Prizes & Awards

2011 AAA Award Winners

AAA Minority Dissertation Fellowship

Shankari PatelAAA and the Committee on Minority Affairs in Anthropology (CMIA) are pleased to announce the selection of Shankari Patel as recipient of the 2011–12 AAA Minority Dissertation Fellowship. Patel’s dissertation, titled “Journey to the East: Pilgrimage, Politics and Gender in Postclassic Yucatan”, focuses on “the rise in women’s status and authority in the religious institutions of Postclassic (AD 909–1519) Maya society following the decline and collapse of the Classic (AD 250–909) Maya state.” Patel’s dissertation committee chair, Thomas C Patterson, says “Ms Patel is committed to a career in academic research, teaching and service to students, the institutions, the wider community, and the profession.”

Patel received her BA at California State University, Los Angeles in anthropology and continued on to receive an interdisciplinary master’s degree in anthropology, geography and religious studies. She is currently working on her PhD in anthropology at University of California, Riverside.

Patel will be recognized during the AAA Awards Ceremony at the 2011 AAA Annual Meeting in Montréal in November. Natalie Newton, PhD candidate at the University of California, Irvine, will be acknowledged as the Honorable Mention. Patel and Newton have been invited to attend lunch and other events with the CMIA during the meeting.

Anthropology in Media Award (AIME)

Helen E FisherAAA congratulates Helen E Fisher, anthropological researcher, communicator and world citizen, as the 2011 Anthropology in Media (AIME) Award recipient. An expert on the biology of love, Fisher is one of the most referenced scholars in love and relationship research. Her research receives broad media exposure. Discover Magazine recognized her publication as one of the 100 most important scientific articles published in 2010. She hosted the four-part radio series What Is Love? for the BBC World Service, and a four-part TV series on Anatomy of Love for Turner Broadcasting. She has been featured on Nightline (ABC), The Colbert Report, The View, Dateline NBC, ABC 20/20, NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America (ABC), Charlie Rose (PBS New York), The Cronkite Report, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, the Oprah Winfrey Show and BBC London. Fisher is a featured guest on national and international talk radio programs including Larry King Live, Talk of the Nation (NPR), All Things Considered (NPR), Quirks and Quarks (CBC national Canadian), the AAAS Science Radio and BBC international radio. Fisher has published in leading scientific journals such as Journal of Comparative Neurology, Journal of Neurophysiology, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Biological Science, Archives of Sexual Behavior, The American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Human Nature as well as popular magazines such as The New York Times Book Review, Psychology Today, Natural History, Scientific American, New Scientist and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

AAA/Oxford University Press Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching of Anthropology

Bonnie Pitblado with studentsAAA is pleased to announce Bonnie Pitblado is the recipient of the 2011AAA/Oxford University Press Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching of Anthropology. Pitblado is a scholar of boundless energy, enthusiasm and commitment to undergraduate education and community outreach. She embodies the Utah State University motto to take students to greater heights. Her concept of an undergraduate classroom includes the high mountain ridges of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado or Idaho where her students are searching for evidence of the most ancient inhabitants of North America or at the prehistoric road shows in a remote town in southern Idaho where local people bring artifacts and interact with her students. Bonnie Pitblado recruits Latino high school interns to write and record Museum of Anthropology audio interpretations in Spanish. This program increased the accessibility of Museum’s exhibits to the fast-growing Cache Valley Hispanic community and to introduce at-risk high school students to the university. She was the driving force in promoting the restoration and rehabilitation of one of USU's most beloved historic buildings, the Aggie Barn, to serve as a USU Welcome Center and an expanded Museum of Anthropology. Pitblado embodies an extraordinary dedication to teaching in her scholarly approach to undergraduate education or community outreach whether in the classroom, museum or a remote rural Utah town.

Robert B Textor and Family Prize for Excellence in Anticipatory Anthropology

Mark NichterThe AAA is pleased to announce Mark Nichter (U Arizona) as the winner of the 2011 Robert B Textor and Family Prize in Anticipatory Anthropology.

Nichter’s work has been at the forefront of global health research and policy in an anticipatory manner. Combining theoretical insights and ethnographic fieldwork,Nichter has examined issues ranging from women’s reproductive and sexual health to the risk factors and vulnerabilities of commercial sex workers suffering from STDs and AIDs.

Most recently, Nichter has been conducting fieldwork in Indonesia and India on tobacco cessation interventions. His recent affiliation with the Cancer Prevention and Control Program of the Arizona Cancer Center illustrates his commitment to tackling major human challenges. Such research is in direct accordance with the Textor Prize’s ambition of recognizing scholars whose work allows “citizens, leaders and governments to make informed policy choices and thereby improve their societies or community’s chances for realizing preferred futures and avoiding unwanted ones.”

Besides such focused research projects, Nichter has also worked to illustrate how medical anthropology in general yields important insights about global health, ones that are of direct relevance to practitioners and policy-makers. For example, in Global Health: Why Cultural Perceptions, Social Representations, and Biopolitics Matter (2008), he argues for the critical importance of grappling with local ethnophysiology, illness categories, and idioms of distress even as he notes how the biomedicine is framed by a set of preexisting representations that diminish the need for understanding local knowledge and practices. Fittingly for the Textor Prize, this volume concludes with the chapter, “Toward a Next Generation of Social Science Research in Global Health.” This example provides a glimpse of the many ways in which Mark Nichter’s distinguished career has excelled in anticipatory anthropology and why he merits the 2011 Textor Prize.

David M Schneider Award

Amy Moran-ThomasAAA is pleased to announce the selection of Amy Moran-Thomas as the 2011 Schneider Award winner for her paper “Kinship Electric: Technological Worms and the Parasitism of Americana.” This gripping essay documents the eerie biosociality being fashioned by some residents of American suburbia who believe that their bodies are being invaded by fibrous entities of uncertain origin. In her essay, Moran-Thomas offers a brilliant ethnographic reading of the experiences of these people through an imaginatively rendered pairing of David Schneider and Michel Serres, arguing that new imaginations of “biogenetic substance” are in the making. 

Margaret Mead Award

Frances NorwoodAAA congratulates Frances Norwood on her selection as the 2011 Margaret Mead Award winner for her book The Maintenance of Life: Preventing Social Death through Euthanasia Talk and End-of-Life Care–Lessons from the Netherlands (2009).  This award is offered jointly by the AAA and the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA).

Norwood’s research interests include long term care health policy, disability, innovative care solutions, spirituality and health, vulnerable populations, health care reform and health policy, critical medical anthropology, qualitative and quantitative methodologies; United States and the Netherlands. One of her nomination letters describes the book as “intellectually challenging but also broadly accessible” and another calls it “A book for everyone interested in how we die in contemporary society.”