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Media Release: Pomona Anthropology Professor Receives National Lifetime Achievement Award

Ralph Bolton, a professor of anthropology at Pomona College since 1971, has been awarded the 2010 Franz Boas Award for Exemplary Service to Anthropology by the American Anthropological Association. The annual award is the most prestigious given in the profession and recognizes “extraordinary achievement.”

Bolton’s wide range of research interest had led to achievements in many different areas, from applied anthropology in Peru and the Andes, to HIV/AIDS Education in the United States and Europe. Nominations cited his groundbreaking work in non-conventional research methods; his contributions to the dissemination of interdisciplinary knowledge beyond the boundaries of traditional anthropology; the practical applications of his findings to anthropology, ecological anthropology, economic development, sex education and AIDS education; and his devotion to community and civic involvement both within and outside of the field of anthropology.

Bolton is currently focusing his energy on The Chijnaya Foundation, for which he is founder and serves as president. The Foundation works in partnership with rural communities in Southern Peru to design and implement self-sustaining projects in health, education and economic development. Recent achievements include the installation of smoke-free stoves, via microloans, in more than 250 homes, improving indoor air quality; a microloan program, used by more than 200 families, for building improved livestock protection sheds, which can increase family income up to 40%; and a scholarship program which is currently providing support to some 28 young scholars from the region.

A 1961 Pomona College graduate, Bolton integrated biological, psychological and cultural approaches early in his career, examining aggression and folk illnesses. His research on Andean kinship, marriage, family and social structure, as well as bio-social studies on the Qolla, is considered classic in Latin American anthropology. He was also one of the first to engage in HIV/AIDS-related research from an anthropological approach and to encourage his peers to get involved in researching the epidemic.

He has written more than 100 articles and written or edited 13 books, most recently serving as the senior co-editor and author of a chapter of 50 Años de Antropología Aplicada en el Perú: Vicos y Otras Experiencias (Instituto de Estudios Peruanos in Lima) and as author of Cuyes, Camiones y Cuentos en Los Andes: Estudios Antropológicos de la Cultura Expresiva (Editorial Horizonte, 2009), La Vida Familiar en Comunidades Andinas: Estudios Anthropólogicos en la sierra sur del Perú (Editorial Horizonte, 2010) and No Somos Iguales: Agresion, autoridad y conflicto en el altiplano peruano (Editorial Horizonte, 2010).

At Pomona College, Bolton teaches courses on Human Sexuality, Andean Cultures, and Gay and Lesbian Ethnography. “Prof. Bolton brings a wealth of applied anthropology experience to the classroom from his work on Andean culture to his work urging anthropologists to get involved researching the HIV/AIDS epidemic in its early years,” says Cecilia Conrad, dean of Pomona College.