Don Tuzin

I don’t know how many anthropologists or UCSD students read this blog, so the name Don Tuzin may not mean much to this blog’s readers. He was the senior member of the Department of Anthropology at UCSD, and he died on Sunday after what sounds like a short and inexplicable illness. I never had the chance to take a class with him, but I had the pleasure of having several long conversations with Don at a few department receptions. He was gregarious and fascinating and kind in those conversations, and he also had the most amazing stories–about drinking Scotch with Margaret Mead in his hut in Papua New Guinea during his field work, about annoying Mary Douglas by choosing to go grad school somewhere besides where she was, about penile bloodletting, which he wrote and lectured a good deal about. (In fact, the whole penile bloodletting thing is so famous around the department that for the grad student picnic last fall, a penile bloodletting cake was made–with a twig stuck in the urethra, as they do in PNG, and strawberry filling doubling as blood.) He was also interested in the whole intersexual issue, which I’m fascinated by, too, and we talked for a while about John/Joan and my experience reporting on ISNA. Anyway, Don was a great guy and a major figure on campus and in Melanesian anthropology, and he’ll be missed. After the jump I’ve posted the press release from UCSD.

University of California, San Diego
April 17, 2007



SUBJECT: Death of Dr. Don Tuzin, former Chair of the Academic Senate, San Diego Division

It is with great sadness that we inform you that Don Tuzin, professor, former chair of the Department of Anthropology, and former chair of the our campus Academic Senate, passed away on Sunday, April 15. Don was a valued faculty member and leader of the UCSD community and his contributions, both in and out of the classroom, touched many.

Since joining the UCSD Department of Anthropology in 1973, Don contributed to the academic and cultural life of the university in myriad ways. He served as chair of the Academic Senate from 2004-2005, where he played a leadership role in addressing numerous campus and system-wide issues. He was a champion of the UCSD tradition of shared governance and, by his leadership of the Senate, illustrated how the synergism of the faculty-administration relationship can result in innovative and exciting initiatives.

As a social anthropologist, Don was one of the world’s top authorities on Melanesian culture, and was co-founder and director of UCSD’s Melanesian Archive, the world’s leading depository of unpublished materials on the societies and cultures of Melanesia.

In spite of the many demands placed on him as scholar and teacher, Don was never too busy to consult and advise on various campus projects and issues. He served on the board of directors of the UCSD Faculty Club and was a member of the University House Task Force. He was also a member of the Friends of the UCSD Libraries Board of Directors and served as an associate chancellor to former UCSD Chancellor and UC President Richard Atkinson. Over the years, Don played an important role in recruiting faculty, within the Anthropology department, the social sciences and for campus leadership positions.

We will let you know of upcoming opportunities to celebrate Don’s life.
In the meantime, please join us in offering our deepest condolences to the Tuzin family.

Marye Anne Fox

Henry C. Powell, M.D., DSc
Chair, Academic Senate
Director of Neuropathology and Electron Microscopy


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