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George M. Scott, professor emeritus in the Department of Anthropology at California State University in Long Beach (CSULB), died on August 21, 2022. He was 74 years old.

Born in Freeport, Texas, and raised in San Antonio, Scott received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and his PhD from the University of California at San Diego where he studied under F. G. Bailey. With support from the US Office of Refugee Studies, Scott was one of the first anthropologists to study the Hmong refugee population in California and is the author of Migrants Without Mountains, a study of ethnicity and the politics of acculturation. In the early 1980s, he was actively involved with the Hmong community in Linda Vista, California, and collaborated with the Lotus Folk Art Center in organizing the exhibition and sale of Hmong pan dau, a type of embroidered flower cloth made by women. He continued this work on race and ethnicity with publications in the British Journal of Race and Ethnicity, The Applied Anthropologist, and various public health journals.

In 1990, Scott joined the CSULB Department of Anthropology to head up the applied anthropology program. As director of the program, he introduced field courses to train graduate students, including a practicum and a proseminar. He guided students to local sites such as Little India/Artesia, Olvera Street, and downtown Los Angeles. Working collaboratively with the community, Scott and his students produced field reports that addressed practical problems and solutions. In Artesia, for instance, he helped mediate a dispute between the older Portuguese residents and more recent Indian arrivals regarding the name and identity of the neighborhood. At the same time, he taught large courses in introductory cultural anthropology, applied anthropology, and the anthropology of religion. He also pioneered a course in the study of anthropology through literature, and trained many master’s students, some of whom went on to PhD programs.

As the applied program evolved, Scott shifted his interest to the study of cultural diversity and identity through fiction. Formally trained in the craft at the UCLA Writing School, he went on to publish short stories in The GW Review, ExistereJournal of Arts and Literature, the Lullwater Review, and many other journals. Scott leaves behind Namika Raby, a loving wife and colleague of 44 years; a daughter, Leila Scott; son-in-law, Travis Wilder; grandson, Sea; and three novels: A Fearful Symmetry, a murder mystery set in the Sri Lankan civil war, Rituals of Murder (the sequel), and Leaving Padre Island, a coming-of-age story of young men growing up in south Texas during the 1960s.

(Ronald Loewe)

Cite as: Loewe, Ronald. 2023. “George M. Scott.” Anthropology News website, March 16, 2023.