Saint Martin’s faculty member David Price chosen to present ‘Last Lecture’

January 30, 2014

David Price, Ph.D.

LACEY, Wash. – David Price, Ph.D., professor of sociology and cultural anthropology at Saint Martin’s University, has been selected by Saint Martin’s students to deliver the University’s fifth annual “Last Lecture.”

The lecture is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 5, in the Trautman Union Building, located on the University’s Lacey campus, 5000 Abbey Way SE. The event and a reception to immediately follow are free and open to the public.

The Last Lecture centers on the question, “If this was the last lecture you would ever give to students, what would you say?”

Saint Martin’s and other universities throughout the United States were inspired to begin hosting a Last Lecture series following a memorable talk presented in 2007 by Carnegie Mellon University Professor Randy Pausch, Ph.D. Pausch was a beloved faculty member, researcher and mentor who had been diagnosed at a young age with terminal cancer. His students and colleagues believed he had one last lesson to give, which he delivered in a lecture entitled, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.”

“Dr. Price’s many years as a popular professor at Saint Martin’s University, his wide-ranging travels, his gripping research into and books about the FBI infiltration of the civil rights movement, along with his unshakable academic standards, make him the natural choice of our students to give this year’s Last Lecture,” says Katya Shkurkin, Ph.D., professor and director of the University’s social work and community service programs, and the faculty advisor to the Last Lecture student committee. Shkurkin was also the inaugural Last Lecture speaker at Saint Martin’s in 2010.

Price will speak on “Resisting Complacency: Luck, Choices and the Fates.”

“Everyone has choices, even though some of us have different opportunities than others,” Price says. “There is this idea that we can all make a difference but there is also enormous social pressure to not make a difference, to just go along with conformity.”

“However, the world would be a mess if we all conformed,” he adds. “The practice of non-conformance is vital if we’re going to change the world.”

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Price studied anthropology and intellectual history as an undergraduate at The Evergreen State College. He received his A.M. from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Florida, studying under anthropologist Marvin Harris and conducting research on the ancient and contemporary irrigation systems of the Egyptian Fayoum. He has conducted cultural anthropological and archaeological fieldwork and research in the United States, Palestine, Egypt and Yemen.

Price is the author of Atlas of World Cultures: A Geographical Guide to Ethnographic Literature (Sage, 1989). He has published articles in The Nation, CounterPunch, Identities, Critique of Anthropology, Anthropological Quarterly, Anthropology Today, Anthropology News, American Anthropologist, Human Organization, Science & Society, Journal of Anthropological Research and elsewhere, using documents released under the Freedom of Information Act to establish the existence of various covert relationships between American anthropologists and military and intelligence agencies. He is a founding member of the Network of Concerned Anthropologists.

During the last decade, Price has served on several American Anthropological Association commissions and task forces dealing with political and ethical issues facing the association. These entities include the Ad Hoc Commission on the Engagement of Anthropology with the U.S. Security & Intelligence Communities (2006-2009) and the Ad Hoc Ethics Sub-Committee Task Force (2008-2011), which wrote the revised code of ethics recently adopted by the association.

Price is writing a three-volume series of books, using the Freedom of Information Act and archival sources to examine American anthropologists’ interactions with intelligence agencies. His Book, Threatening Anthropology: McCarthyism and the FBI's Persecution of Activist Anthropologists (Duke University Press, 2004), uses 30,000 pages of FBI documents to examine governmental attempts to suppress academic freedom. Archaeological Intelligence: The Use and Neglect of American Anthropology in the Second World War (Duke University Press, 2008) documents anthropological contributions to World War II. A third volume, Dual Use Anthropology: Cold War Anthropologists and the CIA, will explore anthropologists’ interactions with the CIA and the Pentagon during the Cold War. His most recent book is Weaponizing Anthropology: Social Science in Service of the National Security State (CounterPunch, 2011).

This year’s Last Lecture is sponsored by the Associated Students of Saint Martin’s University and the Oikos Residential Learning Community, a co-curricular residential program for first-year students that is held in the University’s Parsons Hall.


Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 23 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 400 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 300 more undergraduate students to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Centralia College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at

For additional information:

Katya Shkurkin, Ph.D.
Professor, Social Work and Community Service
Saint Martin’s University

Meg Nugent Dwyer
Media relations manager