2017 Award Winners

2017 Franz Boas Award for Exemplary Service to Anthropology Awarded to Donald Brenneis

Donald Brenneis is the winner of this year’s Franz Boas Award for Exemplary Service to Anthropology. Over a 40-year career, Brenneis has distinguished himself for his pioneering research on the nexus of communication, performance, and power. Brenneis’s earliest scholarship focused on small-scale communities in Fiji and Nepal as they negotiate conflict and interpersonal relations through speech acts. His more recent research focuses on evaluation standards, bureaucratic forms, and interactional dynamics in American academic institutions, including human subjects review panels, review panels at the National Science Foundation, and editorial boards. Brenneis is known for a remarkable ability to speak to broad issues through close attention to the details of social life.

Throughout his career, Brenneis has also devoted enormous amounts of time and energy to the broader community of scholars. Brenneis is a Past President of the AAA and in his second term as director of the American Council of Learned Societies. He has edited Annual Review of Anthropology, reviewed numerous departments, and served on countless advisory boards. In the midst of all this, Brenneis chaired his department and his campus’s Academic Senate as well as taught and mentored generations of undergraduates and graduate students. Brenneis has fulfilled all these responsibilities deftly and with great warmth.

It is hard to imagine another anthropologist whose contributions to the discipline have been more extensive or influential than Brenneis’s.  Through his scholarship and his service, he has helped anthropologists develop a deeper understanding of what our discipline is and could be.

Sameena Mulla Named 2017 Recipient of the Margaret Mead Award

Congratulations to Sameena Mulla, the 2017 recipient of the Margaret Mead Award for her scholarship, including the book The Violence of Care: Rape Victims, Forensic Nurses, and Sexual Assault Intervention. The Margaret Mead Award, offered jointly by the AAA and the Society for Applied Anthropology, is presented to a younger scholar for a particular accomplishment, such as a book, film, monograph, or service, which interprets anthropological data and principles in ways that make them meaningful to a broadly concerned public. 

The following quote from a reviewer speaks to the intellectual quality, clarity and understandability, and breadth of impact of Mulla’s work: 

“The Violence of Care is not only a brilliant academic study of sexual assault interventions as these unfold in a hospital emergency room but one that completely changes our vision on how to understand sexual violence at the intersection of race and gender in one of the most violent and racially divided cities (Baltimore) in the USA … [The book has been] featured in discussions on public radio and has had an impact on law and society networks within and outside the US. [Mulla’s] work showcases a fundamental conviction … that anthropology must assume a unity of theory and praxis and that philosophy and social theory are enriched by the worldly character of anthropology.” 

Diana Burnett Named 2017 AAA Minority Dissertation Fellow

Diana Burnett is the recipient of the 2017 AAA Minority Dissertation Fellowship, awarded by the AAA and the Committee on Minority Affairs in Anthropology. Burnett is an advanced doctorate candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and approaching her final year of dissertation writing.

As a scholar and researcher situated at the intersection of medical anthropology, anthropology of religion, and the anthropology of race and ethnicity, Burnett’s broad interests have been structured around an examination of the relationship between race and identity, belief systems (often religion and spirituality), and health. Subsequently, she has developed and pursued an aligning interest that focuses on health inequities and community-based solutions to these issues. Specifically, she is interested in groups whose migrant identity and migration histories have been unexplored and/or underexplored in the anthropological literature.

Burnett states, “My research contributes to the growing body of anthropological scholarship, which seeks to understand the relationship between diaspora, globalization, and migration in the construction of cultural frameworks as it pertains to an anthropological inquiry to the effects of the urgent global health epidemics especially in ‘high-risk’ populations.”

Rami Salameh Receives First Palestine Israel Fellowship Fund for Travel

Rami Salameh received the first Palestine-Israel Fellowship Fund for Travel, which provides funding for a Palestinian or Israeli anthropologist to attend the AAA Annual Meeting.

“We are thrilled and I feel personally honored to welcome Rami Salameh of Bizreit University in the West Bank to attend the Annual Meeting with support from the PIFFT Fellowship, designed to bring voices we as an Association might otherwise not hear,” said AAA President Alisse Waterston who added, “As the very first PIFFT awardee, Rami will present his powerful and compelling work on political death and dying in Palestine in a session on Palestinian ethnographies. I can’t wait to meet him, and to see the PIFFT Fellowship blossom in the coming years.”

Salameh graduated in 2004 from Bethlehem University with a degree in sociology and received his master’s degree in Cultural and Critical Studies at Westminster University in 2011. Currently he is a Ph.D. candidate at the department of anthropology and sociology at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, and he is expected to defend his thesis in January 2018. His thesis is about the bodily lived experiences of the colonized Palestinians, in which he attempts to understand their living, loving,3 and dying. He is also currently a lecturer at Birzeit University.

Richard Moore Receives 2017-18 Anthropology in Public Policy Award

Richard Moore is the recipient of the 2017-18 Anthropology in Public Policy Award. The AAA Committee on Public Policy was particularly impressed with Moore’s cross-disciplinary research, outreach to high school and college students through a new curriculum, and influence on water quality programs and overall environmental policy. Indeed, the committee felt that his work on these issues truly represents the types of policy contributions that deserves recognition through this award.

Moore, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and The School of Environment and Natural Resources at The Ohio State University, conducted theoretical and applied work on grassroots participatory groups that resulted in a water quality trading project that has been a pioneering model program both in Ohio and nationally. It was cited as the “poster child of water quality trading” at the 2014 Congressional hearing of the House Transportation Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment where Moore was asked to testify.

Before retiring in 2015 Moore was Executive Director of the OSU Environmental Sciences Network and former director of the OSU Environmental Science Graduate Program.

Joyce V. Millen Honored for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching of Anthropology

Joyce V. Millen is the winner of this year’s AAA/Oxford University Press Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching of Anthropology. When Millen first began teaching at Willamette in fall 2006, it was obvious she was a gifted teacher and research fellow, whose capacity to inspire leadership is truly remarkable.

Millen is an initiator and a catalyst for ideas and actions. At Harvard, she conceived of and helped design and initiate the Global Health Leadership Program to prepare future physicians for work in resource-poor environments and to create a cadre of advocates for social change.

While shouldering her heavy research and administrative tasks within the Institute, Millen’s first focus is almost always on her students, for many of whom she is not only an intellectual authority but a trusted friend and source of ethical inspiration and guidance.

2017 Robert B. Textor and Family Prize for Excellence in Anticipatory Anthropology Goes to Sarah Horton

The recipient of the 2017 Robert B. Textor and Family Prize for Excellence in Anticipatory Anthropology is Sarah Horton for her book They Leave Their Kidneys in the Fields: Illness, Injury, and “Illegality” among U.S. Farmworkers. Within the book, she draws upon a decade of ethnographic fieldwork in California’s Central Valley to examine the causes of the high rate of heat-related deaths among immigrant farmworkers. Horton shows that even as growers, the media, and state occupational safety officials tend to naturalize farmworkers’ deaths from heat stroke, U.S. labor, immigration, health care, and food safety policies all play a role in this tragedy.

This book challenges official accounts of the causes and prevalence of heatstroke and outlines concrete policy solutions to remedy the problem. Horton has written reports for California’s occupational health and safety agency, Cal-OSHA, on how company food safety policies compromise workers’ health in the fields and is working with several California labor advocacy organizations and nonprofits to encourage companies to change their policies.

Maria Vesperi Receives 2017 Anthropology in Media Award

AAA is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2017 Anthropology in Media Award is Maria Vesperi. Throughout her career, Vesperi has been deeply involved in communicating anthropology to the general public through media. In 1980 she wrote a collaborative 12-part series for the Tampa Bay Times (formerly St. Petersburg Times), “Growing Old in a New Downtown.” 

In 1986 Vesperi wrote an investigative series, “Welfare: Does It Help or Harm the Poor?” which was nominated by the Times for a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. Making use of her contacts as a full-time journalist and later as a 20-year member of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies Board of Trustees, she has also organized a range of academic paper sessions, special events and workshops related to journalism. While Vesperi was General Editor of Anthropology Now, she contributed to the successful communication of anthropology to the general public and raised public awareness of anthropology through a broad and sustained public impact at many levels, including the international level.  

Vesperi has demonstrated courageous leadership, engaged ethnography, and rare editorial talent. She has the sensibility and passion of a first-rate journalist combined with the insight and charisma of a superb teacher. In sum, because of the range and depth of Vesperi’s contributions to communicating anthropology to the general public through a variety of media, she is an extremely worthy recipient of the Anthropology in Media Award.  

Carol Mukhopadhyay Receives AAA’s Committee on Gender Equity in Anthropology (CoGEA) Award

Carol Mukhopadhyay received the AAA’s Committee on Gender Equity in Anthropology (CoGEA) Award for 2017. The committee was particularly impressed by her unflagging commitment to gender equity that permeates her scholarship, teaching, advocacy, and mentorship.

Mukhopadhyay’s commitment to gender equity and combating all kinds of discrimination has been influential over the decades. As one former student put it, “both as ideology and as lived practice.” Another former student notes how her dedication to standing up to gender inequity “is not [just] something she does, it is who she is.” Former students and colleagues were particularly inspired by her courage, tenacity, generosity, and willingness to stand up for others.

Mukhopadhyay is professor emerita at San Jose State University. Her feminist research addresses gender divisions in families, politics, and science and engineering, in the US and India.

2017 AAA Leadership Fellows Offer Diverse Perspectives Across Anthropology

Katie Kirakosian, Lesley Jo Weaver, and Diana Marsh have been named the 2017 AAA Leadership Fellows. The Leadership Fellows program is designed to provide a unique opportunity for anthropologists beginning their careers to learn about leadership opportunities and to encourage future leadership in the Association. The wide variety of educational and professional backgrounds shared by this year’s Fellows promise to bring exciting new perspectives to Association leadership.   

Trained archaeologist Katie Kirakosian is drawn to service opportunities that allow her to have a clear and lasting impact on the future of anthropology. Kirakosian is currently an adjunct lecturer at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where she completed her Ph.D. in 2014. Kirakosian sits on the board of the Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum in Exeter, Rhode Island, co-founded the Society for American Archaeology’s (SAA) Teaching Archaeology Interest Group, and is a coordinating team member for the SAA video project “Archiving the Archaeologists.” Her background in administration and project management will make her a valuable addition to the Leadership Fellows team. 

Lesley Jo Weaver is a third-year faculty member in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alabama. As a medical and biocultural anthropologist who graduated with a Ph.D. and MPH from Emory University in 2014, Weaver is particularly interested in engaging with AAA leadership who are working to bring biological and applied anthropologists into the fold. Weaver is currently serving on the Society for Medical Anthropology’s membership committee as well as working on an NSF-funded three-year collaborative project comparing the relationships between food security and mental health in Brazil, Ethiopia, and Haiti. 

Diana Marsh is a museum anthropologist with a Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia who hopes to apply her four-field training to AAA leadership opportunities. Marsh recently completed a fellowship with the American Philosophical Society Museum and begins a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at the National Anthropological Archives this summer. Her position as a Leadership Fellow will build on her service to the Association as a Council for Museum Anthropology board member. 

AAA President’s Awards

Elizabeth ChiltonElizabeth Chilton (University of Binghamton), for her work as a member of the Executive Board and chair of the Audit Committee, and leadership of the Working Group on Culture Heritage.
Agustin FuentesAgustín Fuentes (University of Notre Dame), for his service as executive program chair for the 116th AAA Annual Meeting on “Anthropology Matters!”
Jeff MartinJeff Martin (AAA), for his dedication and hard work as director of communications and public affairs.
Ramona PerezRamona Pérez (San Diego State University), for her leadership of the Members’ Programmatic Advisory and Advocacy Committee (MPAAC), and service on the Executive Board, as a member of the Working Group on Israel-Palestine, and as chair of the MPAAC subcommittee.
Tricia RedekerTricia Redeker-Hepner (University of Tennessee), for her leadership of the Committee for Human Rights and of the Members’ Programmatic Advisory and Advocacy Committee.


Executive Director’s Awards

Leslie AielloLeslie Aiello (American Association of Physical Anthropologists), for her visionary leadership of the Wenner-Gren Foundation, her role in helping to build international bridges among anthropological communities, and her enduring commitment to maintaining strong collaborative ties with the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.
ValorieValorie Aquino (University of New Mexico), for her courageous, risk-taking, and tireless work as co-organizer of the April 2017 March for Science, which catalyzed hundreds of thousands of people to take to the streets in a non-partisan demonstration of support for scientific research, education, and evidence-based policy.