Our ability to explore the history of anthropology in a substantive and empirical manner hinges upon access to primary and secondary source material. Since HAN was established in 1973, anthropologically relevant archives have gone through multiple material transformations that shape the way we do the history of anthropology. Today an anthropological archival collection might be fully digitized, however it remains much more likely that only parts of it or only a detailed description of its contents are accessible online. For those readers less familiar with archival collections and how to locate and access them, some basic resources and strategies might be useful.
Herbert S. Lewis. In Defense of Anthropology: An Investigation of the Critique of Anthropology. xvii + 244 pp., bibl., index. New Brunswick: Transaction, 2013. $69.95 (hardcover)
For years, Herbert Lewis has defended classical anthropology (meaning here American cultural anthropology produced in the first half of the twentieth century) from postmodern and postcolonial critique. This volume collects eight of Lewis’s essays on this subject, and also includes an original piece written especially for the volume. For those sympathetic with Lewis’s claims, this volume will be welcome. However, Lewis’s strident tone will probably not sway the unconvinced, much less those critical of classical anthropology.
Since its inception in 1973, the History of Anthropology Newsletter has played a major role in establishing the history of anthropology as a legitimate sub-discipline of anthropology. Under the leadership of George W. Stocking, Jr., HAN attracted a subscription list of non-specialists, mostly anthropologists, who needed historical background for their major research; readers were often contributors, as well, adding occasional pieces notable for their careful attention to the minutiae of ethnographic context. Having been in on HAN from the beginning, the revitalization of the Newsletter seems a good opportunity to reminisce and speculate on the more interdisciplinary and theoretical future we might envision for the history of anthropology.
On April 30th, 2016, a conference was held in London at SOAS to celebrate Jane Guyer’s new translation and introduction to Marcel Mauss’ classic Essay on the Gift, published by HAU Books. Commenters included Marilyn Strathern, Marshall Sahlins, Keith Hart, David Graeber, and Maurice Bloch.
Dan Hicks reports and reflects on the conference in this one-page essay for Anthropology Today.
Video of the conference can be viewed on YouTube.
The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research has been a hub for information about the comings and goings of anthropologists since its founding in 1941 as the Viking Fund. Its vast archives maintained in its current office on Park Avenue South in New York City contain countless treasures, including this wedding announcement:
The first issue of the History of Anthropology Newsletter in 1973 included “CLIO’S FANCY: DOCUMENTS TO PIQUE THE HISTORICAL IMAGINATION.” The entry, a pair of anecdotes suggesting that late in life, Louis Henry Morgan may have had second thoughts about his own theories, received the juicy title “DID THE ARCH-EVOLUTIONIST MAKE A DEATHBED RECANTATION?” The next issue’s contribution transcribed a 1904 letter from Franz Boas to Booker T. Washington, asking for frank advice about the eventual job prospects of J.E. Aggrey, an African-American student interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in anthropology, under the equally intriguing header: “THE TUSKEGEE NOD IN AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGY.”
The editor, George W. Stocking, Jr., closed with a deadpan plea: “We particularly encourage readers to submit items for Clio’s Fancy. Both of these have so far come from the same source, who is by no means inexhaustible.”
Our first entry to the relaunched “Clio’s Fancy,” from Joanna Radin, adds to this tradition of archival oddities which raise the historical eyebrow; it speaks of kinship rituals, alternative histories, and ethnographies of the future. We hope you will enjoy it—and better yet, that you’ll submit gems you unearth in the archival mine.
Curtis M. Hinsley and David R. Wilcox (Editors). Coming of Age in Chicago: The 1893 World’s Fair and the Coalescence of American Anthropology. 624 pp., illus., tbls., apps., bibl., index. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2016. $65 (cloth)
Coming of Age in Chicago is a volume of essays about the production and presentation of anthropological exhibitions at the 1893 Columbian Exposition, also known as the Chicago World’s Fair. In its entirety, the volume argues that disjointed centers of anthropological interest in Washington, Boston, and Philadelphia institutions found common ground in Chicago, and the personal and professional ties established in Chicago set the course for the eventual professionalization of anthropology.
In December 2015, an international and interdisciplinary group of scholars gathered at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City to attend the workshop “Populations of Cognition: Interconnected histories of human variation in Latin America.” We enjoyed a lively three-day meeting replete with bilingual interventions, and afternoon enjoyment of Oaxacan food and mezcal.
[In case you missed it, here is an excerpted email from HoA list manager Ira Bashkow with information on panels for AAA 2016.]
Dear HoA Group Members:
Here is news about history of anthropology related events and panels currently being planned for the 2016 AAA meetings (that I have happened to hear about):
Call for Papers, AAA Conference, November 16-20, Minneapolis, MN.
Life, Death and Language Ideologies: Historical Accidents of Community Formation and the Framing of Evidence in Linguistic Anthropology
All linguistic anthropologists examine language and work within specific paradigms of language ideology and linguistic praxis. Historical and contemporary communities of linguistic anthropologists both within the United States and internationally, therefore, make a fertile field for the study of interactions between, as Dell Hymes put it, code and community. Continue reading
In 2015, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) celebrated its 120th anniversary. As part of this, the LSE’s Department of Anthropology held a day-long event to explore its history, covering the transformative leadership of Malinowski and its development in the years after his departure. The workshop included LSE alumni from several decades, current and past faculty members, and current and former students, who gathered on the final day of term in December to recollect the life of the department through a mixture of personal reminiscence, entertaining anecdote, and reflective intellectual history.
The Higher School of Economics Centre for Historical Research in St. Petersburg, Russia invites applications for postdoctoral research positions in the field of anthropology.
In 1973, George Stocking and a small group of like-minded scholars founded the History of Anthropology Newsletter, HAN. In that year, I began my graduate education in anthropology at the University of Chicago, where George taught. In the fall 1975 term, I took a seminar with him on the anthropology of the inter-war period, in which each student took responsibility for a major figure of the era.
The History of Anthropology Newsletter (HAN) has always been an unprepossessing publication. Its physical format and graphic design were homespun. Initially mimeographed, it appeared for nineteen years in typescript, before the font was changed to Times in volume 20, and even after four decades no hint of slickness had crept into the layout of even the cover and contents page. The very title of the publication, a “newsletter,” connotes an informal publication about goings-on, nothing too serious. In 1987, when I entered graduate school, the cost of a HAN subscription was $4 a year, discounted to $2.50 for students. Even then, this was cheap.
The Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) Library Fellowship
Theme for 2016: The history of anthropology
The Royal Anthropological Institute is pleased to announce a new Library
Fellowship. The aims of this fellowship are to increase awareness of
the resources and collection strengths of the London-based Anthropology
Library and to support scholarship germane to these resources and
Orin Starn (Editor). Writing Culture and the Life of Anthropology. 280 pp., illus., bibl., index. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2015. $94.95 (cloth), $25.95 (paperback)
The essays in this volume reflect on the landmark 1986 Writing Culture and are short, sharp, and satisfying. Like many commemorative volumes, each essay provides a bit of reflection: where were you when you first read Writing Culture? While this has the unsurprising effect of turning the 1986 work into a metonym for the “reflexive turn” in anthropology, the essays are not overly nostalgic and instead focus on, as the title spotlights, the “Life of Anthropology.” As such, Writing Culture and the Life of Anthropology is useful to those who stayed up late to finish the book in 1986 as well as those of us who became scholars long afterward, for whom the lessons of the original Writing Culture have become inextricably embedded in anthropology, history, and other humanistic social sciences.
Peter Mandler. Return from the Natives: How Margaret Mead Won the Second World War and Lost the Cold War. 384 pp., illus., bibl., index. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013. $45 (cloth)
Ruben Flores. Backroads Pragmatists: Mexico’s Melting Pot and Civil Rights in the United States. 360 pp., illus., index. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014. $45 (cloth), $45 (e-book)
These two ambitious recent books offer models for historians of social science to assess their subjects’ influence. Narrowing their scope to key individuals in order to trace their paths carefully, Mandler and Flores paint vivid pictures of social scientists pursuing agendas for cultural renewal through political channels. While their conclusions are ultimately ambivalent, both authors have given us carefully researched volumes on the influence, and lack of influence, of anthropologists and other social scientists from the interwar period to the early 1950s. Anyone interested in anthropology’s relationship to the state should read these books.
Call for Papers for the IUAES (International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences) Inter-Congress, “World Anthropologies and Privatization of Knowledge: Engaging Anthropology in Public,” Dubrovnik, 4-9 May 2016
“The History of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences in Academia and in Public” (Panel 461, Topic #1: World Anthropologies: Peripheries Strike Back)
[Editor’s note: this panel was cancelled]
Convenor: Dr. Han Vermeulen, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle (Saale), Germany, email@example.com
Short abstract: This panel will focus on the interrelations between the anthropological and ethnological sciences from the 1700s on. Did these change from a parallel development during the 18th century to shifting alliances during the 19th and the early 20th century and the keeping of boundaries after World War II?
(Time is running out to apply for this unique opportunity for scholars working on the history of anthropology!)
The School for Advanced Research (SAR) in Santa Fe, NM invites applications for its 2016 Summer Scholar Fellowships.
SAR awards fellowships each year to several scholars in anthropology and related fields to pursue research or writing projects that promote understanding of human behavior, culture, society, and the history of anthropology. Scholars from the humanities and social sciences are encouraged to apply.
Panel Proposal for the 14th EASA (European Association of Social Anthropologists) Biennial Conference, meeting in Milano, 20-23 July 2016
“Themes in the History of Anthropology and Ethnology in Europe”
Convenors: Andrés Barrera-González (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), firstname.lastname@example.org; Han F. Vermeulen (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology), email@example.com
Short Abstract: This panel invites papers on a wide range of authors, institutions and national traditions in theory and practice relevant to the history of anthropology and ethnology, including topics from the fields of museum and visual anthropology. The papers should derive from research carried out within a history of science framework.
The first issue of the History of Anthropology Newsletter was published in 1973. As a project launched and directed by George Stocking—a founder and leading practitioner of the history of anthropology—HAN has played an important role in the field for four decades.
From the beginning, its mission has been to connect dispersed scholars working on the history of anthropology from a variety of geographical, institutional, and disciplinary locations, and to serve as a repository for resources which might otherwise be missed or neglected. The biannual newsletter has included sections listing and describing recently acquired papers and collections, newly published monographs and manuscripts, dissertations and research in progress, as well as news, notes, and queries. Continue reading