Leslie Aiello Wins the Franz Boas Award for Exemplary Service

Professor Leslie Aiello forged innovative pathways for the discipline of anthropology toward the goal of “the increase and dissemination of humanistic and scientific knowledge,” the distinct contribution recognized by the Franz Boas Award. In the spirit of the scholar after whom the award is named, she worked indefatigably to promote all four fields of anthropology, while in her own research she was a leading scholar of human evolution with a strong media presence. The crowning achievement of Leslie Aiello’s service to the discipline was her tenure as the fifth president of the Wenner-Gren Foundation from 2005 to 2017, when she oversaw the disbursement of close to $35 million in research grants, and nearly that sum in other grants and fellowships, in as many as fifteen funding categories, adding new categories in response to the changing needs of the times. She advanced the decolonization of anthropology through grants targeting countries where anthropology is under-represented, which funded institutional development, training for students and scholars, and collaborative projects involving the Global South. She worked together with the AAA in the process of revitalizing the (re-named) World Anthropological Union. She strengthened the public presence of anthropology through Engaged Anthropology grants, financial support for the launch of Anthropology Now, and the creation of the digital magazine SAPIENS (which reached over 20 million page views by 2022). Professor Aiello believed in the importance of raising awareness of the significance of anthropology for the world today, and she succeeded in implementing this vision.

Call for Applications: Doctoral Student Member of the Wenner-Gren Advisory Council

The Wenner-Gren Foundation is seeking a doctoral student to join the Advisory Council, a group of six anthropologists who offer feedback and advice to the Foundation on our programs, initiatives, and future directions. In early November and early May, the Advisory Council gathers in person for a day of discussion and deliberation, then joins the Foundation’s Board of Trustees for a special session the following day. In recent years, the Advisory Council has played an instrumental role in everything from the crafting of the Foundation’s new mission statement to the development of strategies for combatting racial injustice in anthropology and promoting the ethical treatment of human remains. The doctoral student member will serve a 1 year term, bringing a critical perspective to the Advisory Council’s deliberations at a moment of transformation in the Foundation and the discipline at large.

Eligibility:  Ideally, the successful candidate will have completed the requirements for their degree except the dissertation at the time they apply for this position. Individuals of all nationalities, subfields, and traditions of scholarship are welcome to apply. We are particularly welcome to applicants who will bring diverse viewpoints to our conversations. The doctoral student member will not be eligible to apply for a Wenner-Gren award for programs with deadlines falling between November 1 and May 1 during their term of service.

Role:  The doctoral student member will fully share in the work of the Advisory Council, (1) participating in an annual review of the Foundation’s activities, including those of SAPIENS and Current Anthropology, (2) guiding the selection of topics for Wenner-Gren Seminars and Symposia; (3) providing guidance on specific Wenner-Gren programs; (4) participating in a roundtable discussion on current issues and topics in anthropology in a joint session with the Board of Trustees; (5) advising the President when pressing issues arise.

Support: The Foundation will cover travel expenses, lodging, and a per diem for the November and May Advisory Council meetings, which will be held either at the Foundation’s offices in New York or at an off-site location.  For our doctoral student member, we will also provide a $500 stipend to offset any lost income.

Application Process:  Please provide the following:

  • A CV
  • A cover letter providing details concerning your status in your degree program (e.g., years in program and requirements completed such as ABD)
  • A short essay (of 500 words or fewer) describing why you’re interested in the position.  Wenner-Gren’s mission is to advance anthropological knowledge, amplify its impact, foster inclusivity, and address the precarity of anthropology as a career and field of study. How do you see yourself contributing to this work?

Applications must be received no later than August 1, 2022.  Email your cover letter, CV, and essay in a single PDF to Kathryn Derfler at kderfler@wennergen.org.

Niloofar Haeri Wins 2021 Fatema Mernissi Book Award!

We’re excited to share the news that the Middle East Studies Association has awarded former Wenner-Gren Advisory Council member Niloofar Haeri the 2021 Fatema Mernissi Book Award for her book, Say What Your Longing Heart Desires: Women, Prayer, and Poetry in Iran.

The Middle East Studies Association describes the book by saying:

The title is taken from a well-known story in which Moses tells a shepherd not to worry about the “manners and rules” of religion but rather to “say what your longing heart desires.” Using beautiful, limpid prose, Haeri weaves together poetry, religion, and ethnography to show how a group of middle-class, educated Iranian women counter the state’s version of Islam. They regularly revisit and reconsider Islamic theology by drawing on the vast body of mystic poetry that is so central to Iranian culture. In the process, Haeri blurs lines thrown up between the secular and the religious in recent scholarship and invites us to consider the deeper, political, and public meaning of ritualistic religious practices.

Webinar Sept. 28th: Proposal Writing for the Wenner-Gren Foundation: Dissertation Fieldwork and Post-PhD Research Grants

Join us on September 28th at 7AM and 7PM Eastern Time, for, “Proposal Writing for the Wenner-Gren Foundation: Dissertation Fieldwork and Post-PhD Research Grant”.

To register for the 7AM workshop click here.

To register for the 7PM workshop click here.

In 2021, the world still feels like a precarious place. The Covid pandemic is far from over, with vaccine apartheid and resistance and the emergence of new variants threatening populations around the world. Racial injustice, economic inequality, climate catastrophe — none of these things have gone away. These realities are reshaping anthropological practice. Whether or not you are studying these pressing issues, they form the context for your work. Join Danilyn Rutherford, President of the Wenner-Gren Foundation, for a discussion of proposal writing in these tumultuous times. She’ll describe the Foundation’s approach to supporting anthropology worldwide, offer tips on succeeding in the competition for Dissertation Fieldwork and Post-PhD Research Grants, and describe some of the Foundation’s new initiatives. There will be lots of time for questions.

September 28th 7AM Eastern Workshop:

September 28th 7PM Eastern Workshop: 

CART captioning for the 7AM workshop will be provided by Wendy Baquerizo.

CART captioning for the 7PM workshop will be provided by Jordan Mucha.

Take Part – Survey Sponsored by Wenner-Gren, Society of Black Archaeologists, Indigenous Archaeology Collective and More!

The Wenner-Gren Foundation, in collaboration with the Society of Black Archaeologists, the Indigenous Archaeology Collective, and a group of major anthropology funders, is sponsoring a survey.  It’s designed to provide as complete a portrait as possible of who today’s anthropologists are, how they fund their research, and what factors determine who gets supported and who does not.  Focused on North America, the survey is part of a broader initiative designed to promote greater equity in our field. All the major anthropological associations based in the US are participating in this phase of the project; we hope to collaborate with colleagues in other world regions in future research.   You’ll be receiving a link from your professional association that leads to the survey.  Please take a moment to fill it out!

Apply Now! Wenner-Gren Foundation SAPIENS Public Fellowship Program


Wenner-Gren Foundation SAPIENS Public Fellowship Program

The Wenner-Gren Foundation invites applications for its Public Fellowship program. This year, the program will place one fellow in a two-year term (2022-2023) staff position at SAPIENS, the Foundation’s online magazine. The fellow will participate in the substantive work of the magazine and receive professional mentoring. The Fellow will receive a stipend of $50,000 per year and benefits through the University of Chicago Press. The Foundation cannot sponsor a U.S. work visa, but successful applicants may work outside the U.S. Acknowledging the precarity of early career anthropologists, the fellowship may thus be fulfilled by telecommuting from any location or by working at the Foundation’s headquarters in New York City.

This initiative aims to expand the role of doctoral education in the United States by demonstrating that the capacities developed in the advanced study of anthropology have wide application, both within and beyond the academy. The program allows advanced scholars to gain career-building experience in public media and science communication.

The Foundation seeks applications from recent PhDs who aspire to careers in public service by choice rather than circumstance. Competitive applicants will be able to demonstrate sincere interest in public anthropology and will have a record of success in both academic and extra-academic endeavors.

Job activities will include but are not limited to:

The position has five primary areas of work, which include the following: (1) oversee the magazine’s art editing process, (2) identify articles by anthropologists for republication, (3) oversee the magazine’s translated articles and process, (4) write Q&A articles and other content, and (5) oversee the magazine’s pedagogical projects. The Managing Editor will also regularly meet with the editorial team through Zoom to build a cohesive editorial vision for the publication and to ensure the publication’s editorial systems are effective and efficient; conduct online or in person workshops for anthropologists on the craft of writing; represent the magazine at conferences and other venues; and collaboratively work with editing colleagues within the publication through Slack.

Desired qualifications of applicants:

  1. have a PhD in anthropology conferred between September 1, 2017 and September 1, 2021
  2. defend and file/deposit their completed dissertations no later than September 1, 2021, and be prepared to verify this with official university documentation during the review and selection process; and
  3. write fluent English, the primary language of the magazine.

Application procedures:

If you are interested in pursuing this opportunity, please apply through the jobs portal at University of Chicago Press, which hosts the position. Note that the two-year postdoctoral fellowship is titled “Managing Editor” for UCP’s administrative purposes. Review of the applications begins on September 15, 2021.

Your cover letter will be a critical part of the application review process. Please talk about 1) your past experiences and how they have led to an interest in this fellowship program, and 2) your vision for the mission of public communication, the future of SAPIENS, and your own future as a practitioner in the field.



Announcing the 2021 Global Initiatives Grants New Approves

Wenner-Gren is excited to announce the 2021 new approves for our Global Initiatives Grant!

The Black Feminist Archive Pandemic Preservation Project of Black Women Practicing Anthropologists

Dr. Irma McClaurin received funding to encourage and guide Black and Indigenous women who are anthropologists working outside the academy as independent consultants and community-based activists to preserve and archive the invaluable knowledge about social justice issues in their communities and beyond. At a time when many states are prohibiting the teaching of critical race theory, preserving these important historical materials and archiving these collections communicates the value and historical relevance of the work of practicing BIPOC anthropologists to broader communities, as well as to practitioners themselves.

Decanonization: The Global Anthropology Syllabus Project

Dr. Heather O’Leary received funding for the initial stage of an ongoing collaborative initiative aimed at promoting global conversations and collaboration.  The initiative will work towards the creation of a curriculum that expands the narrow focus from knowledge production in traditional academic institutions to a more inclusive, diverse representation of anthropological traditions produced outside hegemonic centers.  This preliminary phase supports the recruitment of a globally diverse and inclusive group of 40 scholars who will serve as an advisory council.

Inclusivity and Ethics in Archaeological Training: The ARF Field School

Dr. Christine Hastorf received funding to pilot an 8 week commuter field school designed to make archaeology more accessible. It provides stipends for BIPOC students and boosts the inclusion of low- and middle-income students entering the career. At the same time, the training will promote community-engaged archaeology and more sustainable ethical stewardship practices by using low impact methods to inventory and analyze orphaned collections and their legacy sites.

Southern African Field Archaeology

Dr. Dipuo Kgotleng received funding for the revival of Southern African Field Archaeology as an open access, peer-reviewed, online journal. The proposed platform encourages and subsidizes African-based scholars, students and practitioners of archaeological and cultural heritage studies by providing free editorial services. It aims to boost the participation of African scholars in disseminating their research results, at the same time it increases readership, public awareness and local participation in the research process.

UnderstandingRace.org Website Upgrade

Dr. Edward Liebow received funding to support the upgrade of the American Anthropology Association’s UnderstandingRace.org website.  This educational resource uses current findings from across the subfields of anthropology to challenge the notion that racial identities are biologically based and fixed. Its teaching guides help to rectify misconceptions about human biological variation and contribute to timely public conversations regarding social injustices.

Announcing the Wenner-Gren Fellowship in Anthropology and Black Experiences

Wenner-Gren Fellowship in Anthropology and Black Experiences

In partnership with the School for Advanced Research (SAR), the Wenner-Gren Foundation is sponsoring one nine-month residential fellowship open to PhD-holding anthropologists of all ranks.

This fellowship aims to expand the anthropological conversation and build capacity in anthropology by amplifying perspectives previously under-represented in the discipline.

We are eager to support individuals whose research draws on Black studies, critical race studies, diasporic Africana studies, the vernacular insights of communities of color, and other sources of inspiration growing out of global Black experiences to advance new lines of scholarship in any of anthropology’s subfields.  We hope to attract applicants working in a diverse range of sites, including but not limited to Black communities.

Applicants should show how this support will enable them to succeed at a critical juncture in their career and alter their trajectory in the field. Applicants must be US citizens or permanent residents.

The successful applicant will join a cohort of scholars at SAR in Santa Fe, New Mexico. SAR especially welcomes applicants willing to spend the fellowship term on our residential campus in Santa Fe, but the program is also willing to consider applications from those who can only participate through a combination of remote gatherings and an in-person residency of several weeks.

Fellows receive a stipend of $50,000. Resident scholars also receive low-cost housing and free office space at the SAR campus. Fellows who opt not to relocate receive a travel subsidy covering the cost of short-term in-person residency at the SAR campus.

The deadline for applications is November 1, 2021, for a fellowship starting in September 2022. For more information, please contact scholar@sarsf.org.

Learn more about the fellowship.

Find out how to apply.

Survey of Wenner-Gren Applicants and Grantees

Have you applied for a Wenner-Gren grant in the past five years?  If so, we’d love to have your input.  We’ve distributed a survey that asks about you, your history with Wenner-Gren, and your willingness to help us reach a broader community of scholars.  Your input will help us do a better job of advancing anthropological research, addressing the precarity of anthropology and anthropologists, and fostering an inclusive vision of the field.  Thanks in advance for your help!

Save the Date! June 1st: Proposal Writing for the Wenner-Gren Foundation: Introducing the Engaged Research Grant Program

The events of 2020 have forced anthropologists to reckon with their discipline’s history and the nature of the relationships they forge through their research. They are finding themselves asking themselves hard questions about the ethical implications of the work they do.

The best way to advance knowledge in anthropology is to draw on new sources of insight. The best way to ensure anthropological research has an impact is to make sure projects are meaningful for everyone involved. By supporting projects that are collaborative from the get-go, the Wenner-Gren Foundation hopes to demonstrate the value of this new approach to research for the field more generally.

Join the Foundation’s president, Danilyn Rutherford, for a discussion of the Engaged Research Grant program. Danilyn will describe the program’s objectives, go over the criteria of evaluation, and offer tips on writing a winning proposal. There will be lots of time for questions.

This workshop will have CART captioning.

Tuesday, June 1 from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM (Eastern). Click here to register for this event.

Tuesday, June 1 from 9:00-10:30 PM (Eastern). Click here to register for this event.