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AIAS Former Fellow Cheryl Mattingly awarded prestigious book award

Mattingly received the New Millennium Book Award for her book 'Moral Laboratories: Family Peril and the Struggle for a Good Life' written during her AIAS Fellowship

On 19 November, at the American Anthropology Meetings in Denver, USA, the highly prestigious New Millennium Book Award was given by the Society for Medical Anthropology, one of the sections within the American Anthropological Association to AIAS Former Fellow, Professor Cheryl Mattingly. Mattingly received the award for her significant book publication Moral Laboratories: Family Peril and the Struggle for a Good Life (University of California Press: 2014) that was written during her fellowship at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies. In her engaging ethnography, Mattingly explores the lives of African American families caring for children with serious chronic medical conditions with a focus on the families’ struggles for a good life. The book is a groundbreaking foray into the anthropology of morality and the everyday emerges in her exploration as a moral laboratory for reshaping moral life.

Exceptional courage

“This award is very personally meaningful to me because this book was so challenging – even scary -- to write. I was particularly struck by the criteria of “exceptional courage” attached to the award because I was quite worried about the book’s reception. My research for many years has been among African Americans, mostly poor, who are some of the most disenfranchised members of American society. In this book, I wanted to consider the moral dilemmas and moral failures they faced in trying to care for their children and create lives worth living. But rather than drawing upon the dominant framework of structural violence to consider their situation, I looked at their plight through a lens that has often been discredited in my field – a version of humanism drawing upon the virtue ethics of Aristotle. I have to say that being part of AIAS played a crucial role in developing my arguments. It not only gave me time to write. It generously supported conversations and conferences between anthropologists and philosophers that gave me courage to make the case for a position I knew would challenge mainstream anthropological thought”, says Cheryl Mattingly.

About the prize

The New Millennium Book Award was established by the Society for Medical Anthropology to recognize and promote excellence in medical anthropology, broadly defined. The New Millennium Book Award is currently awarded biannually to a scholar within the field of medical anthropology for a solo-authored (or co-authored) book published since the beginning of the new millennium. In the 2015 competition, books published/copyrighted between 2012-2015 were considered for the award. The New Millennium Book Award is given to the author whose work is judged to be the most significant and potentially influential contribution to medical anthropology. Books of exceptional courage and potential impact beyond the field are given special consideration.

Short bio

Cheryl Mattingly is currently Professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Division of Occupational Science at the University of Southern California, USA. She was a Senior Fellow at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, (AIAS) Aarhus University, Denmark from 2013-2015. She is the award-winning author of books The Paradox of Hope: Journeys through a Clinical Borderland and Healing Dramas and Clinical Plots: The Narrative Structure of Experience and coeditor, with Linda Garro, of Narrative and Cultural Construction of Illness and Healing, among other books.

Mattingly's project at AIAS.


Cheryl Mattingly, AIAS Former Fellow,
Prof. University of Southern California, USA
Email: mattingl@usc.edu

Lena Bering, Communications Officer
Email: lber@aias.au.dk

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