Shannon Lee Dawdy, who received her M.A. from William & Mary’ Department of Anthropology in 1994, is one of a class of 23 new MacArthur Fellows announced Sept. 28 by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Dawdy, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Chicago, is an archaeologist/anthropologist with a keen interest in historic preservation issues, particularly in post-Katrina New Orleans.
Kathleen Bragdon, professor of anthropology at William & Mary, was Dawdy’s advisor in the department. She said Dawdy was “somebody we all believed would go far. She wrote a very interesting and important master’s thesis while she was here, on the Meherrin Indians of the Virginia-North Carolina border.”
Bragdon, currently chair of the William & Mary anthropology department, noted that Dawdy served as the archaeologist for the city of New Orleans before taking the faculty position at the University of Chicago.
“She’s been a very strong advocate for historic preservation in New Orleans, especially after Hurricane Katrina,” Bragdon said. “Some of the work that she’s done and some of the grants that she’s received have gone toward her interest in African-American housing and households in that region.”
Bragdon said while at William & Mary, Dawdy also worked with Marley Brown, a research professor in the department, and since leaving Williamsburg has collaborated with Brown on some historical archaeology projects.
A MacArthur Fellowship is commonly known as a “Genius Award.” Along with the other MacArthur Fellows, Dawdy will receive $500,000 in “no strings attached” support over the next five years.
“MacArthur Fellowships come without stipulations and reporting requirements and offer Fellows unprecedented freedom and opportunity to reflect, create, and explore. The unusual level of independence afforded to Fellows underscores the spirit of freedom intrinsic to creative endeavors,” said the MacArthur Foundation announcement. Recipients of the fellowships are traditionally notified by a phone call, which is usually the first indication they’ve been considered for the award.“This group of Fellows, along with the more than 800 who have come before, reflects the tremendous breadth of creativity among us,” said MacArthur President Robert Gallucci. “They are explorers and risk takers, contributing to their fields and to society in innovative, impactful ways. They provide us all with inspiration and hope for the future.”