Shirley Lindenbaum is a cultural anthropologist professor at CUNY. Her areas of research include the study of "kuru" in Papua New Guinea, cholera in Bangladesh, and AIDS in the United States.
"She is currently working with a Social Science Research Council committee to identify the critical issues and needs of sexuality research and training in the United States, and with an Office of AIDS Research Working Group identifying high priority topics in international HIV prevention research as well as in the United States. Her current writing projects include changing forms of historical consciousness based on narratives collected in New Guinea from the 1960's to the present."
In the late 1970s Eric Wolf, along with several co-thinkers and ex-students, moved to the City University of New York (CUNY), where he led an in-gathering of anthropology's most important leftists. A center of student activism with one of the largest non-white student bodies in the world, CUNY in the 1980s came to be the U.S. and possibly world center for Marxist anthropology.
Attracting radical scholars of his generation—such as communist gender studies pioneer Eleanor Burke Leacock, anthropology of work theorist and chronicler of Bolivian Trotskyist trade unionism June Nash, as well as radicals and Marxists of the 1968 generation such as Leith Mullings, Gerald Sider, Shirley Lindenbaum and Jeremy Beckett —Wolf became the standard bearer for a prominent center of radical anthropology in New York City in the 1980s.
Throughout the 1980s and `90s the CUNY anthropology program was a mecca for Marxist graduate students with connections to U.S. organizations as diverse as Solidarity, International Socialist Organization, Communist Party USA, Committees of Correspondence and the Revolutionary Communist Party, as well as active and former militants from foreign workers' parties and political organizations.
- From every region mentioned in Wolf's Europe and the People Without History—from the Southern tip of Chile to Northern Canada and from Portugal to Korea—radical students came to CUNY to learn from Eric Wolf and help develop the Marxist anthropology he pioneered. They were sometimes disappointed by Wolf's cautious approach to organized Marxism, but never by his intellectual rigor and commitment to a working-class university that included idealistic doctoral students and immigrant accounting majors.
- His final book, Envisioning Power: Ideologies of Dominance and Crisis, published only months before his death, is a dark and disturbing portrait of the relationship between culture and power in an environment of crisis. Comparing Nazi Germany's Judeocide, Aztec sacrificial brutality and the Kwakiutl potlach, Wolf presents a final message about the consequences of unchallenged power.
- Though apocalyptic in form, the content of this final work is filled with the hope, possibility and humanism of a half century working in the Marxist liberatory tradition. Those of us who knew Eric Wolf—or were influenced by his powerful use of Marxism to shape academic inquiry—have suffered the loss of an important comrade who committed a life to dissolving those “fixed boundaries.”