Professor Profile: Robert Gordon

Emma Templeton: Where are you from?Robert Gordon: I am from the second most sparsely populated country in the world, Namibia, which is probably why I became interested in socializing with people. ET: Where did you attend school?RG: I went to boarding school; my father didn’t want me to become a Communist, so he sent me to an English school in South Africa. I then went to The University of Stennenbosch in Africa. But I wanted to come to the United States because I didn’t know anything about it. I thought it was small, and that I could visit friends on the West coast in one day driving from the East coast. This was in the 70’s when things were very interesting and there were lots of protests. I then spent three years in Papua New Guinea at University studying public interest anthropology and did research by invitation. I did research on the causes of war and peace in Papua New Guinea and have attended 50 wars. But they were wars with wood tipped arrows. I was basically studying the break down of social order.ET: How many books have you written?RG: Many. My 21st book was Law and Order in New Guinea Highlands and it was about tribal warfare. I have written about migrant labor workers, rural warfare, Bushmen, visualization of Bushmen, and inherency and why it matters. Right now I am trying to write a book about dogs called Fido, about the dog tales of colonization; a well trained dog is a well colonized dog.ET: How long have you been at the University of Vermont?RG: I have been here since 1979, but I have done a lot of field work for about 5 or 6 years.ET: What issues are you most interested in?RG: Genocide and human rights, acid stripping, and AIDS because so many people are dying so young from it.ET: Do you enjoy your work?RG: I am having a lot of fun, especially with public interest anthropology. I never know what’s going to fall into my lap next and I never know what interesting thing will come up. It is very exciting.ET: How many marathons have you run?RG: 56, including some ultra marathons. I am currently really into Kayaking.ET: What makes you a good professor?RG: I am only as good as my students are, and students don’t realize that. If I don’t learn from my students during a class, then it’s been a bad class.