Jeanne Simonelli

2015 Sol Tax Distinguished Service Award 

tax_simonelli.jpgJeanne Simonelli is an applied cultural anthropologist, writer and activist recently retired from teaching after 26 years split between Wake Forest University and SUNY-Oneonta. Like Sherlock Holmes, she is author of a huge number of infinitely boring but scientifically significant monographs. She has published four books with good titles, Uprising of Hope: Sharing the Zapatista Journey to Autonomous Development  (2005); Crossing Between Worlds: The Navajo of Canyon de Chelly  (2008; 1997); Too Wet To Plow: The Family Farm in Transition (1992) and Two Boys, A Girl, and Enough! (1986). She has spent summers wearing a Smoky-the-Bear hat as an interpretive Park Ranger at Canyon de Chelly National Monument, doing development projects with a rebel organization in southern Mexico and guiding tours at an historic silver mine in Leadville, CO.. She is currently working with communities facing hydraulic fracturing and its infrastructure, but promises not to talk about fracking.  Her goal in life is to have her unpublished novel, The Turquoise Trail, featured  in the Albuquerque Airport bookstore.

Simonelli received all of her education at the University of Oklahoma, including a BA, MA and PhD in Anthropology.  But it was during her MPH at the OU Health Sciences Center that Dr. Tom May introduced her to SfAA, through the 1987 meeting in San Diego.

While chair and professor of anthropology at the State University of New York in Oneonta, she developed and guided an undergraduate major in applied anthropology. At Wake Forest she helped to construct a minor that brought anthropology and business students together. In both these locations she took students to the field in places where they could learn the ways in which applied skills and knowledge could be used by the communities who engage us in their on-going projects. These field experiences have included  Oklahoma, Mexico, the Southwest, rural New York,  Jerusalem and other locales that are united by the broad theme of change and choice in difficult situations.

During this continuing odyssey she completed a six year appointment as co-editor of Practicing Anthropology which provided her with a broad knowledge and respect for the areas in which SfAA’s members work, as well as the ways in which greater communication might assist us as practitioners and teachers.  This was enhanced by her experience as Program Chair for the 2009 SfAA Annual Meeting in Santa Fe, which also highlighted the places where the participation of other applied social scientists and practitioners would help us extend our interdisciplinary mission.  Editing PA also accentuated the importance of good writing as a way for us to be heard beyond the academy, and this continues now in her co-editorship of the journal Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment (CAFÉ).

Among other SfAA experiences, she has had the honor of mentoring a winner of the Peter K.New Award. Most recently, helpedorganize the energy related ExtrACTION TIG, which is sponsoring 91 papers at this meeting. In 2012 she was co-organizer of the SAR/SfAA Plenary Special Seminar  Artisan Production in the World MarketA co-edited volume based on the seminar and the SfAA plenary entitled Artisans and Advocates in the Global Market:  Walking the Heart Path will appear  in 2015.

According to Simonelli, since attending that first SfAA meeting in 1987, interacting with the membership of the Society has helped her to learn their particular skills and strengths and how her own energies can be used. It was the ideal first encounter for a student, and she remains committed to policies that enhance our ability to reach out and include all constituencies, from community colleagues to student members to over-worked practitioners and committed university-based teachers. 

She currently travels between upstate NY, coastal NC and the Southwest with her patient, four legged hiking companion, Gandalf.