Inaugural Remarks

Remarks by Professor Denise Brennan, Chair of the Department of Anthropology, at the Inauguration celebration of the Department of Anthropology on September 22, 2011

Welcome to our celebration of the Inauguration of the Department of Anthropology. This is a big day – not just for our tight-knit community of anthropology faculty and students, but for Georgetown. As a beacon of intellectual inquiry, global concerns, and social justice, the university’s interests align beautifully with the best anthropology has to offer.

This day has been a long-time in the making. A long-time. And many of you have helped get us here today. I want to take a few minutes to acknowledge the dedication, creativity, and enthusiasm for all things anthropology by our students and our faculty.

Anthropology has been at Georgetown over the decades – but in various institutional forms. For years Prof. Gwen Mikell taught Anthropology within the Department of Sociology – without any other anthropology colleague. We all owe her a tremendous debt for holding up the anthropological ceiling until the rest of us got to Georgetown.

We’ve grown. Look around and you will find: Professors Gwen Mikell, Joanne Rappaport, Susan Terrio, Melissa Fisher, Rochelle Davis, Fida Adely, William Wheeler, Benjamin Harbert, Sylvia Onder, Elzbieta Godziak, Marjorie Balzer, and Laurie King. A truly impressive group of scholars, teachers, and colleagues. It is a joy working among such generous colleagues and clever thinkers.

Our students have played no small part in making us a community. Over the years, students threw themselves into building an anthropology major, then a program, and since 2008, a full-fledged Department. We’ve received letters and emails from students – naturally from all over the world – sending well-wishes on our coming-out party.

I also must thank our earliest institutional supporter – Dean Jane McAuliffe – who championed our Department-in-waiting. Now the President of Bryn Mawr, then-Dean McAuliffe made it possible for us to be here today. I also want to thank Provost Jim O’Donnell for his supportive role in bringing us to Departmental status as well as thank him and Dean Chet Gillis for providing funds for today’s event.

On such a monumental occasion, we wanted to mark the day with a party and a lecture. We needed a giant in our field. We are honored that Professor Sherry Ortner, whose wide-ranging and game-changing books and articles have shaped anthropology many times over, will be presenting the “Inaugural Lecture of the Department of Anthropology.” From sherpas, to Newark N.J, to the film industry, Professor Ortner’s critical eye and sharp writing have been an inspiration to generations of anthropologists. She also seems to have a good deal of fun in the process. Please welcome Professor Ortner.