Issues & News

Inside the President's Studio

Virginia DominguezFrom AAA President Virginia Dominguez:

I became an anthropologist because of the first anthropologists I met, the kind of people they seemed to be, and the lives I spotted them leading. The content of their university courses fascinated me, but the impact of those courses did not stop there. I found myself wanting to get to know the instructors as people. They tended to be down-to-earth and to live their lives often a bit "off-center." Their worldliness made me feel at home. Their combination of intensity, warmth, knowledge, insight and frequent social and political critique made them people I genuinely liked and wanted to emulate.

My account is no doubt a familiar one. In teaching, it is often the personal contact that has the most lasting effect. But I mention this here because I remain excited by many of the people in the profession, the way they live their lives and interact with others, and I want to foster a public, visible and active engagement with many of them over the two years of my AAA presidency. I am working to achieve these goals by making fuller and more dynamic use of our online resources.

Inspired by public television's Inside the Actor's Studio, I am  initiating "Inside the President’s Studio." I seek to interview anthropologists and those who work closely with anthropologists. I want to feature them and some of their passions, ideas, research and activities, especially where they have current and public (or public sphere) implications. The AAA website will have a direct link to these interviews and they will remain interactive on the AAA blog, where readers can offer comments. Some will just be a written set of questions and answers; others will be audio interviews.

I may interview one person, or several people at the same time. Each topic will then be open for discussion on the blog.

I believe this will be a real asset to get to know each other in a fuller way, the way we sometimes get to know our teachers, students, office mates and friends.

Please send me suggestions of people and topics I might pursue. Consider your own passions, and people of all ages and ranks, social backgrounds, areas of research, and national locations both inside and outside the United States. I was Sid Mintz’s student back at Yale in the early 1970s. I have shared his focus on people for years—that it is people with ideas and experiences that do things; that it is people we should focus on even when our analysis concerns large-scale social, economic, political, environmental, semiotic and biocultural systems. I am interested in keeping the spotlight on the ideas by focusing on the people who care strongly about them.

I welcome you to this series, and hope you become an active participant in the conversation.

Current Interviews:

  • [Listen] Leslie Aiello, President, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Incorporated
  • [Listen] Sarah Green, Program Chair, 2011 Annual Meeting 
  • [Listen] Tom Boellstorff, Editor-in-Chief, American Anthropologist
  • [Listen] Amy Goldenberg, Managing Editor of Anthropology News
  • [Listen] Marilyn Strathern, social anthropologist and former mistress of Girton College, University of Cambridge
  • [Listen] Ed Liebow, applied anthropologist, Battelle
  • [Listen] Shannon Lee Dawdy, historical anthropologist, University of Chicago (part one)
  • [Listen] Shannon Lee Dawdy, historical anthropologist, University of Chicago (part two)
  • [Listen] Lee Baker, Dean of Academic Affairs, Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, Duke University
  • [Listen] Alaka Wali, Curator of North American Anthropology at the Field Museum
  • [Listen] Agustin Fuentes, biological anthropologist, University of Notre Dame
  • [Listen] Jeremy Sabloff, archaeologist and AAA 2010 Annual Meeting Distinguished Lecturer
  • [Listen] Nandini Sundar, Delhi University anthropologist and indigenous rights advocate
  • [Listen] T.J. Ferguson, archaeologist and AAA Executive Board member
  • [Listen] João Biehl, award-winning Princeton anthropologist
  • [Listen] Carolyn Sargent, medical anthropologist and former president of the Society for Medical Anthropology
  • [Listen] Monica Heller, AAA Executive Program Chair for the 2010 annual meeting in New Orleans