Orange Alert

Deborah Pellow to Receive Wasserstrom Prize for Graduate Teaching

Anthrolopgy professor known for 'strong bond' with Ph.D. students

May 9, 2019, by Robert M Enslin

Deborah Pellow
Deborah Pellow

Deborah Pellow, professor of anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, is the 2019 recipient of the William Wasserstrom Prize for the Teaching of Graduate Students.

A&S Dean Karin Ruhlandt will confer the prize on her at the Graduate School Doctoral Hooding Ceremony on Friday, May 10.

The prize memorializes William Wasserstrom, a noted English professor at Syracuse, who died in 1985. “Deborah Pellow embodies his approach as a graduate seminar leader, research and dissertation director, advisor and role model,” Ruhlandt says.

A multidisciplinary scholar, Pellow specializes in urban studies, the anthropology of space and place, and feminism, with emphasis on West Africa. 

She is the author of five books, including the forthcoming “Living Afar, Longing for Home: The Role of Place in the Creation of the Dagomba New Elite”—drawing on more than four decades of research in Ghana, the past 15 years of which have been spent in the country's Northern Region. 

Douglas Armstrong, professor and chair of anthropology in A&S and Maxwell, notes the “strong bond” between Pellow and her graduate students. “It is a relationship characterized by intensive mentoring and impressive dedication,” he says.

Armstrong also mentions Pellow’s “open-door policy,” in which she invites students into her home for a delicious meal or quiet place to study. Pellow’s Thanksgiving Dinner, in fact, is a departmental tradition. “People come for the food, but stay for the conversation,” he adds.

Many of Pellow’s students have found their calling in academe. Fritz Lampe G’03, G’06, for example, teaches anthropology at Northern Arizona University.

“Deborah’s fieldwork experience, intellectual perspective and comfort in entertaining new data sets, collaborative relationships and ethnographic voice [have] created space for lively conversations,” says Lampe, also a campus pastor. “Her commitment to giving back to the department, the University and professional societies has inspired me to do the same.”

Other former students echo these sentiments. Richard L. Warms G’84, G’87, professor of anthropology at Texas State University, regards Pellow as an “ideal intellectual sparring partner”—someone who encourages students to “think deeply and challenge received ideas.”

Anthony Kwame Harrison G’99, G’04, the Gloria D. Smith Professor of Africana Studies, as well as associate professor of sociology and Africana studies at Virginia Tech, praises her “unwavering guidance, wisdom, and love,” all of which have influenced his own professional trajectory.

For Pellow, the Wasserstrom Prize joins other honors from Syracuse, including A&S and Maxwell's 2016 Faculty Advisor of the Year award.

Robert A. Rubinstein, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and professor of international relations, considers Pellow a friend and colleague. “To say Deborah is involved in the life of the University is almost an understatement. Recognition for her decades of dedicated service to and care for doctoral education is richly deserved,” he says.


Deborah Pellow Professor

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Robert M Enslin