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?
“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
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.
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
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
It was perhaps because of her Austrian origins and her cosmopolitan life-course that Britta Rupp-Eisenreich was able, from the beginning of the 1980s, to play a pioneering role in the field of the history of anthropology in France. In 1981, she organized the first workshop devoted to the history of anthropology during the symposium of the French Association of Anthropologists (AFA), providing an overview of the current state of the field. In addition to two publications from this workshop, Britta Rupp-Eisenreich was the author of numerous works on subjects including social Darwinism in Germany, links between philology and ethnology, and figures such as Georg Forster, Christoph Meiners and Franz Reuleaux. (The choice to study the latter was largely due to her training at the Musée de l’Homme under the direction of André Leroi-Gourhan.) In a certain sense, Britta Rupp-Eisenreich was a relay for ideas between German-speaking countries and France. (She also translated Herman Hesse’s Magie du livre: Écrits sur la littérature.) Continue reading
I remember the early days of HAN and the appearance of George Stocking’s foundational work—I still have my much-scribbled-on copies. It has been enormously gratifying to see the history of anthropology mature over the last few decades. For me, the way in which the visual and material have moved to the center of the analytical field is especially significant, because there appears to be an especially productive entanglement of visual, material, and historical studies within anthropology. Continue reading
A dark orange sheet of paper was inserted in the December 2003 issue of History of Anthropology Newsletter (HAN), containing the following headline: ‘Regime Change at HAN’. The short text briefly mentioned the new editor and her publications without any editorial statement. Does this mean that the history of anthropology was by 2003 an established domain of research and consequently that HAN no longer needed to justify itself? To what extent did the absence of an editorial statement signal a sort of implicit recognition that the field had been ‘occupied’ by historians of science, and that the transition (not entirely smooth) from intellectual history to history of science had taken place between 1973 and 2003? Or was it the acknowledgement that the ‘Problems’ raised by the 1973 statement were no longer thorny issues? Continue reading
In 2003, when I first went to the eastern highlands of New Guinea to talk with the Fore people about investigations in the 1950s and 1960s of the fatal brain disease they called kuru, I wanted to know how they distinguished the various “whitemen” (a category that includes women) who came to study them, prod them, bleed them, and cut them up during this time. Having trained in medicine and history, I had previously supposed the disciplinary distinctions must be obvious. Nobel laureate D. Carleton Gajdusek was evidently a scientist of sorts; Michael Alpers and John Mathews did autopsies and epidemiology; and Shirley Inglis Glasse (later Lindenbaum) and her husband Robert Glasse were the ethnographers who connected the transmission of kuru to Fore endo-cannibalism, thus helping to initiate “medical anthropology.” Continue reading
Revisiting Stocking’s 1973 essay, I found the metaphor of the field of anthropology as an agricultural field somewhat at odds with my own historical sensibility. The depiction of “unobstructed acreage” and “unplowed furrows” being gradually settled by a new discipline—or raided by historians on one-book forays—may resonate for some scholars, but not for me. If I may recast the metaphor, the way I have always approached researching the history of anthropology is through gleaning—the Old Testament-sanctioned practice of the poor combing through recently harvested fields to scavenge for leftovers. Continue reading
“A land without men for men without land!” ran the slogan for the colonization of Amazonia under the military regime in Brazil, in full swing in 1973. That same year, George W. Stocking urged intellectual historians to grab fertile fields sporadically occupied by a small band of anthropologists. The History of Anthropology Newsletter (HAN) was explicitly devised to provide these hardy pioneers with a set of tools to plow this promising land, driving away dilettante hunter-gatherers trying to “hang around indefinitely.” Continue reading
Anthropological futures are difficult to envision without reckoning with anthropological pasts. The present is filled with an increasing theoretical emphasis on the trans-cultural and trans-national, but on a material level, we are still haunted by the legacies of collecting the Indigenous (a practice that has long been central to the anthropological project). Continue reading
Working on German communities in Latin America, I constantly encounter scholars engaged in the history of anthropology. They don’t always know it. Few of them claim to be adherents. Almost none are interested in shaping a field or subfield in a manner evoked in HAN’s 1973 opening statement. They are, however, interested in understanding people who devoted themselves to studying humans and their cultures over the last two centuries. Their efforts also contribute, whether they realize it or not, to our understanding of the history of that vocation. Or, better said, their efforts will contribute to it so long as we are aware of their work. Thank goodness for HAN. Continue reading
The history of anthropology is coming of age as a worldwide pursuit. After its early stages in the 1960s and 1970s with the Conference on the History of Anthropology (1962), inspired by A. Irving Hallowell and sponsored by the Social Science Research Council in New York, and the History of Anthropology Newsletter (HAN), published by an editorial committee of seven and edited by George W. Stocking, Jr. in Chicago from 1973 on, the field has clearly expanded both in the USA and elsewhere. The digital HAN, launched as a website in June 2016, counts 350 subscribers and the History of Anthropology Interest Group of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) has 175 members. The World Anthropologies Network (WAN), founded in Brazil in 2002–03, focuses on non-hegemonic histories of anthropology. In France there was sufficient interest to publish the journal Gradhiva twice a year from 1986 on; an online encyclopedia on the history of anthropology and ethnography, named Bérose, is now being restructured by a founding team of 15 researchers and is expanding internationally to include new collaborators. In the United Kingdom the Royal Anthropological Institute is investigating its history by means of annual conferences and plans to publish four volumes. In the German-speaking countries a Working Group on the History of Anthropology has been meeting within the German Anthropological Association biannually from 1993 on. In Russia some 30 scholars regularly present papers on the subject during the biannual congresses of Russian ethnographers and anthropologists. In Europe as a whole the newly founded History of Anthropology Network (HOAN) was established within the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) in November 2016; it now has 85 members and counting. Continue reading
The American Philosophical Society Library announces three new fellowships supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for scholars at various stages of their careers, especially Native American scholars in training, tribal college and university faculty members, and other scholars working closely with Native communities on projects. Each fellowship provides a stipend and travel funds. The application deadline for all is March 1, 2017 and all applications should be submitted online. More information can be found at the links below. Continue reading
Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands June 9-10, 2017
Abstract deadline: February 3
This two-day conference of the Society for the History of Recent Social Science (HISRESS) will bring together researchers working on the history of post-World War II social science. It will provide a forum for the latest research on the cross-disciplinary history of the post-war social sciences, including but not limited to anthropology, economics, psychology, political science, and sociology as well as related fields like area studies, communication studies, history, international relations, law and linguistics. We are especially eager to receive submissions that treat themes, topics, and events that span the history of individual disciplines.Continue reading
Audra Simpson’s Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life across the Borders of the Settler States (2014) explores the complexities of Mohawk sovereignty along the U.S.-Canadian border offering critical insights into the fraught past and present relationships between Indigenous and settler societies. Focusing on Kahnawà:ke, a Mohawk Indian reserve located in present-day Canada with ties to the Iroquois Confederacy whose territories interrupt the current settler-colonial nation-state border, Simpson begins her inquiry with three interdigitating claims that reemerge throughout the book. First, Simpson challenges readers to see that a sovereign entity can exist within another (10). This “nested” conception of sovereignty compels us to recognize that when Indigenous political orders prevail in the present, they do so, seemingly paradoxically, “within and apart from settler governance” (11). Second, Simpson offers a critique of the dominant and narrow politics of recognition that confines Indigenous peoples and their rights to essentialized and discernable forms of cultural difference (11, 20). Throughout the book, we see cases in which Mohawk peoples “refuse” this paradigm and the inherent power asymmetries that it works to reproduce and naturalize.
The American Philosophical Society Receives Award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to Support Native American Scholars Initiative
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – January 24, 2017 – The American Philosophical Society (APS) is pleased to announce a $949,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support research in the field of Native American studies. Through the Native American Scholars Initiative (NASI), the American Philosophical Society with its Center for Native American and Indigenous Research (CNAIR) will use the funds to support undergraduate students, Native American scholars, Tribal College faculty members, and researchers who work closely with archives and Native communities in efforts to revitalize endangered languages and to strengthen and honor cultural traditions through the use of new technologies.
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 revival of the History of Anthropology Newsletter (HAN) as an online publication began with volume 40 in 2016. Content is updated continually, and subscribers receive weekly emails with links to new content.
HAN is based at the Department of History and Sociology of Science, 303 Claudia Cohen Hall, 249 S. 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6304. Fax: 215-573-2231.