York anthropology prof wins prestigious North American award

York anthropology Professor Karl Schmid (PhD ’07) has been named the recipient of Public Anthropology’s prestigious Eleanor Roosevelt Global Citizenship Award. Named to honour the former first lady of the United States Eleanor Roosevelt, the award celebrates her role as chair of the United Nations committee that drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Left: Karl Schmid

The award recognizes Schmid’s participation in Public Anthropology’s Community Action online project as well his wider activities in the public sphere. According to Robert Borofsky, director of the Center for Public Anthropology and a professor of anthropology at Hawaii Pacific University, less than one per cent of faculty teaching introductory anthropology courses across North America receive this award.

“Professor Schmid is to be commended for how he takes classroom knowledge and applies it to real-world challenges, thereby encouraging students to be responsible global citizens,” says Borofsky. “In actively addressing important ethical concerns within anthropology, Professor Schmid is providing students with the thinking and writing skills needed for active citizenship. Congratulations to Professor Schmid, the Department of Anthropology and York University on this honour.”

Seven of Schmid’s students recently won awards in the 2010 Public Anthropology Competition (see YFile, Dec. 10).

Schmid’s research focuses on southern Egypt, especially Luxor, a city which is being rapidly transformed into a transnational tourism zone. Luxor (site of ancient Thebes) has been reconfigured as a World Heritage Site visited by more than five million tourists each year. Schmid documents how the rapid transformation of the city centre has been accomplished by tearing down dozens of public and residential buildings to recreate a 3,500-year-old “avenue of the sphinxes” between two major ancient Egyptian temples.

He is also a collaborator in Global Suburbanism: Governance, Land, and Infrastructure in the 21st Century supported by funding through the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada’s partnership grants program. The project involves a team of international researchers conducting the first comprehensive, comparative analysis of urban expansion and the creation of suburbs in diverse locales around the world.

Among Schmid’s recent publications is the article “Doing Ethnography of Tourist Enclaves: Boundaries, Ironies, and Insights” published in the journal Tourist Studies.