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Book cover featuring runners in Ethiopia subtitled 'Running wisdom and magic from above the clouds in Ethiopia.

The Boards of Directors of the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) and the American Anthropology Association (AAA) have selected Dr Michael Crawley to receive the Margaret Mead Award for 2022.

Dr Crawley who is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Durham University, was selected for his book, Out of Thin Air: Running Wisdom and Magic from Above the Clouds in Ethiopia, published by Bloomsbury (2020). 

The Mead Award will be presented on March 31, 2023, at the 83rd Annual Meeting of the Society in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Mead Award was initiated by the Society for Applied Anthropology in 1979 with the approval of Margaret Mead. Since 1983, the award has been sponsored and presented jointly with the American Anthropological Association. The award is presented annually to a young scholar for a particular accomplishment, such as a book, which employs anthropological data and principles in ways that make them meaningful and accessible to a broadly concerned public. 

The award honours the memory of Margaret Mead, who in her lifetime was the most widely known woman in the world, and arguably the most recognized anthropologist. Mead had a unique talent for bringing anthropology into the light of public attention.  Dr. Crawley received a Ph.D. in anthropology in 2019 from the University of Edinburgh. His research interests include Ethiopia, running, competition, economic anthropology, energy, cooperation, sport, and migration. 

Out of Thin Air: Running Wisdom and Magic from Above the Clouds in Ethiopia tells the story of how Michael spent 15 months in Ethiopia training alongside (and sometimes a fair way behind) runners at all levels of the sport, from night watchmen hoping to change their lives to world class marathon runners. Out of Thin Air answers such questions as: Why does it make sense to Ethiopian runners to get up at 3:00 a.m. to run up and down a hill? Who would choose to train on almost impossibly steep and rocky terrain—in hyena territory? And why do Ethiopian men hold six of the top ten fastest marathon times ever? 

Additional information on the Mead Award and previous recipients may be found on the SfAA website –