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Editors’ Introduction: Fields, Furrows, and Landmarks in the History of Anthropology

In 1973, the first issue of the History of Anthropology Newsletter opened with a statement of purpose from the editorial committee, called “Prospects and Problems,” by George Stocking. The editors were self-consciously defining and claiming a field. They let loose with territorial metaphors: occupation, soil, furrows, forays. Now, as we continue our relaunch of HAN, we return to this 40-year-old manifesto as a starting point for thinking about the past, present, and future of the field.

The 1973 essay noted a sense of disciplinary crisis as a spur to growth; it asked whether this history should be done by anthropologists, intellectual historians on “one-book forays,” by “anthropologists manqué,” or by a new generation of interdisciplinarians; it announced the need for “landmarks” including lists of archival holdings, bibliographic aids, research in progress, recent publications—which HAN would provide. It ended with a call for participation from readers.

Seeking to continue HAN’s role as a site for debating the field’s present state and shaping its future, in late 2016 we invited a series of scholars from various fields to respond to this manifesto. In February 2017, eight distinguished authors responded with generosity, insight, experience, good humor—and impressive speed. Continuing our reappraisal of Stocking’s inaugural editorial statement, in August 2017 we added nine additional surveys of the field’s potential terrain. These contributions covered new ground, unearthed skepticisms, and sowed a set of new questions. Now, in October 2017, we close the series with a third set of reflections from an impressive group of early career scholars. They imply a rich future for the study of anthropology’s past.

We encourage HAN readers and subscribers to make use of the comments section to respond to individual pieces, or to the section as a whole. Dig in and leave a mark.

 

This editorial was originally published on February 1, 2017. It was updated on August 15, 2017 and on October 21, 2017.

 

Update for Late 2016, Start of 2017

As the first half-year of the revived History of Anthropology Newsletter closes, we’d like to bring your attention to a handful of posts which will appear in the next months, and some interesting changes to the site:

Stay tuned for more, and please keep us informed by submitting news, publications, and potential contributions!

Renewing the History of Anthropology Newsletter

The History of Anthropology Newsletter officially relaunches in online form on June 20, 2016. Originally edited by George W. Stocking, Jr., then by Henrika Kuklick, the HAN is now under the direction of a new editorial team based at the University of Pennsylvania, with the guidance of an esteemed advisory board—several of whom have been involved in the HAN since its inception.

The first aim of the relaunched newsletter is to make available online, in a searchable mode, all the earlier issues of the HAN, originally published from 1973 to 2012. Thanks to a grant from the Price Lab for Digital Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania and the Mellon Foundation, and thanks to the generous assistance of Penn Libraries, you can now find all those back issues online.

The newsletter also features:

  • News of interest to those working in the history of anthropology, including announcements about conferences and funding opportunities.
  • Reviews of books and other relevant works.
  • Bibliographies of recent publications in the field.
  • Field Notes, a space for pointed observations on questions in the history of anthropology; our first issue contains fascinating reflections on the history of the newsletter itself, from Richard Handler, Ira Bashkow, and Regna Darnell, as well as notes on the history of anthropological collections and museums by Ira Jacknis.
  • Clio’s Fancy, a section devoted to oddities and curiosities found in the archives, which was originally edited by George Stocking and which we’re renewing with a wedding announcement connecting the Boasian tradition to the history of science fiction.
  • A Twitter feed with frequent updates of interest to the history of anthropology community.

We invite you to explore the newsletter, either as a return or for the first time. We also invite you to post responses, offer suggestions, submit news, articles, and reviews, and keep the conversation going.

The Past and Future of the History of Anthropology Newsletter

The first issue of the History of Anthropology Newsletter was published in 1973. As a project launched and directed by George Stocking—a founder and leading practitioner of the history of anthropology—HAN has played an important role in the field for four decades.

From the beginning, its mission has been to connect dispersed scholars working on the history of anthropology from a variety of geographical, institutional, and disciplinary locations, and to serve as a repository for resources which might otherwise be missed or neglected. The biannual newsletter has included sections listing and describing recently acquired papers and collections, newly published monographs and manuscripts, dissertations and research in progress, as well as news, notes, and queries. Continue reading