Amherst College mourns the passing of Mary Catherine Bateson on Jan. 2, 2021. Dean of the Faculty Catherine Epstein wrote the following about her in a Jan. 5 email to faculty and staff:
... Bateson served as dean of the faculty at Amherst from 1980 to 1983, the first woman to take on this role. Trained in linguistics and Middle Eastern studies, Dean Bateson taught at Harvard and Northeastern, as well as in the Philippines and Iran, before coming to Amherst as dean.
Dean Bateson wrote several compelling autobiographies, including With a Daughter's Eye: A Memoir of Margaret Mead & Gregory Bateson (1984) and Composing a Life (2001). The latter volume included some discussion of her experiences at Amherst. These were not easy times for a woman to be in administration at the college. As Bateson wrote of her experience here, "Amherst was still caught in the set of inherited attitudes that defined any woman as an outsider..."
Dean Bateson was professor of Anthropology at Amherst until 1987. She then served as Clarence J. Robinson Professor in Anthropology and English at George Mason University until her retirement in 2002, when she moved to New Hampshire. In recent years she published work on how men and women adapt to culture change, and about longevity and lifelong learning....
The podcast On Being recently re-aired Bateson's 2015 interview with host Krista Tippett about "Living as an Improvisational Art."
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