2013-14 Faculty News

Colleagues and Students at Emory and Beyond Mourn the Death of Professor George Armelagos

George-close-upA wide network of friends and family mourn the death of Professor George J. Armelagos. He was one of his generation’s most celebrated anthropologists.  Armelagos made many significant contributions to anthropology and the intersection of human biology, archaeology, and culture.

George Armelagos was born in Detroit on May 22, 1936.  He died peacefully at home in Atlanta on May 15, 2014, only one week after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  He is survived by brothers, Nick and James Armelagos of Detroit, as well as numerous family, friends, former students, and colleagues throughout the world.

Armelagos received a B.A. with honors from the University of Michigan in 1958 and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Colorado in 1968.  His career included teaching positions at the University of Utah, the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) and the University of Florida.  He came to Emory University in 1993 as the Goodrich C. White distinguished professor of Anthropology, and he served as chair of the Anthropology Department from 2003 to 2009.  He continued to teach, mentor and publish until his death.

His contributions to the field of Anthropology were immense, particularly in the bio-cultural approach to the discipline.  He pioneered the field of paleopathology, the analysis of skeletal remains to reconstruct how cultural changes lead to changing patterns of disease and nutrition in ancient populations.  His contributions included a new understanding of the biological consequences of early agriculture and the evolutionary history of infectious diseases like syphilis.  From early in his career he wrote courageously about the myth of “race” as a biological concept, and the reality of racism as a social fact that affects health.  He had a lifetime interest in food and nutrition.  In addition to writing about food, he was a master chef who relished sharing food and conversation with his numerous students and friends.  Armelagos was a prolific researcher and author, often collaborating with his students and colleagues.  He published thirteen books and monographs and well over 250 journal articles.

He was awarded the highest honors for his scholarship and service to Anthropology, including the Viking Medal from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Charles Darwin Award for Lifetime Achievement to Biological Anthropology from the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, and the Franz Boas Award for Exemplary Service to Anthropology from the American Anthropological Association. The Universities of Massachusetts and Emory both presented him with awards for this teaching and mentoring.  Most importantly, George was a much beloved teacher and friend to thousands of undergraduates and hundreds of graduate students. He was cherished for his generosity, encouragement, humility, and humor.

George and PeterA private internment service will be held near St Catherine’s Island, Georgia.  A public memorial and celebration of this life and work will be held at Emory University on Friday August 29.  In lieu of flowers, donations should be given to the Armelagos Lectureship Funds or Graduate Teaching Award at Emory University, the University of Massachusetts, or the University of Colorado:

Armelagos-Brown Bio-Cultural Lecture, Emory

Armelagos Graduate Teaching Award, Emory

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

University of Colorado


Emory News Articles Reveal the Breadth of Armelagos' Recent Work

Armelagos leaves a rich legacy of bio-archeology, teaching, friendship

Bone to be wild: Fleshing out a career devoted to skeletons and to people

Ancient brewers tapped antibiotic secrets

Dawn of agriculture took toll on health

Skeletons point to Columbus voyage for syphilis origins
Mummies tell history of a 'modern' plague
Putting teeth into the Barker hypothesis

Scholar reads the classics — and bones

Brain vs gut: Our inborn food fight

Emory Anthropology Mourns the passing of George Armelagos

It is with great sadness that the Department of Anthropology and the family of Professor George Armelagos announce that Dr. Armelagos died early this morning, May 15. He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer only six days ago. Although we were surprised by this quick turn of events, Dr. Armelagos passed peacefully, at home with family and close friends. Interment will take place on St. Catherine’s Island for immediate family.

Information regarding a memorial service in September will be forthcoming. Dr. Armelagos established two endowments at Emory - the Armelagos-Brown Bio-Cultural Lecture and the Armelagos Graduate Teaching Award. In lieu of flowers, he requested that contributions be designated to either of these endowments. Contributions can be sent to Emory University, Department of Anthropology, 1557 Dickey Drive, Atlanta, GA 30322 % Shirley A. Sabo.

Professor Peter Brown Recipient of George P. Cuttino Award for Excellence in MentoringPeter Brown - Cuttino Award

Peter J. Brown, professor of anthropology and global health, is described by his students as a rare blend of cheerleader and critic. He treats his students as equals from the day they first walk nervously into his office, taking a personal interest in their lives and careers. He'll not only be the first to cheer a student's success but also be the first to point out that they're capable of better. He encourages his advisees "to learn how to take care of themselves, yet he never leaves us out on a limb," writes Leslie Jo Weaver, a former student.

Brown is the recipient of this year's George P. Cuttino Award for Excellence in Mentoring, established in 1997 by John T. Glover '68C.

"One of the greatest pleasures of being a professor is working with students, both undergraduate and graduate students, and watching them develop," says Brown, who joined Emory in 1978. He describes being a mentor as "a difficult balance between three things": encouraging students in order to build their self-esteem, offering constructive criticism when needed, and "simply getting out of their way when they are smarter than you." Read the full article.


Vidali-Bemba Online ProjectProfessor Debra Vidali Embarks on the Bemba Online Project

Prof. Debra Vidali has embarked on a major digital humanities project, funded by Emory University's Halle Institute for Global Learning and the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry.  The Bemba Online Project (BOP) is a Digital Humanities Project, which consists of a dynamic Bemba language digital archive in audio and text for language/grammar, oral traditions, ethnography, and social history.  The Bemba language is spoken by over 8 million people in Zambia.  Several publication projects are in development, in connection with BOP.  The materials were collected during Vidali's Zambian field research in 1986-1990.  

This week Prof. Vidali is joined by Ben Kangwa, a former Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation media executive, broadcaster, and journalist and the current Deputy Chief of Mission of the Zambian Embassy (Washington, DC), for an intensive week of work on the archive project, as well as several accompanying publications about the Bemba language and the history and art of radio broadcasting in Zambia.   The BOP Phase 2 team also includes Bella Siangonya, Jayne Kangwa, Nida Kangwa, and Yuan He (Emory C'17).

Dr. Debra Vidali's ANT 372 class presents Ethnographic Windows into the Emory College Experience

Ethnographic Windows into the Emory College Experience: Time Management, Happiness, Stress, Diversity Matters, Academic Engagement, and the Value of Higher Education is a research showcase by the students in Prof. Debra Vidali's ANT 372W class to be held Wed 4/23 1:00-2:15. The event is open to the public and will feature a dynamic ethnographic presentation, based on original participant-observation and interview research. Through vivid ethnographic portraits and dramatic readings of original work, students will highlight the many ways in which higher education is experienced by undergraduates at Emory University. The presentation will be followed by an open discussion. Location: Emory University Department of Anthropology, room 206.

A Landscape of Travel: The Work of Tourism in Rural Ethnic China by Professor Jenny Chio Published by University of Washington PressChio A Landscape of Travel

A Landscape of Travel investigates the contested meanings and unintended consequences of tourism for those people whose lives and livelihoods are most at stake in China’s rural ethnic tourism industry: the residents of village destinations. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Ping’an (a Zhuang village in Guangxi) and Upper Jidao (a Miao village in Guizhou), Jenny Chio analyzes the myriad challenges and possibilities confronted by villagers who are called upon to do the work of tourism. She addresses the shifting significance of migration and rural mobility, the visual politics of tourist photography, and the effects of touristic desires for “exotic difference” on village social relations. In this way, Chio illuminates the contemporary regimes of labor and leisure and the changing imagination of what it means to be rural, ethnic, and modern in China today.

Dr. Jenny Chio's Work on Rural China Featured in Emory's eScience Commons

While most of the world has been dazzled by the transformation of China’s cities in recent years, Emory anthropologist Jenny Chio has been quietly recording changes in the rural way of life. Her documentary film “农家乐 Peasant Family Happiness” explores the impact of tourism in China, from the perspective of residents of two rural villages where urbanites go to seek a “country” experience. Read the whole story by Carol Clark at the eScience Commons website.

Professor Debra Vidali Edits Special Issue of Ethnography

A special issue of the journal Ethnography on "Civic Mediations," guest edited by Debra Spitulnik Vidali and Thomas Tufte, applies media anthropology and public sphere theory in the analysis of civic engagement.

Dr. Russ Bernard, QTM Visiting Scholar, in Residence in Anthropology Spring 2014

H. Russell Bernard was invited by the QTM program to be visiting scholar in anthropology until the end of March.  Dr. Bernard received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois and is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Florida. He has done research in Greece, Mexico, and the United States and has taught or done research at universities in the U.S., Greece, Japan, and Germany. Bernard's areas of research include technology and social change, language death, and social network analysis. Since 1987, Bernard has participated in summer courses, sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation, on research methods and research design. He is former editor of Human Organization and the American Anthropologist and is the current editor of Field Methods. Bernard's books include Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches (5th edition, Altamira Press, 2011), Social Research Methods (2d edition, Sage Publications 2012), Analyzing Qualitative Data: Systematic Approaches, with Gery Ryan (Sage Publications 2009) and Native Ethnography, with Jesús Salinas Pedraza (Sage Publications 1989). Bernard was the 2003 recipient of the Franz Boas Award from the American Anthropological Association and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Bernard is in ANT 218A and is available to consult on research design and on writing proposals for doctoral research.  He is most easily reached at ufruss@ufl.edu.

Editorial by Professor George Armelagos in Science

Check out Professor George Armelagos' recent editorial in the December 13th volume of Science discussing how reading the bones of the ancient dead can guide how we confront infectious diseases today.

Economic and Political Reform in Africa: Anthropological Perspectives by Dr. Peter Little —
New Release by Indiana University Press

Little book coverWhat are the local effects of major economic and political reforms in Africa? How have globalized pro-market and pro-democracy reforms impacted local economics and communities? Examining case studies from The Gambia, Ghana, Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia, Peter D. Little shows how rural farmers and others respond to complex agendas of governments, development agencies, and non-governmental organizations. The book explores the contradictions between what policy reforms were supposed to do and what actually happened in local communities. Little’s bold vision of development challenges common narratives of African poverty, dependency, and environmental degradation and suggests that sustainable development in Africa can best be achieved by strengthening local livelihoods, markets, and institutions.

"Simply put, it's the most daring book I have read on African development." —Abdi I. Samatar, University of Minnesota
“Brings sophisticated ethnographic attention to the 'unexpected changes and contradictions' within the gaps and spaces opened up by the 'reforms' of the past twenty years. It is a uniquely detailed empirical account of many activities, in many places, with varied international, national and local participants, all engaging at the interface of the terms of 'reform' and the lives and development prospects of the people." —Jane Guyer, Johns Hopkins University

New book on the Archaeology of Death and Burial by Dr. Liv Stutz

Professor Liv Nilsson Stutz recently published The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Death and Burial, which reviews the current state of mortuary archaeology and its practice, highlighting its often contentious place in the modern socio-politics of archaeology. It contains forty-four chapters that focus on the history of the discipline and its current scientific techniques and methods. Written by leading, international scholars in the field, it derives its examples and case studies from a wide range of time periods, such as the middle palaeolithic to the twentieth century, and geographical areas which include Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia. Combining up-to-date knowledge of relevant archaeological research with critical assessments of the theme and an evaluation of future research trajectories, it draws attention to the social, symbolic, and theoretical aspects of interpreting mortuary archaeology. The volume was co-edited by Sarah Tarlow, Professor of Historical Archaeology, University of Leicester.

George Armelagos on our Eating Evolution — Six Ways to Eat Like Our Ancestors

In a paper published recently in the Journal of Anthropological Research, Emory anthropologist George Armelagos, Goodrich C. White Professor of Anthropology, explores some of the ways in which our diet has spun catastrophically off track. Read the entire story in Emory Magazine.

Professor Jenny Chio Receives David Plath Media Award for Recent Film

Dr. Chio's film, 农家乐 Peasant Family Happiness, has just received the David Plath Media Award from the Society for East Asian Anthropology.  The award is given biennially to "the best work (film, video, audio, and multimedia) on any aspect of East Asian anthropology and/or East Asian anthropology's contribution to the broader field."  She will formally receive the award at the SEAA Business Meeting during the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting in November.

Professor Peter Brown Awarded Emory's Marion V. Creekmore Award for Internationalization

Emory University will recognize Dr. Brown in an uncoming award ceremony for his continuing work to promote a global health presence at the university. The Creekmore Award is given each year to an Emory faculty member who excels in the advancement of the University's commitment to internationalization. The award was established by the generous gift of Claus M. Halle and honors the work of Marion V. Creekmore, who served as Emory University's first vice provost for international affairs and as the director of The Claus M. Halle Institute for Global Learning. Read more.

SoundMedicine Radio Show Interviews Professor Jim Rilling

Listen to the SoundMedicine interview with Dr. Rilling, aired October 27th, regarding his recent research on the correlation of testicle size and successful fatherhood. The link for interview segment is titled CHECKUP-Smaller testicles, better dads? and is located toward the bottom of the page.

Faculty Search for Tenure-Track Assistant Professor

The Department of Anthropology at Emory University invites applications for a tenure-track assistant professor position in paleoanthropology or Paleolithic archeology. We seek a scholar with an active research program addressing core issues in hominin biological and behavioral adaptation and evolution. Candidates must hold a doctoral degree, have an excellent research record, and a demonstrated commitment to teaching at the undergraduate and graduate level. Capacity to teach skeletal biology is desirable. Ability to interact effectively with faculty in a broadly inclusive department is important.

The Department of Anthropology and Emory University embrace diversity and seek candidates who will participate in a climate that attracts students of all ethnicities, races, nationalities, and genders. We strongly encourage qualified women and underrepresented minorities to apply.  
Please send a curriculum vita, a research statement, a teaching statement, and complete contact information for three references to: AnthroFacultySrch@emory.edu. Applications accepted through November 15, 2013.

Emory University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer.

Jimmy Carter visits Anthro class"Anthropological Perspectives: Africa" Class Welcomes Special Guest

Former President Jimmy Carter visited Dr. Peter Little's ANT 280 class on Thursday, October 17th, to discuss the Carter Center's ongoing work in Africa. He spoke briefly about his own engagement with issues related to Africa both personally and politically and then went into greater detail regarding the role that the Carter Center plays in three key areas: agriculture, health and negotiating peace and fair elections. The class wrapped up with President Carter answering questions from the students on issues ranging from the Carter Center's impact on sustainability within African countries to his views on the success of the current administration.  

Peter Little Interviewed for BBC Today Story Regarding Money Issues in Somalia

Dr. Peter Little, Chair of the Department of Anthropology, was interviewed as part of a BBC Today story (September 30, 2013) on “Barclay Bank’s decision to close the accounts of Somali money transfer companies and thus cut off the badly needed remittance flows to hundreds of thousands of residents of Somalia.” Watch the interview here.

A Decade of Grantwriting Excellence (Emory News Center article)

The Laney Graduate School Grantwriting Program Co-founded and Co-directed by Dr Corinne Kratz

This fall, the Laney Graduate School’s innovative Grant Writing Program (GWP) celebrates its eleventh year. Co-sponsored by theFox Center for Humanistic Inquiry, the GWP plays a vital role in helping LGS students secure funding for their research and post-doctoral projects. Some two thousand students from across the LGS have participated in the GWP, and many have successfully leveraged their training to procure funding to carry out exciting work around the world...

Recent Research by Jenny Mascaro and Jim Rilling featured in Emory's eScienceCommons

Testes size correlates with men's involvement in toddler care  By Carol Clark

Men with smaller testes than others are more likely to be involved in hands-on care of their toddlers, finds a new study by anthropologists at Emory University. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) published the results of the study on Sept. 9.

Smaller testicular volumes also correlate with more nurturing-related brain activity in fathers as they are looking at photos of their own children, the study shows. "Our data suggest that the biology of human males reflects a trade-off between investments in mating versus parenting effort," says Emory anthropologist James Rilling, whose lab conducted the research.

The goal of the research is to determine why some fathers invest more energy in parenting than others. "It's an important question," Rilling says, "because previous studies have shown that children with more involved fathers have better social, psychological and educational outcomes."

Evolutionary Life History Theory posits that evolution optimizes the allocation of resources toward either mating or parenting so as to maximize fitness. "Our study is the first to investigate whether human anatomy and brain function explain this variance in parenting effort," says Jennifer Mascaro, who led the study as a post-doctoral fellow in the Rilling lab.

Full story at eScienceCommons » The research is also being featured in NATURE: International weekly journal of science.