Anthropology professor Sarah Lamb named a 2019 Andrew Carnegie Fellow

Professor of Anthropology Sarah lamb, seated wearing glasses and gray checked blazerPhoto/Mike Lovett

Sarah Lamb

Professor of Anthropology Sarah Lamb, a cultural anthropologist who focuses on aging and gender, has been named a 2019 Andrew Carnegie Fellow. Lamb is the first Brandeis faculty member to receive a so-called “Brainy Award” from the program, in which scholars receive a $200,000 grant to devote time to research, writing and publishing in the humanities and social sciences.

The program has provided $32 million in grants to more than 160 fellows since 2015. Its overall objective is to offer fresh perspectives on the humanities and solutions to the urgent issues of today. Lamb was one of 32 fellows selected from more than 300 applicants nominated by their university presidents.

Lamb’s recent research has focused on perspectives of “successful aging,” the concept that individuals can postpone or even eliminate the negatives of old age by medical intervention and individual effort. She will use the grant to expand the cultural reach of her studies, adding more diverse populations in the U.S. and expanding her international research from India, where she has already engaged in research, to China. The research will be conducted over a two year period, and Lamb intends to publish her findings in a book.

“How societies construct aging culturally, legally, medically, and institutionally is a pressing global issue of human existence and human rights,” Lamb said. “By bringing together diverse perspectives, my aim is to illuminate taken-for-granted assumptions, helping people envision other, more humane possibilities for making lives meaningful in older age, and diminish social inequalities tied to current successful aging visions.”

A distinguished panel of 16 jurors chose the fellows based on the quality, originality, and potential impact of their proposals, as well as each scholar’s capacity to communicate the findings to a broad audience. The jurors are all scholars and intellectual leaders from some of the world’s leading educational institutions, foundations, and scholarly societies, and six are either current or former university presidents.

“Professor Lamb perfectly embodies anthropology’s mission to make the strange familiar and the familiar strange, in order to help us out of the cultural boxes in which we live — and age,” said Brandeis University Provost Lisa M. Lynch. “Her research will continue to provide us with a better understanding of how elders in diverse social circumstances and cultural contexts relate to the prevailing ideas of so-called successful aging.”

Categories: Humanities and Social Sciences, Research

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