President’s Message

Soul Food

James F. Brooks, President and CEOJames F. Brooks, President and CEOJames F. Brooks, President and CEO

We at the School, like you, are often overwhelmed when confronted by the weight of hardship and trauma endured by our fellow humans in the contemporary world. And like you, we embrace and strive to support research and creative expression that may alleviate, in some particular way, those daily burdens. We hunger for answers and action. Our work this past year manifests this concern in many ways, as in seminars addressing vulnerability to security threats like pandemics, natural disasters, and scarcities in food, water, and medical care, or the role of social networks in delivering assistance to victims of such disasters. Through such seminars, we work to inform policy that will provide relief in a very real sense. So, too, with scholarly work that illuminates the forces behind grazing range desertification in Mongolia and innovative efforts to prevent language loss among the most threatened of the world’s indigenous peoples. Our publishing program features books that demonstrate the delicate relationship between natural science and spiritual beliefs in environmental movements, the ethical tensions involved in sharing anthropological knowledge with national security agencies, and the imperiled interdependency between salmon species and indigenous nations in the North Pacific.

“Hippocrates: And what, Socrates, is the food of the soul?
Socrates: Surely, I said, knowledge is the food of the soul.—Plato’s “Protagoras”

And yet we know, like Socrates, that humankind harbors another kind of hunger, one that lies beyond immediate material concerns and dwells in the very dimensions, however shadowy, that make us so unusual among the breadth of species—a hunger that can only be satisfied by the exquisitely executed poem, song, or Acoma water olla. The elegance of Janice Gould’s “Conditions for Poetry” surely satisfies one form of that soulful hunger, as does the careful archival research of Margaret Bruchac in tracing the complex relationships that formed between early anthropologists and their Native “informants” as the field stumbled toward professional status. Little did Dr. Cynthia Chavez Lamar imagine, when she gathered six moccasin makers to assess the state of the fiftyfour pairs of moccasins in the Indian Arts Research Collection, that two years later those conversations would have inspired a rebirth of the tradition among six Native nations, a traveling exhibition, and a documentary film. Our rapidly growing field trip and lecture programs seek to satisfy our members’ hunger for in-depth, one-of-a-kind cultural and artistic experiences or first-hand encounters with extraordinary literary talents like Téa Obreht, winner of the 2011 Orange Prize for her novel The Tiger’s Wife.

2011–2012 Annual Review2011–2012 Annual ReviewRecipe § Mole Verde y Pollo
2011–2012 Annual ReviewRecipe § Mole Verde y Pollo

Please keep these two aspects of hunger in mind—the material and immediate; the intimate, aesthetic, and enduring—as you review the work of the School in these pages.

And thank you for being a part of SAR’s story,

—James F. Brooks,
President and CEO

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