If “bones and stones” is the catchphrase that comes to mind when thinking about anthropology, it’s time to get with the times, says Bill Maurer, UCI anthropology professor and department chair.   

“So many anthropologists today are working in and on social settings thoroughly infused with technology, from small indigenous communities getting online to make their environmental plight more widely known, to informal sharing practices through which people gain access to cell phones, to design studios or medical device manufacturers where anthropologists and engineers sit side by side,” says Maurer. His own work as director of UCI’s new Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion, a Gates Foundation-funded institute focused on the role technology plays in providing financial services to the world’s poorest populations, is yet another example of how anthropological study has evolved in the 21st century.

This year, the field’s premier American Anthropological Association is following suit and centering its annual meeting on anthropology’s relevance in today’s society.  In December, UCI anthropologists will travel to Philadelphia for the five-day conference where they will present new research on a number of cutting edge topics including the influence of new media on international politics and how “cloud computing” has changed social work culture.  UCI research on immigrant citizenship status and non-status as well as ethnographic studies of the bureaucracies involved in making U.S. foreign policy will also be some of the timely topics up for discussion during the 561 planned sessions of the meeting.

“Anthropologists at UC Irvine really set the agenda for this kind of research – anthropology that is critically engaged with contemporary problems and issues,” Maurer says.  In 2006, the department was ranked eighth in the nation by the Center for a Public Anthropology on the basis of scholarly productivity and public impact.

In addition to presenting research and serving on discussion panels, several UCI anthropologists will be recognized at the annual meeting for their individual contributions to the field of anthropology.  They include:

  • Leo Chavez, professor, recipient of the Prize for Distinguished Achievement in the Critical Study of North America, awarded by the Society for the Anthropology of North America; and recipient of the Association for Latina and Latino Anthropologists 2009 Book Prize 
  • Angela Garcia, assistant professor, recipient of the Stirling Prize for Best Published Work in Psychological Anthropology, awarded by the Society for Psychological Anthropology
  • Susan Greenhalgh, recipient of an Honorable Mention Award for the Gregory Bateson Book Prize, awarded by the Society for Cultural Anthropology 

“Irvine always has a very strong presence at the AAA meetings. Our graduate students have organized panels and workshops, and some will be recognized for their service contributions to the Association. And this is the third time that an Irvine anthropologist has won the Stirling Prize. All of these awards are a real testament to our impact and interdisciplinary reach. It is always so rewarding to see colleagues recognized for their hard work,” Maurer says. 

Learn more about UCI participation in the December 2-6 AAA annual meeting online at http://www.aaanet.org/meetings/

Learn more about UCI anthropology online at http://www.anthropology.uci.edu/.


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