Remembering Sally Merry: Kate Sullivan

I am deeply appreciative of all Sally Merry did to keep scholarly publication merit-based and democratic in Anthrosource.  She worked in many registers to support our peer-reviewed niche journals as well as our flagship journals. As a solution-focused scholar, she helped negotiate the Anthrosource contracts, worked to ensure that the royalties were equitably shared, and to ensure that AAA would continue to foster our wide array of rigorous, peer-reviewed publications that serve as the foundation of merit-based, as opposed to prestige-based or class-based, scholarly publication. As an exemplar of collegiality, Sally shared kind words, her time, and her knowledge with APLA as we made our way through the ever-shifting terrain of scholarly publishing in our efforts to secure the long-term viability of PoLAR. In my work as Section Treasurer, her words of advice were invaluable. Of course, I already miss looking forward to vibrant provocative new texts to read, and to hearing Sally’s wonderfully thoughtful public presentations. But perhaps what I value most is the way Sally treated all of her colleagues, regardless of institutional affiliation or scholarly fame, with respect and with a sense of empathy for the dignity and worth of every working anthropologist. More than 10 years ago, I asked Sally if she would have time to read an introduction to a symposium that I was submitting, and said she probably did not remember me but that I could use her feedback. Responding the next day, Sally sent a most gracious email saying that she did remember me, thanked me for my contributions to APLA, and told me that it was an interesting, well-done, and important symposium. Her kind suggestions on my text were spot-on, and clearly demonstrated that she had read my text carefully. I deeply appreciated her simple act of encouragement in that email response. Some time later, she took an hour to meet with a few of my MA students, who had read and discussed some of her work. My students are not at an R-1 PhD granting institution and are keenly aware of class differences intrinsic to university life. Sally’s sincere interest in their questions and arguments gave them confidence to speak up, even as she set a shining example of how people should treat one another. I shall miss Sally very much.

About Jennifer Curtis

Jennifer Curtis is an Honorary Fellow in Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh:

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