Classmate Emily Martin shines in world of anthropology

Don’t you love learning about the different paths we all take?

It’s been fun to catching up with Kingswood classmates. You might recall my columns last year on California Photographer helps others through canine companions on Chris Kittridge, or Structure and form wow photographer on Amy Lamb. Recently, I reconnected with another.

Emily MartinEmily Gottschalk Martin was the commencement speaker at our 25th reunion. (Being invited to speak at Kingswood Commencement is a Big Deal.)

Emily’s a professor at NYU, lecturer, author, editor and a force in the field of anthropology. Her first book, The Woman in the Body (1987), influenced the development of feminism. Emily’s observations helped reframe many references in the best seller Our Bodies, Our Selves.

After graduating from the U of M (Go Blue!), Emily attended grad school at Cornell. She studied Chinese and later did field work in farming villages in China and Taiwan. She says, “The thinking in anthropology is the farther away, the better.” After about 15 years out of the country, Amy decided to do field work in the U.S. By then she’d borne her first daughter and found it difficult to leave for long periods.

Field work, Emily says, means living among local people and participating in their lives, studying them, learning their language. In the process, an anthropologist analyzes and writes about aspects of daily living: agricultural tasks, cultural traditions, political systems. Anthropology can involve documentations, photos, sound recordings. (One well-known anthropologist, Steve Feld, did sound recordings of the rain forest in New Guinea.)

About life as an anthropologist, Emily says, “We feel privileged to experience something we’d never have known. You either love it or you don’t do it.”

In 1979, Emily met husband, Richard Cone, in Baltimore. They both taught at Johns Hopkins. Richard was teaching (and still does) biology. “We met at a party. I was talking about kayaking down a whitewater river in Oregon. That got his interest.” Emily still kayaks. And bikes. And knits, gardens and watches old TV series. Twin Peaks is a favorite.

Both Emily and Richard have Ph.Ds. I asked: Should I refer to you as Doctor?

“We don’t usually take that term,” Emily said, with what struck me as refreshing humility. “We leave that to the M.D.s.”

Emily’s first book analyzed the negative implications of how Americans look at childbirth. “Menstruation is described as a ‘failure’ to reproduce. Giving birth is termed ‘labor.’ Menopause is a ‘breakdown’ of our reproductive system.” The Woman in the Body was, Emily says, “an overtly critical work of feminism,” based on scientific observation.

Three years ago, Emily co-founded Anthropology Now, published 3 times a year, in print and online. The magazine, which she still edits, was recently bought by Routledge, a large academic and trade publisher. A.N. features articles by professional anthropologists. The first issue carried an especially popular article on breasts—their role in evolution and why they’ve become an emblem of sexuality in the U.S.

More recently, Emily’s involved in a research project looking at the science behind experimental psychology. The project studies emotions, memory and cognition related to human beings in a lab.

Clockwise in the photo Ariel Martin-Cone in the dark t-shirt, then Jenny Ahern, Jenny’s daughter Soleil Edwards and Ariel’s daughter Winona Talbot.

Clockwise in the photo: Ariel Martin-Cone in the dark t-shirt, then Jenny Ahern, Jenny’s daughter Soleil Edwards and Ariel’s daughter Winona Talbot.

Emily and Richard’s 2 daughters have inherited the academic gene. Jennifer Ahern is a professor of public health at U.C. Berkley. Ariel Martin-Cone is assistant academic dean at Boston-area Landmark High School for kids with learning disabilities. Each has 1 daughter.

Emily and Richard spend summers at their home in Baltimore. During the school year, Emily has lived in faculty housing at NYU. Hopefully not much longer. She and Richard are negotiating for an apartment on the upper west side.

Emily has made a difference in enhancing the status and perception of women. Still, she says, “There’s a long way to go in business, academia and everyday life to overcome biases against women.” While jobs for anthropologists are multiplying, they’re also fragmenting into less than full time tenured positions. A challenging prospect.”

Thanks, Emily, for adding such stature to the Class of ’62.

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3 thoughts on “Classmate Emily Martin shines in world of anthropology

  1. Carolyn Hastings

    Suzy, I agree with Annie. Emily was amazing in high school and still is. Carolyn Hastings

  2. Merrill McLoughlin

    One of my very favorite classmates. Thanks so much for this piece on her remarkable accomplishments.

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