Ann Swidler, University of California-Berkeley
Michèle Lamont, Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies and Professor of Sociology and African and African-American Studies at Harvard University, is a powerhouse of intellect, spirit, and moral commitment. I want to introduce the 2017 ASA President with a sentence from her 2012 Annual Review of Sociology paper, “Toward a Comparative Sociology of Valuation and Evaluation.” She begins boldly with, “What can be done to ensure that a larger proportion of the members of our society can be defined as valuable?” Substitute for “our society” “all societies” and you have the driving issue that animates Michèle Lamont’s remarkable fusion of action, passion, and scholarly brilliance.
Michèle’s energy is legendary, but even those who know her very well might be astounded at the variety of tasks she has undertaken, all while maintaining a powerful focus on her own scholarship. In addition to serving as the incoming ASA President, Michèle is also Director of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard, Co-Director of the Successful Societies Program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and she sits on a number of advisory boards. All this activity and her many honors might lead one to imagine that perhaps she shirks her other responsibilities or roles as teacher, mentor, parent, spouse, and friend. This could not be further from the truth.