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The Wenner-Gren Foundation

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2006 Annual Report

Program Highlights for 2006

Other Foundation Programs and Activities

Developments over 2006:

The Conference and Workshop Program

This program continued to revitalize during 2006, and the Foundation was pleased to award twenty-seven grants from a pool of thirty-nine applications with a success rate of 74%.  Both the workshop program, designed to assist small working meetings, and conference grants, awarded to large professional associations to hold international conferences, promote the Foundation’s mission to advance significant and innovative research and to build an international community of anthropologists. 

 The four fields of anthropology were well represented among the seventeen workshops and ten conferences supported.  Reflecting anthropologists' interest in being engaged and contributing to contemporary debates, cultural anthropologists at two workshops discussed the discipline’s approach to global and national security, while a team of Portuguese scholars convened their third conference on "Ethnography and the Public Sphere." Biological anthropologists continued to discuss multiple aspects of evolution and human origins in workshops and conferences held in such diverse locals as Stony Brook, Nairobi, and KwaZulu-Natal Game Reserve.  Primatologists gathered in Chicago to analyze "The Mind of the Chimpanzee," a conference that attracted widespread media attention. Meanwhile, linguists, educators and community members came together in Window Rock, Arizona, to update research on Athabaskan languages, and European archaeologists held their annual meeting in Krakow. Poland was also the setting for a workshop on "Archaeological Invisibility and Forgotten Knowledge" held at the University of Lodz.  Other grants assisted meetings on such topics as justice and diversity, Asia-Pacific childhoods, slavery in ancient prestate societies, and anthropologies of the Western world, as well as supporting international conferences sponsored by, among others, the European Association of Social Anthropologists and the Chilean Anthropology Congress.
Current Anthropology

We continue to work closely with University of Chicago Press to ensure that Current Anthropology (CA) maintains its position as the leading broad-based international anthropological journal in the field. In recent years the journal has faced a number of challenges in relation to electronic publication and its effect on the subscription base, and we are in the process of developing a new business model that will guarantee the journal's continued viability and success.
While the Foundation has been working on the business side of the journal, Dr. Ben Orlove, editor of CA, has been continuing to ensure that it demonstrates the strengths that give it importance within the field of anthropology. In 2006 a new design was implemented, including a different look to the cover along with changes to the typefaces and layout. In addition, abstracts, formerly provided only for major articles are now being included for contributions in the Reports section and will offer readers helpful summaries of their main points. A new section, "Current Applications," was also introduced. Items in this section present work conducted by anthropologists who address the problems and needs of specific communities, collectivities, organizations and agencies.  This section supports the commitment of the journal to discuss the role of anthropology, not only in the academy but also in public life. Finally, there was a change in frequency of publication of the journal, which will now be published six times a year rather than five. This is largely a response to the steady flow of excellent manuscripts and to our desire to recognize and accommodate the continuing growth of anthropology.

Dr. Orlove, who has been editor of CA since 2000, will be retiring from the editorship in spring 2008.  The Foundation, in collaboration with University of Chicago Press, launched an international search for a new editor in November 2006 and a new editor will be appointed in May 2007.

The Wenner-Gren/University of Pennsylvania Casting Program

From 1962 to 1975, the Wenner-Gren Foundation sent mold makers to virtually every major hominid fossil site in the world. The resulting AnthroCast Program was the primary source of fossil casts relevant to human and primate evolution until it was terminated in the late 1970s. Since that time the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has held the Wenner-Gren collection of molds and has been able to provide a limited number of casts to the anthropological community. The Foundation is currently working with Dr. Janet Monge and the Penn casting program to bring some of these casts back into commercial production. We hope to interest a commercial casting company in working with us to this end. The main purpose behind this initiative is to provide a much needed service to the field while at the same time ensuring that royalties for the casts are returned to the museums that hold the original fossils.
The Historical Archive Program

The Foundation continues to help preserve the history of anthropology by assisting senior scholars with archiving their personal research . Awards in 2006 included funding to prepare the research materials and professional papers of Ruth Bunzel, Carol Kramer, and Alan Harwood for archival deposit at the National Anthropological Archives in Suitland, Maryland, as well as Taras Mikhaylov’s personal research collection on Siberian shamanism with the Historical Museum of Buryatia in Ulan–Ude, Russia. The HAP also provides limited support for small-scale oral-history projects, either with eminent figures from discipline history or team members involved in landmark research projects. To this end, Dr. Frances Joan Mathien (Albuquerque, New Mexico) was granted funding to carry out oral-history interviews with anthropologists who participated in the Chaco Canyon field schools of the 1930s and 1940s, as well as members from the Chaco Project (1969-1985), to gain a richer understanding of how project direction, student responsibilities, and other activities (that may or may not have been part of formal training) were assigned and conducted at the Chaco Canyon site.