Passings: Professor Emeritus Gerald Gold was internationally known for his research

Gerald Gold, professor emeritus at York University in the Department of Anthropology, died on March 9.

Prof. Gold, or “Gerry” as he was known in the department, was a long-serving faculty member of York University, joining the department in 1976 and serving through to his retirement in 2015.

Gerald Gold

Prior to settling into his role at York University, he worked at Glendon College, the University of Guelph and Laval University after receiving his PhD in Anthropology from the University of Minnesota.

Prof. Gold developed an international reputation with his research on community studies in ethnicity, economic anthropology, entrepreneurial cultures; and studies in diaspora, nationalism and identity, focusing closely on French Canada, Quebec and French-speaking minorities in North America.

Two editions of his monograph Saint-Pascal: Changing Leadership and Social Organization in a Quebec Town were published by Waveland Press.

Prof. Gold directed a large project in French Louisiana focused on the French language and its survival, and also spent several years in northern Ontario, focusing on the multicultural character of the creation of community in northern mining towns.

In the late 1980s Prof. Gold was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and shifted his research to focus on disability, becoming one of the first anthropologists in North America to do so.

In the early 1990s, he began a five-year involvement with the Commission on Disability of the American Anthropological Association. At the same time, he also became interested in virtual disability communities and computer-mediated communication as a form of public culture.

This research resulted in a number of publications including “Rediscovering place: experiences of a quadriplegic anthropologist” in Canadian Geographer (2003). Most recently, he had been working on a manuscript focusing on the cultural constructs of accessibility, virtual disability and social action. He also taught several courses in disability studies at York University and was one of the organizers of the graduate program in disability studies. He was also an active participant in disability politics in southern Ontario.

Prof. Gold was committed to his career and teaching, despite the severely debilitating aspects of his illness in recent times. At York, he developed one of the first anthropology courses focusing on disability in Canada.  His disability slowed him down physically, but he retained his intellectual brilliance throughout. His wife Barb provided devoted support and assistance, and was instrumental in helping him continue to pursue his teaching and research.

He will be greatly missed by his colleagues and friends at York University and beyond.