A visit to Princeton

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Although I had never been to Princeton and Paul hadn't been in years, we were amazed to be invited to two events there on the same day. One was a networking event for Princeton alumni and the other was a lecture entitled "Mushrooms and the History of the World" presented by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Professor of Anthropology, University of California - Santa Cruz. I went to Villanova with Paul and read while he was teaching his two classes, after which we had lunch in the faculty dining room. We had a nice drive up to Princeton and went first to the Graduate School, where we toured the main building and walked up the narrow staircase to the top of Cleveland Tower for wonderful views of the campus and town. Paul showed me his old rooms and other haunts and then we drove over to the main campus where we parked to walk to the lecture. Lucky for us, however, a campus bus pulled alongside and the driver offered us a ride. She was friendly and knowledgeable about the university, so it was like having a quick private guided tour.

The lecture was fascinating. A few folks from NJMA attended, and the rest appeared to be faculty and students. From the lecture description: "[Anna Lowenhaupt] Tsing is widely known for her path breaking book In the Realm of the Diamond Queen: Marginality in an Out-of-the-Way Place (Princeton, 1993). She has created new ethnographic genres so as to write about the experience of global marginality in remotest Indonesia and she is renowned as well for her contrarian account of globalization (in her celebrated Friction: an Ethnography of Global Connection, Princeton, 2005). Currently working on margins of other kinds (indeed, the question of how margins are made, and what they mean, is her main question), she is exploring the scientific construction of nature, and its challenges to anthropology. Tsing’s breadth of vision and imagination has influenced generations of students – earning her a place in the current cannon in contemporary ethnography."

We also enjoyed the networking event, an opportunity to meet other alumni of the graduate school and students in their final year.