The Association of Senior Anthropologists has embarked on a new initiative called “Thursday Chats.” We plan on having one every month or so during Fall and Spring in the academic year. This offers an opportunity to greet old friends and make new ones, as well as to hear a colleague present on a topic of anthropological interest, followed by an open Q&A session. A zoom invitation will be sent out on the Community Platform about 7-10 days prior to the date of each upcoming chat.
YouTube video links: click on the arrow in the middle of the screen
The following list includes the titles, speakers, and video links to the ASA Thursday Chat series of presentations held in the 2021-2022 year. We hope that you will find these talks interesting, informative, and provocative.
The Irish Travellers: an illustrated 40-year ethnographic retrospective
September 2, 2021
Sharon B. Gmelch
Dr. Sharon Gmelch, University of San Francisco and Union College, gives an illustrated talk about her return to Ireland to interview Irish Travellers, an indigenous nomadic minority group, and about the changes that have occurred in their culture since her first field work among them in 1971-72. The use of fieldwork photographs taken by George Gmelch proved to be an effective way to get Travellers to reflect on their changed lives. The results of this research were published in 2014 as Irish Travellers: An Unsettled Life. A documentary film was also made about Sharon and George’s return research.
Sharon Bohn Gmelch earned a PhD in cultural anthropology at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Her interests include visual anthropology, gender, ethnicity, and tourism. She is the author of ten books, including Nan: The Life of an Irish Travelling Woman (1986/91), which was a finalist for anthropology’s Margaret Mead award, and The Tlingit Encounter with Photography (2008). She also co-produced an ethnographic film on the Tlingit. She has conducted research in Ireland, Barbados, Alaska, and the Napa Valley, and published Tasting the Good Life: Wine Tourism in the Napa Valley (2011, with George Gmelch). Her most recent book is In the Field: Life and Work in Cultural Anthropology (2018, with George Gmelch).
Awesome or Crazy? True or Irresponsible? An Anthropologist Walks Across and Studies the United States
October 21, 2021
William (Bill) Fairbanks retired in 2007 and starting in 2009 began walking across the United States, with the help of and support of his wife, Carole. Starting in California, with various breaks in time, it took five years, but the interaction with the people he met during the walk gave him a deeper understating of both the people and the nation. During his talk, he explains the why, the what and the where of his many experiences and their anthropological significance.
Bill received his PhD in Anthropology from UC-Santa Barbara in 1975. He spent most of his career teaching at Cuesta College (San Luis Obispo, Ca), where he had responsibility for both sociology and anthropology. He taught up to seven course preparations a year. Bill often took students to conferences and served on many committees of various anthropological organizations.
Sing Me Back Home: Ethnographic Songwriting and Sardinian Language Reclamation in Italy.
December 16, 2021
Focusing on the recording of a bluegrass song she cowrote in the Sardinian language that foregrounds rurality, place, and nostalgia for a Sardinian past, Dr. Jacobsen examines themes of Sardinian language stigma, cultural intimacy, and ordeals of language as they emerged in the process of writing, recording and performing this song which you will hear in the talk.
Kristina Jacobsen is an associate professor in two departments – music and anthropology at the University of New Mexico. She is an ethnographer, singer-songwriter, and ethnomusicologist who has studied Navajo country music. Her book The Sound of Navajo Country: Music, Language and Diné Belonging (2017) was the winner of the 2018 IASPM-US Woody Guthrie Award for most outstanding book on popular music. Dr. Jacobsen is a touring singer-songwriter, fronts the all-female honky-tonk band Merlettes, is the founder and co-facilitator of the UNM Honky-Tonk Ensemble, and has released four albums of her own songs.
Sh!! Talking about Pre-Columbian Transoceanic Contacts with the Americas is Taboo!
February 3, 2021
Alice B. Kehoe
The imperialist domination of the Americas after Columbus, legitimated by Pope Alexander VI in 1493, created a Manifest Destiny ideology with the social-charter myth that Columbus was the first outsider to see America. Upholding the ideology meant forbidding research into possible earlier transoceanic voyages, and this remains foundational. In her early career, Dr. Kehoe was considered a maverick because she persisted as a professional archaeologist though being a married woman. Alice has collaborated with geographers in building a compelling case for at the least, Norse beginning 1000 CE, Polynesians, and medieval Asian merchants in the spice trade c. 1200. In this talk, she elaborates on the motivations behind this taboo, while simultaneously debunking it.
Alice Beck Kehoe is a professor of anthropology emeritus at Marquette University. She is the author or editor of twenty books, including North American Indians: A Comprehensive Account, The Land of Prehistory: A Critical History of American Archaeology, and North America Before the European Invasions. Since her retirement, she has continued to be active in research and writing. Her memoir, entitled Girl Archaeologist: Sisterhood in a Sexist Profession, was published in February 2022. It is a story not only of a woman’s persistence in a scientific field but of speaking truth to power.
Adventures in Scholarly Publishing: Balancing Risk with Reward and a Great Deal of Determination
March 10, 2022
Vivian Berghahn with Marion Berghahn
Vivian Berghahn, and Marion Berghahn, publishers at Berghahn Books discuss the pros and cons of open access publishing now and in the immediate future. Vivian Berghahn is Managing Director and Journals Editorial Director. In addition to overseeing the journals division at Berghahn, her managerial responsibilities include advancing the company’s online initiatives and the strategic development of its overall publishing program. Born and raised in Hamburg, Germany, Marion Berghahn studied at the universities of Hamburg, Paris, and Freiburg where she received a DPhil in American Studies, Romance Languages and Philosophy. In 1969, she moved to England where she received an MPhil in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge, followed by a PhD in Sociology from the University of Warwick. These subjects, together with history, formed the basis of her scholarly publishing program. In 1980, she started her first company, Berg Publishers, but was forced out in 1993 and subsequently started her new company, Berghahn Books, in 1994, and has been leading it ever since.
Anthropology’s Role in Educating Physicians: Facilitating Sustained Anthropological Engagement in Medical Schools
April 21, 2022
Dennis Wiedman and Iveris Martinez
Anthropologists have been employed in medical schools since the 1890s. Dennis Wiedman will discuss how and why our roles changed since then and have become more mainstreamed in medical schools and curriculums today. Wiedman discusses how his vision of a new type of medical school with a focus on community-care led to the founding of the Florida International University Wertheim College of Medicine, where anthropologist Iveris Martinez established the Society and Medicine curriculum. They discuss topics such as, how anthropology programs can better prepare students for medical school roles; translating anthropological theory, methods, and knowledge to clinical case studies; addressing health disparities and sociocultural determinants of health; navigating the culture of medicine and the culture of anthropology; status gaps and maintaining an anthropology identity. This ASA presentation aims to stimulate our senior anthropologist colleagues to reflect and discuss these applied and practicing aspects of anthropology.
Dennis Wiedman is Professor of Anthropology, Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies, Florida International University (FIU), Miami, Florida. He is the Founding Director of the FIU Global Indigenous Forum whose mission it is to bring the Indigenous voice to FIU, South Florida, and the World. His research interests include Native North Americans, global Indigenous health and wellbeing. He specializes in social and cultural factors for the global pandemic of Type II diabetes, and the metabolic syndrome. During more than a decade in the FIU Provost Office he was the University SACS Accreditation Officer and first Director of Program Review. He has served on the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) in the practicing/professional seat and is a Past-President of the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology (NAPA).
Iveris Martinez is Professor of the Archstone Foundation Endowed Chair in Gerontology, and Director of the Center for Successful Aging at California State University, Long Beach. Dr. Martinez was a founding faculty member of the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM) at Florida International University, where she served as chief of the Division of Medicine & Society and chaired the admissions committee for the college for five years. An applied anthropologist, she has received funding from the National Institutes of Health, the MacArthur Foundation, among other sources for her community-based research on social and cultural factors influencing health, with an emphasis in aging, Latinos, and minority populations. She previously served as the Chair of the Board of the Alliance for Aging, Inc., the local area agency on aging for Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, and President of the Association for Anthropology, Gerontology, and the Life Course. She received a joint PhD in Anthropology and Population & Family Health Sciences (Public Health) from Johns Hopkins University.
Papers from a session at the 2021 AAA meeting
Alfred L. Kroeber: The Man, His Work and His Legacy
Link to full versions of the papers in the Berose International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: https://www.berose.fr/rubrique1087.html?lang=en
Kroeber, Alfred Louis (1876–1960)
Coordinated by Herbert S. Lewis
Alfred Louis Kroeber (1876–1960) was considered the “Dean of American Anthropology” from the 1940s until his death. A New Yorker from a German immigrant family, Kroeber began his higher education at Columbia University. He studied English literature and received an M.A. degree in that field but he left literature for anthropology and became Franz Boas’ first PhD at Columbia University in 1901. In the same year Kroeber left New York for a life in California. He was founder and the predominant intellectual force in the University of California-Berkeley Department of Anthropology from 1901 until his retirement in 1946, and beyond. He published more than 550 works—books, monographs, papers, reviews—on a wide range of topics in ethnology, linguistics, history, and archaeology. His subject was the whole world of humans and their cultures, their pasts and their interconnections. His works ranged from the micro to the macro level. On the one hand, he collected texts in Indian languages, recorded songs, and engaged in participant observation. On the other, he published works at the highest plane of theory, generalization, and worldwide cultural comparison. Kroeber’s Handbook of the Indians of California is the foundation for the study of the indigenous peoples of that state. The legacy of his linguistics, ethnography, and recordings are invaluable to many California Indian groups and individuals. Kroeber ‘s testimony and his research were central to the success of California and other Indian groups in their Land Claims cases against the United States government. His book, Anthropology (1948), is a remarkable compendium of facts and ideas about the world’s peoples and cultures, and his massive edited enterprise, Anthropology Today (1953), encompassed the vast range of the field at that time. Kroeber became known outside of anthropology as a result of Theodora Kroeber’s book Ishi in Two Worlds (1961), published soon after her husband’s death. Despite their serious intellectual disagreements, Kroeber was the heir to Boas’ reputation as the master of the field.
The need for a session devoted to Alfred Louis Kroeber at the 2021 annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association became obvious when, on January 27, 2021, the name of that distinguished anthropologist was publicly removed from Kroeber Hall on the campus of the University of (…)
Alfred Kroeber’s career should be understood largely as a crusade to define and establish—intellectually and institutionally—what was in his day a still largely new discipline: anthropology. He did this in two ways, first through practical demonstration, specifically the practice and promotion of (…)
Introduction: The Call for a Retrospective Alfred Kroeber (1876-1960) is largely known today as one of the first founders of modern American anthropology, and as a major contributor to culture theory via such constructs as the “superorganic” (1917a), “culture area” (Driver 1962), or (…)
In 1960 the University of California conferred the high honor of naming a building after the dean of American anthropology, Alfred L. Kroeber, who attended the dedication of Kroeber Hall just months before his death. Sixty years after that dedication, the chancellor of UC Berkeley, attentive to (…)
Introduction In January of 2021, the University of California, Berkeley announced that it would un-name Kroeber Hall, the facility that houses the school’s Department of Anthropology, a critical source of social scientific scholarship since its founding in 1901. According to the university’s (…)
On January 26, 2021, UC Berkeley chancellor, Carol Christ, the president of the UC system and the chair of anthropology with the support of most of the anthropology faculty,  agreed that the time had come to erase the name of Alfred Kroeber from Kroeber Hall. Obviously, times change and my (…)
A bit of section lore:
Since you asked:
Here is the genealogical legitimization of the gavel I recounted orally as I presented it to Herb Lewis at the recent ASA business meeting in New Orleans (with apologies to the Maori). By association, the gavel is rich with symbolism for ASA.
I acquired the gavel (originally a maul) as surplus used equipment at Ocmulgee National Monument (OCMU), NPS, on a site visit in connection with FSU being host institution (then and now since 1972) for Southeast Archeological [sic] Center of the National Park Service. That must have been about 1977. It was already quite old and beat up at the time.
OCMU is best known as a large pre-Columbian mound site in central Georgia. It has archaeological components, however, ranging from Paleo-Indian, ca. 10,000 BE, to the American Civil War. Its visitor center itself is a fine example of ArtDeco architecture. And, OCMU is the site of one of the largest annual intertribal gathering of American Indians at an NPS facility in the Southeast.
During the Great Depression, through WPA, OCMU was the location of one of the largest US government sponsored archaeological research projects ever undertaken. Many prominent American archaeologists worked there early in their careers including A.R. Kelley, Charles Fairbanks, and Gordon Willey.
The head of the gavel is made of rawhide. [Sidebar] That reminds me of a 1960s TV series, “Rawhide,” in which a young actor named Clint Eastwood got his big break. Now, nearly 50 years later Eastwood is doing some of his finest work as he gallops into his 80s.
To carry the OCMU/ASA connection even farther, when the Society for American Archaeology met in Atlanta in 2009 one of the tours original planned was to OCMU. For some reason the tour was cancelled and my predecessor as ASA president, Alice Kehoe, was very disappointed. I volunteered to give her a personal tour, so one day she and I drove the 60 miles or so to Macon and had a wonderful “anthropology day” on the road and touring the site. During our tour Alice took lots of pictures. One was of me in a tee-shirt with my long-sleeved Khaki shirt wrapped around my waist (the weather had turned quite warm). If I squint at the picture just right, I can almost convince myself that I look like the Panther-kilt warrior chief motif from Southeast Ceremonial Cult iconography. It was on that day that Alice clearly passed to me the mantle of authority for ASA.
I had a plaque attached to the gavel that reads simply–in large type–“Twentieth Anniversary. Association of Senior Anthropologists. EST. 1990”
When I completed saying all this at out ASA luncheon meeting in New Orleans, where I presented gavel to incoming president Herb Lewis, our incoming president-elect Paula G. Rubel added yet another layer of ASA connection to OCMU. The collection from an archaeology site that she worked during her student days in the 1950s near Augusta, Georgia, was deposited with OCMU and should still be in their Collections (I will be checking to see if it is still there.)
So you have it. It’s fun to think about how a story like this might change after several generations of ritual oral recitation.
Maybe others will enjoy.
About the Book
Published by University of Alabama Press.
Expanding American Anthropology, 1945-1980: A Generation Reflects takes an inside look at American anthropology’s participation in the enormous expansion of the social sciences after World War II. During this time the discipline of anthropology itself came of age, expanding into diverse subfields, frequently on the initiative of individual practitioners. The Association of Senior Anthropologists of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) called upon a number of its leaders to give accounts of their particular innovations in the discipline. This volume is the result of the AAA venture-a set of primary documents on the history of American anthropology at a critical juncture.
In preparing the volume, the editors endeavored to maintain the feeling of “oral history” within the chapters and to preserve the individual voices of the contributors. There are many books on the history of anthropology, but few that include personal essays from such a broad swath of different perspectives. The passing of time will make this volume increasingly valuable in understanding the development of American anthropology from a small discipline to the profession of over ten thousand practitioners.
Alice Beck Kehoe is professor emeritus of anthropology at Marquette University, and author of a dozen books, including Controversies in Archaeology, The Ghost Dance: Ethnohistory and Revitalization, and North American Indians: A Comprehensive Account.
Paul L. Doughty is Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of anthropology and Latin American studies at the University of Florida. He is coauthor of Peru: A Cultural History and Peasants, Power, and Applied Social Change: Vicos as a Model.
Some historical Anthropology News columns and other links:
- ASA 20th Anniversary
- In Memory of Walter Goldschmidt , Paul Durrenberg & Kendall Thu
- The Radical Transformation of Anthropology – Herb Lewis’ review of dramatic changes in Anthropology
- ASA May 2011 AN Column
- ASA April 2011 AN Column
- ASA March 2011 AN Column
- ASA February 2011 AN Column
- ASA January 2011 AN Column
- ASA December 2010 AN Column
- ASA April 2010 AN Column