The Anthropology Program is dedicated to advanced research and publication in cultural anthropology; to undergraduate teaching that opens students to the fundamentals of cross-cultural understanding and social thought; and to graduate teaching in the history and social study of science and technology. Our undergraduate subjects cover a wide range, with special strengths in the study of the contemporary world and the social context of technology. The Anthropology faculty maintains strong ties with other programs in the School of Engineering and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS), including Women's Studies, Latin American Studies, Comparative Media Studies, the Technology Policy Program, History, and Science, Technology, and Society (STS). The Anthropology Program is one of three academic units offering the doctoral program in the History and Social Study of Science and Technology (HSSST).

Personnel and Administrative Changes

During the fall semester 2002, Professor Jean Jackson served as head of the Anthropology Program. Professor James Howe replaced Professor Jackson as acting head of the program for the spring term. Rosemary Hegg continued as administrative officer, and Susanna F. Cali is the new administrative assistant. In a very successful job search, two new assistant professors were hired: Professor Stefan Helmreich of Stanford University, who begins in July 2003, and Dr. Erica James of Harvard University, who will join the program in July 2004. Susan Slyomovics, McMillan-Stewart professor of women in the developing world, spent the spring semester on leave as a fellow at the Radcliffe Bunting Institute.

Program Contributions to MIT and Outside Communities

The committees, boards, and task forces at MIT on which Anthropology Program members served this year include the Women's Studies Steering and Programming Committees, the Kelly-Douglas Prize Jury, the Knight Fellowship Selection Committee, the Louis Kampf Writing Prize Jury, the Advisory Board Program in Human Rights and Justice, the Editorial Board of the MIT Faculty Newsletter, the admissions and curriculum committees for Comparative Media Studies (CMS), the Committee on Academic Performance, the admission and steering committees of the doctoral program in HSSST, the Committee on Use of Humans as Experimental Subjects, and the Employment Opportunity Committee (SHASS). Professor Jackson chaired the SHASS Gender Equity Committee.

Outside MIT, Professor Susan Silbey participated in the Kalven Prize Committee, Law and Society Association, on the editorial board of the American Journal of Sociology, as the editor of Cambridge Studies in Law and Society, and on the editorial board of the Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology. Professor Slyomovics served on several boards, such as the American Friends Service Committee Board, the Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, the Middle East Research and Information Project, the Middle East Studies Association, and the Committee on Academic Freedom in the Middle East and North Africa. Associate Professor Hugh Gusterson was chair of the Rachel Carson Book Prize Committee, a member of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) Council, treasurer of the American Ethnological Society, and a member of the editorial board of Anthropological Quarterly. Professor Jackson served on the executive board of Cultural Survival Quarterly and the editorial board of the Journal of Latin American Anthropology. She is serving on the Executive Program Committee for the 2003 American Anthropological Association (AAA) meetings. Professor Howe, who is a trustee of the Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth, MA, was named to the boards of Cultural Survival and the Center for the Preservation of Native Lands in Arlington, VA.

Professors Michael Fischer, Jackson, Howe, Silbey, and Gusterson all play active roles in teaching, advising, and administration of the HSSST doctoral program, sponsored by the STS, History, and Anthropology Programs. Professor Gusterson was director of graduate studies for HSSST. Professor Silbey taught at the writing workshop for STS graduate students during the spring and taught the ethnography class at the Sloan School of Management.

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Educational Activities

Anthropology classes continued to be popular among undergraduates. Twenty-five students in the Class of 2003 completed HASS concentrations in anthropology. One student graduated with a major in anthropology and one completed a minor in anthropology. Course 21-A Anthropology introduced a new subject during AY2003, Professor Jackson's class, 21A.226 Ethnic and National Identity. Professor Fischer served as dissertation advisor to six HSSST graduate students and thesis advisor to one CMS graduate student.

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A sampling of presentations by members of the Anthropology Program faculty during 2002–2003 gives some sense of the wide range of research interests among program faculty and the diverse fora in which they have spoken in the last year.

Assistant Professor Christine Walley presented papers on development and the environment at the Walter Rodney African Studies seminar at Boston University, the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, a seminar on "Development after Development" at New York University, and sessions she organized at the meetings of the American Anthropological Association.

Professor Jackson gave talks on her chronic pain research at Rutgers University and for Grand Rounds, Palliative Care Service, Massachusetts General Hospital. She presented papers on the crisis in Colombia at conferences in Liverpool and the University of Illinois, at MIT's Program in Human Rights and Justice, and at meetings of the American Anthropological Association.

Professor Howe contributed a paper on representation and indigenous struggle to the Sixth Congreso Centroamericano de Historia in July 2002 and presented a workshop on ethnohistorical research methods to the Centro Koskun Kalu, Panama.

Professor Gusterson was a keynote speaker at a conference at Cornell on the ethnography of science and gave talks at Princeton, the University of Chicago, Scripps College, Georgia Tech, and at two professional meetings.

Professor Fischer gave presentations at the AAA, 4S, Rice University, and Swarthmore College.

In the fall of 2002, Professor Silbey presented "The Rule of Law: Sacred and Profane" at the Cardozo Law School and the Renmin University, Beijing. Other presentations by Professor Silbey included "Intersections of Law and Science" at the Society for Social Studies of Science and lectures at the Law, Culture, and Humanities Conference, the Economic Sociology Seminar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, the Yale Legal Theory Workshop, and the Law and Society Association annual meeting.

Professor Slyomovics gave several talks, including "Palestine and Oral History" at Nuffield College, Oxford University, and a Conference on "Local Sites of Global Practice" at the Yale University School of Architecture. Other talks by Professor Slyomovics included "Casablanca: Cinema Verité, Cinema Verité" at the Conference on "Representations of Urban Space" at the University of Florida, Gainesville.

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Professor Jackson coedited (with Kay Warren) Indigenous Movements: Self-Representation and the State in Latin America, published by the University of Texas Press. She also published chapters on Colombia in books published in Germany and Colombia.

A volume published by the Harvard University Latin American Center, Identities in Conflict: Indigenous Peoples and Latin American States, includes chapters by both Professor Howe ("The Kuna of Panama: Continuing Threats to Lend and Autonomy") and Professor Jackson ("Caught in the Crossfire: Colombia's Indigenous Peoples during the 1990s").

Professor Silbey, with James Willis, published the article "Self, Surveillance and Society" in the Sociological Quarterly, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 439–445. Professor Silbey also published "Law and Society Movement" in The Oxford Companion to American Law, Kermit Hall and David Scott Clark, editors, Oxford University Press, and also in The Legal Systems of the World: A Political, Social and Cultural Encyclopedia, Herbert M. Kritzer, editor, ABC-CLIO, pp. 860–863. Other publications by Professor Silbey included "The Emperor's New Clothes: Mediation Mythology and Markets" in Journal of Dispute Resolution, vol. 2002, no. 1, pp. 171–177, and, with Patricia Ewick, "The Structure of Legality: The Cultural Contradictions of Social Institutions," in Kagan, Kryger, and Winston, editors, The Study of Legality: Essays in Honor of Philip Selznick, University of California Press (2002), pp. 149–165.

Professor Slyomovics' published articles included, with Salah El-Ouadie, "Al-Aris (The Bridegroom): Prison Literature and Human Rights," in Everyday Life in the Muslim Middle East, edited by Donna Lee Bowen and Evelyn Early, Indiana University Press (2002).

Professor Fischer has completed two volumes for Duke University Press: Emergent Forms of Life and The Anthropological Voice, forthcoming fall 2003, and Mute Dreams, Blind Owls, and Dispersed Knowledges: Persian Poesis in the Transnational Circuitry, forthcoming spring 2004. He also wrote a new introduction for the second edition of Iran: From Religious Dispute to Revolution (Wisconsin 2003). Professor Fischer is also completing an edited special issue for Configurations, and he wrote a review essay for the American Anthropologist on "Biosciences and Biotechnologies as Deep Play and Ethical Plateaus" and a short essay on the life and work of Clifford Geertz for a University of Chicago volume.

Professor Gusterson published the articles "The Death of the Authors of Death" in Peter Galison and Mario Biagioli, editors, Scientific Authorship (Routledge); "Anthropology and the Military: Consult or Contest" in Anthropology Today; and the "American Ground Zero" in GSC Quarterly. He published an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Professor Walley published two articles: "'Our Ancestors Used to "Bury their Development" in the Ground': Modernity and the Meaning of Development in Tanzania's Mafia Island Marine Park" in Anthropological Quarterly, vol. 76, no. 1, pp. 33–54, and "'They Scorn Us Because We are Uneducated': Power and Knowledge in a Tanzanian Marine Park," in Ethnography, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 265–298. She is also in the final stages of copyediting a book entitled Rough Waters: Nature and Development in an East African Marine Park, which will be published by Princeton University Press in 2004.

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Other Program Accomplishments

A documentary film, Containment: Life after Three Mile Island, for which Professor Walley served as a coproducer, was awarded a grant from the Hefner Foundation as well as the MIT Council for the Arts.

Grants, Honors, and Awards

In 2002, Professor Slyomovics was elected Fellow of the American Folklore Society. In 2002–2003 she received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and a Radcliffe Institute/Bunting Fellowship.

Professor Howe received a modest but intensely competitive Wenner-Gren Foundation grant in support of ethnohistorical research in Sweden and Panama.

Professor Silby received a research grant from the National Science Foundation in conjunction with Carol Seron, City University of New York, in support of a research project entitled Developing Diverse Leadership for Engineering, which will compare cohorts of students at four engineering schools.

James Howe
Acting Program Head
Professor of Anthropology

More information on the Anthropology Program can be found on the web at


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