On July 1st, the University of California Berkeley Name Review Committee received a proposal to “un-name” Kroeber Hall, home to the Phoebe Hearst Museum and Worth Ryder Art Gallery . The building is named for Alfred L. Kroeber, who established the Department of Anthropology at Berkeley in 1901 (see HAR’s recent Generative Texts entry on Kroeber’s Anthropologytextbook). Signed by members of the UC Berkeley Native American Advisory Council and the UC Berkeley Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Advisory Committee, the proposal encourages the “un-naming” of the building on the grounds that Kroeber’s name “sends a harmful message to Native American students, faculty, and staff at UC Berkeley, deters prospective students, and hinders repair of a damaged relationship with Native Californians and all Indigenous people.”
Rosemary Joyce and Nancy Scheper-Hughes, both members of the anthropology department, have contributed thoughts on the matter to the Berkeley Blog, touching on Kroeber’s work with Native American communities, the life and death of the man Kroeber named Ishi, Berkeley’s earlier positions on indigenous remains in their collections, and the politics of naming and un-naming. The proposal, along with Joyce and Scheper-Hughes’s posts, have already generated substantial comments on the blog as well as on the History of Anthropology Interest Group listserv.
The review committee plans to open up the proposal for public comments on July 20, 2020. We welcome thoughts and discussion from HAR readers in the comments section below.
The HAR News editors would like to highlight two lightning talks on the program related to the history of anthropology. Please note that the event times given are in U.K. time/UTC + 1:
Monday, July 6, 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. (part of Lightning Talks A panel):
Francis Galton and Joseph Jacobs’ Co-Construction of the ‘Jewish-type’: A Critical Image Analysis – Efram Sera-Shriar, King’s College London
Reflecting on Francis Galton’s anthropometric work in anthropology from the late Victorian period, his former student Karl Pearson remarked that ‘There is little doubt that Galton’s Jewish type formed a landmark in composite photography.’ These images, it was claimed, produced with ‘extraordinary fidelity’ what many of Galton’s proponents believed to be examples of genuine ‘Jewish physiognomy.’ Although Galton’s photographic research played a pivotal role in constructing a new conception of the ‘Jewish type’ in Victorian anthropology, he did not work alone. His composites of Jewish schoolboys were a collaboration with the Jewish folklorist, literary critic, and anthropologist Joseph Jacobs. In fact, it was Jacobs who initiated the idea, and contacted Galton for assistance in making the photographic images. Galton took the lead in assembling the composites, but it was Jacobs who provided the most sophisticated analysis of them at the time. Through an analysis of these images, which appeared in The Photographic News in 1885, this lightning talk will explore the processes by which Galton and Jacobs co-constructed a so-called ‘Jewish type.’
Ethnographic studies of Northeast Siberian peoples in imperial Russia c.1890-1917, their political context and international significance – Ekaterina (Katya) Morgunova, PhD Candidate, Centre for the History of Science, Technology & Medicine (CHoSTM), Department of History, King’s College London
This project aims to investigate studies of Northeast Siberian ethnic groups, conducted by the Russian Empire’s political exiles c.1890-1917. It considers their research against the backdrop of the Russian political context and the international landscape of anthropological research. I aim to shed light especially on the fascinating behind-the-scenes of scientific fieldwork. Using expedition diaries and correspondence alongside governmental and published sources, I investigate how ethnography was shaped by diverse actors including governmental authorities, philanthropists, and the less visible actors, especially the indigenous research subjects.
To get oriented and explore the many events taking place, as well as find details on how to access the events online, visit the Festival welcome page. You can also browse the full program. Please note that events are subject to change and it is best to check the program regularly for the events you are interested in.
The journal Horizontes Antropológicos has issued a Call for Papers for a special issue on the theme of “History of World Anthropologies.” This issue (no. 62) is slated to be published in January 2022.
This thematic issue intends to contribute towards a reassessment of the past of anthropology in a broad sense, by understanding the knowledge and ethnographic practices that precede or complement scientific institutionalization, including features of amateurism and experimentalism in varied and interconnected contexts. The editors seek not only a post-colonial criticism of the attempts to survey and analyze human variability, but rather to examine the contributions in their own time and place, in the historical dynamics of anthropology. This issue is open to case studies focused on peripheral, external or off-center anthropological traditions as compared to the so-called “major traditions.”
The editors seek to pay special attention to the Lusophone and Ibero-American contexts (including all of Latin America), considering not only their intersections, but also the fact that they are often excluded from hegemonic historiographic narratives. They hope to produce a comparative reflection on the historical antecedents of the current paradigm of World Anthropologies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (up to the 1970s) and the dissemination of anthropological praxis. Interdisciplinarity between anthropology, history, history of science, and historical anthropology is encouraged, as is dialogue through a re-reading of ethnographic and anthropological texts from different places, times and dimensions.
The issue’s editors are Eduardo Dullo (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul – Brazil), Patrícia Ferraz de Matos (Universidade de Lisboa – Portugal), and Frederico Delgado Rosa (Universidade Nova de Lisboa – Portugal).
Submission of articles will be open from October 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021. Full details about the special issue can be found on the website of Horizontes Antropológicos, or obtained via e-mail at email@example.com.
Editors' note: We are delighted to announce that Participant Observations is widening its remit. We welcome shorter reactions to conferences, exhibitions, research projects, and reflections on elements of the history of anthropology as a field. How has your experience of organizing or participating in remote conferences been? What online resources have caught your eye in this moment? What works, events, or conversations that you've recently encountered seem to capture vital new or ongoing conversations in the history of anthropology? If you have an idea for a piece, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or one of our News editors. In this spirit, we are pleased to publish HAR editor Nick Barron's short reflection on the 2019 American Anthropology Association Meeting.
In the crowd, I caught your eye You can’t hide your stuff You thought I’d be naive and tame (You met your match) but I beat you at your own game
Such were the lyrics from the song that emanated from Lee Baker’s smart phone as he prepared to give his comments for the panel “Re-Presenting Historical Legacies: A Decolonial Reckoning with Anthropology’s Ruin.” Alongside his co-discussant Christien Tompkins, Baker considered an assortment of papers focusing on the discipline’s tangled historical encounters by centering analyses from the perspectives of those who call field sites “home.” Each of the panelists explored cases at the interstices of anthropologist-community engagements in regions that have been heavily mined for ethnographic knowledge including the Brazilian Amazon, Canadian Pacific Northwest, U.S. Southwest, and Egypt. Less concerned with the “truth” of past ethnographic depictions, the panelists, in various ways, considered what happens when anthropologists (and other social scientists) leave the field. What it is that these interlopers leave behind? How do the people that call “the field” home come to live with the debris of ethnography?
As a participant and panel co-organizer, I was quite intrigued by Baker’s theatrical introduction. As Tompkins underscored post-panel, “all panel papers should have entrance music.” But of course, the choice of this particular song from the late Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, was hardly trivial as were the sincere and challenging comments from Baker and Tompkins.  As Baker noted, the song tells a story of romantic role reversals in which the seduced becomes the seducer (“you thought you had me covered… but you’re bound to be my love”). While the papers from myself, Rosanna Dent, Taylor Moore, and Joseph Weiss and the panel abstract conceived by myself and Hilary Leathem were perhaps light on romance (at least of the non-platonic variety), they did speak of collaboration, intimacy, affect, magic, and the ways in which these phenomena have continued to bind communities of study to the discipline and vice versa. Importantly, the song indexes an obfuscated and creative agency (“here stands an experienced girl/I ain’t nobody’s fool”). The papers, though hardly unequivocally celebratory in their examination of agency, motioned toward the enduring ways in which the “objects” of ethnographic inquiry have long been engaging, salvaging, adopting, and enchanting anthropology on their own terms.
I reflected on the keen observations of my fellow panelists the following morning as I sat in on the panel “Hate USA,” an appropriately sobering title for an 8:00 a.m. timeslot. In a series of wonderful papers, I was most struck by Nancy Scheper-Hughes comments on Benjamin Teitelbaum’s Lions of the North: Sounds of the New Radical Nordic Radical Nationalism. Admittedly, I was unfamiliar with this book before the panel. However, as Scheper-Hughes summarized, Lions of the North is a recently published ethnography concerning alt-right, white nationalist groups in various Nordic countries. Scheper-Hughes was invited to comment on one of Teitelbaum’s recent articles for a forum in Current Anthropology. She expressed great consternation in the face of Teitelbaum’s self-proclaimed “immoral anthropology,” which has led him not only to observe these groups, but take an active role in their dissemination of propaganda. After a couple of exchanges with members of the audience who made a respectful plea for the value of Teitelbaum’s work and the spirit of his relativism, Scheper-Hughes’s response did not mince words: we are not simply here to parrot the views of others, to be “handmaidens to informants.” With Ms. Franklin’s lyrics still ringing in my ears, I couldn’t help but think, “Who’s zoomin’ who?”
On my return flight to California, I took it upon myself to read Teitelbaum’s article as well as Scheper-Hughes’s published comment. The characterization of Teitelbaum as a “handmaiden” remained most prominent in my mind. In my own research, I consider how anthropologists become wittingly and unwittingly enrolled in the political projects of their research subjects—specifically indigenous groups living in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Seen from the perspective of the historian (and the self-reflexive anthropologist), the roles of “ethnographer,” “advocate,” and “handmaiden” exists on a continuum, and anthropologists do not necessarily determine where they will fall. The ethnographic method is shot through with dialogical twists and turns that are hardly the exclusive design of the anthropologist.
To be fair, Teitelbaum underscores the dynamic nature of participant-observation when explaining his questionable engagements with white nationalists. “So long as we prefer dialogic and intersubjective models of understanding to those of observation and monologue, we are led to embrace a research practice laced with political and moral compromise.”
I suppose this is a helpful reminder for anyone just starting out in the field who might be inclined to take a naive view of knowledge production, which assumes they can stand outside the webs of power in which they operate. However, recognizing the inherently dynamic and situated nature of the ethnographic approach in no way invalidates Scheper-Hughes’s critique nor does it justify Teitelbaum’s rationale. One might assert that all anthropologists are handmaidens of one sort or another. Perhaps there is always some degree of zoomin’. But the important aspect of Franklin’s question (“Who’s zoomin’ who?”) is not just the “zoomin’” but the “who.” Is it not one thing to be a handmaiden of a small community of borderlands Indians, for example, and another thing to be a handmaiden of white nationalists? Veiling such a question behind invocations of the inherently intersubjective nature of the discipline’s signature method is not just morally dubious—it is historiographically hollow.
Ms. Franklin may have passed away, but her acute anthropological commentary remains relevant to the discipline and persistent debates within the ranks regarding the relationship between anthropologists and their interlocutors.
Note: This review first appeared in The TLS: Times Literary Supplement (no. 6114, 5 June 2020, pp. 4–6) with the title “Lines of thought: Franz Boas: The Man Who Opened Up Anthropology in America” and is reprinted with permission of TLS and the author. (In the UK, Charles King’s book is published as The Reinvention of Humanity: A Story of Race, Sex, Gender and the Discovery of Culture.) The essay’s timeliness is self-evident. The History of Anthropology Review joins with the many now protesting against the reprehensible police killings and systemic racism which have afflicted Black, Indigenous and other Communities of Color for so long; we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and are committed to documenting, discussing, and critically evaluating racism’s legacies in anthropology, while working for greater equity within our disciplines, institutions, and communities.—The Editors
The President of the United States was saying “America must be kept American,” emboldening white supremacists to blame darker-skinned immigrants for causing crime and taking working-class jobs. It was the 1920s, and the US was erecting barriers against immigration, with severe effects on those who were poor or classed as non-white. White patricians, feeling under threat from those who spoke foreign languages and clustered in tenements, rallied around a confident, energetic, mustachioed ideologue named Madison Grant, a wealthy New Yorker and close friend of President Theodore Roosevelt. Grant’s book The Passing of the Great Race(1916) implausibly suggested that America had once been racially homogeneous but was becoming degraded by immigration—plunged into a chaotic, impoverished “racial abyss.” “Teutonics” or “Nordics” like him were being “replaced,” he warned, by “lower” races and would soon be “extinct.” Grant’s malevolent thesis that racial mixing posed a grave threat to white vitality was seized on by Hitler, who in 1925 wrote Grant a fan letter, praising the German translation of his book as “my Bible” (114, 306).
In addition to unveiling the richness, vividness and sophistication of the ethnographic reports and reflections contained in Forster’s travelogue, A Voyage Round the World (1777), this piece also discusses the travelogue’s popular reception, and explains how Forster came to be recognized as a founding father of German scientific literature
The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research and SAPIENS will co-host a webinar on “Anti-Blackness: Readings on Violence, Resistance, and Repair” on June 17, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. EST. The discussion will feature books by Laurence Ralph (The Torture Letters), Savannah Shange (Progressive Dystopia), Christen A. Smith (Afro-Paradise), and Deborah A. Thomas (Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation) and a conversation with the authors on how their work speaks to our current moment. Discussion will be moderated by Danilyn Rutherford, Eshe Lewis, and Chip Colwell.
Participants should register in advance, as participation is limited to the first 1,000 individuals to sign up.
A sharp, comparative analysis of symbolic boundary maintenance across times and cultures, Mary Douglas’s Purity and Danger intervened in the anthropology of religion and ritual, as well as in the theoretical development of the field as a whole. It is a key text in symbolic anthropology, an approach that, in viewing symbols as the building blocks of socio-religious worlds, sought to analyze the ways symbolic constructions either generated order or disorder. Innovative for its time, Douglas follows E. E. Evans-Pritchard ethnographic account of The Nuer when she claims that we cannot understand ideas of purity or pollution—that is, hygiene—in isolation. Solid anthropological knowledge comes from an analysis that attends to the ways systems relate to one another and form the structural “backbone” of a society.
Alfred L. Kroeber, Anthropology: Race, Language, Culture, Psychology, Prehistory (New York: Harcout, Brace and Company, 1948).
I was sixteen, browsing the shelves in the public library downtown in Mount Vernon, New York—a suburb just north of the Bronx—when I pulled out a thick tome, Anthropology, by A. L. Kroeber. Taking it home, I read it through, all 856 pages. ANTHROPOLOGY! Everything in the world, everything could be studied through Anthropology! Humans are ubiquitous.
Evon Z. Vogt, Fieldwork among the Maya: The Harvard Chiapas Project (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1994).
There is a moment in Evon Vogt’s Fieldwork Among the Maya: Reflections on the Harvard Chiapas Project when Paul Lazersfeld—the sociologist famous for his methodological rigor—passes a stack of books sitting on Vogt’s desk on the Chukchee of northeastern Siberia and remarks: “My God, you anthropologists know a lot. You don’t know how you found it all out, but you certainly know a lot” (47). How Vogt knows what he knows—and more generally, the methods through which anthropologists come to know other cultures—is the motivating question in this “autobiography of his fieldwork.”Fieldwork Among the Maya traces the impact of Vogt’s participation in multiple interdisciplinary, collaborative ethnographic projects— including W. Lloyd Warner’s study of social stratification in the Midwest and Clyde Kluckhohn’s investigation of values in five cultures in Ramah, New Mexico—on the development and operation of the Harvard Chiapas Project. Written fifteen years after the “official” conclusion of the project, Vogt’s memoir traverses, in a personal and intimate fashion, over forty years of tumultuous transformation in anthropology.
HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology. This article by João Leal (Centre for Research in Anthropology, NOVA University, Lisbon) presents the complex anthropological legacy of Raimundo Nina Rodrigues, who played a key role in the emergence of the anthropology of Afro-Brazilian religions (and especially the Candomblé studies) at the turn of the twentieth century.
Raimundo Nina Rodrigues (1862-1906) is a key figure – albeit a controversial one – in the history of Brazilian anthropology at the turn of the twentieth century. He was a major representative of the racialist theories that prevailed in Brazil at that time, but was also a pioneer in the study of Afro-Brazilian religions, to which he devoted his best-known work, The Fetishist Animism of Bahian Blacks (1896-97). Resulting from his own ethnographic fieldwork, this paradoxical work combines evolutionary and racialist ideas with a thorough first-hand description of candomblé. It launched several themes – such as syncretism – that were to inspire later representatives of this subdisciplinary field, namely from the 1930s and 1940s, when Arthur Ramos (1903-1949) revitalized Afro-Brazilian studies.
Featuring a variety of panelists, including Ramona Perez, Kalfani Ture, Donna Auston, Shanti Parikh, and Avram Bornstein, discussions will be guided by two principle questions: (1) What should an Anthropology of policing look like and (2) What practical and actionable steps should anthropologists, as cultural experts of the lived experiences of impacted communities, take to transform American policing.
This webinar is FREE and open to the public. Instructions for how to access this event can be found here. The full event abstract is provided below.
Drawing on examples from the Philippines and Malaysia, this event will explore how indigenous struggles for land and livelihood are central to understanding the emergence of a zoonotic pathogen like SARS-CoV-2.
The seminar will be available to stream on YouTube live on June 9, 2020 from 10am – 11:30am (Australian Eastern Standard Time, GMT+10). Registration information can be found here.
More information about this event can be found below.
HAR is happy to continue to draw readers’ attention to a remarkable and growing online source for History of Anthropology. BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology reflects the diversity of anthropological traditions and currents, whether hegemonic or pushed to the margins. BEROSE welcomes and fosters the pluralization of the history of anthropology and aims at recovering the dialogues or tensions between classical protagonists and forgotten, sometimes excluded and sometimes cursed figures.
Today, we are pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE – an essay by Stafania Capone (Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Paris) and Fernanda Peixoto (University of São Paulo) on the history of anthropology in Brazil. The article is available in both Portuguese and English.
This page displays our most recent batch of citations; a comprehensive bibliography of citations we’ve collected since 2016 (going back as far as 2013) and a search tool are also available.
We welcome suggestions from readers. If you come across something of interest during your own fieldwork in the library, whether that be physical or virtual, please let us know by emailing us at email@example.com.
We are pleased to share a new page of HAR with our readers: Doing the History of Anthropology Online: Resources for COVID-19 and Beyond. This page follows up on an initiative announced in our Spring 2020 Update to gather HoA-relevant virtual resources for researchers who have lost access to physical collections during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to research collections, you will find resources to support teaching, scholarly community, and public engagement in the history of anthropology online.
We would like to draw special attention to the second section, HoA Scholarly Literature, since some of these resources are set to expire as soon as 31 May. The University of Nebraska Press in particular has extensive publications in the history of anthropology that it is making freely available through the end of the month (find more information under “Project MUSE”).
This list will be updated periodically and we welcome suggestions from our readers. Please email us with more resources or other comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HAR is happy to draw readers’ attention to a remarkable and growing online source for History of Anthropology. BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology reflects the diversity of anthropological traditions and currents, whether hegemonic or pushed to the margins. BEROSE welcomes and fosters the pluralization of the history of anthropology and aims at recovering the dialogues or tensions between classical protagonists and forgotten, sometimes excluded and sometimes cursed figures. This pluralization makes it possible to highlight the richness of World Anthropologies. The same challenge is addressed to Western or Northern anthropologies as well: these are sometimes reduced to a monolithic vision of the most famous theoretical currents and major actors, thus masking the wealth of national anthropological traditions and the vitality of specializations in cultural, geographical or thematic areas.
The purpose of this book is to redress an injustice committed against someone who could have had a central place in the history of anthropology. According to Wendy Wickwire, this might have been the case of James Teit (1864-1922) if he had not been pushed to the margins of the discipline as an amateurish ethnographer in the service of Franz Boas. In comparison with the legendary George Hunt, who has been the subject of several studies (and, recently, a series of events at the AAA/CASCA in Vancouver, 2019), James Teit is practically “unknown” (12). In her monograph on him—the outcome of several decades of archival research and ethnographic encounters with the concerned communities—Wendy Wickwire makes a challenging comparison with Boas himself, hoping that her reassessment of Teit as a visionary anthropologist in his own right will not be like other episodic rediscoveries of forgotten figures who, after a certain time, fall back into obscurity. According to her, Boas played his part in obscuring Teit’s stature (particularly after his death in 1922), and subsequent narratives kept reproducing, if at all, the portrait of an untrained collector subordinated to the academic expert. In fact, she argues that the professionalization of anthropology was one of the causes in this process: “For a new scientific discipline housed in the university, a high school diploma did not measure up” (273). The time has come, she writes, to question “the authority of mainstream history” (22), according to which Teit provided Boas with the field data that allowed the latter to produce a series of eleven monographs on the Nlaka’pamux and other Plateau groups, starting withThe Thompson Indians of British Columbia(1900), the fourth in the twenty-seven-part series of Jesup North Pacific Expedition monographs. Wickwire’s perusal of their correspondence allows her to affirm that this is “wrong” (15) and that Teit’s authorial status was paramount.
Because the work of the History of Anthropology Review is largely conducted online, during these COVID days we continue much as we have. But most members of our editorial board are early career scholars, including graduate students and post-docs, and we are acutely aware of the anxieties and uncertainties the current situation presents for precarious workers of all kinds, including in the academy. We wish everyone safe passage through these times, and stand in solidarity with academic workers who are demanding protections and extensions to cope with these conditions.
As research travel and archival visits are extremely restricted, HAR would like to provide lists and links for electronic resources for the history of anthropology. Our “kin” page lists various journals, but we are now planning to publish a list of archives and collections for the history of anthropology available online. Do you know of any from your research, or from your place of employment? Please send suggestions and links to email@example.com, and we will get these up as soon as we can!
We do have some good news. Last fall we invited applications to join our editorial collective, and we are delighted to add to our masthead the following new associate editors, who will keep HAR growing: Tracie Canada (University of Virginia); Abigail Nieves Delgado (Ruhr University Bochum); Olga Glinksii (University of New Mexico); Sophie Hopmeier (St. Andrews); Patricia Marcos (UC San Diego); Sarah Pickman (Yale); Shu Wan (University of Iowa); and Paul Wolff Mitchell, Brigid Prial, and Koyna Tomar (University of Pennsylvania). We’re thrilled to welcome them to the team.
Further, we would like to announce the addition of four new members to our Advisory Board: William Carruthers (University of East Anglia), Christine Laurière (CNRS, codirector of Bérose), Joanna Radin (Yale), and Han Vermeulen (Max Planck Institut, Halle, co-convener of HOAN). We’re honored to have the advice and support of these distinguished scholars.
Had Selected Writings by Sigmund Freud been published by the Pelican press in 1948, it is likely Ashley Montagu—the prolific British-American anthropologist, and the work’s main compiler—would today have been recognized as a noteworthy figure in Freud’s postwar US reception. Yet after several months reading Freud’s corpus, deciding which texts and passages to include, writing an introduction, and compiling a bibliography, Montagu was forced to shelve the project, thwarted by the Freud family’s famous reluctance to allow such maverick publications. His attempts, a decade later, to initiate a sibling study under a new title, Freud Re-Examined, comprised of reprints of scholarly essays mostly by contemporary psychologists, also went nowhere, frustrated by a publisher’s aversion to the genre. By the 1980s, if Montagu discussed these works at all, he presumed them “irretrievably lost.”
Yet several folios of materials were preserved, including those relating to the aborted 1940s anthology. Today all are gathered in box 65 of the Ashley Montagu Papers, held at the American Philosophical Society, in Philadelphia.[i]
These documents enrich our understanding of Montagu beyond his recognized association with the UNESCO Statements on Race (1950/51), and his countless publications on gender, aggression, and human nature—all of which vaulted him, in the words of Henrika Kuklick, to a position “below Margaret Mead, but far above many others.”[ii] Surrounding correspondence with co-editors, publishers, and Freud’s sons, Oliver and Ernst, also help to define American anthropology’s midcentury relationship with psychoanalysis. In relief, they offer us a sturdy platform from which to consider the terms by which we standardly discuss this period, and subject, in the history of the field.
The idea of compiling a short selection (200 pages) of Freud’s works aimed at a general readership, particularly “the college audience,” reflected the growing US interest in psychoanalysis. With few rival editions, the collection would have preceded by several years the burst of biographies and official translations that began to appear in the 1950s. It would certainly have expanded access to Freud’s corpus beyond the six texts that the psychoanalyst A. A. Brill republished in 1938, and, costing just 25¢, would have been a fifth of its price. It would almost certainly have returned respectable sales, as its publisher, Pelican, new to the US market, hoped.[iii]
Working with a co-editor, his friend from the New School, the psychoanalyst Eric Fromm, Montagu spent several months choosing twenty-two of Freud’s essays, books, and cases to republish, and identifying illustrative passages from each. While much would have been sampled, Freud’s Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex (1905) would not have been one of them, probably because Montagu remembered Bronisław Malinowski’s bracing handling of the text in the 1920s, and because he thought it was not the most ‘fruitful’ for future anthropological work.
The four pages Montagu typed for the intended work’s introduction, in October 1947, made clear his compilation’s aim to “orient the reader in relation to Freud” through his “most representative writings.” “Psychoanalysis is largely the creation of one man, Sigmund Freud,” the draft introduction begins, before it moves to provide “a post-Freudian historical conspectus of the development of psychoanalysis,” placing “Freud’s enormous contribution in perspective.” While he ran into forbidding headwinds around copyright in November, Montagu continued to revise his manuscript, hoping to add “a good word” for Otto Rank and Alfred Adler, heretics to most strict Freudians, to the final copy. In such modest ways, the document implies the wider appeal that neo-Freudians held for those anthropologists who engaged psychoanalysis in these years.[iv]
Montagu seems to have been drawn to the project, beyond commercial reward, out of a belief he was providing “a public service”, widening the audience to those “whom Freud would not otherwise reach,” and regarding it as a tool of social policy, “increas[ing] mutual understanding and sympathy.” These were lofty claims though they chimed with his wartime enthusiasm for scientific humanism, and, crucially, his sense that anthropology was improved as it conversed with other fields. The book’s blurb would have described Montagu not as an anthropologist, though he was trained in that field, but as one with expertise in the “borderland in which the social and biological sciences meet.”
Although neither of Montagu’s books about Freud made it into print, they nevertheless influenced the direction and character of his later work. References to Freud abound in several of the books he wrote in the 1950s, and they drove his interest in alternative branches of psychoanalysis: to object relations theory; to Adler, who buttressed his views on the importance of social interaction in shaping personality; and to the Glaswegian analyst Ian Suttie (whose The Origins of Love and Hate Montagu presciently introduced for a US audience, in 1952, twenty years before US psychoanalysis discovered the work) who colored his comparative studies of love and cooperation in societies.[v] When in the late 1960s and 1970s Montagu debated Robert Ardrey and Konrad Lorenz about the nature of human aggression, he characterized them, not unreasonably, as putting “new garb” around what Freud had written on the topic; his 1976 monograph The Nature of Human Aggression opens with an epigraph from Civilization and Its Discontents (1930). That Montagu, in 1947 and again in 1959, expressed interest in publishing works on Freud and psychoanalysis, also testified to the fact these subjects remained “important undercurrents” for anthropology, even as some took aim at “culture and personality,” presuming the tributary was running dry.[vi]
We should not try to wrench Montagu’s commitment to these projects, which admittedly sprang from several sources, into the “culture and personality movement,” which was only one phase in a dense process of interaction between psychoanalysis and anthropology around midcentury. What, I think, the materials in box 65 instead suggest is our need to resuscitate the distinction that Montagu’s friend, the Duke University anthropologist Weston La Barre, drew between “the culture-and-personality movement in general,” and psychoanalysis’s “larger and more diffuse influence upon American anthropology as a whole.”[vii] It is within this latter category that Montagu’s work best fits, offering a strand of inquiry that has been absent from histories of American anthropology. Such diverting projects certainly burnished Montagu’s reputation as one of America’s “most versatile anthropologists”; at least that’s what Clifford Geertz wrote in 1961.[viii] Had he known of them, Geertz would likely have understood Montagu’s midcentury engagements with Freud as characteristic of an earlier group of scholars who, he said in 1991, came “in from an angle” to anthropology, bringing “influences from outside” that enriched the discipline. Such traits had been eroded, Geertz regretted, by the insular character the discipline developed in the twenty years after the 1950s.[ix]
These materials, like many discussed in the History of Anthropology Review, testify to the value and excitement of archival work as discovery. Had Montagu published either of these books, a younger generation, including students of anthropology, would have read Freud’s work firsthand, and plausibly found fresh ways of reckoning with it, nurturing an alternative orientation better able to endure the decimation of ‘culture and personality’. In the absence of such publications, later historical treatments of American anthropology condensed, and dismissed, the influence psychoanalysis had on the field to this “fashionable slogan,” in ways that might soon no longer hold up.[x]
[i] Folios: A Critique of
Freud, Box 65, Ashley Montagu Papers, American Philosophical Society,
[ii] Henrika Kuklick quoted in
Ramirez, “Ashley Montagu, 94, Anthropologist and Popular Author,” New York Times (Nov. 29, 1999). Montagu was a prodigious writer and commentator,
addressing both scholarly and popular audiences on many subjects between the
1940s and 1980s. Among his best-known works are: Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race (1942); On Being Human (1951); The Natural Superiority of Women (1952);
The Nature of Human Aggression (1976).
[iii] On Pelican’s origins
and market see Peter Mandler, “Good Reading for the Million: The ‘Paperback
Revolution’ and the Co-Production of Academic Knowledge in Mid
Twentieth-Century Britain and America,” Past
and Present 244 (Aug. 2019): 235-69.
[iv] Robert A. LeVine, “Culture
and Personality Studies, 1918-60: Myth and History,” Journal of Personality 69 (Dec. 2001): 803-18.
[v] Suttie’s reception
among American psychoanalysts is described in Elizabeth Lunbeck, The
Americanization of Narcissism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,
[vi] George Stocking, “Anthropology
and the Science of the Irrational,” in Malinowski, Rivers, Benedict and
Others: Essays on Culture and Personality, ed. George W. Stocking, Jr, vol.
4: History of Anthropology (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1986),
13-49, at 43.
[vii] Weston La Barre, “The Influence of Freud on Anthropology,” American Imago 15 (Fall, 1958), 275-328, at 286.
[viii] Clifford Geertz, “Aspects
of Mankind Examined Provocatively,” Chicago Daily Tribune (June 18,
[ix] Richard Handler, “An
Interview with Clifford Geertz,” Current Anthropology 32 (Dec. 1991),
[x] Clyde Kluckhohn and O. H. Mowrer, “‘Culture and Personality’: A
Conceptual Scheme,” American
Anthropologist 46 1 (1944): 1-29, at 1.
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