Congratulations to AAA Award Winners

Margaret Mead Award

Congratulations to Sameena Mulla, the 2017 recipient of the Margaret Mead Award, presented jointly by AAA and SfAA, for her scholarship, including the book The Violence of Care: Rape Victims, Forensic Nurses, and Sexual Assault Intervention.

The following quotes from the reviewers speak to the intellectual quality, clarity and understandability, and breadth of impact of Mulla’s work:

The Violence of Care is not only a brilliant academic study of sexual assault interventions as these unfold in a hospital emergency room but one that completely changes our vision on how to understand sexual violence at the intersection of race and gender in one of the most violent and racially divided cities (Baltimore) in the USA.…[The book has been] featured in discussions on public radio and has had an impact on law and society networks within and outside the US. [Mulla’s] work showcases a fundamental conviction….that anthropology must assume a unity of theory and praxis and that philosophy and social theory are enriched by the worldly character of anthropology”

The entire body of Mulla’s work qualifies for the award due to its intellectual rigor and breadth of impact.…  Mulla challenges a nation where our obsession with DNA and forensic evidence is problematic in domains beyond sexual assault, inclusive of capital punishment, sentencing, and what constitutes truth and fact.

Similarly, committee members’ comments included:

This is an exceptionally powerful book, theoretically engaged but not heavy handed, ethnographically rich, and consistently illuminating. Mulla offers an extraordinary account of the complex circumstances of the incidence, reporting, and management of rape. The book is beautifully crafted and written, and the characters who reappear in different chapters bring their stories with them without repetition. Because the forensic examination is central to the book, the circumstances of each rape and its location in the wider context of the lives of the male and female victims, is perhaps especially shocking, and the book is particularly powerful in this context. Mulla’s light touch allows us to find new lessons in each account.

The Violence of Care is ethnographically moving and rich, at the same time that it is tremendously painful to read. Its focus on the forensic exam room is novel and intriguing. The reader is confronted with ethnographic stories of the ordinary that are extra-ordinary and eye-opening. This tremendously important book has page-turning magic.

Franz Boas Award for Exemplary Service to Anthropology

Donald Brenneis is the winner of this year’s Franz Boas Award for Exemplary Service to Anthropology. Over a 40-year career, Brenneis has distinguished himself for his pioneering research on the nexus of communication, performance, and power. Brenneis’s earliest scholarship focused on small-scale communities in Fiji and Nepal as they negotiate conflict and interpersonal relations through speech acts. His more recent research focuses on evaluation standards, bureaucratic forms, and interactional dynamics in American academic institutions, including human subjects review panels, review panels at the National Science Foundation, and editorial boards. Brenneis is known for a remarkable ability to speak to broad issues through close attention to the details of social life.

Throughout his career, Brenneis has also devoted enormous amounts of time and energy to the broader community of scholars. Brenneis is a Past President of the American Anthropological Association and is in his second term as director of the American Council of Learned Societies.  He has edited Annual Review of Anthropology, reviewed numerous departments, and served on countless advisory boards. In the midst of all this, Brenneis has chaired his department and his campus’s Academic Senate as well as taught and mentored generations of undergraduate and graduate students. Brenneis has fulfilled all these responsibilities deftly and with great warmth.

It is hard to imagine another anthropologist whose contributions to the discipline have been more extensive or influential than Brenneis’s. Through his scholarship and his service, he has helped anthropologists develop a deeper understanding of what our discipline is and could be.

Anthropology in Media Award

AAA is pleased to announce that the recipient of the 2017 Anthropology in Media Award is Maria Vesperi. Throughout her career, Vesperi has been deeply involved in communicating anthropology to the general public through media. In 1980, she did a collaborative 12-part series for the Tampa Bay Times (formerly St. Petersburg Times), “Growing Old in a New Downtown.”

In 1986, Vesperi wrote an investigative series “Welfare: Does It Help or Harm the Poor?” which was nominated by the Times for a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. Making use of her contacts as a full-time journalist and later as a 20-year member of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies Board of Trustees, she has also organized a range of academic paper sessions, special events, and workshops related to journalism. Together with AAA president Alisse Waterston, Vesperi co-organized a series of high-profile “Anthropology off the Shelf” panels for the AAA meetings. These sessions resulted in the co-edited anthology Anthropology off the Shelf: Anthropologists on Writing, published in 2009 by Wiley.

While Vesperi was General Editor of Anthropology Now, she contributed to the successful communication of anthropology to the general public and raised public awareness of anthropology through a broad and sustained public impact at many levels, including the international level. She has used a variety of media and a variety of formats to reach as wide an audience as possible and to link with other organizations such as the General Anthropology Division and the AAA.

Vesperi has demonstrated courageous leadership, engaged ethnography, and rare editorial talent. She has the sensibility and passion of a first-rate journalist combined with the insight and charisma of a superb teacher. In sum, because of the range and depth of Vesperi’s contributions to communicating anthropology to the general public through a variety of media, she is an extremely worthy recipient of the Anthropology in Media Award.

Robert B. Textor and Family Prize for Excellence in Anticipatory Anthropology

The recipient of the 2017 Robert B. Textor and Family Prize for Excellence in Anticipatory Anthropology is Sarah Horton for her book They Leave Their Kidneys in the Fields: Illness, Injury, and “Illegality” among U.S. Farmworkers. Within the book, she draws upon a decade of ethnographic fieldwork in California’s Central Valley to examine the causes of the high rate of heat-related deaths among immigrant farmworkers. Horton shows that even as growers, the media, and state occupational safety officials tend to naturalize farmworkers’ deaths from heat stroke, US labor, immigration, health care, and food safety policies all play a role in this tragedy.

This book challenges official accounts of the causes and prevalence of heatstroke and outlines concrete policy solutions to remedy the problem. Horton has written reports for California’s occupational health and safety agency, Cal-OSHA, on how company food safety policies compromise workers’ health in the fields and is working with several California labor advocacy organizations and nonprofits to encourage companies to change their policies.

They Leave Their Kidneys in the Fields aims not only to increase public awareness of the frequency of heat stroke among farmworkers, but also correct common myths about undocumented workers in the United States. In particular, the book challenges the common portrayal of undocumented immigrants as “identity thieves” and questions the validity of document-related criminal charges often levied against immigrants. Horton has published op-eds on this topic in  the Huffington Post, the Daily Kos, the Denver Post, and the San Diego Tribune, and her work on this issue has been featured on National Public Radio, Mother Jones, Quartz, La Opinión, and Noticiero Telemundo.

AAA/Oxford Teaching Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching of Anthropology

Joyce V. Millen is the winner of this year’s AAA/Oxford University Press Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching of Anthropology. When Millen first began teaching at Willamette in fall 2006, it was obvious she was a gifted teacher and research fellow, whose capacity to inspire leadership is truly remarkable.

Joyce is an initiator and a catalyst for ideas and actions.  At Harvard, she conceived of and helped design and initiate the Global Health Leadership Program to prepare future physicians for work in resource-poor environments and to create a cadre of advocates for social change.

While shouldering her heavy research and administrative tasks within the Institute, Joyce’s first focus is almost always on her students, for many of whom she is not only an intellectual authority but a trusted friend and source of ethical inspiration and guidance.

These are but two of the quotes from colleagues included in her nomination packet, with many more from students.

The quality of her teaching and research would be matched by the passion and dedication she brings to her role as a mentor.  By the end of her first semester at Willamette, she had established herself as a teacher for whom there are waiting lists in every class.

As a scholar and field researcher, Millen is steeped in the history and culture of Africa.  As a teacher and researcher, she has brought that body of knowledge to Willamette University, to our immense benefit. Millen has mastered the art of empowering others to find their own pathways toward knowledge, scholarly independence, and beneficent activity.

Committee on Gender Equity in Anthropology Award

Carol Mukhopadhyay received the AAA’s Committee on Gender Equity in Anthropology (CoGEA) Award for 2017. The committee was particularly impressed by her unflagging commitment to gender equity that permeates her scholarship, teaching, advocacy, and mentorship.

Mukhopadhyay’s commitment to gender equity and combatting all kinds of discrimination has been influential over the decades, as one former student put it, “both as ideology and as lived practice.” Another former student notes how her dedication to standing up to gender inequity “is not [just] something she does, it is who she is.” Former students and colleagues were particularly inspired by her courage, tenacity, generosity, and willingness to stand up for others.

Mukhopadhyay is professor emerita at San Jose State University. Her feminist research addresses gender divisions in families, politics, and science and engineering, in the United States and India. Her publications include the 1988 Annual Review of Anthropology gender article [with P. Higgins], A Feminist Cognitive Anthropology: The Case of Women and Mathematics” (2004), Cognitive Anthropology Through a Gendered Lens (2011), Women, Education and Family Structure in India (1994, with S. Seymour), and in 2017, “Gender and Trump,” and “Gender and Sexuality” (with T. Blumenfield) in the pioneering open-source, textbook, Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology.

Anthropology in Public Policy Award

Richard Moore is the recipient of the 2017–18 Anthropology in Public Policy Award. The AAA Committee on Public Policy was particularly impressed with Moore’s cross-disciplinary research, outreach to high school and college students through a new curriculum, and influence on water quality programs and overall environmental policy. Indeed, the committee felt that his work on these issues truly represents the sort of policy contributions that deserves recognition through this award.

Moore, professor emeritus of anthropology and The School of Environment and Natural Resources at The Ohio State University, conducted theoretical and applied work on grassroots participatory groups that resulted in a water quality trading project that has been a pioneering model program both in Ohio and across the nation. It was cited as the “poster child of water quality trading” at the 2014 Congressional hearing of the House Transportation Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment, where Moore was asked to testify.

The success of his water quality trading plan started in 2007 and has resulted in making the Alpine Cheese Nutrient Trading Plan the longest continuous water quality trading plan used as part of an EPA NDPES pollution permit in the United States. Within Ohio it has spread to 22 of Ohio’s 88 counties. In addition to saving the factory money, the plan improved the water quality in the Middle Fork of Sugar Creek while giving Amish farmers an opportunity to implement conservation measures paid for by the factory without using federal funds, which Amish are prohibited from using because of their cultural restriction on paying social security taxes.

Before retiring in 2015, Moore was Executive Director of the OSU Environmental Sciences Network and former director of the OSU Environmental Science Graduate Program.

AAA Minority Dissertation Fellowship

Diana Burnett is the recipient of the 2017 AAA Minority Dissertation Fellowship, awarded by the AAA and the Committee on Minority Affairs in Anthropology. Burnett is an advanced doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and is approaching her final year of dissertation writing.

As a scholar and researcher situated at the intersection of medical anthropology, anthropology of religion, and the anthropology of race and ethnicity, Burnett’s broad interests have been structured around an examination of the relationship between race and identity, belief systems (often religion and spirituality), and health. Subsequently, she has developed and pursued an aligning interest that focuses on health inequities and community-based solutions to these issues. Specifically, she is interested in groups whose migrant identity and migration histories have been unexplored and/or underexplored in anthropological literature.

Her dissertation research is complete and the dissertation research synthesis, analysis, and writing are currently in process:

My research contributes to the growing body of anthropological scholarship, which seeks to understand the relationship between diaspora, globalization, and migration in the construction of cultural frameworks as it pertains to an anthropological inquiry to the effects of the urgent global health epidemics especially in ‘high-risk’ populations.

Palestine Israel Fellowship Fund for Travel

Rami Salameh received the first Palestine Israel Fellowship Fund for Travel, which provides funding for a Palestinian or an Israeli anthropologist to attend the AAA Annual Meeting.

“We are thrilled, and I feel personally honored to welcome Rami Salameh of Bizreit University in the West Bank to attend the Annual Meeting with support from the PIFFT Fellowship, designed to bring voices we as an Association might otherwise not hear,” said AAA President Alisse Waterston who added, “The very first PIFFT awardee, Rami will present his powerful and compelling work on political death and dying in Palestine in a session on Palestinian ethnographies. I can’t wait to meet him, and to see the PIFFT Fellowship blossom in the coming years.”

Rami graduated in 2004 from Bethlehem University with a degree sociology and received his Master’s degree in Cultural and Critical Studies at Westminster University in 2011. Currently, he is a PhD candidate at the department of anthropology and sociology at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, and he is expected to defend his dissertation in January 2018. His dissertation is about the bodily lived experiences of the colonized Palestinians. He attempts to understand experiences of Palestinian’s living, loving, and dying—experiences of being-in-the-world-as-colonized. He is also currently a lecturer at Birzeit University:

The PIFFT fund will give me the chance to present and discuss my work with anthropologists from different parts of the world. This rare opportunity, will definitely enhance my own research and will widen my perspective on contemporary debates in anthropology, challenges and allow me to hear papers and presentations about a wide range of topics. This change will allow me to establish relations and network with anthropologists working in different parts of the Middle East and North Africa. I hope I will be able to receive vital and critical feedback from other anthropologists.

Attending the AAA [Annual Meeting] for the first time, will allow me to be part of the ongoing anthropological community. It will also allow me to attend papers and talks about new and cutting-edge topics.  It will also give me the chance to learn from others and meet other anthropologists from all over the world.

I hope my presence at the AAA [Annual Meeting] in Washington DC, will allow anthropologists in the United States to hear from a Palestinian anthropologist.

Cite as: “Congratulations to the 2017 AAA Award Winners.” Anthropology News website, November 3, 2017. doi: 10.1111/AN.668


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