Luckman Distinguished Teaching Awards
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B. Hammond, Anthropology
teachers ask students to evaluate them; few actually use the evaluations
for self-criticism. But there's anthropology professor Peter Hammond,
a remarkably youthful 67-year-old, admitting that yes, he tends
to talk too fast, and yes, he may be too apologetic.
think that's not irrelevant," he tells about 35 undergraduates in
his course, Anthropology 197, titled "The Cultural Construction
of Gender: Homosexuality." "A lot of us have heard for most of our
lives that we're morally 'bad.' It's very hard to maintain a positive
sense of your own identity. The messages that a culture gives do
have important consequences for homosexual people."
the openly gay Hammond, who's teaching the first-ever gay studies
course in anthropology, even a personal struggle for esteem can
be grist for his students' education. He has been a faculty member
in residence at the dorms for five years and holds regular open
houses and rap groups.
just had the feeling," he says of his efforts, "that a lot of young
folks were struggling with issues, and afraid they were the only
one thinking about that at UCLA."
son of a Pulitzer Prize-winning economic historian, Hammond says
he became an anthropologist to escape the prejudiced confines of
his hometown, Glendale, California. He was especially disturbed
when Japanese Americans from the community were temporarily interned
in Santa Anita's horse stables during World War II. "As a gay man,"
he says, "I felt somehow that I'd be next. I wanted to understand
how something like that could happen."
led him to applied anthropology, where "you take your understanding
of how cultures work and apply it to the resolution of human problems."
He has encouraged students to directly apply their studies through
internships in the community. His own research focuses on economic
development and culture change in former French and Portuguese colonies
in Africa, and as the current chair of the Chancellor's Task Force
on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Studies, he's helping to develop a
minor in that academic area.
serving as a role model, Hammond hopes to give students what he
craved growing up. "That's the way," he explains, "that you can
reenact your youth -- and make it come out right."
Kort is a Los Angeles-based writer.