We are underway. Faculty, students, and staff have been meeting and greeting each other for the last three weeks; we have settled into our class schedules and teaching rhythms; and our calendar of Fall events is full and already unfurling.
On Monday, September 7, the department celebrated Matt Hull's J.I. Staley Prize with a well-attended reception in the Titiev Library. Matt's book, Government of Paper: The Materiality of Bureaucracy in Urban Pakistan, won the annual prize, awarded by the School for Advanced Research for "outstanding writing and scholarship in anthropology." Michael Brown, SAR President, was on hand to present the award. Not only did we shower Matt and his book with praise, we refreshed Brown's memories of Michigan, where he got his PhD in Anthropology in 1981.
On September 13, Raven Garvey delivered the first of her 2019 Roy A. Rappaport Lectures. It was an artful, wide-ranging introduction to the central themes, puzzles, and conclusions of her research on Patagonian prehistory. In the three talks to come, Raven will explore novel hypotheses about life in a region widely considered marginal for human habitation. In particular, she will examine unconventional evidence for gauging colonization speed, alternative explanations for a purported abandonment of the region between 8000 and 4000 years ago, and reasons Patagonians might have remained foragers despite farming-favorable conditions. Raven is our sixth Rappaport Lecturer, and the first archaeologist in the series. The talks are free and open to the public.
We are delighted to welcome 18 new graduate students to our program: 3 sociocultural, 3 biological, 3 linguistic, and 5 archaeological. We admitted 2 students to our joint program with Social Work, and 2 to the Anthrohistory Program. They are an impressive cohort of scholars. To learn more about them, click here.
New faculty and fellows have joined us as well. Stacey Rosenbaum (Assistant Professor) studies variations in social organization among gorillas, with a special focus on parenting behaviors. Alicia Ventresca-Miller (Assistant Professor) specializes in nomadism, human-animal relations, the emergence of transregional, mixed-subsistence economies, and urbanism. Jennifer Hsieh (LSA Collegiate Fellow) works on the social life of sound and light, how we measure and control noise, and other aspects of sensory anthropology. Anoush Suni (Manoogian Fellow) does research at the interface of memory, state violence, and materiality in contemporary Turkey. Leigh Stuckey (Lecturer) studies how descendants of post-WWI Greek-Turkish population exchanges are reshaping their identities and histories across the Aegean.
I'm happy to report that we have three new named professorships in the department. These positions, bestowed on faculty whose work is of extraordinary quality and impact, are among the highest honors awarded by the University of Michigan. I'm especially proud of the vibrant mix of research skills, teaching abilities, and intellectual leadership our honorees bring to their new positions. Judy Irvine has been named the Edward Sapir Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology. Erik Mueggler is now the Katherine Verdery Collegiate Professor of Anthropology. And Holly Peters-Golden is the Conrad Phillip Kottak Collegiate Lecturer in Anthropology.
We will host and co-sponsor dozens of special events in and beyond our department this year. It's more than you can possibly attend. So choose wisely! One upcoming event that showcases the timely, topical reach of our faculty is Mobilizing Blackness: From the Haitian Revolution to Now, a two-day symposium (September 27-28) organized by Damani Partridge. There will be at least six anthropologists among the many invited speakers (one of them, Esra Özyürek, is a Michigan Anthro alum). The symposium is a global engagement with a vital cultural force. In the organizers' words: "From Negritude, to the Anti-Apartheid movement, to Mizrahi Jewish claims to being Black Panthers, to Asian/African/Caribbean coalitions in the United Kingdom, to articulations by German and French youth today, this symposium will address the ways in which “Blackness” has been mobilized to make claims on state and other resources. It will engage the anti-normative forms of living Blackness has enabled."
We are off to a vibrant start. Keep up, enjoy yourselves, and help each other do innovative anthropology.
Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and Chair
Department of Anthropology
University of Michigan