I met Connie early in my career, at a 1980s AAA meeting. She was one of two discussants for an organized session on the Caribbean to which my paper had been added. The first discussant didn’t like my paper at all. Connie, however, had a very different reading. Her comments were so enthusiastic and encouraging that I felt as though she had rescued me from the kind of severe criticism that made me feel that I was out of place, didn’t belong, and was unlikely to succeed. Starting that very day, Connie took the initiative to build an affirming relationship between us that made a tremendous difference in my life and career. For instance, it was she who initially encouraged me to stand for election as chair of the Commission on the Anthropology of Women in the IUAES (i.e., the International Union of Anthropological & Ethnological Sciences). Chairing that commission, which had a history of collaborating with Connie’s beloved IWAC (International Women’s Anthropology Conference), eventually led me down the path toward becoming IUAES President (2013-15).
Connie was truly committed to the study of the Caribbean and to building a community of Caribbeanists. She was also committed to building networks of engaged scholars dedicated to social justice, antiracism, and transnational feminism. She generously shared her knowledge as well as her social networks. Her passion for teaching, mentoring, and being a caring colleague may have been formally based at NYU, but it extended into her home, where friendships grew from the warmth and secular communion of kitchen table interactions. I am so privileged to have enjoyed her hospitality on several occasions and to have been included, over many years, in symposia and lecture series that she played a role in planning or organizing at NYU and the NYAS.
Connie welcomed the chance to bring interesting people together, to foster new conversations, and to facilitate our achieving higher levels of mutual understanding. She was a beautiful person who possessed the powerful capacity to inspire.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
September 5, 2018