Lee D. Baker

website / leedbaker@duke.edu / Duke University

Special Focus: Fields, Furrows, and Landmarks in the History of Anthropology

Read the full Focus Section here.

Harvesting or Gleaning: Reflections on Dumpster Diving as Historical Method

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