Syracuse Symposium to Recognize Careers of Professors Wadley, Gold Feb. 26
Duo will be feted at blue-ribbon panel discussion on South Asian ethnography
Syracuse Symposium continues its yearlong foray into “Stories” with a panel discussion on South Asian ethnography on Tuesday, Feb. 26.
Recognizing the careers of Professors Susan S. Wadley and Ann Grodzins Gold, the event includes guest panelists Kirin Narayan (Australian National University), Joyce Flueckiger (Emory University), Corinne Dempsey G’96 (Nazareth College) and Priti Ramamurthy G’95 (University of Washington).
The discussion is free and open to the public, and takes place from 7-9 p.m. in the Dr. Paul & Natalie Strasser Legacy Room (220 Eggers Hall). For more information, contact the Humanities Center in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) at 315.443.7192 or visit humcenter.syr.edu.
Wadley and Gold also are involved with “From Gods to Social Justice: Indian Folk Artists Challenging Traditions,” running from April 6-May 18 at the ArtRage Gallery (505 Hawley Ave., Syracuse). The opening reception for the exhibition, which represents two painting styles from eastern India, is Saturday, April 6, from 7-9 p.m.
A&S recently caught up with both professors, who have enjoyed prolific careers in A&S and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
Sue, you hold multiple positions, including the Ford-Maxwell Professor of South Asian Studies. What will you miss most about Syracuse, when you retire in June?
Wadley: I love teaching ANT 185, “Global Encounters: Comparing World Views and Values Cross Culturally.” It’s an introductory course focusing on war, organ transfers, surrogate mothers and global tourism. It usually attracts about 200 students.
I also will miss the Coronat Scholars Program, of which I am founding director. This fall marks our 16th incoming class.
Most of all, I'll miss my great graduate students.
Is it true, Ann, that you’ve already retired?
Gold: Officially, my first day [of retirement] was January 1, 2019. I spent it with my husband in an Indian ashram, which he has been visiting since the Sixties.
I miss everyone at Syracuse—my colleagues, my students, our wonderful staff, the vital interdisciplinary conversations. I’ve had a fortunate career here.
You were the Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion, in addition to being an anthropology professor. How do you define ethnography?
Gold: There are many definitions, but, to me, it means writing based on living in a place, as part of a community or even as part of another family.
India must seem like a second home to you.
Gold: Fieldwork depends on interpersonal relationships, and there are risks of them souring, of unfulfilled expectations. The rewards of incorporation—into a community and a family—and of learning whole worlds from people seem to outweigh the risks. The work is worth the struggle.
Wadley: Our fieldwork is very basic—no electricity nor amenities. Through our research, we’ve gained major insights into how women live their daily lives.
You’ve assembled a remarkable panel, some of whom have Syracuse connections.
Gold: Corrine [Dempsey] was my first graduate advisee. I have enjoyed seeing her work take remarkable, new directions. Corrine’s latest book is about spirit work in Iceland.
Wadley: My memory is that her doctoral dissertation and first book grew out of a course that I taught.
Priti [Ramamurthy] and I worked closely together when she was a student and later in her various roles at Syracuse, including associate director of the South Asia Center [in the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs] and a faculty member in the Department of Women's and Gender Studies [in A&S].
Gold: Although I never taught Priti, we are now friends and colleagues.
I feel like we’ve known Kirin [Narayan] and Joyce [Flueckiger] forever—our work is closely intertwined. Our shared reliance on intimate ethnography and many forms of narrative is pivotal to our enduring sense of connection.
How will you spend retirement?
Wadley: Gardening, when the weather is nice. Also quilting, which is my second love. Grandchildren and more.
Gold: I am figuring it out as I go along.
The panel discussion is co-sponsored by the Department of Religion (A&S), the Department of Anthropology (Maxwell), the South Asia Center, the Humanities Center (A&S) and the Ray Smith Symposium (A&S).