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The AAA and Oxford University Press are pleased to announce the recipient of the AAA/Oxford University Press Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching of Anthropology is Bianca Williams.
The courses Williams regularly offers are not only theoretically rigorous, but exciting and relevant to students’ lives. Her course offerings include titles like Black Women, Popular Culture and the Pursuit of Happiness; Life in America: Identity and Everyday Experience; Civil Rights and Black Power Movements; and Ethnography of American Blackness(es). Her students are assigned to read fiction, poetry and self-help books; view hip-hop, dancehall and R&B influenced music videos and films; and analyze songs from a variety of musical genres, while reading and interpreting “traditional” academic scholarship.
Williams details her approach to teaching in a recently published chapter submission entitled “Radical Honesty: Truth-telling as Pedagogy for Working through Shame in Academic Spaces.” She defines radical honesty as “a pedagogical practice of truth-telling which seeks to challenge racist and patriarchal institutional cultures in the academy […] Radical honesty emphasizes the significance of personal narratives, and opens a space for creating strategies that enable scholars and students to bring their ‘whole self’ to the classroom, while getting rid of the shame that frequently accompanies their bodies in academic settings.” Indeed, Williams models her belief that being a professor is not just about theorizing about the important issues on which she instructs students, but about fostering change through activism beyond the classroom.
Through her courses, students learn about more than the raced and gendered dynamics in US society—they learn about themselves, and their role in changing the world in which they exist.
Williams will be honored at an awards ceremony on November 16, 2016 at the 115th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association.