Elizabeth Colson, winner of the 2015 Constantine Panunzio Distinguished Emeriti Award

August 28, 2015
Friday, August 28, 2015 - 10:00

The UC Berkeley Anthropology Department is happy to announce that our own Professor Emerita of Anthropology, Elizabeth Colson, has been awarded the 2015 Constantine Panunzio Distinguished Emeriti Award, along with Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Pavel Machotka of UC Santa Cruz. 
Both professors have especially long and notable records of research, teaching, and service to the University of California, their disciplines, and their communities.  The late Dr. Panunzio, a Professor of Sociology at UCLA for many years, has been described as the architect of the UC Retirement System and was particularly active in improving pensions and stipends for his fellow Emeriti.  The award bearing his name was established in 1983 and includes a $5,000 prize.

Elizabeth Colson, UC Berkeley

Elizabeth Colson, Professor of Anthropology, is best known for her ethnographic fieldwork in Zambia, Africa since the 1950s, resulting in long-term studies of social change caused by forced resettlement, and theoretical contributions to applied, development, and political anthropology.  Her work included coding for computer analysis demographic data gathered from three Gwembe villages and she translated and transcribed diaries kept by village research assistants.  For Professor Colson, fieldwork is a way of life; she is never not doing fieldwork. 

In 1971, way before it become vogue, she was writing about the impact of colonialism on a changing Africa.  Her approach is eclectic and problem-oriented, her theory more fine grained than grand. Professor Colson’s published work has dealt with various subjects: the history of American Anthropology, the foundation of the Association of Social Anthropologists, longitudinal research, the consequences of forced migration, linkages as a research method, the emergence of the Development/Humanitarian Community, emergent ethnicity, political organization, the work of courts, the impact of HIV/AIDS, war and violence, witchcraft, and the role of shrines.  She follows the sequence of events from the original upheaval to the present, from the point of view of those coping.  Professor Colson is a consequence specialist. 

Since retiring in 1984, she has continued research, publication, and participation in academic meetings and conferences, in addition to serving on two dissertation committees, reading manuscripts, and working with anthropology students and scholars at Berkeley and from around the world.  Professor Colson has also generously shared her time and expertise with the University of Zambia, the Refugee Studies Programme at Oxford University, and the National Academy of Sciences as well as contributing to research collections at the UC Berkeley Bancroft Library, Phoebe Hearst Museum and the University of Zambia.  She has received a number of recognitions and honors for her post-retirement work on three continents including being named Emerita of the Year by the UC Berkeley Emeriti Association in 2014.

Professor Colson’s contributions continue to enrich: as a teacher still advising researchers, as a volunteer for the Refugee Studies Centre, and as a participant in Zambia and international meetings.

Please join us in congratulating Professor Colson on winning the 2015 Constantine Panunzio Distinguished Emeriti Award.