About Christina

Professor of Anthropology | (940) 565-2752 | christina.wasson@unt.edu

Download Christina Wasson's CV

Christina Wasson’s work is motivated by a passion for three Cs: communication, collaboration, and community-building, in both face-to-face and online contexts. On the one hand, these concepts are objects of investigation for Christina.  On the other, they are characteristics of her team-oriented approach to research.

To investigate the three Cs, Christina travels across the fields of design anthropology, anthropology of technology, linguistic anthropology, and organizational anthropology.  Her work is both theoretical and applied.

Christina was trained as a linguistic anthropologist.  After finishing her Ph.D., she worked for E-Lab, a design firm that used anthropological research to develop new product ideas. Here she developed an interest in the emergent field of design anthropology. She was a founding member of the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference (EPIC) steering committee.  

Current and Recent Research 

User-Centered Design of Language Archives

More than half of the world’s 7,000 or so languages are at risk of no longer being spoken by the end of this century. Online language archives can potentially play a valuable role in language preservation and revitalization. This research trajectory brings the fields of language archives and user-centered design into dialogue, with the goal of improving users’ experiences with language archives and making them more accessible and useful. The first step was a workshop in February 2016 (funded by NSF grants 1543763 and 1543828). Christina is currently collaborating on the development of several language archives.

 CollaboratorsGary Holton, Heather Roth, Shobhana Chelliah, Alexis Palmer, Rodney Nielsen, Emma Nalin, students in 2016 Design Anthropology class
Wasson, C., G. Holton and H. Roth. 2016. Findings from the Workshop on User-Centered Design of Language Archives: White Paper. https://designinglanguagearchives.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/wasson-et-al-2016-white-paper.pdf.

Wasson, C., G. Holton and H. Roth. 2017. Bringing User-Centered Design to the Field of Language Archives.  To appear in Language Documentation and Conservation.

Al Smadi, D., S. Barnes, M. Blair, M. Chong, R. Cole-Jett, A. Davis, S. Hardisty, J. Hooker, C. Jackson, T. Kennedy, J. Klein, B. LeMay, M. Medina, K. Saintonge, A. Vu, and C. Wasson. 2016. Exploratory User Research for CoRSAL. Report prepared by students of UNT Design Anthropology class for S. Chelliah, Director of the Computational Resource for South Asian Languages (CoRSAL).

Meetings and Networks: A New Approach to the Analysis of Participatory Decision-Making 

Christina and Julia Gluesing combined their areas of expertise to develop a novel approach to the analysis of participatory decision-making that integrates methods for analyzing the meetings where decisions get made with methods for analyzing interactions among the broader social networks that influence what happens in the meetings. (Funded by NSF grant 1408169).

                                                              When2013-2015; to be continued
 CollaboratorsJulia Gluesing, Elizabeth Sidler, Ken Riopelle

Wasson, C. 2016. Integrating Conversation Analysis and Issue Framing to Illuminate Collaborative Decision-Making Activities. Discourse and Communication 10(4):378-411. 

Wasson, C. and J. Gluesing. 2015. A Wicked Methodology for the Analysis of Wicked Problems: Integrating the Analysis of Meetings and Networks.  Proceedings of the 59th Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences

Gluesing, J., C. Wasson and K. Riopelle. 2017. Environmental Governance in Multi-Stakeholder Contexts: Integrating the Analysis of Decision-Making in Meetings with the Analysis of Network Interactions. To appear in Networked Governance: New Research Perspectives, ed. Betina Hollstein, Wenzel Matiaske, and Kai-Uwe Schnapp. Berlin: Springer.

The Social Life of the Car

The goal of this study was to generate a foundational understanding of how people in the U.S. understand and drive their cars. The study laid the groundwork for future ethnographic research projects that can take a deeper look at more narrowly defined topics. Our client was Nissan Research Center-Silicon Valley, whose mission is to develop self-driving cars.
 CollaboratorsBrigitte Jordan, students in 2014 Design Anthropology class
Wasson, C., T. Brickle, C. Ferman, C. Ferrell, S. Gonzalez, M. Halwani, H. Hasan, A. Hartt, A. Hickling, J. Kim, L. Machado, L. McLaughlin, A. Pottkotter, H. S. Roth, M Shade, T. Smith, and A. Whatley. 2015.  The Social Life of the Car. Report Prepared for Nissan Research Center-Silicon Valley. December 10, 2014.

Jordan, B. and C. Wasson. 2015. Autonomous Vehicle Study Builds Bridges between Industry and Academia. Proceedings of the 2015 Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference, 24-35.

Jordan, B., C. Wasson, and H. Roth. 2015. Ethnographic Study Lifts the Hood on What REALLY Goes On Inside That Car. Blog post on EPICpeople. https://www.epicpeople.org/ethnographic-study-lifts-the-hood/

UNT News Release: http://news.unt.edu/news-releases/how-would-drivers-habits-change-self-driving-cars

UNT In-House Story: http://inhouse.unt.edu/how-would-drivers%E2%80%99-habits-change-self-driving-cars

User Research for the UNT Data Warehousing/Analytics/Dashboards Initiative 

The goal of this study was identification of the key decision-making data needs of UNT’s Chancellor and Presidents, Cabinet Members, and Vice Chancellors, to inform the development of a complete redesign of UNT’s data warehousing system. 

 CollaboratorsWilliam Moen, Heather Roth, Rama Dhuwaraha, members of the UNT Data Warehousing/Analytics/Dashboards (D.A.D.) Initiative Team
Wasson, C. and H. Roth. 2015. Final Report: Phase One User Research for Data Warehousing/Analytics/ Dashboards Initiative. Prepared for the D.A.D. Core Team, University of North Texas, 17 September. [add link]



1996 Ph.D., Anthropology, Yale University
1989 M.Phil., Anthropology, Yale University
1987 B.A., Linguistics and Anthropology, University of California at Berkeley

Other Selected Publications

Aiken, Jo, Victoria Schlieder and Christina Wasson. 2014. “No More Cakes and Ale?”: Discovering Ethical Gray Areas in a Design Anthropology Class. Journal of Business Anthropology Special Issue 1:38-61.

Wasson, Christina. 2013. “It was Like a Little Community”: An Ethnographic Study of Online Learning and its Implications for MOOCs. Proceedings of the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference, 161-174.

Blog post: http://ethnographymatters.net/blog/2014/02/18/demystifying-moocs-an-eye-opening-ethnographic-study-of-online-education/

Squires, Susan, Christina Wasson, and Ann Jordan. 2014. Training the Next Generation: Business Anthropology at the University of North Texas. In Handbook of Anthropology in Business, ed. Rita Denny and Patricia Sunderland. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press, 346-361.

Wasson, Christina and Crysta Metcalf. 2013. Teaching Design Anthropology through University-Industry Partnerships. In Design Anthropology: Between Theory and Practice, ed. Wendy Gunn, Ton Otto and Rachel Charlotte Smith. London: Berg, 216-231.

Wasson, Christina. 2013. Virtual Organizations. In A Companion to Organizational Anthropology, ed. D. Douglas Caulkins and Ann T. Jordan. Hoboken: Blackwell Publishing, 346-361.

Wasson, Christina, Mary Odell Butler, and Jacqueline Copeland-Carson, eds. 2012. Applying Anthropology in the Global Village. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.

Review on Kiwanja.net: http://www.kiwanja.net/blog/2011/08/anthropologists-in-a-global-village/

Wasson, Christina. 2009. Linguistic Anthropology. In The Handbook of Business Discourse, ed. Francesca Bargiela-Chiappini.  Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 194-212.

Wasson, Christina, ed. 2006. Making History at the Frontier: Women Creating Careers as Practicing Anthropologists. NAPA Bulletin 26.

Wasson, Christina. 2006. Being in Two Spaces at Once: Virtual Meetings and Their Representation. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 16(1):103-130.

Wasson, Christina. 2004. Multitasking in Virtual Meetings. Human Resource Planning 27(4):47-60.

Wasson, Christina. 2004. The Paradoxical Language of Enterprise. Critical Discourse Studies 1(2):175-199.

Wasson, Christina. 2002. Collaborative Work: Integrating the Roles of Ethnographers and Designers. In Creating Breakthrough Ideas: the Collaboration of Anthropologists and Designers in the Product Development Industry, ed. Susan Squires and Bryan Byrne. Westport: Bergin & Garvey, 71-90.

Wasson, Christina. 2000. Caution and Consensus in American Business Meetings. Pragmatics 10(4):457-481.

Wasson, Christina. 2000. Ethnography in the Field of Design. Human Organization 59(4):377-388.


Travel Narratives (Non-Academic)

Japan 2010

India 2010-11