Reading, PA- Dr. Pamela Blakely, a Reading Area Community College anthropology professor has been chosen to receive a Visiting Scholar Fellowship at Harvard University’s Houghton Library (a research library for rare books and manuscripts) during four weeks in the 2018-19 academic year.
Dr. Blakely will be researching Anne Eisner Putnam and Colin Turnbull’s collaboration and differing perspectives studying Bambuti (sometimes called “pygmies”) in the Ituri tropical rainforest of the Belgian Congo in the 1950s. At present, Colin Turnbull’s views are much more widely known than those of Anne Eisner and there is virtually no recognition of her contributions. Turnbull has authored the book The Forest People.
“I am hoping to bring to light Anne Eisner’s role through studying her document archive and paintings done by her when she lived in the Belgian Congo,” Pamela says. “I was drawn to this study from my own experience in this country – named Zaire when we lived there, and now Democratic Republic of the Congo. Specifically, Dr. Tom Blakely and I did six years of field research in villages of the Báhêmbá – south of the Ituri Forest — with some interaction with foragers who are similar to the Bambuti. It also helps that I understand the three languages (Kiswahili, French, English) used in the archive materials,” she adds.
Dr. Blakely received her Ph.D. from Indiana University in the African Studies Program and Folklore Institute. She studied Kiswahili at Indiana University and at the University of Dar Es Salaam in preparation for field research in the Congo and learned to speak a second Bantu language, Kíhêmbá, during her field stay. She completed her undergraduate degree at Harvard University in Fine Arts.
Dr. Blakely is a coauthor of Seeing Anthropology: Cultural Anthropology Through Film. She is Honors Program Coordinator and Professor of Anthropology at Reading Area Community College; as well as affiliated faculty, Africana Studies, University of Pennsylvania.