Ken Kensinger In Memoriam: 1931-2010

KenKensingerDear Salsa members: Sara and I are deeply saddened by news of Ken’s death. Rarely do such ample doses of kindness, gentle wit, and sharp intelligence occur in one individual. Take a bunch of cantankerous, underemployed, yet vain academics, put them in cushy chairs in a room just small enough to be cozy, and let the papers begin. In 1970s archaeology, this would have been a recipe for melee ending in the arrival of a SWAT team. At Bennington Conferences, quietly steered by Ken, the ideal format of scholarly exchange was actually approached. I was allowed to speak as an archaeologist without being chided for not being an ethnographer. Sara talked about the anthropometry of native South Americans at a time when, according to some anthropologists, anything smacking of biology should be suppressed. Being an “old-timer” of four field persuasion and knowledge, Ken always saw to it that different perspectives were not only tolerated, but encouraged.

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