Baca, George. “Sidney W. Mintz: From the Mundial Upheaval Society to a Dialectical Anthropology.Dialectical Anthropology 40 (2016): 1–11.

From the Introduction: Sidney Mintz (11/25/22–12/25/15) represents the passing of the final member of the distinguished group of anthropologists who formed the “Mundial Upheaval Society” (MUS) during the late 1940s at Columbia University. Though Mintz had the privilege of studying with great anthropological minds, of the likes of Ruth Benedict and Julian Steward, fellow graduate students stoked his passion for anthropological theory and ethnographic fieldwork. Indeed, the membership of the group was impressive, including such luminaries as Eric Wolf, Stanley Diamond, Morton Fried, John Murra, Robert Manners, Robert Murphy, and Elman Service.

Kan, Sergei. “‘To Study Our Past, Make Sense of Our Present and Develop Our National Consciousness’: Lev Shternberg’s Comprehensive Program for Jewish Ethnography in the USSR.” In Going to the People: Jews and the Ethnographic Impulse, edited by Jeffrey Veidlinger, 64–84.  Indiana University Press, 2016.

Author’s Abstract: Building on [my] 2009 biography of Lev Shternberg (1861–1927), one of the leading ethnologists of pre–revolutionary Russia, this paper explores his detailed 1920s program for conducting ethnographic research among Soviet Jews. Unlike Shternberg’s pre–1917 exclusive focus on the “traditional” Jewish culture of the shtetl (small town), this ambitious program encouraged ethnographers to concentrate not only on sociocultural continuity but also on the radical changes in Jewish social life and culture caused by the upheavals of the revolution, the Civil War and sovietization.

Lindberg, Christer. “French–Swedish–American Crossroads: Alfred Métraux, Erland Nordenskiöld, and the Gothenburg School of Ethnography.” Anthropos 111 (2016): 214–224.

From the Introduction: Anthropologist, historian, writer, poet, photographer, and human rights activist Alfred Métraux was born in Switzerland in 1902 [and] spent most of his childhood in Argentina. [But] the formative years for his career in anthropology were spent in Sweden…as a member of the “Gothenburg School.”  When Métraux joined the group in Gothenburg his teacher, Nordenskiöld, was among the most experienced ethnographical fieldworkers in Europe and an international recognized authority on the Indians of South America.

Ortner, Sherry B. “Dark Anthropology and Its Others: Theory Since the Eighties.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 6 (2016): 47–73.

Author’s Abstract: In this article I consider several emergent trends in anthropology since the 1980s against a backdrop of the rise of neoliberalism as both an economic and a governmental formation. I consider first the turn to what I call “dark anthropology,” that is, anthropology that focuses on the harsh dimensions of social life (power, domination, inequality, and oppression), as well as on the subjective experience of these dimensions in the form of depression and hopelessness. I then consider a range of work that is explicitly or implicitly a reaction to this dark turn, under the rubric of “anthropologies of the good,” including studies of “the good life” and “happiness,” as well as studies of morality and ethics. Finally, I consider what may be thought of as a different kind of anthropology of the good, namely new directions in the anthropology of critique, resistance, and activism.


Porath, Nathan. “The Hume/Tylor Genealogy and Andrew Lang: Of Miracles and Marvels, Animism, and Materialism.” Anthropos 111 (2016): 185–200.

Author’s Abstract: This article focuses on the influence of David Hume’s writings and in particular on the Natural History of Religion on Edward B. Tylor’s “Primitive Culture,” highlighting the Hume/Tylor genealogy in the foundation of the discipline.

Rodseth, Lars. “Back to Boas, Forth to Latour: An Anthropological Model for the Ontological Turn.” Current Anthropology 56 (2015): 865–882.

Author’s Abstract: How could Franz Boas, trained in physics and geography in Bismarck’s Germany, carry any weight for twenty–first century anthropology, given the theoretical upheavals of the past few decades? As early as 1887, I argue, Boas foreshadowed certain theoretical innovations of recent years, especially Bruno Latour’s ethnographic and philosophical analysis of science and modern society.

Volume 6 Issue 2 of HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory

In this issue of HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, interim editors Michael Mambek and Amira Mittermaier offer a hearty stew of articles, debates, and mediations that speak directly and indirectly to pressing issues in the history of anthropology. Highlights include a debate on Sherry Ortner’s recent discussion of the rise of “dark anthropology” and, subsequently, “anthropologies of the good” in conjunction with neoliberal political-economic formations.

Section editors Bhrigupati Singh and Jane I. Guyer, call for an alternative reading of the discipline’s history, that challenges teleological and canonical narratives of error and villainy. They refer to this as a “joyful history of anthropology”–by which they mean “a kind of fullness and intensity of engagement that may include tragic possibilities, and the reemergence of the old as the new, or a least as fodder for the new” (201). The section loosely organizes articles under the categories of “canonical recreations,” “minor events in the history of anthropology,” and “ways of inhabiting a body of knowledge” (202).

Finally, a book symposium on David Price’s recently published Cold Ward Anthropology: The CIA, the Pentagon, and the Growth of Dual use of Anthropology (2016) involves considerations of the historical coproduction of anthropology and politics, the Cold War legacy (and how to conceptualize it), and the stakes of constructing metanarratives of the field and its complicity with militarism in the present.

Janet Steins: contributions / website /
Nicholas Barron: contributions / website /