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AAA is pleased to announce the 2016 recipient of the Franz Boas Award for Exemplary Service to Anthropology is Richard Bauman. Bauman is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, Communication and Culture, and Folklore at Indiana University. Bauman’s work significantly reshaped linguistic anthropology to make it a stronger presence within the discipline and enhanced anthropology’s visibility in such disciplines as communication, media studies, folklore, history, linguistics, literary and performance studies.
Boas argued that such forms as narratives, songs, poetry and prayers were central to anthropological study, providing a crucial basis for understanding “the mode of life and the chief interests of the people.” This research agenda came to fruition half a century later when Bauman published “Verbal Art as Performance” in American Anthropologist in 1975 and a book of the same title two years later. Bauman refocused the tools of the ethnography of speaking beyond elicited texts to embrace unique events, arguing for the need to look at particular assemblages of people, environments, contexts, histories and interests as they emerge in the ethnographic study and close analysis of specific instances in which performers and audiences bring social worlds into being.
Bauman served as president of the Society for Linguistic Anthropology (1991–1993); on the AAA’s Board of Directors, Executive Committee, and Administrative Advisory Committee; on the Advisory Council of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research; and as president of the Semiotic Society of America. One of his most important contributions to the discipline has been as an exemplary mentor to graduate students and scholars at early stages of their careers.
Bauman will be honored at an awards ceremony on November 16, 2016 at the 115th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association.