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The aftermath of racial violence in Rosewood, January 1923.

Lecture to probe complexities of Rosewood Massacre

Edward Gonzalez-Tennant was a Ph.D. student in anthropology at the University of Florida in 2008 when he began studying the history of Rosewood, a tiny, mostly black community near Cedar Key that was destroyed by racial violence in 1923.

“I realized there had not been an academic study of Rosewood in years,” he said. “I was shocked.” He would spend the next three years immersed in research that eventually led to a half-dozen studies published in scholarly journals and an interactive website called the Rosewood Heritage Project. The site includes a virtual reality reconstruction of the community as it was the year before it was destroyed.

Edward Gonzalez-Tennant, Ph.D.

Edward Gonzalez-Tennant, Ph.D.

Gonzalez-Tennant, now an anthropology professor at Monmouth University in New Jersey and director of its Geographic Information System (GIS) Program, will discuss his findings during a special presentation at USF St. Petersburg at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 7 in the University Student Center Ballroom, 200 6th Ave. S. See campus map and directions.

The presentation, “Violence, Memory and New Heritage: Social Justice in Rosewood, Florida,” is free and open to the public and presented by the USFSP Anthropology Club, the Honors Program and the Florida Studies Program.

“We are proud that Dr. Gonzalez-Tenant is returning to Florida for this important and thought-provoking presentation,” said Frank Biafora, Ph.D., Dean of the USFSP College of Arts and Sciences. “His background in Anthropology and GIS is a perfect example of the tremendous power of interdisciplinary training and research that we seek to cultivate here at USF St. Petersburg.”

Eight people died in what has come to be known as the Rosewood Massacre. While Rosewood has been the subject of a popular book and Hollywood movie, little is known of its early development and racial landscape, Gonzalez-Tennant says.

Gonzalez-Tennant combines documentary evidence, archaeology, GIS mapping and oral history, along with new media, to better understand the evolution of Rosewood and the roots of the violence that destroyed it.

Rosewood turns out to be a much more complex place than first assumed, Gonzalez-Tennant says. It had a core of white-owned property owners surrounded by black-owned property owners and ranged over a wide area, he says.

“This was a community where African-Americans had full access to every economic aspect, every type of job, where African-Americans owned homes and businesses,’’ Gonzalez-Tennant says. “That racial landscape is at the heart of my scholarship.”

On New Year’s Day 1923, a white woman in nearby Sumner claimed a black man from Rosewood attacked her, prompting a white mob to lynch an innocent man and then days later to burn down all the homes of black residents.

Reconstructing Rosewood in a virtual environment helps create a better understanding of the violence, Gonzalez-Tennant says. “The historical Rosewood would have stretched over two miles, making the violence more frightening when you realize how deliberate it had to be,’’ he says.

Anthropology Professor Jay Sokolovsky conducting field research in Mexico.

Jay Sokolovsky wins national award for innovative aging research

USF St. Petersburg Anthropology Professor Jay Sokolovsky, Ph.D., has won a national award from the American Anthropological Association for his nearly four decades of groundbreaking research and leadership that led to the creation of a new area of study focused on aging.

Sokolovsky, coordinator of the USFSP Anthropology Program, will receive the 2013 Robert B. Textor and Family Prize for Excellence in Anticipatory Anthropology during the American Anthropological Association’s annual meeting in November. The award honors pioneering contributions in anthropology that encourage informed policy choices.

Before Sokolovsky began studying impoverished elders living in single room occupancy hotels in Midtown Manhattan in 1974, aging was not recognized as a subspecialty among anthropologists. “It was considered an off the wall topic,’’ Sokolovsky recalls. “Until the late ‘70s or early ‘80s, aging wasn’t a dignified place for anthropologists to work in.” Other anthropologists discouraged him from focusing on aging, he says.

Sokolovsky pressed on, developing some of the first university courses on the subject, writing the primary textbook in the field used at 70 universities, working as the founding editor of a book series on aging, co-organizing and leading the Association for Anthropology and Gerontology and presenting at conferences around the world and at the United Nations.

Today the American Anthropological Association Interest Group on Aging and the Life Course, which he helped found, boasts 750 members.

“For over three decades, Jay has labored to direct anthropological attention toward late life maturity as both a process that all human populations experience and the lived experience of older citizens,” wrote Dena Shenk, Ph. D., director of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Gerontology Program, in a letter nominating Sokolovsky for the Textor award. “I have been witness not only to his literally helping chart a new subfield of anthropology….but also benefitted from his mentorship early on in my career.”

“I am especially honored to be recognized by my professional peers, who when I began doing research on aging more than two decades ago, warned me that I should direct my intellectual energy in other areas,” Sokolovsky said. He has has been invited to be a keynote speaker on Global Aging at the Open University in Barcelona in November.

Sokolovsky has been at USF St. Petersburg since 1996. He came to Florida in 1993 as a National Institute on Aging Senior Research Professor in the Department of Aging and Mental Health at the Florida Mental Health Institute. He conducted a study of how different ethnic communities in the Tampa Bay area dealt with symptoms of dementia among family members.

He earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Penn State University and a B.A. from Brooklyn College. He is the author of The Cultural Context of Aging, Growing Old in Different Societies, Teaching the Anthropology of Aging, Old Men of the Bowery and Indigenous Mexico Engages the 21st Century (to be published in 2014).

“We are fortunate to have one of anthropology’s intellectual leaders on our faculty,” said Vivian Fueyo, interim regional vice chancellor for academic affairs. “Dr. Sokolovsky is an example of the kind of world-class scholarship we enjoy at USFSP and our students are the greatest beneficiaries.”

Kathryn Arthur in Ethiopia with the Gamo people

Anthropology Associate Professor Kathryn Arthur wins national award for groundbreaking research article

ST. PETERSBURG – A USF St. Petersburg anthropology professor has won a national award for research that suggests women may have been the first stone tool makers.

Kathryn Arthur, Ph.D., won the 2012 Gordon R. Willey Prize for a 2010 article in American Anthropologist titled, “Feminine Knowledge and Skill Reconsidered:  Women and Flaked Stone Tools.” The prize recognizes the best archaeology paper published in American Anthropologist over a three-year period.

Dr. Arthur’s article focused on a select group of Konso women in Ethiopia who procure high-quality stone from long distances, produce formal tools with skill and use their tools efficiently and effectively.

“Prior to this research, archaeologists generally believed that only men produce stylized formal stone tools from long distance quality raw materials,’’ she said. “In fact, women are often viewed as invisible during prehistory because of the assumption that they did not produce material culture.”

Her research overturns long-held stereotypes about “Man-the-toolmaker” and suggests that women may be the first stone tool makers.

Norine Noonan, Ph.D., Regional Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, praised the quality of Dr. Arthur’s work. “Dr. Arthur’s research is consistently characterized by a high level of scholarship and is an outstanding example of the kind of work that distinguishes USF St. Petersburg faculty,” Dr. Noonan said.

This is the second award Dr. Arthur has received for her research article. Last year she won the General Anthropology Division Prize for Exemplary Cross-Field Scholarship, awarded annually for a peer-reviewed journal article published in the preceding three years that demonstrates exemplary scholarship that transcends two or more fields of anthropology.