Vigil wins Kimball Award

Professor emeritus James Diego Vigil

Professor emeritus honored by American Anthropological Association

James Diego Vigil, professor emeritus of criminology, law & society, has won the 2022 Solon T. Kimball Award for Public and Applied Anthropology from the American Anthropological Association (AAA).

The Kimball is awarded to honor exemplary anthropologists for outstanding recent achievements that have contributed to the development of anthropology as an applied science, have had important impacts on public policy, and speak directly to the spirit of the award, and Vigil has exemplified these values throughout his career, according to the award committee.

The award is dedicated to the late Solon Toothaker Kimball, who conducted groundbreaking anthropology work on family and community in rural Ireland and on the Navajo reservation in the American Southwest. Kimball studied social tension arising from racial segregation in 1950s Alabama and found himself labeled an “academic radical.”

“Vigil’s ongoing focus on the workings of community and the translation of the information into action to support community wellbeing is key to understanding the importance of his work,” the award committee notes. “Beyond any academic recognition he has received, his work with communities has strengthened the ability of those communities and the systems that would work with them to effectively interact and address critical issues. His most recent work illustrates the power that an individual anthropologist can bring when they employ the best of our theories and methods in efforts to identify and make change in the lives of community members and through the impact those voices have on policies that directly affect their lives. Vigil’s work clearly demonstrates the power that anthropology can achieve when it focuses on a community and explores their vision and concerns. The anthropological depth of knowledge and experience is critical to having an ability to demonstrate how a community is developing and reacting to worlds around it. The profound effects of Vigil’s presence in and engaged vision of communities over time cannot be replicated by greater funding or the interaction of a number of researchers focused on a single issue. His work is a singular example of the power of anthropology.”

Vigil's latest book, “Multiple Marginality and Gangs: Through a Prism Darkly,” unravels the youth gang problem in a multidimensional approach that encompasses the place, status, social control, subcultural, and identity facets of urban street gangs. His other books include: “From Indians to Chicanos: The Dynamics of Mexican American Culture,” “Personas Mexicanas: Chicano High Schoolers in a Changing Los Angeles,” “Barrio Gangs: Street Life and Identity in Southern California” and “A Rainbow of Gangs: A Cross-Cultural Study Street Youth in Los Angeles.”

Vigil has a Ph.D. and M.A. in anthropology from UCLA. He taught all levels of education from elementary school to graduate school at UCI, UCLA, Harvard and USC. His expertise is in urban studies, psychology, socialization and educational anthropology, Mexico and U.S. Southwest ethnohistory.

Founded in 1902, AAA is the world’s largest scholarly and professional organization of anthropologists. It is dedicated to advancing human understanding and applying it to the world’s most pressing problems.
— Mimi Ko Cruz