The Association for Feminist Anthropology is delighted to announce two winners for the 2017 Michelle Z. Rosaldo Book Prize. Both books honor the legacy of Michelle Z. Rosaldo by being adventurous first books which promise to make a lasting contribution to the discipline.
We are delighted to offer the Rosaldo Prize to Saida Hodžić, for her book The Twilight of Cutting: African Activism and Life after NGOs, University of California Press. In this ambitious and courageous ethnography, Hodžić analyzes how the same historical period in which the Ghanaian government and Ghanaian citizens outlawed and rejected female genital cutting, feminist activists from in and out of Ghana began to focus on cutting as a human rights crisis, thereby creating campaigns to stop a practice that was already nearly extinct. Hodžić situates this paradox in a variety of settings: NGOs, courtrooms and private homes. She identifies a central political tension that has allowed cutting to become a defining anxiety in national Ghanaian public culture, deeply unequal access to political and economic power between the northern and southern regions of the country. She asks readers to move beyond two common liberal impulses, either defending genital cutting as part of local cultural tradition or arguing that cutting should only be policed by local women. Instead, she interrogates the theoretical and historical foundations of conceptions of care and freedom while calling for a feminist ethics that remains engaged in fundamentally anthropological questions of difference.
Saida Hodžić is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Cornell University. Her current research, Humanitarian Encounters, examines the intersections of moral sentiments and ordinary affects in humanitarian projects and their afterlives.
The jury is also delighted to offer the Rosaldo Prize to Emilia Sanabria, for her book Plastic Bodies: Sex Hormones and Menstrual Suppression in Brazil, Duke University Press. Sanabria brings together detailed ethnography with sophisticated theories of medical and feminist anthropology through a classically feminist lens: the intersection of sex and gender. At the center of this book are hormones, a human essence that is made animate through medical and popular practice in Bahia, Brazil. Sanabria’s ethnography moves from clinics to archives to bars, showing how hormones are “sexed” in medical discourse and popular use. Initially promoted as a path to modern femininity, through contraception and especially menstrual suppression, synthetic hormones have become nodes through which experts, state officials and patients alike think of sex and gender in much more complex ways, contributing to a sex/gender universe that is not binary and cannot be mapped onto exclusively male or female bodies. The book connects feminist theory to science, technology and medical anthropology through emphasizing a central anthropological question about the malleability of the body.
Emilia Sanabria is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon. Her current research examines the circulation, translation and reinvention of ayahuasca as a healing modality.
The Michelle Z. Rosaldo Book Prize is given biennially to outstanding first books that exemplify feminist anthropological theory and ethnography and that move the field in bold new directions. It honors the legacy of Michelle Z. Rosaldo, who was one of the earliest theorists in feminist anthropology. With Louise Lamphere, she was the co-editor of Woman, Culture and Society, the 1974 volume that helped launch the field, and in other writings shaped critical thought in feminist anthropology for decades to follow.
The AFA invites all AAA members to attend the AFA Business Meeting in which these two outstanding books will be recognized at the AAA annual meeting, Thursday, 30 November, 12:15pm.