Most of my career has been devoted to identifying the factors that undermine small-scale, indigenous societies as they are integrated into national societies and international economies.. To that end, I have been working since 1981 among a group of Guaraní communities on the border between Paraguay and Brazil. I have returned often to the field, following the Guaraní as the forests have been devastated for cattle ranching and soybean fields, and as the forest peoples search for their place in Paraguayan society and commercial economy.
In addition, I have undertaken a second area of research and publication on a topic far removed from international development. I have studied the role that men assume in the birth of their children. And although Guarani men take an active and often dramatic role in their wives, pregnancy, and birthing, my research interests are drawn to the role that American men take in hospital birth. The topic has proven to be extremely interesting and analytically very fruitful, yielding my most recent book (Reed 2005).
In addition to being academic, my scholarship is what has been termed "activist anthropology." It is the merging of analysis with efforts to inform the people being studied. For example, my research program in Paraguay has collaborated with both the Guarani and The Nature Conservancy, developing models to integrate the Guarani into tropical nature reserves. My scholarship has examined this process in two seemingly very different arenas: the forests of the Guarani Indians and the birthing hospitals of the United States. Despite the differences, in both cases it is designed to help the groups, be they Indians or American fathers, work to get their needs met within larger social institutions.
Locally, I have been very involved in the protection and development of the San Antonio River. As a member of the San Antonio River Oversite Committee, I worked on the development of the Riverwalk, extending 13 miles from the campus to the Missions south of the city. In work to protect the quality of the river, I Chair the Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) of the San Antonio River Authority (SARA) and the regional Clean Rivers Program (CRP) with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).