Professor of anthropology Deborah Durham has received three awards to support her work while she is on sabbatical next year. In March, she learned that she is one of the 8 percent of applicants nationwide and one of three in Virginia to receive a 2014 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend. The $6,000 award will support her project on “Elusive Adulthood in Botswana.”
The second award is a Fulbright Scholar Grant for field research in the fall of 2014 to explore how people in Botswana today approach “adulthood” — a concept that has gained new meaning and greater stakes in its attainment because of changing social and economic conditions in the country. Durham’s new work picks up on research she conducted in the 1990s on youth and youth groups in Botswana, which resulted in several publications.
“I will talk to youth I knew in the early 1990s about their own lives,” she says. “I will also meet with people in organizations based in schools, churches and business circles to discuss their ideas, and strike up conversations in malls and markets.”
This is Durham’s second NEH Summer Stipend, and third Fulbright grant.
She also was awarded a Sweet Briar faculty fellowship for spring 2015. During that time she will work on a monograph on changing ideas of youth and adulthood in Botswana. She will edit a volume on the anthropology of adulthood.
“The sense that adulthood is elusive, unattainable for some, or insecure or unrecognizable for others, is common around the world,” Durham says. “Yet while we can see commonalities — unrealized economic hopes, a connection of growing up with improved class status — the problems, discussions and creative solutions to elusive adulthood vary in fascinating ways around the world.”
The edited volume will include chapters by anthropologists on Japan, China, India, Georgia, Egypt, Sudan, Papua New Guinea and Botswana.