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American Cultural Anthropologist to Give Mulloy Lecture April 26 at UW

April 10, 2019
head portrait of a man
Paul Stoller

West Chester University of Pennsylvania anthropologist Paul Stoller will give the 23rd annual William Mulloy Lecture Friday, April 26, at the University of Wyoming.

Stoller, an anthropology professor, will discuss “Slow Anthropology in a Fast World” at 4:10 p.m. in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Building auditorium. A reception follows at 5:15 p.m. in the Department of Anthropology Building.

The annual Mulloy Lecture is sponsored by the UW Department of Anthropology in memory of the university's first professional anthropologist, William Mulloy. Starting in 1948, he fostered, at UW, what is usually called the "four-field approach," integrating archaeology, biological anthropology, cultural anthropology and linguistic anthropology into a unified program.

Stoller says anthropology has the particular distinction of being a slow science in a fast-paced world.

“It takes us many years to develop our insights -- years spent listening to the people we encounter in the field,” he says. “This slow practice has produced the ethnographic record, an invaluable body of knowledge that underscores the wisdom of ‘others’ -- a wisdom that we would be wise to extend to the social, cultural and political infelicities that constitute our contemporary culture of speed.”

In his lecture, Stoller argues that it is the anthropologist’s central obligation to produce ethnographies -- the study and systematic recording of human cultures -- the “foreground narratives that bring to life the places and lives of the people whom we have encountered.”

“Indeed, their stories of patience, courage and resilience demonstrate that, no matter how different we may be, we are not alone in the world,” he says. “We have much to learn from our mentors in the field, for the story of their lives demonstrates the desirability of taking a slower approach to living in a world in which wisdom is in short supply.”

In his talk, Stoller hopes to demonstrate how slowly developed anthropological insights can be brought into the fast-paced, media-saturated public sphere.

“I conclude that a more public anthropology can powerfully bring forward a deep, slowly developed knowledge that is destined to make life a little bit sweeter for us all -- the classic definition of wisdom,” he says. “Is that not a challenge worth pursuing?”

Stoller has published 15 books, which include ethnographies, biographies, memoirs and novels. His most recent book is “Adventures in Blogging: Anthropological and Popular Media,” published last year.

In recognition of his work, Stoller has been named a Guggenheim Fellow (1994) and received the American Anthropological Association’s (AAA) Robert B. Textor Prize for Excellence in Anticipatory Anthropology (2002). King Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden (2013) presented him the Anders Retzius Gold Medal in Anthropology. The AAA (2015) awarded him the Anthropology in Media Award. He lectures widely in Europe, and in North and South America, where he also regularly conducts writing workshops for social scientists.

For more information about the Mulloy Lecture, call the UW Department of Anthropology office at (307) 766-5136.

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