From the Chair — Spring 2014

Janelle Taylor headshot
Janelle Taylor

As people with an interest in human life in all its diversity, anthropologists have always been fascinated by how communities reproduce themselves, not only through procreation and birth, but also through the recruitment and incorporation of new members—processes that always entail continuity and transformation. This year, we are delighted to see the UW anthropology community renewed and transformed by an infusion of new people, bringing remarkable new talents and energies.

First and foremost, of course, we draw our purpose as an institution from the new students who come to us each year to learn anthropology. And they do come to us—the anthropology department continues to serve over 450 undergraduate majors, and some 100 graduate students, even as enrollments elsewhere in the College of Arts and Sciences have dropped significantly. Our students are accomplishing remarkable things, and we are proud to share some of those accomplishments with you in the pages that follow.

The hiring of five faculty members to new positions this year is also cause for celebration, and renews our excitement and optimism about the future of our department and our field of study.

Sara Gonzalez joins our archaeology faculty, bringing expertise in the archaeology of colonialism, community and public archaeology, indigenous and feminist archaeology and historic anthropology. Trained at the University of California, Berkeley, Sara has focused her research geographically in Northern California, and expects to extend this work in the future to include sites in Washington State.

Sven Haakanson comes to the University of Washington from Kodiak, Alaska, where he served as longtime director of the Alutiiq Museum. A member of the Old Harbor Alutiiq Tribe, and trained in ethnoarchaeology at Harvard University, Haakanson focuses on making collections more accessible to Native communities by researching objects in the world’s museums and developing traveling exhibits, educational programs and resources. At the University of Washington he is jointly appointed as faculty in the Department of Anthropology, where he contributes to both the archaeology and the sociocultural anthropology programs, and as Curator of Native American Ethnology at the Burke Museum.

Matthew Taylor, who comes to us from Texas, is a bioarchaeologist with expertise in skeletal biology, dental anthropology, forensic anthropology, and a particular interest in prehistoric populations in Texas and the Southwest. He brings experience that includes not only university teaching, but also a variety of different kinds of museum-based work, including work with several Native American tribes on Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) issues at different sites, including the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, the New York State Museum, and the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. He teaches courses on various topics, including human osteology, which contributes to both the biocultural anthropology and the archaeology programs.

We also congratulate and welcome two faculty members who have stepped into new positions this year, after already making excellent contributions to the department in other capacities. Patricia Kramer, who has been a vital member of the biocultural anthropology faculty since 2001, has recently accepted a new appointment as a tenured Associate Professor. She teaches a wide range of courses in biocultural anthropology, and pursues research concerning the evolution and functional morphology of human mobility, with a particular focus on the foot and the spine—an interest that draws upon her background as a structural engineer. For 2014, Patricia Kramer is one of five faculty members from the entire University selected for the Undergraduate Research Mentor Award.

Holly Barker, whose research has focused on the Marshall Islands and on the environmental and health impacts of the United States nuclear testing program there, has recently accepted a joint appointment as Lecturer in Anthropology and Curator of Pacific and Asian Ethnology at the Burke Museum. She teaches courses on topics that include applied anthropology, anthropology of sport, and environmental justice—and in 2013, she was awarded both the University of Washington’s Distinguished Teaching Award and the Undergraduate Research Mentor Award.

In the Department of Anthropology, as in the societies we study, acknowledging and remembering those whom we have lost is a crucial part of how we create and recreate our own community. Join us in remembering our friends, as you read about last spring’s rededication of the Roy Webb Memorial Research Commons, and about our late friend David Notkin who, along with Cathy Tuttle, endowed a pilot research fund that continues to generate remarkable new work by our graduate students.

I hope that you will enjoy reading about what is happening in the department. We are eager to stay in touch, and the AnthropoLog e-newsletter is just one way we hope to do this. Our website also lists events that we invite you to attend, if possible, and has links for making donations. The website also features news, and we welcome our alumni to share items for us to post.

Thank you so much for your interest in anthropology, your support of our students, and your friendship. We are extremely grateful to have you in our community.

Sincerely,
Janelle Taylor 
Janelle Taylor

Postscript … Just as this issue of AnthropoLog was going to press, the College of Arts and Sciences released its new video featuring medical anthropology at the UW as an example of the kind of interdisciplinary work with real-world applications that they are interested in featuring for their "Arts + Science" series. Check out the video here!