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. The eight distinguished authors below responded with generosity, insight, experience, good humor—and impressive speed. (The fact that in this list authors primarily identified as historians slightly outnumber those primarily identified as anthropologists is an accident of availability; it does not reflect an editorial preference. Whether it corresponds to a general historical and disciplinary shift is another question– one discussed by several of the authors below.)
We are planning to extend this discussion with further reflections in the months ahead. For now 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.
- Elizabeth Edwards, The Extended Archive, Vindicated
- Lee D. Baker, Harvesting or Gleaning: Reflections on Dumpster Diving as Historical Method
- Warwick Anderson, Making Anthropologists Visible
- Nélia Dias, A History Set Free from Its Object?
- Margaret M. Bruchac, Living Pasts: On Anthropological Being and Beings
- Benoît de L’Estoile, Unsettling the History of Anthropology
- H. Glenn Penny, Beyond Heroic Professionals
- Han F. Vermeulen, The History of Anthropology Between Expansion and Pluralism