Paul E. Farmer

1999 Margaret Mead Award Recipient

Paul E. Farmer is the recipient of the 1999 Margaret Mead Award. Dr. Farmer, an Associate Professor in Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, is that rare combination of an anthropologist/physician, receiving both the M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University in 1990. As one of his nomination letters put it, "Dr. Farmer is at the forefront of scholarly efforts to understand the impact of social inequalities worldwide on emerging infectious diseases, and he is at the forefront of applied efforts to do something about these linked problems." Another letter praised Dr. Farmer, "Paul Farmer is a unique individual whose intellectual talents, passion for justice, and commitment to scholarship and teaching seem to know no bounds." Dr. Farmer has created a public voice for anthropology on important issues of worldwide disease and social justice while maintaining high credibility in scholarly circles in both anthropology and medicine. His first book, AIDS and Accusation: Haiti and the Geography of Blame (1992, University of California Press) epitomizes his approach and has rapidly become a classic in the literature. His subsequent works are equally impressive. Dr. Farmer has contributed to the merging of policy and political critique without compromising either and demonstrating effectiveness and creativity in both. He unflinchingly confronts important challenges to applied anthropology and anthropology more generally, of bridging disciplines and worlds, and bringing medical care to chronically underserved, marginalized and stigmatized populations. Dr. Farmer's work stands as a example of the very best of Margaret Mead's legacy in its combination of accessible scholarly writing and high profile public service.