Central College News

Cynthia Mahmood named Frank Moore Chair in Anthropology

May 19, 2014


During the 2014 commencement ceremony May 17 in H.S. Kuyper Fieldhouse, Central College President Mark Putnam announced Cynthia Mahmood has been named the Frank Moore Chair in Anthropology. Mahmood will join Central College in August and will be installed as the Frank Moore Chair in the coming academic year.

Established in 2000, the Frank Moore Chair in Anthropology is named after Frank Moore ’49, a member of the Central College Board of Trustees for almost 20 years. Moore received a Master of Science degree in anthropology at Mexico City College, a Master of Arts degree at the University of Michigan and completed his doctorate in anthropology from Columbia University. He retired in 1974 after completing 20 years in anthropological research at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

Moore and his wife, Grace, also an anthropologist, established the Frank Moore Chair in Anthropology to recognize and perpetuate the Moore’s support for the teaching of anthropology at Central College. They believe extensive knowledge of the origins and development of human societies will lead to a greater understanding of present-day cultural relationships.

Mahmood, the second recipient of the chair, earned her bachelor’s degree in anthropology and psychology from New College in Sarasota, Fla., and her masters and Ph.D. in anthropology from Tulane University in New Orleans, La. Her dissertation was titled, “Rebellion and Response in Ancient India: Political Dynamics of the Hindu-Buddhist Tradition.”

Mahmood was a member of the Central College faculty from 1986-1991 and a member of the faculty at University of Maine, Orono, until 2001. She then joined the faculty at University of Notre Dame in Indiana where she also served as a Fellow at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and as a Fellow of the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies.

An ongoing dedication to student learning has marked Mahmood’s career. In 1989, she received the Outstanding Performance Award for Teaching at Central. She was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi as Outstanding Faculty Member at the University of Maine. At the University of Notre Dame, Mahmood received the Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C. Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, as well as the Reinhold Niebuhr Award, an annual award recognizing a person whose life and work exemplify a passion for social justice.

Mahmood is a noted expert on India, especially religious motivations for militancy and the anthropology of violence, war and peace, terrorism, guerilla warfare and language and culture. Decades of research on the international Sikh community have made her an expert on the movement for statehood, human rights in Punjab and Sikh religious issues. She has published a number of works, including the ethnography “Fighting for Faith and Nation: Dialogues with Sikh Militants.” Mahmood has also conducted research in the Netherlands and has written a book on Frisian life and culture.

“It is my great honor to accept the position of the Frank Moore Chair in Anthropology, returning to Central College after 14 years,” Mahmood said. “The college has changed in many positive ways since I taught here just after graduate school, and I look forward to becoming part of its continuing development now.”