MIT Reports to the President 1995-96


As of 1995-1996, the Anthropology-Archaeology Program has a new name and a new focus. During 1995, Program faculty enthusiastically designed a curriculum centered on cultural anthropology, with emphasis on the contemporary world, its dislocations and transformations, and on technology and technical change in social context. As before, course offerings will cover the culture history of various regions, but they will not include subjects devoted primarily to prehistory or technical archaeology.

1995-96 has been an unsettled year, as the Program has adjusted to recent changes in personnel, administration and academic direction, as well as to an upcoming move from dilapidated but comfortable quarters in Building 20. For most of the year, moreover, the Program has had to make do with temporary administrative assistants. Concentrations and overall enrollments, on the other hand, have remained strong, and the new administrative arrangements are working well. Professor James Howe, after a year on leave, has resumed the headship of the Program, with a term continuing to 1999, while Arthur Steinberg continues as Head of the Integrated Studies Program.


Two faculty members received well deserved recognition during the academic year. On November 30th, at an evening of personal tributes and music, Professor Martin Diskin accepted the first Human Rights Award of the Ignacio Martín-Baró Fund for Mental Health and Human Rights. Anthropology Program members were delighted to see Professor Diskin's years of scholarship and advocacy for the people of Central America receive the public tribute they deserve. The Program was also very pleased that Hugh Gusterson was promoted to the rank of untenured Associate Professor of Anthropology and Science Studies.


Anthropologists and the discipline of anthropology continue to play an important part in the doctoral program in the History and Social Study of Science and Technology. As of July first, Professor Michael Fischer will become head of the STS Program, and Professors Jean Jackson, Howe, Gusterson, and Fischer are all involved in the radical revision of the HSSST graduate curriculum that got underway in June of 1996.

The Program's seminar series, "Peoples and States: Ethnic Identity and Conflict," co-sponsored by the Center for International Studies (CIS), finished a seventh successful year.


Every member of the Program is working on the advanced stages of a book manuscript---Professor Steinberg an experimental historical novel about Venice; Professor Jackson an ethnographic study of a chronic pain center; and Professor Diskin a monograph on land tenure and economic change in El Salvador. One book by Professor Howe was accepted by the Smithsonian Institution Press, while another is in the final stages of editing at the University of Oklahoma Press. Professor Gusterson's book, Nuclear Rites: A Weapons Laboratory at the End of the Cold War, is in page proofs at the University of California Press and will appear in the Fall of 1996.

Among the articles and chapters published this year by Program members are Professor Diskin's "Distilled Conclusions: The Disappearance of the Agrarian Question in El Salvador" (Latin American Research Review); Professor Gusterson's "Becoming a Weapons Scientist" (in Technoscientific Imaginaries); Professor Jackson's "Preserving Indian Culture: Shaman Schools and Ethno-education in the Vaupés, Colombia" (American Ethnologist); and "La lucha por la tierra en la costa de San Blas (Panamá)" (Mesoamérica) by Professor Howe.

Professor Gusterson has also been collaborating with three political scientists in a series of workshops sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation to consider the field of security studies from a cultural and social constructivist perspective. They have completed the manuscript of a volume entitled Constructing Insecurity. Professor Howe is collaborating with tribal authorities in Panama on a project to rescue endangered historical documents, and he is contributing to a special exhibit and edited volume to appear at UCLA's Fowler Museum in the Fall of 1997.

Members of the Program gave talks and attended conferences at locations across the United States and abroad. In June, Professor Gusterson spent three weeks in Tomsk, Siberia, where he interviewed scientists and environmental activists and attended a conference entitled "Radioactivity and Radioactive Elements in the Environment."

James Howe

MIT Reports to the President 1995-96