Charlie D. Thompson, Jr.

Charles D. Thompson, Jr. is Professor of the Practice of Cultural Anthropology and the Documentary Arts at Duke University. He 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, land, attachments to place, and pilgrimages worldwide.  His methodologies include oral history, ethnographic writing, documentary filmmaking, and collaborative community activism.

A former farmer, Thompson has worked extensively with laborers within our food system. He has written about farmworkers, and has served as 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 seven books, including Going Over Home: A Search for Rural Justice in an Unsettled Land (2019), 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 seven documentary films, including Homeplace Under Fire, Border Crossing 101Faces of TimeBrother Towns/ Pueblos Hermanos (2010), We Shall Not Be Moved (2008), and The Guestworker (2007). His latest is the 2019 award-winning PBS documentary entitled, Rock Castle Home, the story of a 1930s Appalachian community displaced by the Blue Ridge Parkway that continues to struggle to hold to its roots in the place inhabited by their ancestors. For more information about these and other works, see his website at charliedthompson.com.

Thompson’s current projects include a major Kenan initiative that he directs with colleague Mike Wiley, entitled, “America’s Hallowed Ground.”  The project features artistic responses to American sites of trauma and curriculum guide for grades 7–12, as well as for community groups seeking to respond to the sacred grounds in their communities. Read more about the project here.