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West Chester University Anthropologist to be Honored by King of Sweden

December 21, 2012

Paul Stoller

In April, West Chester University anthropologist Paul Stoller will accept a prestigious award from His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, who also presents the Nobel Prizes.

The king will present Stoller with the Anders Retzius Medal in gold from the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography (SSAG) at a ceremony in Stockholm on April 24, 2013.

Stoller is being honored for the anthropological research he has conducted for more than 30 years. His early work focused on the religion, magic, sorcery and spirit possession practices of the Songhay people of the republics of Niger and Mali in West Africa. Since 1992, he has studied West African immigrants in New York City, exploring such topics as the cultural dynamics of informal market economies and the politics of immigration.

SSAG’s coveted awards recognize international researchers and scholars who have developed seminal studies in physical geography, human geography or anthropology.  Stoller joins previous Anders Retzius Medal recipients who have garnered such prestigious academic prizes as Guggenheims, MacArthur “Genius” Awards and Fulbrights, noting “I am honored and a bit humbled to be placed in the same company as S.B. Ortner, T. Ingold, J. and J.L Comaroff and U. Hannerz – anthropologists of the highest caliber.”

Stoller has been honored in the past as well for his research. He has been a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities and a Residential Fellow at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, N.M. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Fulbright-Hays Research Fellowship program, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Inc., one of the major funding sources for international anthropological research.

In 1994 he was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. In 2002, the American Anthropological Association presented him with the Robert B. Textor Award for Excellence in Anticipatory Anthropology.

A regular blogger for The Huffington Post, Stoller writes about culture, politics, media and education. Considered a pioneer in the anthropology of the senses and literary anthropology, his books, The Taste of Ethnographic Things (1989) and Sensuous Scholarship (1997), were among the first works to consider the importance of sensuous description in anthropological analysis and ethnographic representation.  In terms of literary anthropology, he conveys his insights through non-traditional genres including memoir, biography and fiction.

SSAG’s Vega Medal commemorates Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld's return to Stockholm on April 24, 1880, after he became the first explorer to successfully navigate the North East Passage around Siberia from west to east. On April 24, 1881, Nordenskiöld received the first Vega Medal from King Oscar II; since then, the medal has been awarded to a physical geographer roughly every three years. In the intervening years, the society awards the Anders Retzius Medal to a human geographer or an anthropologist.