Dorothy L. Hodgson
Rutgers University – New Brunswick
I am a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University, where I have taught since 1995. At Rutgers, I am a founding member of the Center for African Studies, an affiliate of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, a former Chair and Graduate Director in anthropology, and past Director of the Institute for Research on Women. I have also served as President of the National Association for Feminist Anthropology.
I became an Africanist in 1985, when I spent three years working for and then leading the community development team of the local Catholic diocese in Arusha, Tanzania. During that time, I traveled throughout the diocese, meeting with community members (most of whom self-identified as Maasai) to discuss their problems and priorities. My experiences and the questions they raised – about the value of development, tensions between men and women, and more – sent me to graduate school in anthropology at the University of Michigan (PhD 1995) and have defined the trajectory of my career and my long-term political and intellectual commitment to research in Tanzania.
In addition to numerous other publications, I have authored three books: Being Maasai, Becoming Indigenous: Postcolonial Politics in a Neoliberal World (Indiana, 2011, awarded Honorable Mention for the Senior Book Prize of the American Ethnological Society), The Church of Women: Gendered Encounters Between Maasai and Missionaries (Indiana, 2005), and Once Intrepid Warriors: Gender, Ethnicity and the Cultural Politics of Maasai Development (Indiana, 2001); and edited or co-edited four others: Gender and Culture at the Limit of Rights (Pennsylvania, 2011), Gendered Modernities: Ethnographic Perspectives (Palgrave, 2001), Rethinking Pastoralism in Africa: Gender, Culture and the Myth of the Patriarchal Pastoralist (James Currey, 2000), and “Wicked” Women and the Reconfiguration of Gender in Africa (Heinemann, 2001, with Sheryl McCurdy). My research and writing have been supported by awards from the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, two Faculty Fellowships from the NEH, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Fulbright-Hays, ACLS, NSF, American Philosophical Society, Wenner-Gren, SSRC, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.
I have been a member of the ASA since the late 1980s. From 1997 to 2000 I served on the ASA Board of Directors, where, among other duties, I coordinated the strategic planning effort and served on the Executive Committee. I have also been a long-time member of the Women’s Caucus (including eight years on the Steering Committee, 1998-2006) and the Tanzania Studies Association.
I believe that the ASA is at a critical juncture with the wane of non-security related funding for area studies generally, and African studies specifically, in the US. We must do more to communicate the significance of our research within and beyond academic venues, seek support for crucial language and area training, and promote the education and careers of the next generation of Africanist scholars at home and abroad. If elected, I would work vigorously to support these goals by networking with foundations and other organizations in the US and abroad; using social media to better communicate ASA’s mission and initiatives to our members, the public, and the media; and collaborating with the ASA Board and members to develop projects such as mentoring programs for graduate students, new online publication venues, expanded financial support for language training and research, and workshops on editorial writing, blogging, and other kinds of public communication and advocacy.