SCA’s Bateson Book Prize Winner

Last year the Society for Cultural Anthropology announced the creation of the Gregory Bateson Book Prize for the best work of “ethnographic analysis and anthropological thought from any disciplinary tradition.” And the winner is…

Barry F. Sauder’s CT Suite: The Work of Diagnosis in the Age of Noninvasive Cutting Durham, N.C: Duke University Press, 2008.

For those who don’t know about it yet, this book is amazing. It’s hand’s down the best medical anthro book I’ve read in a while, and Saunders is erudite and witty and creative with the material and the questions he explores. It’s part detective story, part ethnography of work, part media anthropology and good all over.

The shortlist avowedly does not suck either… except for one book by some asshole who studies nerds… I have no idea what posessed the prize committee to include it.

Jessica Cattelino, High Stakes: Florida Seminole Gaming and Sovereignty (Duke)

Gayle Greene, Insomniac: A Memoir (California)

Susan Greenhalgh, Just One Child: Science and Policy in Deng’s China

Christopher M. Kelty, Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software (Duke)


Christopher M. Kelty is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has a joint appointment in the Institute for Society and Genetics, the department of Information Studies and the Department of Anthropology. His research focuses on the cultural significance of information technology, especially in science and engineering. He is the author most recently of Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software (Duke University Press, 2008), as well as numerous articles on open source and free software, including its impact on education, nanotechnology, the life sciences, and issues of peer review and research process in the sciences and in the humanities.

11 thoughts on “SCA’s Bateson Book Prize Winner

  1. Hi Chris, It doesn’t take a PhD student to know that anyone who calls himself an asshole on the internet is trying to make a buck (or at least plug his own work). Is this what Savage Minds has come to?

  2. Two Bits and High Stakes (is there a New UCLA Folks+Duke University Press thing going on with the short two word titles?) are both outstanding. Congratulations to the whole group.

  3. I don’t know Jeff, I thought that Chris Kelty calling himself an asshole was pretty much expressing what many of us think.

    Also noticed that since Kelty got tenure every second word is either fuck, fucking, or asshole. Yeah man, now that you got tenure, you’re just so daring and kewl!

    Don’t give two shits about two bits.

  4. Well, Lisa, someone may be jealous, but that doesn’t alter the widespread impression that Chris Kelty has sometimes engaged in a kind of self-promotion that is usually regarded as unseemly.

    We expect to hear about the winners of various prizes, but when the author of one of the also-ran books lists those other books, it’s not a giant leap to the conclusion that it’s shameless self-promotion. Better that one of his blog-colleagues had posted news of the nice nomination here, and let Kelty project an aura of aw-shucks modesty.

    On the other hand, so what? If Kelty is an obnoxious self-promoting weasel, his close colleagues and students will be the ones to be annoyed, not the rest of us – after all, his promotion of his book is not even subliminal, and most of us can resist easily. If Kelty is just a slightly naïve nice guy who doesn’t realize that some people regard him as an obnoxious self-promoting weasel, then his colleagues and students are probably not annoyed, and I, for one, won’t be either.

    Besides, what’s the value in having your own blog if a little self-promotion is out of bounds. Isn’t that ultimately what blogs are, after all?

    — Barbara

  5. “Unseemly?” What a precious, sniveling, sour-grapes sort of word that is. Like RNC Chairman Michael Steele commenting on Barack Obama’s use of Ted Kennedy’s letter in his speech on health care reform.

    Why shouldn’t anthropologists who have done something interesting promote what they have done?

  6. oh gosh. I just hate to think there are people on the internet who don’t love me unconditionally, what a shocking response! I clearly have to clean up my act!

    And here I was going to post something about the other 10 incredibly awesome things I have done recently, but I guess if I want to keep all these fabulous friends I have made here, I should have Rex post it. After all, it would suck even more if the world wasn’t constantly updated about every fantastic move I make. I mean it’s not like anyone else does that on the internet, so I have to pick up some slack around here. Make sure to follow Rex’s twitter feed and I’ll make sure he updates you hourly about my incomparable, constant and untouchable greatness.

  7. Chris: In view of your thoughtful, mature, well-considered response, I withdraw any criticism, explicit or implied.

    — Barbara

  8. Here’s a request that has to do with medical anthropology (though not CT imagery).

    The NYTimes reports today that:

    “Recent polls say doctors and nurses may be more resistant to getting vaccinated than most Americans. The British Medical Journal published a survey showing that less than half of health care professionals are willing to receive the [H1N1] vaccine, while a poll from the Nursing Times found that only 37 percent of front-line nurses plan to be vaccinated against H1N1 influenza.”

    The reasons that have been cited for this resistance are in line with those cited by refusniks among the general public, namely concerns over safety and efficacy as well as a low perceived threat from the virus. But I read somewhere, a one sentence online citation that I can no longer find, that some health care workers percieve themselves to be healthier than the population at large and thus less likely to get H1N1.

    I’d be interested to know if there is any anthropological research that might give more insight into this, or if maybe there is something about the patient-caregiver relationship itself that may structure the decision to refuse to be vaccinated. Perhaps an admission of suceptibility breaks down the psychological distance between patient and caregiver? Or perhaps there are other reasons.

    I’d be grateful if any of the learned people on this forum have the answers and good insights, or if someone can lead me to helpful source material to answer my questions. Thanks in advance. -Jeff-

  9. Coming out of a two medical professional household, my impression is that doctors and nurses generally think that the more vaccines the better. Do you know anything about how the survey was constructed and administered? That would probably go a long way towards helping you interpret the article’s conclusions.

    bq. But I read somewhere, a one sentence online citation that I can no longer find, that some health care workers percieve themselves to be healthier than the population at large and thus less likely to get H1N1.

    Like day care and secondary school workers, health care workers are exposed to contagions at a higher rate than the population at large and—again, impressionistically—doctors and nurses perceive themselves as having better immunity due to this fact. (Whether that better immunity is understood as broader in the sense of resistance to more contagions or/and as stronger as in “individual contagions are less likely to make me sick” I could not say.) Whether that perception mirrors reality is a separate citation, though I am under the impression that it does.

    The New York State Department of Health has mandated that all health care workers working in the state receive the H1N1 vaccine and is being met with some resistance. A look at that issue might inform your questions.

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