Alexander Mikhailovich Reshetov (1932–2009) was a prominent Russian anthropologist and historian of anthropology. He authored more than 500 scientific publications dedicated to the culture of East and Southeast Asia, theoretical problems of ethnology, and the history of Russian ethnographic studies. He was a board member of the Association of Russian Ethnographers and Anthropologists for several years until 2007. Between 1994 and 2005 he organized panels on the history of Russian ethnography and anthropology during the Association’s biannual conferences, which drew hundreds of scholars. Reshetov filled many gaps in the history of Russian anthropology, saving many prominent ethnographers from oblivion and ensuring continuity of the Russian scholarly tradition. Continue reading
Carolyne R. Larson. Our Indigenous Ancestors: A Cultural History of Museums, Science, and Identity in Argentina, 1877-1943. 232 pp., 29 illus., notes, bibl., index. University Park: Penn State University Press, 2015.
Argentina, more than almost any other Latin American country, has been associated with a white, criollo identity. The longstanding scholarly narrative held that the formation of this identity relied on strategic erasures of the presence of indigenous and African-descended peoples from the nation’s history, a project that crystallized in the late nineteenth century during a surge in European immigration. More recently, scholars and intellectuals such as Monica Quijada have pointed to the presence of indigenous peoples in nineteenth-century literary texts or museum practices, adding complexity to the narrative of erasure and opening space for historians to explore the multivalent roles of African-descended and indigenous peoples in Argentinian nation formation after independence from Spain in 1818.
Sol Tax is well known for developing the concept of “action anthropology,” which takes the goals and problems of research subjects as its point of departure ahead of the researcher’s desire for knowledge. However, he began his career with a much more conventional philosophy of science, and during the 1940s vigorously defended “basic” research against calls for anthropology to emphasize its political relevance. Continue reading
Biological anthropology has long been plagued by its exclusionary past. Today, many biological anthropologists and the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) are actively seeking to address this legacy by forging positive relationships between anthropologists and marginalized communities, and by encouraging new voices to contribute to the field. For example, the AAPA created the Increasing Diversity in Evolutionary Anthropological Sciences (IDEAS) program to increase participation by first-generation college students or students from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in science (African Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and Latinos). The recent Survey of Academic Field Experiences (SAFE) study (2014) conducted by Kate Clancy, Robin Nelson, Julienne Rutherford, and Katie Hinde also highlighted persistent issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the field.
Thomas Hylland Eriksen. Fredrik Barth: An Intellectual Biography. xi+249 pp., illus., notes, bibl., index. London: Pluto Press, 2015. $99 (cloth), $35 (paper)
Fredrik Barth was a creative and outspoken theorist, an indefatigable fieldworker and world traveler, and he was fortunate in his biographer. Thomas Hylland Eriksen is not only obviously devoted to Barth, but he is also thorough, comprehensive, fair—pointing out problems and occasional failings of his subject—and not too much over the top in his admiration. Above all he does an excellent job presenting and explaining Fredrik Barth’s many works and his innovative methodological and theoretical positions as well as contextualizing his work in the anthropology of his time.
Adams, Matthew S. “Formulating an Anarchist Sociology: Peter Kropotkin’s Reading of Herbert Spencer.” Journal of the History of Ideas 77, no. 1 (2016): 49–73. doi:10.1353/jhi.2016.0004.
Author’s Abstract: The work of Herbert Spencer was a crucial influence on the development of Peter Kropotkin’s historical sociology. However, scholars have underestimated this relationship; either overlooking it entirely, or minimizing Kropotkin’s attachment to Spencer with the aim of maintaining the utility of his political thought in the present. This article contests these interpretations by analyzing Kropotkin’s reading of Spencer’s epistemological, biological, and political ideas. It argues that Kropotkin was engaged in a critical dialogue with Spencer, incorporating many Spencerian principles in his own system, but also using this reading to articulate a distinctive anarchist politics.
Adair-Toteff, Christopher. Fundamental Concepts in Max Weber’s Sociology of Religion. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
Publisher’s Abstract: This book helps explain some of Max Weber’s key concepts such as charisma, asceticism, mysticism, pariah-people, prophets, salvation, and theodicy and places them within the context of Weber’s sociology of religion.
Fernando Vidal and Nélia Dias (Editors). Endangerment, Biodiversity and Culture. 264pp., 11 b/w illus., index. London: Routledge, 2016. $163 (hardback), $52.95 (paperback), $52.95 (eBook)
In Endangerment, Biodiversity and Culture, editors Fernando Vidal and Nélia Dias bring together scholarship on what they compellingly label the “endangerment sensibility”: that is, “a complex of knowledge, values, affects and interests characterized by a particularly acute perception that some organisms and things are ‘under threat,’ and by a purposeful responsiveness to such a predicament” (2). The volume features nine contributions split equally into three sections. These sections consider: the affects, values, and science that are interwoven in this sensibility (Part I); the situated politics of endangerment discourses and practices (Part II); and technologies of preservation, which help constitute endangerment and have ontological consequences for the entities they aim to preserve (Part III).
Regna Darnell and Frederic W. Gleach (Editors). Local Knowledge, Global Stage. Histories of Anthropology Annual Series 10. 354pp., 25 illus. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2016. $40 (paper)
As a historian writing about late-nineteenth century anthropology who is also interested in contemporary anthropology, I learned a lot from this book. The tenth in the series Histories of Anthropology Annual, this volume is in conversation with the work of two influential, and recently deceased, historians: George Stocking and Henrika Kuklick. Yet this collection of essays, like its predecessors in the series, locates itself more in the field than the archive. The editors believe, rightly so, that what emerges from fieldwork can inform us about larger issues of knowledge production. But history also has a role to play. Good work calls for methods “transcending the customary distinction of past, present, and future and replacing the static repetition of events, dates, and feats of great men (sic) representing the story from the standpoint of the victors with a more nuanced collation of histories in the plural” (xiii).
Chip Colwell. Plundered Skulls and Stolen Spirits: Inside the Fight to Reclaim Native America’s Culture. 336pp., 10 halftones, notes, index. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. $30 (cloth), $18 (e-book)
During highway construction, twenty-eight sets of human remains are found. Twenty-six of the bodies are reburied in a nearby cemetery but two skeletons, a woman and her baby, are not—instead, they are given over to the state archaeologist. What accounts for the difference? Is it that the skeletons of twenty-six white people are not interesting to archaeological study? Or is it that the thought of reburying Native American remains when they could be studied is somehow a violation of our dedication to knowledge of the past?
TWO FHHS PRIZE ANNOUNCEMENTS : 30 June 2017 deadline
1. FHHS/JHBS John C. Burnham Early Career Award: Send manuscript and
curriculum vitae (PDF format) by June 30, 2017 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Forum for History of Human Science (FHHS) and the Journal of the History
of the Behavioral Science (JHBS) encourage researchers in their early careers
to submit unpublished manuscripts for the annual John C. Burnham Early Career
Award, named in honor of this prominent historian of the human sciences and
past-editor of JHBS. The publisher provides the author of the paper an
honorarium of US $500. (see details below). Continue reading
“Histories of Anthropology: Transforming Knowledge and Power (1870-1970)”
18-19 September 2017
University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
Deadline for abstracts: May 20, 2017
The “Histories of Anthropology: Transforming Knowledge and Power (1870-1970)” conference will be held at the University of Cambridge on 18-19 September 2017. The conference committee is currently accepting abstracts (max. 300 words) until 20 May 2017, and we are specifically looking for transnational and trans-colonial perspectives on the modern history of anthropology. Abstracts or questions can be emailed to the conference committee . We encourage submissions from academics at any stage of their careers. Accepted papers will be announced by early June and limited funding will be available to support travel and accommodation. A teleconferencing capability will also be present if participants are unable to travel. For more information, please refer to the CFP or email the conference committee.
The 14th biennial EASA conference was held at the University of Milano-Bicocca from July 20-23, 2016. Framed around the topic “Anthropological Legacies and Human Futures,” the conference included two panels on themes in the history of anthropology. The first panel was convened by David Shankland (Royal Anthropological Institute, London, UK) and Aleksandar Boskovic (University of Belgrade/Institute of Social Sciences, Belgrade, Serbia); the second by Andrés Barrera-González (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain) and Han F. Vermeulen. The second panel was the official panel of the Europeanist network for this conference. The panels were attended by between 30 and 40 people and received positive reactions. Based on the success of the conference, plans were made to publish one or more volumes. Subsequently, a network devoted to the history of anthropology (HOAN) was refounded (see below). Continue reading
Han F. Vermeulen. Before Boas: The Genesis of Ethnography and Ethnology in the German Enlightenment. 746pp., illus., notes, refs. cited, index. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2015. $75 (hardcover)
You will not find much curiosity among the Norse settlers in Greenland to observe, describe, and understand the clothing, tools, rituals, and legends of the skraelings. This derogatory term for the Greenlandic Inuit practically bracketed curiosity, signaled that there was nothing there to learn at all, but only a people to be feared and, one hoped, defeated. This has been the default stance toward other peoples, particularly peoples at an apparently lower stage of social and technical development, throughout most of human history, with classic works such as Tacitus’s Germania, in which the northern heathen tribes are described in some detail, standing more as an exception than a rule.
The 2017 edition of the festival “FACA – Festa de Antropologia Cinema e Arte” [Festival of Anthropology, Cinema and Art] will take place at the National Ethnological Museum in Lisbon, from March 9 to 10, and at the National Film Library (Cinemateca de Lisboa) on March 11. Performances, lectures, and papers will be presented on the first two days; the last day will consist of an anthropological film festival.
The history of anthropology will be represented during the key note lecture “Remediating Ethnographic collections: Video Art and the Postcolonial Museum,” (Steffen Köhn, Freie Universität Berlin), focused on the history of ethnographic collecting. Several papers touch on similar subjects.
One of the film sessions of the last day (starting at 18:30) will be dedicated to ethnographic archives and feature a film by Inês Ponte about the late Angolan anthropologist Rui Duarte de Carvalho.
The program of the FACA festival and information about the film sessions are available.
From November 9-12, 2016, the American Society of Ethnohistory (ASE) convened its Annual Meeting at the Hutton Hotel in “Music City” Nashville, Tennessee. The meeting assembled scholars from a diverse range of fields including history, anthropology, linguistics, indigenous studies, and environmental and cultural studies, as well as representatives from various indigenous political, environmental, heritage, and cultural institutions. The canopy topic, “Ethnohistory of Native Space”, encouraged analyses that ranged from dwelling and diaspora notions of ‘home places’, to other experiences of space, place and time. This included inquiries into how native spaces are represented through narrative and performance and studies of different forms of colonial legacies. It also involved a focus on uses of mapping technologies employed to display place-based histories, interactions, and social transformations. Continue reading
Marc Flandreau. Anthropologists in the Stock Exchange: A Financial History of Victorian Science. 421pp., 12 halftones, notes, sources, works cited, index. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016. $105 (cloth), $35 (paper), $10-35 (e-book options)
Note: This review first appeared in the Times Literary Supplement (no. 5943, 24 February 2017, pp. 9-10) with the title “The Cannibal Club: How Victorian Anthropologists Tried to Defraud the Financial Markets” and is reprinted with permission of TLS and the author.
When the American railway engineer George Earl Church visited La Paz in 1868, it was to lay the groundwork for a grandiose scheme to build a railway through Bolivia’s rainforested border with Brazil, allowing its natural resources to be exported via the Amazon River. After several more stops, Church was in London where he got himself elected to the Royal Geographical Society, lending a sheen of scientific credibility to what was in fact a financial scam. No railway was built, but the scheme was a marvel of financial engineering. After Church signed the loan contract in Bolivia’s name, bonds to fund the loan were sold to English investors. These bonds traded on the London Stock Exchange.
Richard Warms (Texas State University) and Jon McGee (Texas State University) are looking for contributors to a AAA panel on “Friendship and Other Connections in American Anthropology, 1890s–1920s.” They seek papers about “connections of family, friendship, enmity, and patronage among anthropologists, people particularly interested in anthropology, and others.” The full panel abstract is reproduced below: Continue reading
“Translating Across Space and Time: Endangered Languages, Cultural Revitalization, and the Work of History,” a symposium held in Philadelphia from October 13 through October 15, 2016, convened scholars, practitioners, and Indigenous knowledge keepers from across the United States and Canada.
Hosted by the American Philosophical Society’s (APS) Center for Native American and Indigenous Research (CNAIR) and co-sponsored by the Penn Humanities Forum at the University of Pennsylvania, the conference coincided with the APS Museum exhibition, Gathering Voices: Thomas Jefferson and Native America, which showcased the APS’s work in Native American language collection and revitalization from Jefferson to the present. Over 69,000 visitors attended the exhibition between April and December 2016. This scholarly conference drew over 100 in-person attendees and over 100 more via live web stream. Panelists from across the United States and Canada presented 21 papers on topics related to endangered languages, translation, and language revitalization projects in Native American and Indigenous communities. Continue reading
Under the title “Why History of Anthropology and Who Should Write It?” the History of Anthropology Working Group of the German Anthropological Association (DGV) organized a two-day conference on “Cultural and Social Anthropology and its Relation to its own History and to the Historical Sciences” at the University of Vienna (Austria) on December 9–10, 2016. Peter Schweitzer, Marie-France Chevron, and Peter Rohrbacher, staff members of the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Vienna, convened the conference. The central questions they formulated were: (1) “To what end should a history of anthropology be written,” (2) Is there “a ‘best practice’ for this form of historiography,” and (3) “For whom should a history of anthropology be written”? Continue reading