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Donald Brenneis is the winner of this year’s Franz Boas Award for Exemplary Service to Anthropology. Over a forty-year career, Brenneis has distinguished himself for his pioneering research on the nexus of communication, performance, and power. Brenneis’s earliest scholarship focused on small-scale communities in Fiji and Nepal as they negotiate conflict and interpersonal relations through speech acts. His more recent research focuses on evaluation standards, bureaucratic forms, and interactional dynamics in American academic institutions, including human subjects review panels, review panels at the National Science Foundation, and editorial boards. Brenneis is known for a remarkable ability to speak to broad issues through close attention to the details of social life.
Throughout his career, Brenneis has also devoted enormous amounts of time and energy to the broader community of scholars. Brenneis is a Past President of the American Anthropological Association and in his second term as director of the American Council of Learned Societies. He has edited Annual Review of Anthropology, reviewed numerous departments, and served on countless advisory boards. In the midst of all this, Brenneis has chaired his department and his campus’s Academic Senate as well as taught and mentored generations of undergraduates and graduate students. Brenneis has fulfilled all these responsibilities deftly and with great warmth.
It is hard to imagine another anthropologist whose contributions to the discipline have been more extensive or influential than Brenneis’s. Through his scholarship and his service, he has helped anthropologists develop a deeper understanding of what our discipline is and could be.
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