March 14, 1996
Vol. 15, No. 13

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    Endowed chairs to three Professors

    s Anthropologists Jean Comaroff and John Comaroff, who have studied extensively cultures of southern Africa, have been awarded Distinguished Service Professorships, and Mary Becker, an expert in women's issues and domestic violence, has received an endowed professorship in the Law School.

    Jean Comaroff, Professor and Chairman of Anthropology and Professor in the Committee on African & African-American Studies and the College, has been named the Bernard E. and Ellen C. Sunny Distinguished Service Professor. John Comaroff, Professor in Anthropology, the Committee on African & African-American Studies and the College, has been named the Harold H. Swift Distinguished Service Professor.

    The Comaroffs are experts on the impact of colonialism on people in southern Africa. They are the authors of Of Revelation and Revolution: Christianity, Colonialism and Consciousness in South Africa, Vol. 1, which won the Gordon J. Laing Award from the University of Chicago Press in 1993. The book is a study of the impact of Christian missionaries working among the Tswana people of southern Africa. The missionaries came from Britain early in the 19th century, and the Comaroffs' book follows their work into the early 20th century.

    The Comaroffs have worked together extensively during their academic careers, conducting much of their research in Botswana and South Africa. Their individual work includes Jean Comaroff's Body of Power, Spirit of Resistance: The Culture and History of a South African People, published by the Press in 1985, and John Comaroff's Structure of Agricultural Transformation in Barolong and The Tswana. He is also president-elect of the Association of Political and Legal Anthropology.

    The Comaroffs both joined the University faculty in 1978 and were promoted to Professors in 1987. Both received their B.A. degrees from the University of Cape Town in 1966, and both received their Ph.D.s from the London School of Economics, she in 1974 and he in 1973.

    The Bernard E. and Ellen C. Sunny Distinguished Service Professorship was established in 1965 to honor two generous donors to the University. Bernard Sunny was president of the Chicago Telephone Company and chairman of the board there from 1922 to 1930. Sunny Gymnasium at the Laboratory Schools was named in his honor in 1928 after he donated funds for its construction.

    The Harold H. Swift Distinguished Service Professorship was established in 1962 in honor of Harold Swift, the first alumnus of the University to be elected to the Board of Trustees. Swift was named a Trustee in 1914 and was Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 1922 to 1949. He was also a director on the board of Swift & Company.

    Becker, Professor in the Law School, was named the Arnold I. Shure Professor in Urban Law.

    An expert in family law, feminist theory, women's issues, domestic violence, employment discrimination and critical racial and lesbian/gay legal theory, Becker has been active for several years in seeking clemency for Illinois women convicted of killing abusive partners.

    She received her B.S. from Loyola University in 1969, then taught first grade and worked in data processing for several years before returning to school. Becker received her J.D. from the University in 1980, and after clerking for Judge Abner Mikva of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and for Justice Lewis Powell Jr. of the U.S. Supreme Court, she joined the Law School faculty in 1982.

    Becker is the American Association of Law Students' liaison to the American Bar Association's Commission on the Status of Women in the Profession. She is the author of a new textbook on women's legal issues and feminist theory, Feminist Jurisprudence: Taking Women Seriously.

    The Arnold I. Shure Professorship was established in 1971 through a matching grant from the Ford Foundation and the contributions of a large group of friends of the Law School in honor of Shure, a prominent Chicago attorney and an alumnus of both the College and the Law School.