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Why Collect? Next Library Lecture Topic


What Drives Us to Collect? Next Topic in UC Riverside’s
Library Lecture Series

Anthropologist Marjorie Akin to Discuss Her Research Paper

(April 14, 2003)

Marjorie Akin with a collection of Soviet and Czech pins.

Marjorie Akin with a collection of Soviet and Czech pins.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Marjorie Akin, an associate research anthropologist at the University of California, Riverside, will speak about her latest paper, “Passionate Possessions: The Formation of Private Collections,” which examines the motivations and driving desires that compel some to amass large private collections. The free public lecture is scheduled for 3 p.m., Wednesday April 16, in the fourth floor Special Collections reading room of the Tomás Rivera Library.

The event is the latest in the “Meet the Author” lecture series, organized to bring the richness of UC Riverside’s libraries to the community. According to organizer Melissa Conway, who heads UC Riverside’s Special Collections, the speakers are either from UC Riverside, or relevant to some of the library’s rare collections, such as the Tomás Rivera Archive, the Rupert Costo Library of the American Indian and the J. Lloyd Eaton Collection of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Utopian Literature.

Contact Special Collections at (909) 787-3233 for more details about this and other events in the “Meet the Author” series.

Akin is a lecturer and an associate researcher at UC Riverside. Her research findings have been printed in diverse publications, from Family Circle magazine to the Smithsonian Institution, where her paper appeared in the January 1997 edition of the Smithsonian book “Learning from Things.”

She told the Kansas City Star in April 2002 that collecting is deeply rooted in evolutionary biology saying that: “Noticing, comparing, categorizing and collecting helped people survive.” She noted that people who could make fine distinctions among types of rocks or mushrooms would have an evolutionary advantage when it came to making tools or foraging for food.

Akin’s hands-on work involves cultural and linguistic services for a large regional primary healthcare system. She advises system doctors and other professionals about how the cultural beliefs of different ethnicities will influence their acceptance or rejection of treatment and how they regard and comply with caregivers’ instructions. It is a significant concern in Southern California where, for example, many in the Chinese community hold very firm beliefs regarding consumption of particular foods during illnesses.

All the lectures begin at 3 p.m. Other upcoming speakers in the series include:

May 8 — Deborah Dozier, alumna of UC Riverside’s Ph.D. program in anthropology and professor of American Indian studies at Palomar College. Dozier and Jo May Modesto will speak about their work-in-progress on the female descendents of the famed Ramona, the heroine of the book of the same name by Helen Hunt Jackson. Mrs. Modesto is a direct descendent of Ramona.

May 21 — Gregory Benford, Professor of Physics at UC Irvine, will speak on his 1999 nonfiction work “Deep Time,” which deals with building messages for the really, really long term. The book discusses the design of warnings for nuclear waste sites that can be understood 10,000 years from now, and the development of a plaque to be attached to the Saturn-bound Cassini spacecraft. Deep time refers to the hundred-million-year stretches of geologic time.

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