Cultural anthropologist of 2013: Dame Anne Salmond

Following our annual tradition, anthropologworks herby names the cultural anthropologist most “in the news” in the previous year. I launched this feature in January 2011 by naming Paul Farmer the cultural anthropologist of the decade, and I identified the “Paul Farmer Effect” in which increasing numbers of students seek to combine medical anthropology and health/medicine studies.

2011 was another easy call: David Graeber, for his writings and activism related to the Occupy Movement. How can it be that the Occupy Movement was that long ago…

2012 was also a hands-down clear call: Jim Yong Kim, newly appointed as President of the World Bank. He was in the news frequently, whether or not he spoke in a voice that cultural anthropologists would recognize.

Now, 2013. Every year is different. 2013 did not have a dominating cultural anthropology figure in the news. By shear count or media hits probably Jim Kim would win again. But in looking for an anthropological voice and vision, I came up with someone with fewer media hits but vivid recognition nationally and internationally.

As you may have guessed this award carries no prize with it, nor is it guided by a selection committee. I – the blogger – get to make this call on my own.

Dame Anne Salmond. Source: New Zealander of the Year Awards

The 2013 cultural anthropology award from anthropologyworks goes to Dame Anne Salamond, DBE, FRESNZ, FBA, a cultural anthropologist and writer. Salmond is a Distinguished Professor of Maori Studies and Anthropology at the University of Auckland and the current New Zealander of the Year. [The following material is from Wikipedia].

In her work with the Maori, she had a close relationship with Eruera Stirling and Amiria Stirling, noted elders of Te Whānau-ā-Apanui and Ngati Porou. Their collaboration led to three books about Maori life:

  • Hui: A Study of Maori Ceremonial Gatherings (1975) – awarded the Elsdon Best memorial gold medal for distinction in Maori ethnology in 1976
  • Amiria: The Life of a Maori Woman, which won a Wattie Book of the Year Award in 1977
  • Eruera: Teachings of a Maori Elder won first prize in the Wattie Book of the Year Awards in 1981

Salmond’s work then turned to cross-cultural encounters in New Zealand, resulting in two works:

  • Two Worlds: First Meetings Between Maori and Europeans 1642-1772 (1991) which won the National Book Award (Non-Fiction) in 1991, and the Ernest Scott Prize in 1992
  • Between Worlds: Early Exchanges Between Maori and Europeans 1773-1815 (1997) which won the Ernest Scott Prize in 1998;

Afterwards, she began to explore early exchanges between islanders and European explorers in the Pacific, leading to the publication of three books:

  • The Trial of the Cannibal Dog: Captain Cook in the South Seas (2003), which won the History Category and the Montana Medal for Non Fiction at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2004
  • Aphrodite’s Island: the European Discovery of Tahiti
  • Bligh: The Pacific Voyages of William Bligh (2011).

She is currently writing a book about exchanges between different realities (ontologies) to be titled Tears of Rangi: Experiments between Worlds.

Salmond has served on the boards of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, the Museum of New Zealand, and she was chair of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust from 2001 to 2007. She was Pro-Vice Chancellor (Equal Opportunity) at the University of Auckland from 1997 to 2006. She is the Project Sponsor for the Starpath Partnership for Excellence, which aims to ensure that Maori, Pacific and low income students achieve their potential through education.

Salmond is the recipient of many awards. In 1988 she was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to literature and the Maori people. In 1990 she was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. In 1995 she became a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to New Zealand history. In 2004, she received the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement for non-fiction. In 2007, she was elected as an inaugural Fellow of the New Zealand Academy for the Humanities. In 2008, she was elected a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy, and in 2009, she was elected a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences – the first New Zealander known to have achieved this double distinction.

In 2013, she was crowned New Zealander of the Year for her work on cultural history.

Congratulations to you, Dame Salmond, for all your achievements and for your contributions to cultural understanding and respect.

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