4/11/2017- There are many ways that faculty engage with their research—teaching about it, writing articles, giving presentations at conferences. But there is something very special about those rare occasions when faculty publish a book.
“’The gestation period was much longer than 9 months!’ one of my friends once told me. Ever since, I have wanted to celebrate book completions,” noted Department Head Ellen Gruenbaum. “A book is a rare and special accomplishment in the life of a professor!”
So the Department of Anthropology held a special reception on Monday. Students, faculty, and guests gathered to honor seven faculty who have published books this year. Each spoke briefly about their work.
Two of the books are monographs based on intensive ethnographic research. Laura Zanotti’s Radical Territories in the Brazilian Amazon: The Kayapo’s Fight for Just Livelihoods (University of Arizona Press) recounts the struggles she has observed in her many years of research with the native peoples there. Several groups of undergraduate and graduate students at Purdue have accompanied her to the community of Aukre. There they learned from their Kayapo teachers about the forest environment and cultural heritage while also collaborating on developing a media center and movie-making. Su’ad Abdul Khabeer’s book, Muslim Cool: Race, Religion, and Hip Hop in the United States (New York University Press) is a fresh and innovative look at the ways multiethnic American Muslims express themselves and challenge racist norms—through ideas, dress, and social activism.
Professor Rich Blanton completed his opus magnum this year. It’s been called “big anthropology, the likes of which we do not see every day.” How Humans Cooperate: Confronting the Challenges of Collective Action (U Press of Colorado) moves across time and place to investigate human cooperation using anthropology’s broad understanding of biological, adaptive, and cultural dimensions of human society’s efforts to work together effectively. His book is co-authored with Purdue alumnus Lane Fargher. Myrdene Anderson co-edited a collection called Consensus on Peirce’s Concept of Habit (Purdue U. Press.).
Evie Blackwood worked for long years to prepare her new textbook, Cultural Anthropology: Mapping Cultures Across Space and Time (Cengage), coauthored with Janice Stockard. Two other texts round out this year’s crop of books: Using Anthropology in the World: A Guide to Becoming a Professional Anthropologist is Riall Nolan’s new text for courses like the one he pioneered at Purdue. Popular with undergrads, the course “Using Anthropology in the World” has launched many of them along the path toward applying anthropology to solving human problems and to their careers in the “real world.” Also a part of the department’s Applied and Practicing Anthropology focus is the eighth edition of Adjunct Professor Elizabeth Briody’s book, The Cultural Dimension of Global Business (coauthored with Gary Ferraro, Routledge).
College of Liberal Arts Dean David Reingold commented that this degree of productivity for a small department is a remarkable achievement.
The students in the audience were clearly proud of their professors’ achievements. “I really liked hearing about these important ideas!” commented graduate student Allison Kirkham. “We should do this more often.” Maybe. But probably less often than every nine months!
3/28/17 - A record number of faculty and students are participating in the Society for Applied Anthropology conference in Santa Fe, NM,
3/28/17 - Richard Blanton’s Work on Premodern Democracies Featured in Science. It wasn't just Greece: Archaeologists find early democratic societies in the Americas. “‘Blanton and his colleagues opened up a new way of examining our data,’ says Rita Wright, an archaeologist at New York University in New York City who studies the 5000-year-old Indus civilization in today's India and Pakistan, which also shows signs of collective rule. ‘A whole new set of scholarship has emerged about complex societies.’”
3/10/17 - Dr. Su’ad Abdal Khabeer has been awarded a year-long fellowship in residence at Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music. Her proposed project, Allah and Justice: A Cultural History of Islam and Hip Hop, is a global exploration of Muslims, hip hop and social justice framed by a series of questions: What is the historical relationship between Islam and hip hop? What contributions have Muslims made to hip hop music and culture? How has hip hop become a means for Muslims to answer the Qur’an’s call “to enjoin the good and the forbid the wrong?” There are three thematic foci of the project. The first, “Genealogies of Liberation” focuses on the history of Islam in hip hop’s development and the second theme, “Hip Hop as Sacred Music,” will examine hip hop as a form of sonic religion for Muslims. The third theme, “Hip Hop, Islam and Revolution,” looks the “transglobal hiphop ummah” to explore the ways in which hip hop is being deployed in Muslim revolutionary praxis globally. In line with my commitment to public scholarship and the Institute of Sacred Music’s complementary engagement with sacred arts and public life, this project will culminate in a book-length manuscript--collection of six essays that reflect upon the thematic foci of the project and a performance ethnography. She will spend the fellowship doing research and writing to complete the project.
3/7/2017 - Dr. Su'ad Abdul Khabeer participated in an online forum called "Islam on Trial" that was published in the Boston Review. Dr. Khabeers response focuses on the double burden of being Black and Muslim vis-a-vis the national security state.
1/31/2017 - The work of Dr. Stacy M. Lindshield new Assistant Professor of Biological Anthropology (fall 2017) on chimpanzee politics, titled “In Rare Killing, Chimpanzees Cannibalize Former Leader” is highlighted by National Geographic News.
1/29/2017 – Dr. Suad Abdul Khabeer publishes article “Trumps Muslim ban is a dangerous distraction” in Aljazeera News.
1/9/2017 - Dr. Amanda Veile and Dr. Jennifer Johnson were featured in the Fall 2016 issue of Purdue University's Think Magazine. Their research was showcased as part of an article on "Feminism's Future."
1/9/2017 - Dr. Amanda Veile received a $35,000 grant from the College of Liberal Arts (Exploratory Research in the Social Sciences) for her project "Biology and Socioecology of Birth and Early Childhood Maturational Processes: A Semi-Longitudinal Study of Yucatec Maya Subsistence Farmers." Read details here.
11/28/2016 - The Tippecanoe County Historical Association (TCHA) and Purdue’s Department of Anthropology and Department of History will host MHAC 13 October 13-15, 2017. The theme is Reconstructing, Representing, and Reenacting: Historical Archaeology and Public Education. 2017 marks both the 300th anniversary of the founding of Fort Ouiatenon, a French fur trade post in Tippecanoe County, and the 50th anniversary of the Feast of the Hunter’s Moon, one of the largest annual re-enactments of the 18th century fur trade in the United States. To commemorate these anniversary milestones part of the conference will be dedicated to Fort Ouiatenon past and present, and the fur trade and historical reenactments more generally. Papers, posters, and lightning round talks on any topic related to historical archaeology in the Midwest are also welcome, but we especially encourage potential presenters to focus on the use of historical archaeology data (artifacts, museum objects, buildings, landscapes) to reconstruct, represent, or reenact history for a variety of audiences. Registration and logistical information and links will soon be available online. Keep watching this space for details.
10/21/2016 - Ph.D. candidate Savannah Schulze (Remis) is currently conducting fieldwork in Uganda thanks to a Wenner-Gren Foundation Grant for her dissertation project. Keep up with her field updates on her research blog.
10/13/2016 - Prof. Amanda Veile's published research on the epidemiologic link between cesarean birth and childhood obesity is highlighted by Purdue News.
10/06/2016 - Purdue features Big Ideas around campus, including Prof. Sherylyn Briller's on how to educate people to more rapidly gain the wisdom typically accumulated over the course of a lifetime.
9/27/2016 - Prof. Sherylyn Briller and Ph.D. candidate Elizabeth Wirtz are featured in Anthropology News for developing a course where technology students learn to apply anthropological principles to develop design solutions.
9/22/2016 - Prof. Su’ad Abdul Khabeer participated in an invited online forum entitled Religion, secularism, and Black Lives Matter.
9/22/2016 - “Walking the Ballroom” (with a nod to Marlon Bailey, Butch Queens Up in Pumps: Gender, Performance, and Ballroom Culture in Detroit). Photo taken in class on September 22 as Dr. Blackwoods ANTH/WGSS 482, Sexual Diversity in Global Perspectives class experienced first hand walking the runway. Students showed up dressed for the experience! Photo- right.
Associate Professor, Su’ad Abdul Khabeer was among a small group of scholars who study Islam and Muslims, they were asked to write a short response to Donald Trump’s “Muslim Ban”. Please read here for the response. Dr. Khabeer is the second response after the journalist introduction.
On April 28 the Anthropology Department celebrated the end of the 2015-2016 academic school year with our annual Awards Banquet. The department is proud of the many accomplishments from our Faculty, Grad Students, and Undergraduates. Click here to see a copy of our Award Program to see a list of just some of the many awards and honors from our department.
Congratulations to Jonathan Micon (pictured to the right). Jonathan received the Outstanding Graduating Senior award in Anthropology and CLA Honors Graduate.
Dr. Ellen Gruenbaum is featured on the front page of the Exponent, discussing her research on genital cutting: “Professor hopes to change students’ views on African cultural practices”
Dr. Abdul Khabeer was recently awarded CLA’s Enhancing Research in the Humanities and Arts (ERHA) grant for her digital humanities project, Sapelo Square: An Online Resources on African American Islam. Sapelo Square is the first online platform dedicated to the comprehensive documentation and analysis of the African American Muslim experience. Sapelo Square, which is managed by Dr. Abdul Khabeer and her academic and non-academic collaborators, features original research and perspectives and also curates content from online and offline texts and audiovisual materials. The EHRA grant will be used to help Sapelo Square better incorporate the best digital humanities practices and innovative technologies into its work. Dr. Abdul Khabeer's long-term objective is for Sapelo Square to be a multifaceted interactive platform that creates new knowledge on a critical yet understudied segment of American society as well as new directions for humanities scholarship on critical issues of race, religion, and national belonging.
Ellen Gruenbaum chaired a session at the International Breast Cancer and Nutrition symposium in Guadeloupe, French West Indies, in October.
The Exponent, Purdue University's student-run newspaper conducted an interview with Anthropology faculty Amanda Veile and Erik Otárola-Castillo. The Exponent was interested in our faculty's opinion on the trendy "Paleo" diet. Click on the following link to read the article "Paleo or tasty treat: Does it matter"
Anthropology graduate student, Matthew Pike recently traveled to Michigan State to take part in a National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Digital Humanities funded Institute on Digital Archaeology Method and Practice. Matthew was fortunate to be one of 20 selected out of almost 200 applicants from across the archeological spectrum (academic, CRM, graduate students, tenured faculty, museum professionals, etc.)
The goal of the institute is to expose interested archaeological scholars to advances in digital methods beyond GIS and database management, including Digital Project Development and Management; 3D & Augmented Reality; Digital Public Outreach and Engagement; Data, Linked Data, and Digital Libraries; Digital Publication and Scholarly Communication; and Geospatial and Digital Cultural Mapping.
The Institute is a year-long experience, with another week-long intensive workshop in August 2016. During his recent visit he was exposed to many new tools, methods, and ways of thinking about digital methods in archaeology from the previously mentioned topics. Over the next year, he (and the rest of the participants) will be developing independent digital archaeology projects with support from the Institute faculty. Matthew’s project (tentatively titled the "Northern Copper Technology Database") will be a public repository of much of the archaeological copper database that Dr. Cooper, Matthew, and Garett Hunt have been constructing. The goal of the project will be to function as an open, central repository for knowledge and data about northern copper metallurgy for researchers.
In addition to the projects scholarly audience, the website will also be designed with input from partnerships in northern indigenous descendant communities so that the information they present will be useful and interesting to these communities as well. Ideally, this will function as a form of digital repatriation by providing digital access to material heritage for many extremely rural communities.
We are pleased to welcome Erik Otárola-Castillo to our department. Erick has recently co-authored and published an article "When mothers need others: Why does it take a village to raise a child." It has almost become cliché to say ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ Why do human mothers, unlike most among mammals, rely on help to raise children? To answer this question, a new study co-authored by Karen Kramer and Erik Otárola-Castillo published in the Journal of Human Evolution, and highlighted by the Harvard Gazette and other popular-media news sources, uses mathematical and numerical modeling to explore mother-offspring characteristics throughout the human evolutionary trajectory. The work shows that during many of the early changes in our evolutionary past, a mother and her children can cooperate as a group to provide sufficient support each other—later in time, however, as more modern human characteristics developed (e.g., earlier weaning, shorter birth intervals, longer juvenile dependence) mothers began to need cooperation from other adults and the community at large."
The Anthropology Department is hosting a visiting undergraduate research student this summer and in the fall term. Karen Lorena Romero Leal, who is joining us as part of Purdue’s UREP-C program, comes to us from Colombia with an interest in Amazonian indigenous peoples, testimonial literature, and oral histories. Karen will be working with Dr. Laura Zanotti and Dr. Sherri Briller.
An illustrated profile of Prof. Laura Zanotti’s environmental anthropology research and field school in the Amazon rainforest is featured in the latest issue of CLA's THiNK Magazine.
Congratulations to Professors Laura Zanotti and Kory Cooper who have been promoted to Associate Professor!
Ellen Gruenbaum presented a lecture on her research to about 40 UN staff at the United Nations Development Program in Khartoum, Sudan, on Feb. 25th. Her topic was "Generation of Change: FGM/C and Abandonment Efforts in Sudan.”
Ellen Gruenbaum gave a series of lectures to Public Health Master’s students at the Ahfad University for Women in Omdurman, Sudan, in February, during her sabbatical affiliation there.
O. Michael Watson Award for Outstanding Graduating Senior
Congratulations to the following students who received the Department of Anthropology's top honors for academic achievement and service, the O. Michael Watson Award for Outstanding Graduating Senior. The Award is named in honor of our legendary professor, Dr. O. Michael Watson (1936-2012), whose dynamic undergraduate courses excited decades of anthropology students. Each year, the student selected goes on to be nominated for consideration for the college of Liberal Arts Outstanding Student Award.
2016 Jonathan Micon
Walter Hirsch Award
Walter Hirsch was a Purdue faculty member in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology from 1947 until his retirement in 1989, who specialized in social movements and the sociology of science. His family and friends established this award in his memory in recognition of his long-time interest in and support of graduate students. Each year, the award provides approximately $1,000 to help with the costs of dissertation research for one doctoral candidate in Anthropology and one in Sociology.
2015 Ingrid Ramon Parra
3/10/2017 - Dr. Su’ad Abdal Khabeer has been awarded a year-long fellowship in residence at Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music. Read here for more information about her project, Allah and Justice: A Cultural History of Islam and Hip Hop
3/9/2017 - Congratulations to Assistant Professor Zoe Nyssa on her Library Scholars grant.
Congratulations to Associate Professor Ian Lindsay on his $221,000 grant that he was awarded by the National Science Foundation for his project “Collaborative Research: The Role Of Fortifications In Long-Term Political Process”.
Congratulations to Katie Whitmore for winning the opportunity to participate in the Humanities Without Walls Pre-Doctoral Summer Workshop.
In spring 2016, Dr. Laura Zanotti (Anthropology) and Dr. Kimberly Marion Suiseeya (Political Science) received a Center for the Environment sustainable communities seed grant for the project entitled, “From presence to influence: examining the politics of indigenous representation in global environmental governance.”
Dr. Laura Zanotti recently was awarded a Service-Learning Faculty Grant from the Center of Instructional Excellence at Purdue. She will be a Junior Fellow from April 2016 – April 2017.
Congratulations to Sarah Huang, who received a Graduate Student Incentive Award from the Purdue Climate Change Research Center. Sarah was also accepted into the US Borlaug Summer Institute on Global Foood Security that will take place at Purdue in June.
Congratulations to Dr. Amanda Veile, who has received the Purdue Anthropology Department's Excellence in Teaching Award!
Dr. Amanda Veile and co-investigator Karen Kramer recently received a $25,000 grant from the Max Plank Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. The grant will fund the purchase of laboratory and field equipment for their ongoing study of maternal-child health and immuno-nutrition in Yucatec Maya subsistence farmers.
Congratulations to Ph.D. student Katie Whitmore who has been selected as a 2016 Humanities Without Walls Pre-Doctoral Fellow!
Congratulations to our graduate student Savannah Schulze. She has been awarded a Global Synergy Research Grant for Students by the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts for her dissertation research project entitled, Mountain Gorillas (Gorilla beringi beringi) in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda: interrelationships with Batwa and other local communities.
Congratulations to our recent Ph.D. graduate, Dr. Ryan Plis, for receiving the College of Liberal Arts' Distinguished Dissertation Award for his dissertation, "Families in Transition: Gender Non-Conformists and their Kin Networks in the Mid-Southern U.S.” This is the highest award given to dissertations in the College!
Congratulations to the winners of the 2015-16 PRF Research Grants:
Ingrid Ramon Parra and Laura Zanotti have received a 2015-16 Purdue Research Foundation Research Grant for "Menire making Movies: A Participatory Video Project with Kayapo Women in the Brazilian Amazon".
Matthew Pike and Kory Cooper have received a 2015-16 Purdue Research Foundation Grant for "Prehistoric Copper Technology in the Arctic and Subarctic: A Geospatial Analysis of Hunter-Gatherer Innovation".
Congratulations to Elizabeth Hall who has just been notified that she has received a 2015 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Fellowship to support her doctoral studies. Liz is currently completing her MS in our program which is serving as a pilot for her developing Ph.D. research on Zoonotic Pathogens: Disease Transmission among Apes and Humans in Mosaic Habitats in West and Central Africa.
Prof. Richard Blanton, Lane Farger (Purdue Research Affiliate), and Verenice Heredia Espinoza have been awarded a National Science Foundation grant to support their project "The Relationship Between Household Organization And Governance.” The aim of their research is to uncover changes in household formation and economies in a newly-forming republican system of governance in the Postclassic Period of Tlaxcala, a site in the Central Highlands of Mexico.
Dr. Abdul Khabeer is co-PI on the “Muslims in the Midwest: An Oral History Project” that was recently awarded a grant as part of the Global Midwest initiative by the Humanities Without Walls consortium. The project will establish and build a digital archive that documents the varied experiences of American Muslims in the Midwest through testimonies across generational, gender, geographical, socio-economic, and ethnic differences. Dr. Abdul Khabeer’s contribution will focus on African American Muslims in the Midwest. The Senior Project Advisor is Mohammed Khalil (Michigan State and other co-PI’s are Junaid Rana (Illinois), Nadine Naber (Illinois-Chicago)and Asma Afsaruddin (Indiana).
Congratulations to Dr. Michele Buzon who was appointed by the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts in June 2014 to a five-year term (2014-2019) as a University Faculty Scholar. This honor provides additional annual research support.
Congratulations to Associate Professor Michele Buzon on her 2014 award from the National Science Foundation for her project entitled, “Collaborative Research: Impact and Accommodation Through Cultural Contact.” She will use the funds ($135,272) to support her bioarchaeological research investigating the impact of Egypt’s New Kingdom Empire (c. 1500-1050 BC) on the Kerma culture in Nubia through an examination of identity and health before and after the conquest and colonization of the area (with UCSB collaborator Stuart Tyson Smith). This research is also being supported by the Purdue Office of the Vice President for Research Bridge Funding Program ($48,045).
Dr. Ian Lindsay won the Departmental Excellence in Teaching Award for 2014. He was honored for his work in utilizing student-centered hands-on teaching and technology. He teaches archeology, technology and culture, and the large lecture Intro to General Anthropology course.
11/17/2016 - Congratulations to Dr. Richard Blanton on his book publication "How Humans Cooperate: Confronting the Challenges of Collective Action In How Humans Cooperate." Richard E. Blanton and Lane F. Fargher take a new approach to investigating human cooperation, developed from the vantage point of an "anthropological imagination."
11/17/2016 - Congratulations to Dr. Su'ad Abdul Khabeer on her recently published book, Muslim Cool: Race, Religion and Hip Hop in the United States (NYU Press 2016)
Dr. Melissa Remis was featured in Purdue News discussing a recent feature article and cover in American Journal of Human Biology. Click here to read the research article by Carolyn Jost Robinson and Melissa Remis about how Older women in the Central African Republic forager communities suffer most from food shortage. Or click here for the Purdue News article and link to the research article.
Dr. Kory Cooper is featured in this Purdue News article discussing his artifacts’ metallurgical analysis showing Old World metals were traded on the Alaska coast several hundred years before contact with Europeans.
Dr. Michele Buzon shows new bioarchaeological evidence that Nubians and Egyptians integrated into a community, and even married, in ancient Sudan. Read about her research here.
Amanda Veile, Erik Otárola-Castillo recently published their research titled Sibling Competition & Growth Tradeoffs. Biological vs. Statistical Significance, Kramer KL, Veile A, Otárola-Castillo E (2016) Sibling Competition & Growth Tradeoffs. Biological vs. Statistical Significance. PLoS ONE 11(3): e0150126. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0150126
You can read about the research of several of our Anthropologists who were featured in the Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships Annual Report. Dr. Briller (p. 9), Dr. Buzon (p. 12), Beth Gravalos (p. 30), Dr. Remis (p.33).
Read a recent publication by one of our graduate students, Jonas Ecke Continuity and Discontinuity: Cultural Change in a Refugee Camp in Ghana. PentecoStudies: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Research on the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, 14(1)
Congratulations to Dr. Riall Nolan for his recent book publication: Internationalizing the Academy: Lessons of Leadership in Higher Education, Edited by Gilbert W. Merkx and Riall W. Nolan
Graduate students Betsy Wirtz and Jonas Ecke were invited to speak at the Purdue UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund) Charity Banquet on Friday night. They discussed issues relating to refugee children.
Read one of Dr. Richard Blanton's recent articles, “Theories of Ethnicity and the Dynamics of Ethnic Change in Multiethnic Societies” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112: no. 30: 9175-9181.
Katelyn Reavis presented her research with Dr. Michele Buzon at the American Association of Physical Anthropology in Calgary, Alberta Canada, April 2014.
Melissa Remis and Carolyn Jost Robinson published an article in 2014 on ethnoprimatology and multispecies approaches, with coauthors Nick Malone, Alison Wade, Agustin Fuentes, and Erin Riley. The article is titled, “Ethnoprimatology: Critical interdisciplinary and multi species approaches in anthropology.” Critique of Anthropology 341(1):8-29.
Professor Abdul Khabeer spoke in a discussion on American Muslims recently on Aljazeera English. You can watch the video here.
Professor Melissa Remis’s research was featured in Purdue News on May 20, 2014. The research studied the effects of integrated conservation and development in the Dzanga-Sangha Dense Forest Reserve, including the first look at the impact on people's health. Click here to read the article.
Dr. Evelyn Blackwood was interviewed by The Daily Beast about her research among the Minangkabau in West Sumatra, Indonesia. You can find the full article here.
Recently some of our faculty and graduate students attended the SfAA annual meetings grad fair. Pictured on the right is Dr. Sherylyn Briller, Dr. Riall Nolan, graduate students Elizabeth Wirtz, Sarah Huang, and Ale Wundram Pimentel.
Undergraduates presented their recent summer anthropological research experiences at one of our recent Brown Bag Lectures.
2/24/17 - This poster (below, right) was created by Anth undergraduate Claire Sigworth, PhD candidate Katie Whitmore and Dr. Michele Buzon (translated by Dr. Mohamed Faroug Ali) for the Tombos Elementary School. The school teachers (one pictured here, Khateb) and the principal were very excited and appreciative of the three posters we made to assist them in educating students about archaeology, Nubian history, and the Tombos archaeological site.
Recently a group of our graduate students met with an Anthropology class at a local high school. The class of mostly seniors have been studying anthropology. Katie Whitmore, Sarah Huang, and Garett Hunt talked with them about anthropology and shared some of their own experiences and research within the field. After speaking to the class they had a question and answer session where they talked more generally about anthropology and its disciplines.
Students and faculty of the department frequently reach out to local schools and community groups to present anthropological ideas and research findings. Here are just a few samples:
Pictured below, Erik Otárola-Castillo (left) and Ian Lindsay (right) participating in Cumberland Elementary School’s annual Math Night, where they created a geo-caching game to get kids excited about developing map reading skills.
On July 31, 2014, Dr. Elizabeth Rowe presents her talk on “The Evolution of Menstruation” to the “Science on Tap” series at the Lafayette Brewing Company, on Main St. in Lafayette. A previous speaker in the series was Dr. Sharon Williams (in 2011) whose topic was on aging in cross-national perspective, which focused on her research on the significant differences in how humans age across the globe, work she pursued with the World Health Organization.
Remembering Those That Went Before
O. Michael Watson (1936-2012)
Dr. Watson was born in 1936 in Knoxville, Tennessee, and grew up in Colorado. After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, he studied anthropology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and earned a BA and Ph.D. In 1967 joined the Purdue University faculty as one of the founders of the Anthropology Department. Professor Watson’s early research focused on proxemic analysis, which he published in Proxemic Behavior: A Cross-Cultural Study (Mouton, 1970). He subsequently turned to visual anthropology, which led to a number of publications and graduate seminars, as well as his production of the classic film Spirit of Ethnography. Professor Watson was one of the founders of anthropology at Purdue, and he devoted his career to the growth of the discipline and to the department. A renowned teacher and beloved professor, he won numerous teaching awards during his 40 years at Purdue. Generations of students took his love of anthropology and enthusiasm for human cultural diversity along with them as they pursued their many directions. Known for his energy and amazing ability to find humor everywhere, he is remembered for the joy and laughter he brought to so many lives. When Professor Watson retired in 2007, the Department of Anthropology honored him by naming our annual student award after him.
Jay O’Brien (1947-2013)
Jay O’Brien was born in New Jersey, in 1947 and grew up in California. He came of age influenced by the music, activism, natural beauty, and the social concerns of 1960s California. After being an exchange student in Sweden when he was 17 and doing a study abroad in Germany, he was inspired to become an anthropologist. He studied anthropology at Stanford University and the University of Connecticut (Ph.D. 1980).
Professor O’Brien studied the long-term effects of colonial regimes in Africa, and wrote his master’s thesis on Portuguese empire in Africa, 1415-1961. Subsequently, he spent 5 years in Sudan, researching agricultural labor and development, using political economy and ethnography to understand family dynamics, ethnic identification shifts, and development dilemmas in Sudan. Among his publications were three books—on political economy and development in Sudan, and on the intersection of history and anthropology.
His career was about social justice and the process of change, analyzing the conditions of poverty, the dilemmas of development, and their impacts on human cultural life. He became deeply engaged in teaching, achieving tenure at Lawrence University and teaching at a dozen other universities in Sudan, Sweden, Botswana, and the U.S. He came to Purdue in 2008 with his life partner, Ellen Gruenbaum, to be part of the newly launched independent Department of Anthropology.