Photo courtesy Marcy Barth.

Diane Cohen Freedman

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Photo courtesy Marcy Barth.

Diane Cohen Freedman. Photo courtesy Marcy Barth.

Diane Cohen Freedman, 64 (April 1, 1948–January 22, 2013), was a pioneer in teaching anthropology and internationalizing the curriculum at a community college. Her career at Community College of Philadelphia set a regional and national example for creative, multi-year faculty development projects, new anthropology and interdisciplinary humanities courses, and service to the profession. Her breadth of interest and capacity for collaborating with colleagues led to new programs and courses encompassing studies in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Diane’s research in gender relationships as represented in Japanese art produced annual papers at the Mid-Atlantic Association for Asian Studies (MARAAS); her service on the MARAAS Board included a decade as Executive Secretary. She was a major contributor to faculty development workshops on Japan organized by the Japan Studies Association held in Hawaii (2002) and Hiroshima (2003).

Diane Freedman received her anthropology PhD in 1983 from Temple University in Philadelphia. Her lifetime interest in folk dance led to her fieldwork on the dances of courtship and marriage rituals. At the time, Diane was one of eight anthropologists in the US working on the anthropology of dancing. Her application of effort-shape analysis to Romanian couple dances was a first in the field.

While Diane was conducting dissertation research in a Romanian village, her late husband Robert Freedman, who had accompanied her, developed a terminal illness. Her description of this traumatic event and her return to Romania as a widow is described poignantly in the second edition of Peggy Golde’s Women in the Field (1986:334–58).

Diane Freedman represented the Social Science Department and the field of anthropology in a succession of three federally funded US Department of Education grants at Community College of Philadelphia between 1997 and 2004. The anthropology courses she subsequently created and taught included Gender Roles in Cross-Cultural Perspective, African Peoples and Cultures, and Peoples and Cultures of Asia. Her role in initiating a “Cross-Cultural Experiential Workshop” in Merida, Mexico, in 2000 has been followed by a short-term study abroad program taking hundreds of Community College of Philadelphia students to Mexico. Her leadership over a five-year period in Middle East Studies led to novel faculty development workshops held in Egypt and Turkey and then a continuing study-abroad program in Istanbul. Another course she created, Introduction to Middle East Cultures and Civilizations, has been offered by the college for the past seven years.

For these outstanding contributions to internationalizing the curriculum, Diane Freedman was awarded Community College of Philadelphia’s President’s Distinguished Service Award in 2005. The college dedicated its 2013 International Festival to Diane and held the first Diane C Freedman Memorial Lecture in her honor on April 2, 2013.

Diane was the daughter of the late Albert Cohen and Lillian Cohen who survives her. She is also survived by her husband Joseph Pluciennik, sister Marcy Barth, and loving nephews and niece: Arik Victor, David Barth and Naomi Hampson. (Fay Beauchamp, with Najwa Adra) 

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