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Sameena Mulla Named 2017 Recipient of the Margaret Mead Award

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October 18, 2017

Congratulations to Sameena Mulla, the 2017 recipient of the Margaret Mead Award for her scholarship, including the book The Violence of Care: Rape Victims, Forensic Nurses, and Sexual Assault Intervention. The Margaret Mead Award, offered jointly by the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA), is presented to a younger scholar for a particular accomplishment, such as a book, film, monograph, or service, which interprets anthropological data and principles in ways that make them meaningful to a broadly concerned public.

The following quotes from the reviewers speak to the intellectual quality, clarity and understandability, and breadth of impact of Mulla’s work:

The Violence of Care is not only a brilliant academic study of sexual assault interventions as these unfold in a hospital emergency room but one that completely changes our vision on how to understand sexual violence at the intersection of race and gender in one of the most violent and racially divided cities (Baltimore) in the USA … [The book has been] featured in discussions on public radio and has had an impact on law and society networks within and outside the US. [Mulla’s] work showcases a fundamental conviction … that anthropology must assume a unity of theory and praxis and that philosophy and social theory are enriched by the worldly character of anthropology”

The entire body of Mulla’s work qualifies for the award due to its intellectual rigor and breadth of impact. …  Mulla challenges a nation where our obsession with DNA and forensic evidence is problematic in domains beyond sexual assault, inclusive of capital punishment, sentencing, and what constitutes truth and fact.

Similarly, committee members’ comments included:

This is an exceptionally powerful book, theoretically engaged but not heavy handed, ethnographically rich, and consistently illuminating. Mulla offers an extraordinary account of the complex circumstances of the incidence, reporting and management of rape. The book is beautifully crafted and written, and the characters who reappear in different chapters bring their stories with them without repetition. Because the forensic examination is central to the book, the circumstances of each rape and its location in the wider context of the lives of the male and female victims, is perhaps especially shocking, and the book is particularly powerful in this context. Mulla’s light touch allows us to find new lessons in each account.

The Violence of Care is ethnographically moving and rich, at the same time that it is tremendously painful to read. Its focus on the forensic exam room is novel and intriguing. The reader is confronted with ethnographic stories of the ordinary that are extra-ordinary and eye-opening. This tremendously important book has page-turning magic.

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