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Joanne B. Mulcahy is an essayist, biographer, and ethnographer whose writing focuses on cultural issues. She believes that immersion in new cultures helps us to see differently, while clear writing helps others share our vision. She teaches nonfiction workshops in a variety of settings (see the “Teaching” page). Since 1988, she has taught at the NW Writing Institute of Lewis and Clark College. She holds a M.A. in cultural anthropology and a Ph.D. in folklore and has written extensively about women in Northern Ireland, Alaska and Oregon. Her two books about traditional healers explore how indigenous women use healing to address problems such as violence and poverty (See “Writing” for descriptions of Birth and Rebirth on an Alaskan Island and Remedios: The Healing Life of Eva Castellanoz).

Mulcahy’s essays appear in numerous journals and anthologies including The Stories that Shape Us: Contemporary Women Write about the West, Resurrecting Grace: Remembering Catholic Childhoods, Women Writing Women: A Frontiers Reader, and These United States. (See “Selected Essays” for some of her work and “Gratitude” for a list of her fellowships and grants).

Mulcahy combines teaching and writing with initiating cross-cultural programs. At Lewis and Clark College, she created and directed The Writing Culture Summer Institute to bring together social scientists and writers. She also served as Co-director of the Documentary Studies Certificate Program, which integrates writing, film, photography and other media with cultural advocacy. In her numerous community workshops, she has worked with inmates in Oregon and Alaska, women chronicling political violence in Northern Ireland, rural Oregonians in libraries all over the state, and passionate environmentalists at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. 

Mulcahy spent 2013 in Michoacan, Mexico through a Fulbright-Hays fellowship to teach creative nonfiction and complete a book of essays.