Jon Dombrosky Receives the Ruth E. Kennedy Award

Departmental News

Posted:  Oct 21, 2020 - 09:30am

Jon Dombrosky, Doctoral student in Archaeology, has received the 2020 Ruth E. Kennedy Award.  He will present his talk Fishing for Foodways: The Nature/Culture Dichotomy in Ancestral Pueblo Food Studies  at a future date to be determined.  The Ruth E. Kennedy Award was established to honor the memory of Ruth E. Kennedy, wife of Edwin L. Kennedy, a major donor to the Maxwell Museum. Initiated in 1981, the award recognizes Mrs. Kennedy’s abiding interest in public education. The Kennedy Award provides a stipend for an outstanding doctoral candidate in Anthropology who presents a public lecture, and is funded by the Department of Anthropology.


This talk will broadly cover the trajectory of anthropological thought on nature and culture through emphasizing food and human/animal relationships. Jon will highlight the cultural ecology paradigm, its critiques, and how the ontological turn has reconnected nature and culture leading the discipline back to aspects of cultural ecology. His focus will then shift to archaeological research on foodways in the American Southwest, an area of research unmoved by the ontological turn where the nature/culture dichotomy persists in the terms diet and cuisine. Using his first dissertation article on Ancestral Pueblo fishing, ecological stability, and risk-sensitive foraging, he will illustrate how environmental constraints and processes (usually associated with diet) can help inform when and why Ancestral Pueblo people ate different foods (usually associated with cuisine). He will also discuss how processes associated with food preferences can impact environmental constraints. By seamlessly moving between the nature/culture dichotomy, he will conclude that these paired terms occur on a continuum at best or should be abandoned at worst.