Professor Alice Pomponio, former Chair of the Department of Anthropology who passed away on June 19, 2012, was the subject of a special tribute by her professional organization on February 7.  The Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania, an international scholarly association, dedicated a special session to her memory at their annual meeting in San Antonio.  Dr. Pomponio once served as President of that association.  The session, titled “A Special Gathering in Honor of Ali Pomponio:  Expressions of Joy in Oceania,” drew a large number of her friends and colleagues.  In the words of the organizers, “We have chosen to honor Ali with a special gathering that begins with, but is not limited to, the topic of expressions of joy in Oceanic societies as homage to her vivacious, joyful personality and the joy that she brought to all who knew her.” 

The organizers also stated that the gathering “will also provide an opportunity for attendees to talk more broadly on the many initiatives Ali pursued such as writing books for children and a more public anthropology.  It is hoped that this special evening gathering will evolve into something more than a memorial for Ali; that it will inspire a lively discussion on what it is we do to promote joy and other “good feelings,” cross-cultural knowledge and understanding, and such “good works” as preserving endangered languages.”  One of the organizers later said that “Many of those present said they felt that Ali was with us.”  Another said “It was very intimate…those who knew her and those whose lives she had touched…It was full of warm feelings and good fun...Music…photos, singing, laughter, fun stories about Ali.  And a few tears too.”  She also noted that “Someone reminded me today that in all the 40+ year history of ASAO there has never been a session in honor of someone who passed away.  The session for Ali is unique, a first!  That’s because Ali was unique!”

The Department of Anthropology, her home for almost thirty years, has reason to be proud.