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Amber Reed's “Nostalgia after Apartheid” Wins Margaret Mead Award

October 2021

Spelman College International Studies Professor Amber ReedAmber R. Reed, Ph.D., assistant professor of international studies at Spelman, is the recipient of the 2021 Margaret Mead Award for her recent book, "Nostalgia after Apartheid: Disillusionment, Youth, Democracy in South Africa," published by Notre Dame Press in 2020.

Dr. Reed is a is a cultural anthropologist who graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a masters degree and doctorate in anthropology. Her research focus is on South Africa, youth, democracy, nostalgia, apartheid, and visual media.

The Margaret Mead Award, awarded jointly by American Anthropological Association and the Society for Applied Anthropology, is given to a younger researcher for a specific accomplishment, such as a book, film, monograph or service, that interprets anthropological material and concepts in ways that are significant to a broad public.

Dr. Reed will receive the Mead Award at the Society for Applied Anthropology's 82nd Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, on March 25, 2022. She will also be honored during the American Anthropological Association Award ceremony, which will be live-streamed at the AAA hybrid Annual Meeting in Baltimore on Nov. 19, 2021. 

In her book, according to the publisher, Dr. Reed provides "a new perspective on South Africa’s democracy by exploring Black residents’ nostalgia for life during apartheid in the rural Eastern Cape. Reed looks at a surprising phenomenon encountered in the post-apartheid nation: despite the Department of Education mandating curricula meant to teach values of civic responsibility and liberal democracy, those who are actually responsible for teaching this material (and the students taking it) often resist what they see as the imposition of “white” values. These teachers and students do not see South African democracy as a type of freedom, but rather as destructive of their own “African culture”— whereas apartheid, at least ostensibly, allowed for cultural expression in the former rural homelands."

What Others Have to Say About Dr. Reed's Work

blue-quote-leftWe’re thrilled for Amber’s success; her book is a classic example of authorial commitment and strength of vision. We are proud that the Kellogg Institute Series on Democracy and Development selected her book for inclusion in its prestigious series. Now we champion her work as an award winner.
-- Eli Bortz, Editor-in-Chief, University of Norte Dame

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