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Black and white photo of a man, Robert Hinshaw

Image description: A man with a white beard, black buttoned shirt, and glasses smiles faintly.
Caption: Robert Hinshaw


Robert E. Hinshaw, of Kansas City, Missouri, passed away on March 3, 2020, in his beloved Guatemala. Hinshaw was born on December 2, 1933, to Cecil and Pauline Hinshaw in Wichita, Kansas. He graduated in 1955 from Haverford College and received his PhD in anthropology from the University of Chicago in 1966. His fieldwork was in Panajachel, on the shores of Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan. Hinshaw’s dissertation led to his book, Panajachel: A Guatemala Town in Thirty Year Perspective (1975), with a foreword by his Chicago advisor, Sol Tax, who had studied Panajachel 30 years before.

Hinshaw became assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Kansas (KU), where he taught for five years. At KU he was active in the Oread Friends Meeting (Quaker) and an outspoken critic of the war in Vietnam. In 1971 he became president of Wilmington College, a Quaker institution in Wilmington, Ohio. He remained there until 1975. His academic life was somewhat peripatetic. After Wilmington he held positions at Illinois State University, Beloit College, the University of Colorado at Denver (at both of which he was chair of the Anthropology Department). He also served as academic dean of Bethel College and executive secretary of the Associated Colleges of Central Kansas.

He continued research in the Panajachel region and loved leading tours to Guatemala, Peru, the Four Corners in the United States, Sweden, Finland, Russia and Nova Scotia, which allowed him to pursue his dedication to teaching cultures and making lasting friendships.

His interests were wide-ranging. In addition to his purely anthropological pursuits he wrote a biography of geographer Gilbert White (2006) and two novels set in the Panajachel region: My Lake at the Center of the World (2007) and The Rape of Hope (2008).

Hinshaw is survived by his loving wife, Linda Dycus Hinshaw, and children, Julia Ryberg (Mats), Ken Hinshaw, and Christopher Hinshaw (Alaine); stepchildren, Megan Diaz (Marco) and Ken Dycus; three sisters, Eleanor, Elizabeth, and Esther; 12 grandchildren; and 8 great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by grandson Nils, and daughter-in-law Belle.

(Allan Hanson)

Cite as: Hanson, Allan. 2020. “Robert E. Hinshaw.” Anthropology News website, August 14, 2020. DOI: 10.14506/AN.1474