Nicholas Barron

Sketches from the 89th Wenner–Gren International Symposium

On the morning of November 23rd, 1981, Rosamond (Roz) Spicer joined her fellow participants for the third day of the 89th Wenner–Gren Foundation International Symposium. As the morning discussion took shape, Roz, a noted Native Americanist anthropologist, drifted from her note-taking as she started to sketch the people around her (see figures 1–5).[i] Etched with light pencil, these elegant and unassuming illustrations capture a transitional moment in the larger history of the Foundation. Continue reading

Articles: June Additions

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.

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Books: June Additions

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.

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Books: January Additions

Barbash, Ilisa. Where the Roads All End: Photography and Anthropology in the Kalahari. Foreword by Paul Theroux. Cambridge: Peabody Museum Press,  2017.

Publisher’s abstract:  Where the Roads All End tells the remarkable story of an American family’s eight anthropological expeditions to the remote Kalahari Desert in South–West Africa (Namibia) during the 1950s. Raytheon co–founder Laurence Marshall, his wife Lorna, and children John and Elizabeth recorded the lives of some of the last remaining hunter–gatherers, the so–called Bushmen, in what is now recognized as one of the most important ventures in the anthropology of Africa. Largely self–taught as ethnographers, the family supplemented their research with motion picture film and still photography to create an unparalleled archive that documents the Ju/’hoansi and the /Gwi just as they were being settled by the government onto a “Bushman Preserve.” The Marshalls’ films and publications popularized a strong counternarrative to existing negative stereotypes of the “Bushman” and revitalized academic studies of these southern African hunter–gatherers. This vivid and multilayered account of a unique family enterprise focuses on 40,000 still photographs in the archives of Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

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Books: Cumulative List

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.

Continue reading

Articles: January Additions

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. Continue reading

Articles: Cumulative List

Adams, Matthew S. “Formulating an Anarchist Sociology: Peter Kropotkin’s Reading of Herbert Spencer.Journal of the History of Ideas 77, no. 1 (2016): 49–74. 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.

Continue reading

‘Mohawk Interruptus’ by Audra Simpson

Audra Simpson. Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life across the Borders of Settler States. 280pp., 4 illus., app., notes, refs., index. Durham: Duke University Press, 2014. $89.95 (cloth), $24.95 (paperback)

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.

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Archival Developments

Our ability to explore the history of anthropology in a substantive and empirical manner hinges upon access to primary and secondary source material. Since HAN was established in 1973, anthropologically relevant archives have gone through multiple material transformations that shape the way we do the history of anthropology.  Today an anthropological archival collection might be fully digitized, however it remains much more likely that only parts of it or only a detailed description of its contents are accessible online. For those readers less familiar with archival collections and how to locate and access them, some basic resources and strategies might be useful.

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