Please join us at the 2012 AAA Awards Ceremony at this year’s annual meeting in San Francisco to honor these award winners’ dedication to and successes in the field of anthropology.
Franz Boas Award for Exemplary Service to Anthropology
Sidney Mintz, Research Professor (Emeritus) at The Johns Hopkins University, has been awarded the 2012 Franz Boas Award for Exemplary Service to Anthropology. In his 60-plus year career, Mintz has pioneered multiple contributions to anthropological thought and practice, influencing major shifts in the discipline through his fieldwork, scholarship, teaching and mentorship.
Mintz received the PhD in 1951 from Columbia University, where he was taught by such luminaries as Ruth Benedict and Julian Steward. He served on the faculty at Yale University and later Johns Hopkins University, whose anthropology department he joined in 1975 when they began offering classes, and from which he retired in 1997. Beginning with his doctoral fieldwork on Caribbean peasantries, he pioneered the development of the Carribbean as an anthropological region. Together with Eric Wolf, Sidney Mintz incorporated Steward’s notions of sociocultural integration with Marxist-influenced notions of power, laying the groundwork for the anthropology of political economy.
In the 1980s Mintz deftly turned anthropological attention to studies of consumption—a topic that is now an entire industry—most notably with his 1985 book Sweetness and Power, now translated into at least nine languages. Combining consumption with production to examine questions of power, this work details the history of an extraordinary but neglected commodity—sugar—that transformed the lives, health and economies of the Western world. This book is a stellar example of how anthropologists should address the phenomenon of historical change, linking anthropology with history.
In the 1990s Mintz was instrumental in founding the subfield of the anthropology of food, including with his 1996 book of essays, Tasting Food, Tasting Freedom. His most recent book, Three Ancient Colonies: Caribbean Themes and Variations (2010) returns to his early work on the creolized culures of Haiti, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. His ethnographic investigations are notable for his attention to everyday activities and objects and for his commitment to empirical research.
Among his other honors and awards, Mintz has received the TH Huxley Memorial Lecturer Award and Medal from the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (1994), the Distinguished Lecture Award from the AAA (1996), the Premio Internacional of the Fundación Fernando Ortiz (2002), and honorary degrees from the University of Puerto Rico, the University of the West Indies, and Oberlin College. He has held teaching appointments in France, Germany, Italy, China and Australia as well as at multiple US universities, widening his pedagogical influence beyond his publications.
Sidney Mintz is one of very few anthropologists in the US who so fundamentally influenced the discipline in the second half of the 20th century, carrying on a Boasian legacy into the 21st. The AAA gratefully acknowledges his exceptional and exemplary service to anthropology with the Franz Boas Award.
Solon T Kimball Award for Public and Applied Anthropology
Stanley E Hyland, professor of anthropology at the University of Memphis, and head of the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy, is the 2012 recipient of the Solon T Kimball Award for Public and Applied Anthropology. The award recognizes his contributions to the development of public policy aimed at issues of poverty and social inequalities in Memphis, TN and the mid-South, and his intertwined contributions to the development of anthropology as an applied science through what Hyland calls “an ecological approach to policy change.”
Hyland is an exemplar of the participatory action research (PAR) approach in applied anthropology. His contributions to community development and policy change have centered on the development and advancement of African American communities in the greater Memphis area and the Mississippi delta, fostering university community engagement in Memphis, and furthering the development of relevant anthropological theory and practice. He has also worked closely with Memphis’ governmental entities including the Housing Authority (MHA) and the Division of Housing and Community (DHC), organizations like the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis and the United Way of the Mid-South among others, and his own university as it has transformed itself into a positive force for change in its own urban neighborhood. According to one nominator, he “has been nothing short of ingenious in his energetic pursuit of ways and means to connect with persons living in poverty and to bring their voices into public policy processes.”
Hyland’s contributions to applied anthropology theory and practice on various aspects of community development are detailed in more than twenty publications in peer reviewed journals, (eg, Hyland and Maurette’s 2010 “Developing Poverty Reform Efforts in the Memphis Region: Lessons for an Engaged Anthropology” in Urban Anthropology 39), and his well-regarded 2005 edited volume Community Building in the 21st Century (Hyland and Owens, Santa Fe: School of American Research Advanced Seminar Series).
The Solon T Kimball Award for Public and Applied Anthropology was initiated by royalties from Applied Anthropology in America (Elizabeth M Eddy and William L Partridge, eds, 1978), a volume dedicated to Solon Kimball. The award honors outstanding achievements in the development of anthropology as an applied science. The award has been presented every other year since 1984 at the American Anthropological Association annual meeting. It offers an opportunity to honor exemplary anthropologists for outstanding achievements in applied science that have also had important impacts on public policy.
Anthropology in the Media
Ann Gibbons is the recipient of the 2012 Anthropology in the Media award, which recognizes individuals for their accomplishments in communicating anthropological topics to the general public through the media. For over a decade, Gibbons has been a correspondent for Science magazine, writing lucid accounts of advances in evolutionary anthropology. In the last 10 years she published nearly 100 articles covering some of the most controversial issues in anthropology, including paleontology, genetics and DNA studies.
A 1979 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, earning BA degrees in English and journalism, Gibbons was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Science Journalism Fellow at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA. Her reporting is especially notable for her first person accounts, based on her observations of scientists working in the laboratory, recovering hominin fossils in Africa, or excavating skeletal remains. She brings “the field” and the excitement of anthropological discoveries to her readers. Gibbons translates esoteric findings and analyses into laymen’s terms, making them intelligible and relevant to the public.
In addition to her scientific articles, Ann Gibbons authored a best-selling book, The First Human: The Race to Discover Our Earliest Ancestors (2006), which narrates in accessible language the attempts by paleoanthropologists to discover the oldest known examples of early humans. Her articles on anthropological research have appeared in other journals and newspapers read by the general public, including Smithsonian Magazine, Discover Magazine, Los Angeles Times, and New York Times. She has also been invited to present lectures on paleoanthropology, including at the 104th AAA Annual Meeting in 2005.
In a different realm of media, Gibbons has been a frequent expert consultant and interviewee on radio and television broadcasts, including National Public Radio and Voice of America. Using her creativity, journalistic skills, and ability to communicate complex issues in exciting and accessible language, Ann Gibbons has proven to be an exceptionally positive and influential voice for anthropology in the public media.
AAA/Oxford University Press Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in Anthropology
The 2012 recipient of the AAA/Oxford University Press Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in Anthropology is Peter Brown of Emory University. Brown developed Emory’s program in medical anthropology and initiated and directed (2001–10) the undergraduate Global Health Minor, one of the fastest growing programs at the university, for which he created a half-dozen courses. In his 36 years at Emory he has taught nearly 3,000 undergraduates and mentored a generation of graduate students, many of whom have gone on to successful careers in medical anthropology or health care fields.
Brown received the PhD in anthropology in 1979 from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and began his academic career in the anthropology department at Emory in 1978. Since 1996 he has also been professor in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory. He has taught a wide variety of courses in biocultural and evolutionary aspects of cultural anthropology, medical anthropology, nutritional anthropology, mental health, emerging diseases, and other topics in public and global health. His positive impact on so many students is attributed to his nurturing support of and fervent interest in students as individuals, generously making time for them, challenging them to be their best. His classroom teaching is clear, engaging, and enlivened by rich insights based on his tremendous depth and breadth of anthropological knowledge. His humor, patience and ability to make teaching relevant also endear him to his students. His concern to ensure that his graduate students become good teachers in their own right is further evidence of his commitment to teaching excellence.
Brown’s impact on students goes far beyond his own university. Since 1989 he has co-edited Applying Anthropology: Introductory Readings (Mayfield Press), whose nine editions have been read by an estimated 100,000 undergraduates. Since 1991 eight editions of a companion volume, Applying Cultural Anthropology: Introductory Readings (Mayfield Press) have been read by some 80,000 undergraduates.
Peter Brown’s prior teaching awards and recognitions include Teacher-Scholar of the Year, Emory University (2007), Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Recognition (2005), Hughes Teaching Grant for Science Teaching, Emory (1993), Senior Council Award for Outstanding Teaching and Service to Undergraduate Students, Emory (1986), Emory Williams Distinguished Teaching Award in the Social Sciences (1985), and the Lilly Foundation Post-Doctoral Teaching Award Fellowship (1985).
Robert B Textor and Family Prize in Anticipatory Anthropology
The AAA is pleased to announce Elizabeth K Briody, Robert T Trotter II and Tracy L Meerwarth are the winners of the 2012 Robert B Textor and Family Prize in Anticipatory Anthropology for their work on “The Ideal Plant Culture Project.” Working collaboratively and in cooperation with the General Motors’ community, the Ideal Culture Project helped bring about organizational change in General Motors, and in the course of this work developed an approach that can be used by others seeking organizational change. The Ideal Plant Culture project used a cultural models perspective to help the GM community understand their own culture, identify areas that the community wished to change, and devised tools to assist the community as its members pursued desired changes.
As richly described in their co-authored book Transforming Culture: Creating and Sustaining a Better Manufacturing Organization ( Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), Briody, Trotter and Meerwarth used cultural models theory to identify the cultural patterns and practices that made it difficult for GM to innovate and remain competitive. Drawing on cultural consensus methods they helped GM community members identify their ideal culture. Recognizing that cultural transformation is difficult, Briody, Trotter and Meerwarth helped community members understand the dynamics of change by identifying elements of cultural adaptiveness and cultural responsiveness. The Ideal Plant Culture Project then created ten innovative and engaging tools, including an interactive, computer-based video game “Explore Plant Culture: Stud Gun Story,” to empower community members to make the changes they desired.
The Ideal Plant Culture Project not only helped the GM community conceive of and move toward a preferred future, but while doing so Briody, Trotter and Meerwarth modeled collaboration in their team’s work, and in their interactions with the many constituencies that make up the GM community, from management, to union officials, to factory workers. Their use of anthropology in the private sector anticipates and provides a signpost for others who will engage in an area of increasing importance for both anthropological scholarship and practice.
The work of the Ideal Plant Culture Project embodies the spirit of the Textor Prize by using anthropological theories and methods in ways that “allow citizens, leaders and governments to make informed policy choices, and thereby improve their society’s or community’s chances for realizing preferred futures and avoiding unwanted ones.