Karen Stocker is a cultural anthropologist who teaches at California State University, Fullerton. In her classes, she has collaborated with Artists in Residence at the Grand Central Art Center. In research, for over 25 years, she has carried out ethnographic fieldwork in Costa Rica. While the topics of that research have varied, the nexus of community building and art, broadly defined, has been an undercurrent. Whether recording Indigenous storytellers later using their verbal art form to narrate their experiences as banana plantation laborers; interviewing high schoolers offering stories of resilience in the face of discrimination; working with the first women voters; learning how rural dwellers use art to adapt to a realm circumscribed by tourism; or gaining inspiration from young leaders mixing art and innovation, community-building and working toward change have been salient themes.
Most recently, she has studied emerging social movements led by young leaders generating change and bolstering communities.