Fiona Rose Greenland Profile
Fiona Rose-Greenland (Michigan & New College 1998) completed her DPhil in Classical Archaeology at Oxford and will receive her PhD in Sociology from the University of Michigan next spring. She writes on cultural policy and the black market trade in antiquities, and worked as a field archaeologist and museum curator before entering the field of Sociology. She and her family live in Chicago.
Rhodes Project: What book are you currently reading?
Fiona Rose-Greenland: Shamus Khan’s Privilege, a sociological study of how elite boarding schools shape young people and instill both confidence and a sense of entitlement in them. When I finish my current article I will treat myself to Philippa Gregory’s historical fiction. I am also reading the Harry Potter series with my kids, who are nine and seven.
Rhodes Project: What is currently playing on your iPod?
Fiona Rose-Greenland: I listen to a range of music of different genres and periods. I love opera and classical music. Brahms’s second and third symphonies and Dvorak’s cello concerto are perfect for when I’m cycling along the lake here in Chicago. My high school-age sister keeps me updated on Indie and folk singers (Kimbra is a current favorite). When I’m facing a writing deadline and I need to crank out the pages, I turn up Beyonce or early Prince songs.
Rhodes Project: Do you listen to any podcasts?
Fiona Rose-Greenland: Definitely. I like Corriere Diplomatico, an Italian current events and political program that I listen once or twice a week. My research deals with Italian cultural policy so I need to stay on top of the political changes in Rome (to the extent that anyone can stay on top of Italian political change!). Other favorite podcasts are BBC’s Making History series, and pretty much anything produced by NPR.
Rhodes Project: What do you like to do in your free time?
Fiona Rose-Greenland: I am still a long distance runner. I’ve been running since high school. I can’t do it quite as much as I did before I had kids, but I still get out five or six mornings per week to run before the rest of the household is up. I’ve also been doing more yoga these days than I used to. I sit at a desk for many hours doing research and writing so I need to stay limber for that. And finally, playing soccer or riding bikes with my kids are great for unwinding and relaxing.
Rhodes Project: If you weren’t a sociologist, what do you think you would have been?
Fiona Rose-Greenland: I would have loved to become a professional musician. That was my dream all through middle school and high school. My instrument was viola and I practiced four hours a day, six days a week while I was in high school. Just before entering a collegiate music program, though, I got a good talking-to by parents and loving teachers who thought that I should explore different options. They didn’t want to see me get stuck as a starving artist. It’s a life that I think would have been beautiful in its way, but now I play with no pressure to make a living off of it. I play purely for enjoyment.
Rhodes Project: What is the best part of your job?
Fiona Rose-Greenland: Two things: field work and teaching. I love teaching undergraduates. I love meeting people who are coming at sociology for the first time. I especially love the students who have just arrived on campus and are exploring many different aspects of their intellectual and social lives for the first time. It always gets me pumped up and gets me to keep working. And for fieldwork, I am engaged in a long-term project that requires me to spend summers in Italy at archaeology sites and in the archives in Rome. I feel very lucky to have work that I love in places, and with people, that are simply wonderful.
Rhodes Project: What is the most challenging part?
Fiona Rose-Greenland: In the course of my research, I’ve talked to people from very different walks of life. My current project focuses on tomb robbers in Italy. These are people who break into archeological sites and take things either for their own enjoyment or for personal gain by selling them on the black market. It’s difficult and slow work to build up trust with people who have no reason to share their life stories with me. But I like talking to people and it’s tremendously gratifying when they open up to me.
Rhodes Project: What is a piece of advice that has helped you at work?
Fiona Rose-Greenland: The best advice I’ve received is from my mother. I was feeling discouraged having had my second child and unsure if I could really go back to work and be an effective scholar. She told me that I had to be persistent and really focus on what it was that I loved, taking risks and insisting on my self-worth. This was before Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. This advice is easy to dispense but challenging to put into practice because it takes time to figure out what one really loves. That’s the mantra that I bring to my work every day.
Rhodes Project: Have you had an aha moment, or a turning point in life?
Fiona Rose-Greenland: There have been several aha moments rather than a single, pivotal revelation. One key moment was falling in love with my husband. He’s been with me for eleven years. We celebrated our tenth anniversary in July 2013. He has helped me to live and experience the world in a way that I hadn’t done before, and he encourages me to meet professional goals that might I might otherwise avoid. Another turning point was being asked to lead a collaborative project that involved several people more senior than I was. Their confidence in my ability allowed me to lead with thoughtfulness and decisiveness, opening doors to other life and work opportunities.
Rhodes Project: What is your biggest vice?
Fiona Rose-Greenland: Too many projects going on at once. Right now I am writing a book about the black market in antiquities, and have five collaborative projects at various stages of readiness. I also run a household of four. I have a lot of interests and I love working with people, especially because the sort of interdisciplinary work that I do requires familiarity with several sorts of experts. Even so, I recognize that there’s got to be a point where you have enough going on and must say “no” to new opportunities. The risk in not doing so is that the quality of one’s work suffers.
Rhodes Project: Who are some of your role models?
Fiona Rose-Greenland: If we step outside my immediate family, Gloria Steinem is somebody who I’ve thought about consistently throughout my years as a working mother. She’s taken on strong gender norms and laws that restricted women’s opportunities. I know that it’s a bit out of fashion now to say that the first wave feminists are role models, but I see Steinem and her generation of thinkers as enabling me to live the sort of life that I have. Michelle and Barack Obama are also tremendously inspiring to me. It’s easy to forget just how monumental their achievements have been. To be the first African-American family in the White House and to push our collective thinking on leadership, race and community… their exemplary citizenship sits especially profoundly with me now that I live in their old neighborhood in Chicago.
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