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Shirley Fiske is this year’s recipient of the Solon T. Kimball Award for Public and Applied Anthropology, which “offers an opportunity to honor exemplary anthropologists for outstanding recent achievements that have contributed to the development of anthropology as an applied science.”
Since graduating from Stanford in 1975, Fiske has put into practice, in her own words, “a strong belief in the practical and predictive value of the concept of culture and the explanatory value of anthropology.” Shortly after graduating, Fiske began working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Washington DC, becoming instrumental in convincing NOAA leadership of the value of social science. Promoting anthropological and other research through the nation’s Sea Grant programs, she laid the foundation for enduring anthropological contributions to the study of fishing communities, seafood processing, coastal hazards and traditional ecological knowledge. Her legacy lives on in multiple anthropologists occupying positions on fishery management councils around the United States, along with new scholarship from the students of those she inspired.
From 1999 to 2007, Fiske worked with Hawaii’s Senator Daniel Akaka as senior advisor and legislative assistant for energy, natural resources and public lands, oceans and fisheries, climate change and the environment. Quite naturally, out of this work, she assumed a keen interest in climate change, eventually chairing the American Anthropological Association’s Task Force on Global Climate Change. Fiske’s work will serve as a baseline for future anthropological work on climate change, as well as inspiring a new generation of anthropologists in the value of public service.
Fiske will be honored at an awards ceremony on November 16, 2016 at the 115th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association.