We’re often overwhelmed by the number of amazing people that call themselves Delawareans! One of those amazing people, Makin’ it Happen in North Delaware is Paul Stoller – Anthropologist, Professor, World Traveler, Huffington Post Contributer & the 2013 Anders Retzius Gold Medal recipient…it’s Kind of a BIG DEAL!
On April 23, King Carl IV Gustav of Sweden presented Paul Stoller, Professor of Anthropology at West Chester University, the 2013 Anders Retzius Gold Medal in recognition of his important scientific contributions to anthropology. The Retzius Medal is given every third year to anthropologist by the Swedish Society of Anthropology and Geography (SSAG), the patron of which is the Swedish King. The following day the SSAG sponsored a symposium on The Anthropology of Well Being at which Dr. Stoller and three of his fellow anthropologists gave presentation. The Retzius Gold Medal is among the most prestigious awards an anthropologist can receive.
That award this year goes to Paul Stoller. Paul is particularly noteworthy because his work is somewhat outside the mainstream of anthropology. His response to the official notification was rather typical of his well-known humility and consistent optimism in the discipline. He said, “The notification came as a complete shock. The process of deliberation is secret… Aside from the shock, it feels wonderful to have my contributions recognized. My own feeling has been that my work has been on the margins of an anthropology that hasn’t put a premium on storytelling and narrative and how they bring us to the center of what matters existentially in social life. Perhaps this award means that the discipline is taking the narrative dimension more seriously than in years past.”
An expert and leading thinker in the fields of economic, reflexive and visual anthropology and anthropology of the senses, he is the author of eleven books spanning from ethnographies and biographies to memoirs and novels which you can find on Amazon.com.
Paul was also recognized in an article written by Gina Athena Ulysse for the Huffington Post entitled, “Paul Stoller and Why Anthropology Still Matters”. Click here to read the entire article.
We were given the opportunity to interview Paul and this is what he shared with us!
I am a rare breed, a native Washingtonian, though I’ve lived roughly 7 years in the rural areas of the Republic of Niger in West Africa–doing anthropological research. I’ve also spent a year in Paris and in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In Paris, I was a research associate at Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale and a Visiting Professor at Ecole Des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. In Santa Fe, I was a Residential Fellow at the School of Advanced Research. I currently live in Wilmington and have been a resident for more than 10 years.
What brought you to Delaware?
I came to Delaware because I wanted to put some distance between myself and my students at West Chester University. I also liked Wilmington’s ambiance-it is a very friendly place.
Have you made any discoveries in Delaware?
I am a big fan of the Delaware State Parks. Delaware is a great place to ride my bicycle.
I know that you teach at West Chester Univeristy now, but have you taught anywhere else?
Before I came to teach at West Chester, I taught at the University of Missouri-Columbia. I have also taught as a part time Visiting Professor at Temple University.
Where did you go to college?
I have a BA from the University of Pittsburgh, and MS in linguistics from Georgetown University and a PhD in social anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin.
What would you say is your biggest accomplishment in your field?
The greatest honors I’ve received as an anthropologist are a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1994 and the 2013 Anders Retzius Gold Medal. I would say, though that my greatest accomplishment has been to mentor a small group of graduate students who have completed their doctorates and workings as anthropologists
When did you find out you were being considered for this award? Was it a culmination of all your work that led to your award or was it one important finding?
Like the Nobel Prize, the nominations for and the deliberations about the Retzius award are secret. I had no idea that I was being considering and so when I received notification, it came as a complete surprise and a complete shock. The award is given in recognition of the lifelong scientific contributions of my scholarly work.