FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MU professor receives prestigious Margaret Mead Award
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Dr. Luke Eric Lassiter, director of the Graduate Humanities Program at the Marshall University Graduate College and professor of humanities and anthropology, has received the 2006 Margaret Mead Award from the American Anthropological Association and the Society for Applied Anthropology.
The Margaret Mead Award, initiated by the Society for Applied Anthropology in 1979, and awarded jointly with the American Anthropological Society since 1983, celebrates the tradition of bringing anthropology to bear on wider social and cultural issues.
The Margaret Mead Award is presented to a younger scholar for a particular accomplishment such as a book, film, monograph, or service that interprets anthropological data and principles in a way that makes it meaningful and accessible to a broadly concerned public.
Dr. Lassiter received the Margaret Mead Award in part for his book, The Other Side of Middletown: Exploring Muncie’s African American Community, which was published in 2004, as well as for his continuing explorations of race relations and collaborative, community-based research and writing.
“I am extremely honored to be named the recipient of the 2006 Margaret Mead Award,” Lassiter said. “As Margaret Mead was recognized widely for her commitment to both anthropology and, more importantly, to our larger society, I am especially honored that the awards committee singled out The Other Side of Middletown as representative of the kind of work that Mead championed.”
Lassiter, 37, came to Marshall this year from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., where he had been an associate professor of anthropology.
Lassiter received his B.S. in anthropology and social science from Radford (Va.) University in 1990, and his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1995.
The Mead award is designed to recognize a person clearly associated with research and/or practice in anthropology. The awardee’s activity exemplifies skills in broadening the impact of anthropology – skills for which Margaret Mead was admired widely.
“This is a wonderful honor for Dr. Lassiter, the College of Liberal Arts, and Marshall University, and certainly has broad implications for us in continuing to build the profile and the interdisciplinary contributions of the Graduate Humanities Program to our state and region,” Dr. Christina Murphy, dean of MU’s College of Liberal Arts, said. “It’s really exciting, too, to see our COLA faculty receive the type of national recognition that continues to put Marshall University on the map as an exciting and innovative place to be.”
Lassiter said The Other Side of Middletown: Exploring Muncie’s African American Community (AltaMira Press, 2004) was a joint writing project among groups of faculty, students, and members of the African American community of Muncie, Ind. – site of the famous “Middletown” studies, first initiated by Robert and Helen Lynd in their 1929 book, Middletown: A Study in Modern American Culture.
“As a collaboration of community and campus, this book recounts the largely unrecorded history of Muncie’s black community (which the Lynds and subsequent researchers downplayed), and details the efforts of community and campus to rectify the representation of “small town America” as exclusively white,” Lassiter said. “Exploring issues of race, power, and inequity, faculty, students, and community members together designed and implemented a collaborative ethnographic field project that involved intensive interviews, research, and writing between community organizations, local experts, ethnographers, and teams of college students.
“That the Margaret Mead awards committee decided to bestow recognition on The Other Side of Middletown is tremendously gratifying, especially because it is a significant endorsement of the hard work put forth by the students, Muncie community members, and faculty who together worked on this project,” Lassiter said. “I am indeed pleased that the award pays tribute to this kind of community-centered and collaboratively conceived work.”
More information about the book can be found at http://www.altamirapress.com/Catalog/SingleBook.shtml?command=Search&db=%5EDB/CATALOG.db&eqSKUdata=0759104840.