Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass. - The American Anthropological Association honored Donald S. Pitkin, professor of anthropology, emeritus at Amherst College, at its most recent meeting with the presentation of a number of papers on the theme “An Anthropologist in the Family.” The papers in the session took up themes from Pitkin’s work, such as family change, the relationships between family and community and the use of life history analysis.
Pitkin, who taught at Amherst from 1964 until his retirement in 1992, was praised in the conference program as “one of the pioneering U.S. anthropologists to do fieldwork in Europe. Pitkin concentrated his studies on daily life in the south of Italy, particularly in the village of Sermoneta, which he first visited as a graduate student at Harvard in 1951, and to which he returned almost every year.
In 1985 he wrote The House that Giacomo Built, a book about one of the families he first met in 1951, which was made into a film of the same title. Pitkin wrote two more books about Sermoneta, Mamma casa posto fisso, Sermoneta rivisitata 1951-1986 (1990) and La ruota gira: Vita a Sermoneta 1951-1952 (1998.) In 1999, the village held a “Donald Pitkin Day, with a feast and an exhibit of the anthropologist’s work.