Shirley Heying

Shirley Heying

Assistant Professor


I am a first-generation college student and now a cultural anthropologist and genocide scholar. I earned my Bachelor of Science in international business from St. Cloud State University in my home state of Minnesota. I earned my Masters of Arts and PhD degrees in anthropology from the University of New Mexico, where I have been living since 2002.

My doctoral research focused on examining the long-term consequences of genocide on the lives of war orphans in Guatemala. Working with these child survivors of genocide-most of whom are now in their 30s and early 40s-I explored and continue to examine the intersections of global mental health (particularly genocide-related trauma), indigenous identity, race relations, human agency, and state power in Guatemala.

In addition, I developed an undergraduate community-based participatory research project that trained and utilized undergraduate students from the University of New Mexico main campus as researchers who are examining the effects of globalization, border issues, and the Mexican drug war on the lives of children and youth living colonias (or un-incorporated communities) in the El Paso/Juarez borderlands.

My most recent research project involves studying the underlying mechanisms involved in group hate, which is reflected in social phenomena such as Islamophobia in the United States, including right here in New Mexico. My aim is to work with a diverse group of adolescents in the Gallup, New Mexico area to better understand their perspectives and experiences with Islamophobia in order to better understand how group hate-which is inherently a first step towards genocide-works.

  • 2004 M.A., Anthropology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • 2012 Ph.D., Anthropology, Distinction, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dissertation Title Finding Hope: Guatemalan War Orphans' Responses to the Long-Term Consequences of Genocide.
  • 1993 B.S., International Business, Summa Cum Laude Honors, Saint Cloud State University, Saint Cloud, Minnesota. Regional emphasis: Latin America. Concentration: Personnel Management.
  • ANTH101 (Introduction to Anthropology)
  • ANTH130 (Cultures of the World)
  • GEOG102 (People and Place)
  • Teaching: I currently hold over 7 years of teaching experience at the university level. I have taught at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, Western Oregon University in Monmouth and now at the University of New Mexico Gallup branch. I have offered anthropology courses and a course in cultural geography, as well as upper-division interdisciplinary courses that have been cross-listed in the psychology, sociology, peace studies, Africana studies, and American studies departments of the University of New Mexico. As a first generational college student, I am aware of the many challenges students face and work diligently to offer students challenging courses, while helping them meet the demands of courses in effective, constructive ways.
  • Research: I have conducted qualitative and quantitative research in English and Spanish in Guatemala, Albuquerque, New Mexico and in the U.S./Mexico borderlands near El Paso, Texas. My work not only emphasizes the utility of ethnographic methods in particular, but also seeks to involve undergraduate students in community participatory action research that focuses on working with communities in research.
  • Service: My service work involves both campus-based and community involvement. At UNMG, I serve on multiple committees designed to help to advance the mission of the university. In addition, I serve as a volunteer with community organizations designed to increase awareness and to give New Mexico students the opportunity to participate in global activities that will strengthen their understanding of others and our global community.
  • Heying, S., D. Witherington, J. Smith, and J. Gibbons 2016 Posttraumatic Distress and Growth among Guatemalan War Orphans in Adulthood. International Perspectives in Psychology: Research, Practice, Consultation, 5(1):18-33.
  • Heying, S. 2015 Review of Maya after War: Conflict, Power, and Politics in Guatemala, by Jennifer L. Burrell Political and Legal Anthropology Review (PoLAR), 38(2):373-375.
  • Witherington, D., and S. Heying 2015 The Study of Process and the Nature of Explanation in Developmental Science. Review of General Psychology, 19(3):345-356.
  • Heying, S. 2014 Review of Hidden Genocides: Power, Knowledge, Memory, by Alexander Laban Hilton, Thomas 2014 La Pointe, and Douglas Irvin-Erickson (editors). Journal of Anthropological Research, 70(4), University of New Mexico.
  • Heying, S. 2013 Review of Warning Signs of Genocide: An Anthropological Perspective, by E. N. Anderson and Barbara A. Anderson. Journal of Anthropological Research, University of New Mexico, 69(4), University of New Mexico.
  • Witherington, D. and S. Heying 2013 Embodiment and Agency: Toward a Holistic Synthesis for Developmental Science. In Advances in Child Development and Behavior, Vol. 45. R.M. Lerner and J.B. Benson, eds. Oxford: Elsevier.
  • Waitzkin, H., C. Getrich, S. Heying, L. Rodriguez, A. Parmar, C. Willging, J. Yager, and R. Santos. 2011 Promotoras as Mental Health Practitioners in Primary Care: A Multi-Method Study of an Intervention to Address Contextual Sources of Depression. In Journal of Community Health, 36:316-311.
  • 2016 The Dr. Teresa Wilkins Award for Faculty Excellence, University of New Mexico-Gallup
  • 2014-2015 Student Clubs and Organizations Advisor of the Year, Western Oregon University.
  • 2013 Nomination, 2012-2013 Affiliated Teacher of the Year Award, Office of Support for Effective Teaching and Faculty Senate Teaching Enhancement Committee, University of New Mexico.
  • 2012-2013 Teacher Appreciation Recipient, Sigma Xi Fraternity, University of New Mexico.
  • 2011-2012 Susan Deese-Roberts Teaching Assistant of the Year, Office of Support for Effective Teaching and Faculty Senate Teaching Enhancement Committee, University of New Mexico.
  • 2010 Outstanding Faculty & Staff Recognition Award, Teaching Recognition, American Indian Student Services, University of New Mexico
  • 2009 Apple Polishers Teacher Appreciation Recipient, Chi Omega Sorority, University of New Mexico.