Areas of Interest:
Ethnography; Post-socialism; Transitional Justice; Memory; Materiality; Necropolitics; Participatory Action Research; Albania
I am a doctoral candidate in socio-cultural anthropology interested in the intersection of transitional justice mechanisms and the historical memory of the socialist period in Albania. My dissertation analyzes the role that civil society and the first post-socialist generation born in the 1990s play in imagining, realizing, and evaluating projects that deal with the socialist period nearly 30 years later following the collapse of the country’s communist dictatorship. Research for this dissertation has been sponsored by the J. William Fulbright Research program and the American Councils Title VIII Research program.
My doctoral project builds on my Master’s research in socio-cultural anthropology. My MA thesis ethnographically explored Albania’s post-socialist transition through the movement and manipulation of the material iterations of the former dictator’s body (from his actual corpse to the dozens of statues and monuments produced and subsequently destroyed). Even 30 years following the transition to a liberal, democratic state, the former dictator’s bodily presence continues to exert some force on the shape of socialism’s material remains and memory politics today. My Masters research was sponsored by the University of North Carolina’s Center for Global Initiatives and Center for European Studies.
Other Projects and Collaborations:
The Laboratory for Albanian Culture and Arts (LACA), 2018 and onward:
In 2018, I cofounded the Laboratory for Albanian Culture and Arts (LACA), an informal network of interdisciplinary scholars in Albania interested in the cross over of Albanian studies, humanities, and social sciences, with Raino Isto, Arba Bekteshi, and Jonathan Eaton. For our inaugural activity, we organized the 2018 local symposium on dead-body politics in Tirana, Albania, which featured 6 speakers, from academic and activist communities. Most recently in 2019, LACA consulted on the creation of a 5-year public art action plan produced by Ekphrasis Studio, titled “Politika dhe Plan Veprimi për Artet Publike Tiranë” or “The Public Art Policy and Action Plan (2019-2024) for Tirana.” Going forward, LACA would like to expand its efforts to create more opportunities for early career Albanian scholars to engage in public scholarship that draws on local understandings of public art to shape policy.
The Oral History Manual Project, 2018:
In 2018, I worked with the executive director of the Institute for Democracy, Media and Culture (IDMC) Jonila Godole and the Edlira Agolli, of the OSCE presence in Albania, to research and write Manual mbi Historinë Gojore: Ide e Praktika për Nxënës, Mësues, dhe Studiues të Rinj – The Oral History Manual: Ideas and Practices for Pupils, Teachers, and Young Researchers, published in print and online by IDMC in 2019. This manual is an introductory guide on how to design oral history projects, conduct oral history interviews, and use those interviews as a resource – in classroom work and research. Written with high school teachers and young Albanian researchers in mind, this manual represents one of the first accessible resources published in Albanian on the topic of oral history education.
Projekti Arkeologjik i Shkodrës (PASH), 2010 and onward:
My anthropological roots stem from the material. Since 2010, I have been involved in the Shkodra Archaeological Survey Project – a diachronic and systematic survey of the northern Albanian region of Shkodra. In 2010, I was invited by Dr. Michael Galaty to participate in survey; during that year, I also worked in the laboratory, processing and drawing diagnostic ceramics. At the 2011, 2012, and 2013 field seasons, I served as the survey team leader for the hills team. Since 2014, I have participated in the final survey and excavation efforts, helped update our extensive lithics database with the lithics specialist Rudenc Ruka, compiled and edited the survey team reports from the 2010-2014 field seasons, and drafted the PASH zone report.
MA, Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 2017
BA, Sociology and Anthropology, Millsaps College, 2012
I am a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC) and a socio-cultural anthropologist whose work is based in Eastern Europe. My current research focuses on the application of transitional justice mechanism and the construction of historical memory in Albania. In particular, I investigate the role that civil society and the first post-socialist generation play in imagining, realizing, and evaluating projects that deal with the socialist past nearly 30 years following the collapse of the country’s communist dictatorship. My current and previous research has been funded by the Fulbright Foundation, the American Councils Title VIII program, the UNC Center for European Studies, and the UNC Center for Global Initiatives.
At the University of British Columbia, I am a sessional faculty member of the Department of Anthropology and a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for European Studies. I am currently teaching ANTH 301 Ethnography of Eurasia – which examines the ways that socialist ideals and politics structured lives in the region of Eurasia and continues to shape them in the post-socialist era today.
Articles and Book Chapters Forthcoming:
Rocker, Kailey and Arba Bekteshi. (In press). “Exploring an Unstructured Participatory Action Research Frame: Mourning as a Tool for Social Interposition in Tirana, Albania.” Irish Journal of Anthropology.
Rocker, Kailey and Jonathan Eaton. “Acting Out the Future of the Albanian National Theatre: New Heritage at the Intersection of Resistance and New Media.” Theorizing Heritage through Non-Violent Resistance. Edited by Evren Uzer and Feras Hammami. Palgrave.
Rocker, Kailey. 2019. “Rrënojat, Trupat dhe Piramidat: Eksplorimi i Rrënojave Komuniste dhe i Politikave të Kujtesës në Shqipëri.” Mes Apatisë dhe Nostalgjisë: Kujtesa Publika dhe Private e Komunizmit në Shqipërinë e Sotme. Edited by Jonila Godole and Idrit Idrizi. IDMC: Tirana, Albania.
Godole, Jonila; Kailey Rocker; and Edlira Agolli. 2019. Manual mbi Historinë Gojore: Ide e Praktika për Nxënës, Mësues, dhe Studiues të Rinj. [The Oral History Manual: Ideas and Practices for Pupils, Teachers, and Young Researchers.] IDMC: Tirana, Albania.
ANTH 445: Migration and Health
This upper-level seminar explores the intersections between migratory processes and the political, economic, and social dimensions of health and well-being among migrants, their families, and their communities. This is a past course taught at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
This upper-level course explores some of the profound ways that socialist ideals and politics structured lives in the region of Eurasia and, in many critical ways, continue to shape lives in a post-socialist era.
2018 American Councils Title VIII Research Grant
2018 European Association of Social Anthropologists / Wenner Gren Travel Grant
2018 Museum of Transitory Arts Travel Grant for the Nonuments Symposium
2017-2018 J. William Fulbright Research Award – Albania
2017 American Councils Title VIII Combined Research and Language Grant
2016 UNC Graduate School Travel Grant
2016 UNC Center for Global Initiatives Pre-Dissertation Travel Award
2016 Foreign Language Area Studies Grant Summer Fellowship – Declined
2015 Harriet J. Kupferer Graduate Investigators Fund
2015 Foreign Language Area Studies Grant (FLAS) Summer Fellowship
2015 UNC Graduate and Professional Student Federation Travel Grant
2012 Magna Cum Laude, Honors in Anthropology – Millsaps College
2012 Francis L.B. Jones Award in Anthropology – Millsaps College
2012 Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Chapter Mississippi
2011-2012 Millsaps College Ford Fellowship
2011 Millsaps College Honors Research and Travel Grant
2010-2011 Millsaps College Keck Fellowship