Socrates Citation in Honor of Misty Bastian

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In 1995, a recently minted Ph.D. from the University of Chicago materialized in Lancaster to forever transform Franklin & Marshall College and the Department of Anthropology. For nearly three decades, Misty Bastian has enriched the intellectual life of F&M, cultivated excellence in our students, and inspired her colleagues through her passionate commitment to the liberal arts. As a productive and influential social anthropologist of religion and, in particular, of Igbospeaking peoples of Nigeria, her influence extends far beyond F&M. She is the very embodiment of the teacher-scholar that our College so highly prizes and a passionate advocate for the life of the mind.

Professor Bastian’s impressive publication record has centered on investigations of the West African market system of Onitsha; Nigerian religious practice, dress, adornment, witchcraft and missionization among Igbo-speaking peoples; and Mami Wata, the peripatetic African mermaid spirit. She is co-author of the book “The Women’s War of 1929: Gender and Colonial Violence” and co-editor of “Great Ideas for Teaching about Africa.” Her interest in spirits also led her to undertake an investigation of the paranormal research community of Pennsylvania. In recognition of having served F&M with distinction, Professor Bastian was named the Lewis Audenreid Professor of History and Archaeology in 2013. Her Common Hour address as endowed chair was a tour de force of intellectual creativity, as she wove anthropological insights into stories of loss, ghosts and spirits.

Professor Bastian’s exemplary service to F&M is marked by a dedication to the general education curriculum. Our Foundations curriculum benefited from her tireless efforts. She co-created the Antiquity and Modernity class sequence and frequently convened summer seminars to assist faculty with developing their own Foundations courses. She served as convener of the Franklin Foundations Lecturers program to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin's birthday. Ever the product of her University of Chicago education, she helped design our landmark Connections class, What is the Examined Life?, which she co-developed with the support of a National Endowment for the Humanities Enduring Questions grant. She served as an inaugural Assessment Fellow, was a key member of the famed Writing Task Force, and recently helped reimagine our Nonwestern requirement.

Professor Bastian’s dedication to her students and her commitment to teaching in a liberal arts context was recognized with the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2004. She is much celebrated for her effective and engaging teaching style, rich and varied teaching repertoire, generous deployment of her red pen, and expert ability to guide independent research. Professor Bastian often opened her house to her students, most famously experienced by one upper-level seminar that gathered in her dining room every week to discuss the material over potluck dinners.

Professor Bastian’s most notable contributions to the College are of course to her beloved Department of Anthropology. She served as department chair on several occasions and undertook the tasks required of her with aplomb. Because Professor Bastian is fundamentally forthright, she has been an invaluable mentor to junior faculty members who have benefitted from her pedagogical interventions and scholarly insights. She has been especially generous to our majors who regularly ensconced themselves for hours in the cozy, soft seating of her office. Unfailingly, they emerge inspired by her brilliance and the pleasure she derives from engaging in scholarly discourse. She co-developed our senior Research Fair and is the acknowledged Creatrix of Anthro Croquet, a legendary tradition she introduced in 2006 that is now at the heart of our departmental culture.

The residents of Gerhart House, legions of devoted students, faculty friends, and our campus ghosts will miss the inimitable Misty Bastian.