Acheson, a cultural anthropologist, author and professor at UMaine since 1968, will receive the Solon T. Kimball Award for Public and Applied Anthropology at the association's annual meeting in San Francisco in November.
The award, given only every other year since 1978, recognizes outstanding achievement in applied anthropology and research that has had an impact on public policy.
"It was something I never expected," Acheson says.
Founded in 1902 and with nearly 30,000 members, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) is the world's largest anthropological organization.
A Bangor, Maine resident, Acheson has a joint appointment in the Anthropology Department and the School of Marine Sciences. He is also cooperating research professor with the university's Lobster Institute. He is an internationally recognized authority on economic anthropology and the social science aspects of fisheries management.
"In the past few years, my primary contribution has been to use 'rational choice theory' to show under what conditions groups of people will and will not develop rules to conserve the resources on which their livelihood depends," Acheson says. "This has led me into a far more theoretical realm namely trying to understand the circumstances under which people develop rules in general."
Acheson has studied the system of self governance in the Maine lobster industry and has chronicled the circumstances under which lobster fishermen developed informal rules and lobbied for formal laws to conserve the lobster stock.
"Lobstering is an unusual success story and there's an awful lot we can learn there," he says. "The important thing is these guys imposed these rules on themselves. It's an interesting, interesting industry,
Contact: James Acheson
University of Maine