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In Memoriam. Joan M. Gero 19442016.

Article in The South African Archaeological Bulletin June 2017

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96 South African Archaeological Bulletin 72 (205): 96, 2017

In Memoriam

JOAN M. GERO 19442016


The world became a lesser place with the passing of Professor In all of these WAC roles, Professor Gero saw, and under-
Joan Gero on 14 July 2016. stood, the complexities of every situation: the ironies, the
Joan Gero was born on 26 May 1944. She was an eminent contradictions, the ethical dilemmas. She did not make
scholar in the socio-politics of archaeology, the archaeology of decisions easily or lightly. Instead, she considered issues
gender, archaeological ethics, and South American archaeol- deeply, looking for faults in the logic, alternatives that had not
ogy. With Margaret Conkey, she co-edited the seminal volume been considered, ways of improving the process or the out-
Engendering Archaeology: Women and Prehistory (1991), which come (e.g. Gero 1985, 1994, 2007). We will miss her critical and
has been reprinted six times. Her most recent publications creative mind.
include The evolution of happiness (Loring & Gero 2012), An inspiring and generous teacher, Professor Joan Geros
published in Archaeologies: The Journal of the World Archaeological legacy survives through her students, peers and the other
Congress, and Yutopian: Archaeology, Ambiguity and the Production scholars she motivated to share her vision. She was trained at
of Knowledge in Northwest Argentina (Gero 2015). the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where her principal
At the time of her passing, Joan Gero was Professor advisor was Martin Wobst.
Emerita, American University, In the last months of her life,
Washington, DC, and a Research Professor Gero continued her ser-
Associate with the Department of vice to WAC through supporting
Anthropology at the Smithsonian the possibility of a bid for WAC-9 in
Institution. Prior to this, Professor Cuba. She worked to bring about a
Gero taught at the University of fairer world for all through her
South Carolina (USA). She held active support of Bernie Sanders
visiting professorships at Cam- campaign to become the Demo-
bridge University (UK), Univer- cratic nominee for the 2016 presi-
sidad Nacional de Catamarca dential elections in the USA.
(Argentina), Universidad Nacio- While looking forward to
nal del Centro de Buenos Aires, attending the WAC-8 in Kyoto,
Olavarra (Argentina), and the Japan, Professor Gero passed
Universities of Ume and Uppsala away shortly after returning from
(Sweden). Through these appoint- Argentina, a country that she
ments, Professor Gero shaped loved.
archaeological thinking in many World archaeology has been
parts of the world. greatly enriched by the efforts, vision and generosity of Profes-
Over many decades, Professor Joan Geros efforts, vision sor Joan Gero over many decades. Her work continues through
and generosity enriched archaeology globally. This is evident the people she inspired, supported and loved.
in the prestigious awards she has received. For instance, she
received three Fulbright awards: (i) a Fulbright-Hays Grant for References
graduate study in Peru (19781980), (ii) a Fulbright Research Conkey, M. & Gero, J. 1997. Programme to practice: gender and femi-
nism in archaeology. Annual Review of Anthropology 26: 411437.
and Teaching Award for her work at the Universidad Nacional
de Catamarca in Argentina (1994), and (iii) a Fulbright Senior Gero, J. 1985 Socio-politics of archaeology and the woman-at-home
ideology. American Antiquity 50: 342350.
Specialist to Colombia in South America (2009). Her contribu-
Gero, J. 1991. Genderlithics: womens roles in stone tool production. In:
tions to the Fulbright Program included being a member of the
Gero, J. & Conkey, M. (eds) Engendering Archaeology: Women and
Fulbright Selection Board for the Southern Cone Region of Prehistory: 163193. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
South America, in 1998 and 1999. She also hosted Fulbright Gero, J. 1994. Excavation bias and the woman-at-home ideology. In:
scholars from around the world. Nelson, M., Nelson, S. & Wylie, A. (eds) Equity Issues for Women in
Professor Gero worked tirelessly for the World Archaeolog- Archaeology: 3742. Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropo-
ical Congress (WAC) over many decades (Smith 2016). She was logical Association No 5. Washington DC: American Anthropological
the nationally elected senior North American representative Association.
for WAC from 1999 to 2008. When the arrangements to hold Gero, J. 2007. Honoring ambiguity/problematizing certitude. Journal of
WAC-5 in Brazil fell through due to a major change in the Archaeological Method and Theory 14: 311 327.
DOI: 10.1007/s10816-007-9037-1.
economic circumstances of the country, Professor Gero agreed
Gero, J. 2015. Yutopian: Archaeology, Ambiguity and the Production of
to take on hosting the event herself. WAC-5 was held in Wash-
Knowledge in Northwest Argentina. Austin: University of Texas Press.
ington, DC, in June 2003. It supported some 230 participants
Gero, J. & Conkey, M. 1991. Engendering Archaeology: Women and Prehis-
from indigenous groups and low-income countries, and tory. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
provided a surplus that put WAC on a secure financial footing
Loring, S. & Gero, J. 2012. The evolution of happiness Archaeologies:
for the first time in its history. From 2003 to 2008, Professor Journal of the World Archaeological Congress: 376402.
Gero was Series Editor of the One World Archaeology series, then DOI: 10.1007/s11759-012-9208-x
published by Left Coast Press. Her other WAC commitments Smith, C. 2016. Joan M. Gero 19442016. Available at: http://worldarch.
included becoming a founding member of the Advisory Board org/blog/joan-m-gero-1944-2016/
for Archaeologies: The Journal of the World Archaeological Congress Claire Smith
in 2003, and serving as a member of WACs Standing Commit- Flinders University, South Australia
tee on Ethics from 2007. E-mail: claire.smith@flinders.edu.au

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