Friday, April 01, 2011

Norma Diamond, RIP

Norma Diamond, a pioneering anthropologist who has done work in China, Taiwan and elsewhere, has passed. Very sad. This made the rounds:

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Dear Colleagues,

It is with sadness that I announce that Norma Diamond, Professor Emerita, Anthropology, of the University of Michigan, has died. Originally from New York, Norma was living in retirement in Gainesville, Florida, but her heart remained in her adopted home town of Ann Arbor, where her ashes will be placed.

I'm sure many of you knew Professor Diamond's sparkling and insight-filled work on Chinese women, economy, minorities, and religion. She leaves many students in the field of China studies to carry on her legacy of courageous truth-telling.

In 2005 a panel at the American Anthropological Association was devoted to Norma's work. Titled ender, Power, and Ethnicity in China: Papers in Honor of Norma Diamond,?the panel featured several former students who presented work inspired by Norma's example.

Norma was a broadly trained social scientist and Sinologist who read extremely broadly and wrote extremely cogently. She earned her PhD at the University of Wisconsin and taught at the University of Michigan for more than thirty years, where she was a pioneer in women's studies, as well as Asian studies. She wrote a single-authored monograph, K'un Shen: A Taiwan Village and many seminal articles such as "The Status of Women in Taiwan: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back," "Collectivization, Kinship, and the Status of Women in Rural China," Women Under Kuomintang Rule: Variations on the Feminine Mystique," "Model Villages and Village Realities," "Taitou Revisited: State Policies and Social Change," "Rural Collectivization and Decollectivization in China Review Article," he Miao and Poison: Interactions on China Frontier?(winner of the Murdock Prize), efining the Miao: Ming, Qing, and Contemporary Views,?and hristianity and the Hua Miao: Writing and Power.?/span> Her book reviews were models of clarity and sometimes wry forcefulness.

Norma never shied away from honest criticism, even of her own earlier positions. She followed the news of contemporary China with love and often disappointment; her hopes had been high for this other homeland of hers. A fierce believer in equality and justice, she found all too much inequality and injustice.

Her voice will never be imitated. But it will be missed.

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A Partial Bibliography:

Diamond, Norma. 1969. Kun Shen: A Taiwan Village. Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
__________ . 1973. The Status of Women in Taiwan: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.?In Marilyn B. Young, ed. Women in China: Studies in Social Change and Feminism. Pp. 211-242. Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan.
__________ . 1975a. Collectivization, Kinship, and the Status of Women in Rural China.?span style="mso-spacerun: yes"> Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars. Vol. 7 no. 1: 25-35. Also published in Rayna R. Reiter, ed., Toward an Anthropology of Women. Pp. 372-395. New York: Monthly Review Press.
__________ . 1975b. Women Under Kuomintang Rule: Variations on the Feminine Mystique.?span style="mso-spacerun: yes"> Modern China vol. 1, no. 1 (January): 3-45.
__________ . 1983. Model Villages and Village Realities.?span style="mso-spacerun: yes"> Modern China vol. 9, no. 2 (April): 163-181.
__________ . 1984. aitou Revisited: State Policies and Social Change.?span style="mso-spacerun: yes"> International Journal of Sociology Vol. 14, no. 4 (Winter): 77-100.
__________ . 1985. "Rural Collectivization and Decollectivization in China Review Article." Journal of Asian Studies vol. XLIV, no. 4: 785-792.
__________ . 1988. The Miao and Poison: Interactions on China Frontier.?Ethnology. Vol. XXVII No. 1 (January): 1-25.
__________ . 1991. Security and Alienation in Contemporary China.?span style="mso-spacerun: yes"> Reviews in Anthropology. Vol. 17, pp. 123-130.
__________ . 1995. Defining the Miao: Ming, Qing, and Contemporary Views.?In Cultural Encounters on China Ethnic Frontiers, ed. by Stevan Harrell. Pp. 92-116. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
__________ . 1996. Christianity and the Hua Miao: Writing and Power.?span style="mso-spacerun: yes"> In Christianity in China: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present, ed. by Daniel H. Bays. Pp. 138-157. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

She was an excellent scholar. I have used her work numerous times for citation. She will be missed.

Walter said...

She was on my Ph.D. committee and always challenged me to think in novel ways. She even steered me to look at women's issues that I had never put into perspective before.

Walter Di Mantova
Sacramento, CA

Gayle Rubin said...

Norma was a pioneer and a force of nature. I had the privilege to know her, take classes from her, and to be her teaching assistant back in the early 1970s. When I first encountered anthropology at Michigan, she was one of only two tenured women in the department, and one of only a handful in the entire college of Literature, Sciences and the Arts. By comparison to most other units, anthropology had a lot of women on the faculty.

It was Norma who was the faculty sponsor for the first class taught on the anthropology of women at Michigan. The course was organized by two graduate students, one of whom (Rayna Rapp) went on to edit the early anthology, Toward An Anthropology of Women. Norma later taught her own classes on the topic. She was indeed instrumental in the founding of the Michigan Women's Studies Program (now a department). It was the support of a few senior female faculty, including Norma, that conferred legitimacy on the nascent program in the eyes of the Dean and the administration.

She had a quick and exceedingly dry wit, and was a dedicated scholar. She will indeed by missed.

Gayle Rubin
San Francisco and Ann Arbor