Chair's Greeting: Celebrating Anthropology

By Nancy N. Chen, Professor and Chair

 Nancy Chen    This has been an exciting and productive year filled with new events and activities.  We celebrate our wonderful Anthropology majors - many of whom are first generation students (49%) as the first in their families to attend university. Anthropology students are inspiring and engaging as they filled our classrooms and hallways with animated questions, inspiring research, and incredible group projects.  Throughout the three subdisciplines of anthropology, the department and labs create opportunities for hands-on scientific research and professionalization experiences for students of all levels. Undergraduate participation has led to conference presentations, publications, and even further academic training in graduate school. Our students have joined in hands-on collaborative work in archaeology, including ceramic and lithic analysis, spatial data analysis, household analysis, cultural heritage, California Native communities, and more. Anthropology students also have the opportunity to work in paleogenomics, primate ecology, and molecular anthropology labs. Our students have enjoyed new courses from our most recent faculty on weather and exposure, queer sexuality, and histories and cultures of piracy. Undergraduates also had the unique opportunity to study abroad over the summer with our faculty, on food and culture. 

     Our Ph.D. students are also inspiring as they pursue ethnographic field research and gain expertise across three subfields. They are widely recognized for their creative scholarship and have received graduate funding from highly regarded scholarly programs that include the National Science Foundation, Wenner Gren, Social Science Research Council, Fulbright, Mellon, Carnegie Foundation, and National Geographic. 

     This year we hosted the Anthropology Film Series, each quarter featuring a film created by department faculty based on their research. This included Professor Emeritus Olga Najera’s Danza Folklórica Escénica: El Sello Artístico de Rafael Zamarripa (Mexican Folkloric Dance: Rafael Zamarripa’s Artistic Trademark), Professor Renya Ramirez’s Standing in the Place of Fear: The Legacy of Henry Roe Cloud, and Senior Lecturer Dr. Annapurna Pandey’s Road to Zuni, which received a Gallup Film Festival Award. 

     Our faculty have been active in pursuing grants and working on publications.  These include our three Hellman Fellows (Assistant Professors Nidhi Mahajan, Savannah Shange, and Jerry Zee), Assistant Professor Vicky Oelze’s NSF instrumentation grant, and Professor Renya Ramirez’s UC Office of the President’s Critical Missions collaborative research grant. Recent published books by faculty include: Mark Anderson, From Boas to Black Power (Stanford 2019); Lisa Rofel and Sylvia Yanagisako, Fabricating Transnational Capitalism: A Collaborative Ethnography of Italian-Chinese Global Fashion (Duke 2019); and Renya Ramirez, Standing Up to Colonial Power (Nebraska 2018). 

     Whether you are a recent alum or a longtime member of our anthropology community, stay in touch. Your journeys and stories are vital, especially for our current and new generations of anthropology students. If you would like to share your knowledge or possible internship opportunities for anthropology majors, please reach out.