Charles D. Thompson, Jr. is Professor of the Practice of Cultural Anthropology and Documentary Studies at Duke University.
The common thread through all of my work — whether as a professor, author, filmmaker, or photographer — is a deep concern for people doing their all to have a voice in our agricultural systems. I try to lead my students and broader audiences into conversations with those who are all too often invisible to those who eat.”
Thompson holds a Ph.D. in religion and culture from UNC-Chapel Hill, with concentrations in cultural studies and Latin American studies. He also holds an M.S. degree in Agricultural Education from NC A&T State University. His particular interests include farmworkers, immigration, agriculture, Appalachian Studies, place, and pilgrimage. His methodology includes oral history, ethnographic writing, documentary filmmaking, and collaborative community activism.
A former farmer, Thompson remains concerned about issues affecting laborers within our food system. He has written about farmworkers, and he is an advisory board member of Student Action with Farmworkers, the Duke Campus Farm, and other Duke food and agriculture initiatives.
Thompson is author or editor of six books, including Border Odyssey: Traveling the US/Mexico Divide (2015), Spirits of Just Men: Mountaineers, Liquor Bosses, and Lawmen in the Moonshine Capital of the World, and, with Melinda Wiggins, of The Human Cost of Food: Farmworker Lives, Labor, and Advocacy.
Thompson is also the producer/director of six documentary films, including Homeplace Under Fire, Border Crossing 101, Faces of Time, Brother Towns/ Pueblos Hermanos (2010), We Shall Not Be Moved (2008), and The Guestworker (2007).
Thompson’s current projects include an agricultural memoir entitled, A Farmer’s Turn (in press), a film about the Blue Ridge Virginia farm settlements and unsettlements provisionally entitled, Rock. Castle. Home. and a long-term research project entitled “America’s Sacred Spaces.”