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Margaret Willson

Guest Speaker

Professional affiliation

Affiliate Associate Professor, Departments of Anthropology and Scandinavian Studies, University of Washington; Senior Associate Scientist, Stefansson Arctic Institute, Akureyri, Iceland

Full Biography

Margaret Willson has a PhD in Anthropology from the London School of Economic and Political Science, and has taught at universities in the United States, Britain, Greece, Australia, Brazil and Papua New Guinea, worked in ethnographic film, and was International Director of an NGO for 16 years working for gender, racial and international equality. She is currently an Affiliate Associate Professor with the Departments of Anthropology and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, and a Senior Associate Scientist at the Stefansson Arctic Institute, Akureyri, Iceland. Her fields of interest include the Arctic and Northern regions with a specialty in Iceland; Northern coastal communities; fisheries politics and practices; human societies and climate change in Northern context; gender and sexuality; constructions of inequality; international development; and ethno-history.

Margaret Willson’s most recent book, Seawomen of Iceland: Survival on the Edge (2016, University of Washington Press: Seattle, was a finalist for the 2017 Washington State Nonfiction Book of the Year. Another recent book  Dance Lest We All Fall Down: Breaking Cycles of Poverty in Brazil and Beyond (2010, University Washington Press: Seattle), won a Silver Medal for Multicultural Nonfiction in the Independent Book Awards. Her current book project is an historical biography of a 19th century Icelandic female sea captain, respected as one of the best in the country during the 60 years she fished, and who also solved one of Iceland’s major crimes of that century (Book contract with Sourcebooks, manuscript due July 2021). 

Dr. Willson has also published extensively through articles, book chapters, an edited volume on anthropologists and sexuality in the field, and a catalogue on ethnographic film. She has received numerous grants and awards including from the National Geographic Society, the Snorri Sturlusson Icelandic Fellowship, and the Thomas C. Wales and Jefferson Awards for her NGO work on racial and gender equality.