them, and how do these confrontations fit within other globalized schemes for border policing? How do migrants themselves understand the dangers of undocumented travel, and how do they reconcile those risks with their desires for a better life? This book explores these questions ethnographically, documenting the day-to-day confrontations between migrant women detained in a shelter for trafficking victims and the counseling staff trying to help them.
Selected Publications —
Vanderhurst, S. (2017). Governing with God: Religion, Resistance, and the State in Nigeria’s Counter-Trafficking Programs. Political and Legal Anthropology Review, 194-209. DOI:10.1111/plar.12215
Vanderhurst, S. (2022). Unmaking Migrants. Cornell University Press.