MIT Reports to the President 1996-97


With the 1996-97 academic year, the Anthropology Program has finished its first full year as a department of cultural anthropology. Our new curriculum, now largely in place, emphasizes the contemporary world, in both urban and rural societies, and technology and technical change in social context. Enrollments remain strong, at 483 for the year, as do concentrations, and we currently have an unusually impressive group of minors and majors. We look forward to our move to new quarters in the winter or early Spring of 1998.


Program members served on the committee on the First Year; Faculty Policy Committee; HASS-D overview committee; McMillan-Stewart Search Committee, MIT Faculty Newsletter board, and the STS Steering and Admission Committees.

Professors James Howe and Jean Jackson continue to participate in teaching and administration and the Ph.D. Program in the History and Social Study of Science and Technology, as do Associate Professor Hugh Gusterson, who has a joint appointment with the Program in Science, Technology and Society (STS), and Professor Michael Fischer, who is STS Program Head. Professor Arthur Steinberg continues to direct the Integrated Studies Program.

The Seminar series, "Peoples and States: Ethnic Identity and Conflict," which is co-sponsored by the Center for International Studies (CIS) and the Anthropology Program, finished an eighth successful year.


The book projects of Program members cover a wide range of topics, from weapons labs to Renaissance Venice. Professor Gusterson's Nuclear Rites: A Weapons Laboratory at the End of the Cold War was brought out in 1996 by the University of California Press. Professor Jackson is considering publisher's offers for her recently completed Camp Pain: Building Community and Rebuilding Self in a Chronic Pain Center. Professor Howe's book, A People Who Would Not Kneel: Panama, the United States, and the San Blas Kuna, will be published by the Smithsonian Press in 1998. Professor Steinberg has recently completed his experimental historical novel, The Contarini Journal, co-authored with Oded Asherie, and Professor Martin Diskin's book manuscript on agrarian reform in El Salvador is being edited.

Program members also published a number of articles and book chapters, including Professor Gusterson's "Nuclear Weapons Testing: Scientific Experiment as Political Ritual," (in Naked Science: Anthropological Inquiries into Boundaries, Power and Knowledge); "Remembering Hiroshima at a Nuclear Weapons Laboratory," (in Living with the Bomb: American and Japanese Cultural Conflicts in the Nuclear Age); and "Studying Up Revisited," (Political and Legal Anthropology Review). Professor Diskin published "Distilled Conclusion: the Disappearance of the Agrarian Question in El Salvador," (Latin American Research Review). Professor Howe's "Star Girls and Star Man: A Comparative Analysis of Paired Kuna Myths" appeared in the Journal of Latin American Lore. Professor Jackson published "Coping with Dilemmas of Affinity and Female Sexuality: Male Rebirth in the Central Northwest Amazon (in Denying Biology: Essays of Pseudo-Procreation); "Hippocrates in the Bush," (Anthropological Quarterly); and "The Impact of Recent National Legislation on Tukanoan Communities on the VaupÈs Region of Southeastern Colombia" (Journal of Latin American Anthropology).

Program members offered numerous seminar presentations and invited lectures in 1996-97. Professor Howe has completed the first phase of microfilming a tribal archive of historical documents in Panama; he is also actively contributing to a special exhibit on the Kuna of Panama to appear in 1997 at UCLA's Fowler Museum and in 1998 at the National Museum of the American Indian.

James Howe

MIT Reports to the President 1996-97