During the last week of classes, The Collegian will be publishing a photo series titled Academic Alcoves showcasing various professors' offices around the University of Richmond. This is the final installment of seven.
As an anthropologist who came to the University of Richmond in 2013, Christopher R. von Rueden spends part of his time teaching and the other part conducting ethnographic fieldwork with the Tsimane', a indigenous people of lowland Bolivia. His interest piqued at a young age when his missionary grandparents showed him slides of their travels to West Africa.
The walls and shelves in von Rueden’s office are filled with gifts and artifacts from working with people of different cultures.
When working in Tanzania, he acquired two batiks -- pieces of handmade African fabric art created using wax. One batik depicts a group called the Mossi, and the other is of Mt. Kilimanjaro. A collection of arrows from places including New Guinea, South America and some from an indigenous ethnic group in Tanzania called the Hadza line the wall above his desk. These arrows were either gifts or von Rueden traded goods for them.
His prized possession, however, is the replica of an australopithecus hand found over three million years ago in South Africa.
His bookcase is filled with many other trinkets including Native American arrowheads, handmade drawings, traditional instruments, a dagger, and a replica of a medieval spiked flail.
Although von Rueden has many culturally fascinating objects in his office, he also has some more light-hearted items like the mechanical chimp.
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