Anthropology Professor Hans Buechler marks 50 years of service

April 22, 2019 | Mary Elizabeth Horsington 

Hans Buechler 50 yrsHans Buechler is an anthropologist at heart. He is fascinated by people and their stories—where they come from, what they do in their working lives and how it shapes their world view. When Syracuse University honored the Maxwell School anthropology professor for 50 years of service at the One University Awards on April 12, it wasn’t just the VIPs that caught his attention—it was the honoree who approached him at the reception. “I was standing by the food table and started up a conversation with a man who was also being honored for his service,” Buechler says. “He explained that one of his major tasks in his job at the University is to change all the light bulbs, and he’s been doing this for years. It really made this event feel like we are a community, and that was a very nice thing.”

Buechler came to the Maxwell School in 1968, when the Vietnam War was raging and American students were embracing activism on campuses across the country. “There were all these demonstrations going on,” he recalls, “and I supported them, as long as they made something out of it.” He finds that today’s students are less interested in activism and more committed to getting good grades. “Probably because their livelihood depends on it more than it used to,” he observes. 

The social anthropology of Latin America has been a focus of Buechler’s research throughout his career. His late wife, Judith-Maria, was an anthropology professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. Together, they spent more than four decades immersed in the study of land reform and rural-urban migration in La Paz, Bolivia, and how it affects family, politics and ritual, as well as research in Spain, Eastern Germany and Switzerland. They wrote books, published articles and never tired of working together. Recording family histories was integral to their method, and Buechler continues this research himself, seven years after his wife’s death. He plans to return to Bolivia this summer to continue interviewing and observing the Bolivian family they have followed for three generations.

Read the full article via the SU News website.