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Border Crosser

E. Jardin & C. Schoch

"Customs Anthropologist," says Lance Thompson business card.  So what's the relationship between anthropology and customs affairs?

After a Bachelor of Arts in French literature with a double minor in anthropology and fine arts, Lance Thompson wanted to go on to graduate school, but in the United States, "it's very expensive and the chances of getting funding for this type of education that's hardly career-oriented are pretty slim." So Lance decided to go to France.  He enrolled in third year at the University of Nice and went to Paris for his pre-doctoral degree. He did an internship in the CNRS laboratory of urban anthropology and enrolled at the Sorbonne to do his doctorate, for which he did research on Americans in Paris.

Confronted with the age limit and without much support after his thesis, an academic career slipped through his fingers.  Return to the United States?  Lance didn't want to. It was the discovery of an exotic research field that tantalized him.  "All my research had been done in urban settings.  I wanted to try something totally different, like those urban dwellers who go off to make goat cheese in Lozère," he explains with a smile.  He applied for the job of English teacher in Japan and landed in Hokkaido in a remote village.  Three years later, with Japanese added to his baggage, Lance returned to France.

A symposium, a network.
"Once I returned, I was faced with the same problem as when I left: the lack of a network," Lance remembers. He had to find a job as soon as possible.  To get a leg up, he signed up for a cooperative education program and found an internship with Odasce, an association specialized in customs.  In addition to business and management courses, the discovery of the world of customs, Lance had the opportunity to organize a symposium where he met the CEO of Conex, M. Gruson. The following month, he was called in.  Anthropology and the work of an ethnographer piqued M. Gruson's curiosity, who hired him directly on a long-term contract.

Why Lance? Because of his command of three languages, that's for sure, but also for his anthropological perspective, trained to have a non-ethnocentric view of customs cultures.  All these were valuable assets to develop international activities at Conex, which is the assignment Lance has been given.  

2000: Ph.D. in anthropology
2001-2004: teacher in Japan
2005: Cooperative training with internship at Odasce
2006: contract with Conex