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ISU Mourns the Loss of Emeritus Professor on Anthropology Dr. Tony Stocks

June 13, 2024

The Department of Anthropology, the College of Arts and Letters, and the greater ISU community mourn the loss of Dr. Anthony (Tony) Stocks, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology. Originally from Burley, Idaho, Dr. Stocks received a Ph.D. in Anthropology and a Ph.D. Certificate in Latin American Studies from the University of Florida in 1978. He joined the combined Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work at ISU as an Assistant Professor in 1979. He became full Professor in 1991, and served as Anthropology Program Director until 1993 when he and colleagues split from Sociology and Social Work to form the Department of Anthropology. Dr. Stocks chaired the new department from 1995-1998 and again in 2003-2006, during which time he led multiple hires across the four subfields of Anthropology, worked to increase course offerings in Anthropology and Shoshoni studies, strengthened relations with federal agencies and the Pocatello community, and served as a valued mentor to junior faculty and students.

Dr. Stocks worked with indigenous people in nearly every country of Latin America over the course of his 40+ years of active anthropological fieldwork. His major research contributions were primarily centered on challenges to indigenous land tenure in Latin America. He engaged in participatory mapping of indigenous lands in multiple South and Central American nations in order to strengthen land claims and local institutions. His tireless efforts to help secure land rights for indigenous peoples have positively impacted thousands of lives. He further applied anthropological research to neotropical indigenous biodiversity conservation and resource management to foster conditions in which indigenous language and cultural practices can continue. He firmly understood that wildlife conservation and the future of humanity are inextricably linked.

Dr. Stocks helped to found critical department social events that were designed with purpose. The Fall Potlatch is a fundraiser for the student anthropology club for which items from faculty and student fieldwork and travel are donated for auction. As Dr. Stocks once described, “It was a potlatch in the sense that prestige could be gained by donating a valuable item or by paying a lot for one.” The Spring Pig Roast was designed to unite the department in a common labor event through digging the pit, collecting lava rocks and watercress, building and tending the fire, burying the pig, and sharing a feast over two days. Dr. Stocks always emphasized the importance of community, and spearheaded these and countless other community-building social events. His frequent refrain within the department was “We’re a family.”

Stocks retired from ISU in 2006 but returned in 2011-2012 to Chair the department during a tumultuous time and to hire his replacement. After retirement, he continued as a consultant to major international agencies operating in Latin America such as the World Bank, USAID, and the Wildlife Conservation Society. He was in demand by many agencies into his 80s for his unique skill set and unparalleled experience. As recently as 2022, he was contracted to work on land tenure in Belize.

The enduring passion of Dr. Stocks’ life was music. A supremely gifted musician, he played a number of instruments. He began most days by playing classical music on the grand piano in his music room. He had many long, complex pieces committed to memory. He also founded or was a member of dozens of local bands over the years and loved jamming with others and performing for an audience. Making music was an essential part of every day for 'Toon,' as he was known among friends.


College of Arts and LettersUniversity News