The Boards of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) have selected Dr. Frances Norwood to receive the Margaret Mead Award for 2011. Norwood was selected for her book, The Maintenance of Life: Preventing Social Death through Euthanasia Talk and End-of-Life Care-Lessons from the Netherlands, published by Carolina Academic Press in 2009. Norwood is currently an Assistant Research Professor and Professorial Lecturer in Anthropology at George Washington University. The Award will be formally presented at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology in Baltimore, Maryland, on March 30, 2012.
The Margaret Mead Award is sponsored jointly by the two associations and presented annually. The Award is presented to a young scholar for a particular accomplishment that employs anthropological data and principles in ways that make them meaningful and accessible to a broadly concerned public.
The Award honors the memory of Margaret Mead who in her lifetime was the most widely known woman in the world and arguably the most recognized anthropologist. Mead had a unique talent for bringing anthropology into the light of public attention. With Mead’s approval, the Award was initiated in 1979 by the Society. It has been presented jointly with the American Anthropological Association since 1983.
Dr. Norwood received a Ph.D. in Medical Anthropology in 2005 from the University of California-San Francisco and Berkeley. Her research interests include long term care, health policy, disability, and innovative health care solutions.
The Maintenance of Life focuses on the changing landscape of death and dying. In sharp contrast to previous generations, death today is a long process characterized by decline and social loss. Working with clinicians, end-of-life patients and their family members, Dr. Norwood found that euthanasia in practice is largely a medium of conversation, which serves a palliative purpose – it staves off social death and allows patients a venue for processing the meaning of their lives and affirming their social identity.
Noted international scholar, Margaret Lock, described this “beautifully written book,” as a “testimony to the power of ethnography.” The author, Lock concludes, makes a compelling case for the fact that “’euthanasia talk’ very often serves to enrich and reaffirm social life.”
Additional information on the Mead Award and prior recipients may be found on the SfAA website – www.sfaa.net.