Travels with Frances Densmore: Her Life, Work, and Legacy in Native American Studies draws together a biography of the twentieth century anthropologist with a compilation of both new and previously published works on Densmore’s professional heritage. Although both parts of the book span much of Densmore’s career, Joan M. Jensen and Michelle Wick Patterson contend that the book is not intended to be comprehensive. Instead, they ask the reader to consider Travels with Frances Densmore a “travel guide” through the anthropologist’s remarkably productive career as well as the broader professional, social, and political contexts in which she worked.
As the first half-year of the revived History of Anthropology Newsletter closes, we’d like to bring your attention to a handful of posts which will appear in the next months, and some interesting changes to the site:
A revised Bibliographies section, with regular updates of recent books and articles in the field;
23rd German-Russian Encounters at the Francke Foundations in connection with the 10th Anniversary Conference of the International Georg Wilhelm Steller Society
Halle (Saale), Germany | 11–15 October 2017 | Venue: Franckesche Stiftungen zu Halle
Organizers: Dr. Anna-Elisabeth Hintzsche, Friederike Lippold M.A., Dr. Han F. Vermeulen, Prof. Dr. Holger Zaunstöck
On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s Reformation, the 23rd German-Russian Encounters in Halle (Germany) addresses the issue of how Lutherans were active in eighteenth-century Russia and Siberia. Of central concern will be the expeditions to Siberia dispatched by the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg and the participation of Pietists from Halle in these research travels. The conference focuses on the tensions between piety, scholarship, and culture. Special attention will be given to the learning and application of the Russian language during the early eighteenth century. Continue reading
Many HAN readers will be familiar with George Stocking’s work on the history of anthropology; not all will know that he was also an artist. Until his last year of high school, while living in Manhattan, he thought of himself as bound for a career as a painter (Stocking 2010:25-26). After college, he worked in a meat packing factory, seeking to organize a union; he grew disillusioned with the Communist Party and entered graduate school in 1956, “to understand why American culture was so resistant to radical change” (69). That set him on the path of a scholar and teacher.
Yet in the 1970s, when George was settled on the faculty at the University of Chicago, he returned to his artistic pursuits. Not in painting, however—but in needlepoint. At first, he purchased kits for a footstool and pillows. After the birth of a grandchild, he needlepointed a Christmas stocking, using a standard design. In 1980, he dispensed with the kit and designed his own Christmas stocking, creating an original pattern with biographical details tailored to the recipient: his seven-year-old grandson, Jesse, who was much taken with The Incredible Hulk. The stocking portrayed Santa as a muscular, green-skinned superhero who seems to have arrived on a garbage truck, punching through a brick wall, to the amazement of a Krazy-Kat like Mickey Mouse. Continue reading
Photography was a major medium in racial science and Amos Morris-Reich, a professor at the University of Haifa, has written Race and Photography to show how racial scientists used photographs as evidence. He presents his subject not as a history of anti-Semitic pseudoscience or propaganda but as a history of science that aims to take seriously the role of photographs in books about race. The starting point is his “practical epistemology” (4): a study of photography that looks at scientific practices rather than at theories for their underlying epistemological assumptions. This means that Morris-Reich’s analysis consists of close readings of photographs and their position in publications, paying attention to things as varied as photographic angles, publication quality, the order of photographs, and the way in which they connect to the written text.
During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, German universities inspired the reformation of higher learning institutions throughout Europe and the United States (Barth et. al. 2005). Early museums and museum pioneers in the United States were likewise influenced by the collecting practices and ideas of their German counterparts. High profile museum anthropologists in various national contexts—Franz Boas among them—relied on connections and correspondence with German colleagues. For a time anthropology in German museums appeared unproblematically forward thinking, growing out of a liberal-humanist tradition to connect Europe with the rest of the world, shaped by the desire to extend beyond curiosity cabinets toward the systematic, empirically driven study of mankind.
The Royal Anthropological Institute will be hosting its third conference on the History of Anthropology and the RAI on December 13-14, 2016. The conference will take place at the RAI’s rooms at 50 Fitzroy Street, London. There is no conference fee, and refreshments will be provided. To book your place, please register here.
The Royal Anthropological Institute is hosting a day-long conference on the history of anthropology in Austria, covering both early and more recent contributions to the field. The event will take place on Tuesday, November 8, 2016 starting at 9:00 am in the Wolfson Room of the British Academy in London. Scheduled speakers include HE Martin Eichtinger (Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Austria to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), Heinz Fassmann (Deputy Rector of the University of Vienna & Chair of the Austrian Academy of Sciences Academy Council), and scholars including Andre Gingrich, Ayşe Çağlar, Peter Schweitzer, Eva-Maria Knoll, Chris Hann, Thomas Fillitz, Stephan Kloos, Maria Six-Mohenbalken, and João de Pina-Cabral. Paper abstracts, registration information, and a complete schedule of the conference can be found on the event website.
The Department of Africana Studies (Barnard College), English Department (Barnard College), the Heyman Center for the Humanities (Columbia University), Institute for Research in African American Studies (Columbia University, the Office of the Provost (Barnard College), and the joint Barnard College/Columbia University Department of Anthropology will be holding a conference honoring Zora Neale Hurston on Friday, October 28. The event will take place at 10:00AM EST at the Event Oval, The Diana Center, 3009 Broadway, New York, NY 10027. Scheduled speakers include Alex Alston, John L. Jackson, Jr., Adriana Garriga-Lopez, Tami Navarro, Mariel Rodney, Patricia Stuelke, Deborah Thomas, Sarah E. Vaughn, Bianca Williams, and Autumn Womack. A full conference schedule and registration information can be found on the conference webpage.
The ancient inhabitants of the United States left artifacts and structures across the continent, from Florida to the Great Lakes and Chaco Canyon to Puget Sound. Today’s archaeologists study how these populations moved, changed, and interacted, using material traces to understand the lives of their makers. The current professional consensus as to how archaeology is done and what it tells us about America’s past did not emerge in a linear fashion. Terry Barnhart’s American Antiquities chronicles the “organic and altogether untidy process” (1) by which antiquarian interest in Indian mounds, and speculation about their non-Indian origins, transmuted into the work of scientific societies, state-sponsored surveys, museums, and ultimately an academic discipline at pains to escape the burden of its own history.
The National Anthropological Archives (NAA) at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), Department of Anthropology is offering a 3-year postdoctoral fellowship that focuses on research with the NAA to establish methods, standards, and criteria for enhancing the discoverability of cultural anthropology data and materials within its holdings.
Candidates should hold (or have plans to defend) a Ph.D. in anthropology, information or archival studies, or other relevant field. The successful candidate will have a strong research background, proven information and project management skills, demonstrated excellence in communication skills, a record of publication and public presentation, and strong interest in advancing archival practice and research through education, engagement, and collaboration. The successful candidate will have an understanding and demonstrated competency in any of the following areas of research in anthropological archives: ethnographic research methods, the history of anthropology, visual anthropology, archival theory and practice, historical and ethno-historical research methods.
Interested candidates should send a CV, a statement (2 pages maximum) of interest in this position and how it relates to their personal goals, and a list of 3 references and their contact information to the project PI, Gabriela Pérez Báez at firstname.lastname@example.org, and CC Joshua A. Bell email@example.com and Gina Rappaport firstname.lastname@example.org. Review of applications will begin on October 17, 2016. Selected applicant will be notified no later than November 7, 2017.
One summer afternoon in 1958, two young girls stood on the hot tarmac at Idlewild (later JFK) airport, awaiting the arrival of the famous German choreographer Albrecht Knust. Knust was in America to promote Labanotation, a technique for capturing dance on paper developed in the 1920s by his mentor, Rudolf Laban. In Knust’s honor, the girls had emblazoned the edges of their wide, white skirts with Labanotation’s characteristic symbols, and as he disembarked, they eagerly extended their arms to display their creations. Continue reading
Poster for the Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA)
How do we care for objects and how do objects care for us? Dr. Bill Wood, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a 2016 SIMA Faculty Fellow, asked this question during the discussion portion of the 2016 Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA) Symposium. The Symposium, which took place Thursday and Friday, July 21-22, was the culmination of four weeks of work by Master’s students and PhD candidates from across the United States and Canada. Since 2009, the Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology has brought 12 to 14 anthropology graduate students into the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) to engage collections. In 2015, the program has expanded to include two visiting faculty fellows. Funded by the Cultural Anthropology Program of the National Science Foundation, the program is run and hosted by NMNH’s Anthropology Department. SIMA participants are taught by staff from NMNH and across the Smithsonian, as well as by three visiting professors. Through hands-on work with objects in intensive seminars, SIMA trains students in the core methodological aspects of museum anthropology and helps them understand the types of data in museums, and the issues involved in working with collections. In the process, students learn how to apply their diverse theoretical interests through object-based research. Continue reading
Historians have argued that racial science and theories of biological determinism disappeared from academia after 1945. Under pressure from forces within academia and without, biological anthropologists turned their attention to population studies while cultural anthropologists produced nuanced studies of non-western cultures. More recently, however, historians of racial science such as Veronika Lipphardt and Alice Conklin have criticized and complicated this teleological narrative and have suggested that it is the result of post-war anthropologists distancing themselves from a disreputable past. Tracy Teslow’s Constructing Race: The Science of Bodies and Cultures in American Anthropology is a crucial contribution to this revisionist historiography. Teslow details the history of American anthropology between 1900 and 1960, which, according to her, has been understudied and misinterpreted. Rather than presenting a smooth success story of the triumph of cultural relativism in anthropology, Constructing Race shows the messiness and complexity of this history.
From May 18-21, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) held its Annual Meeting at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, in Honolulu, HI. The meeting was broad in scope, drawing together scholars from a diverse range of fields—including history, anthropology, linguistics, and cultural studies—as well as activists and representatives from various indigenous political organizations and cultural institutions. It was an extremely welcoming event (helped by the beautiful surroundings and relaxed atmosphere) which encouraged open conversation and interdisciplinary exchange. For the first time in NAISA’s history, the conference schedule also included a “day of service” without panels, which provided an opportunity for attendees to participate in a number of activities focused on community engagement, which ranged from a tour of the Iolani Palace to an environmental justice bus tour of Oahu.
British anthropology’s founding myth is that Malinowski was the first to pioneer intensive fieldwork methods. The eight chapters in this absorbing edited volume present the view that it was within the important—but largely forgotten—Percy Sladen Trust expedition to the Solomon Islands in 1908 that professional anthropologists first undertook such an “ethnographic experiment.” The authors focus on expedition members W.H.R. Rivers and A.M. Hocart, who carried out ethnographic research on Simbo and Vella Lavella, New Georgia province. It is perhaps Rivers who is the more famous of the pair, due to his pioneering work on ‘shellshock’ during World War I. However Rivers’s legacy within anthropology has been more ambivalent than that of Hocart who has lately been lauded for his theoretical contributions, which had particular influence on Louis Dumont and Marshall Sahlins. In an introduction to Sahlins’s recent lecture in his honour, Hocart was heralded as “the Foucault before Foucault, the Latour before Latour.” Hocart’s later work may be deemed as pre-empting postmodern critique by suggesting that a cosmic-political imagination is prior to historically-particular categories, divisions, and techniques of organisation whilst rejecting a radical break between pre-modern and modern, magic and rationality. The third member of the expedition, G.C. Wheeler, left Hocart and Rivers after two months to carry out independent fieldwork in the Shortland Islands. Although Wheeler’s fieldwork is acknowledged by the editors to be “by far the most extensive” of the trio, he did not achieve similar fame. In focusing on Rivers and Hocart, this volume does little to address Wheeler’s obscurity.
Royal Anthropological Institute
Third conference on the History of Anthropology and the RAI 1918-1945
FIRST CALL FOR PAPERS
13th-14th December 2016 at the Royal Anthropological Institute
The third of our ‘history days’ at the RAI covers the period 1918-1945. A tumultuous period for the discipline, it marked the emergence of functionalist ethnography, anthropology’s division into sub-disciplines, and the decisive establishment of anthropology within the universities. Nevertheless, the RAI was at the heart of these developments in many ways, through its journals, lectures, committees, and growing Fellowship. This period also marked the expansion of our library, the launch of the IUAES and various attempts to seek a role for anthropology as an applied discipline.
Accordingly, we would seek now papers that cover any aspect of anthropology’s history at that time, but particularly as it may be relevant to the RAI’s fellows, project, committees, or publications. Without in any way wishing to restrict possible proposals for papers, possible areas of interest might be:
Price’s careful and morally centered narrative concludes a trilogy of works describing various relationships between American anthropologists and intelligence agencies in the United States from World War II through the Vietnam War. His preceding volumes discussed anthropologists working for the state during WWII and the persecution of anthropologists under McCarthyism; this volume hones in on arguably the prickliest territory of the three, describing covert and overt relationships between military/intelligence agencies and anthropologists from the close of WWII through the Vietnam War.
“Translating Across Space and Time” is an international conference hosted by the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, PA from October 13-15, 2016 and co-sponsored by the Penn Humanities Forum. The three-day conference will bring together a range of scholars, practitioners, and community leaders to discuss the ways archival collections and scholarly fieldwork can help preserve and revitalize endangered languages and cultural practices in indigenous communities throughout North America.
Conference panels pay particular attention to the legal and ethical issues archives and scholars face when working with indigenous materials, the ways technologies have forged new forms of cross-cultural collaborations, the influence of past policies on the present, and the best practices for pedagogy. Brief papers will be precirculated in order to encourage conversation and dialogue during the conference. The full schedule can be found at: https://amphilsoc.org/conference/translatingconference/schedule
Registration is now open for no cost to attendees on the conference website.
The History of Anthropology Newsletter officially relaunches in online form on June 20, 2016. Originally edited by George W. Stocking, Jr., then by Henrika Kuklick, the HAN is now under the direction of a new editorial team based at the University of Pennsylvania, with the guidance of an esteemed advisory board—several of whom have been involved in the HAN since its inception.
Field Notes, a space for pointed observations on questions in the history of anthropology; our first issue contains fascinating reflections on the history of the newsletter itself, from Richard Handler, Ira Bashkow, and Regna Darnell, as well as notes on the history of anthropological collections and museums by Ira Jacknis.
Clio’s Fancy, a section devoted to oddities and curiosities found in the archives, which was originally edited by George Stocking and which we’re renewing with a wedding announcement connecting the Boasian tradition to the history of science fiction.
A Twitter feed with frequent updates of interest to the history of anthropology community.
We invite you to explore the newsletter, either as a return or for the first time. We also invite you to post responses, offer suggestions, submit news, articles, and reviews, and keep the conversation going.
In early April 2016, during what will surely turn out to be a notable moment in Brazil’s political history, scholars representing a variety of disciplines from across the globe met in Rio de Janeiro to participate in the workshop, “Racial Conceptions in the Twentieth-Century: Comparisons, Connections and Circulations in the Portuguese-speaking Global South.” The two-day workshop was characterized not only by the collegiality and enthusiasm of its participants, but also its commitment to illuminating the diversity of racial thought emerging from the Lusophone Global South.
As a contribution to the “Field Notes” section of the relaunched History of Anthropology Newsletter, I offer the following as a brief report of my recent research in the history of anthropology and its connections to art history and the history of museums. Historians of anthropology tend to work in a range of institutional and disciplinary locations, and I have done much of my “fieldwork” in museum collections and libraries. I would like to dedicate this essay to both former editors-in-chief of HAN: my mentor George Stocking, and my friend and colleague Riki Kuklick, for both of whom the many different meanings and values attached to “fieldwork” was a lasting topic of reflection.
The History of Anthropology Review (formerly the History of Anthropology Newsletter) has been a venue for publication and conversation on the many histories of the discipline of anthropology since 1973. We became an open access web publication in 2016; please subscribe to our emails below to receive updates as we publish new essays, reviews, and bibliographies.
The History of Anthropology Review became an online publication with volume 40 in 2016, and changed its title from History of Anthropology Newsletter to History of Anthropology Review on October 18, 2019. Content is updated continually, and subscribers receive weekly emails with links to new content.
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