Five panels have been created that are relevant to the History of Anthropology (shown below). The call for papers for these panels opened on 27 February and will close on 9 April 2018. More information about this event as well as detailed submission instructions can be found here.
The 12th History of Anthropology workshop took place during the biannual conference of the German Ethnological Society (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Völkerkunde, DGV) at the Free University of Berlin on October 5, 2017. Convened around the theme “From the History of Anthropology to its Future: Historical, Moral, and Political Affinities,” the workshop was organized by Peter Schweitzer (Vienna, Austria) and the present author. It featured seven papers out of sixteen submissions, as well as a keynote address (see program under “Workshop 17”). Continue reading
In Realizing the Witch, Richard Baxstrom and Todd Meyers attempt to analyze Benjamin Christensen’s 1922 film Häxan in its totality: as film, as historical and scientific treatise, and as anthropology. Häxan is Christensen’s cinematic attempt to present his thesis—that the witches of the sixteenth century represent the same psychological phenomenon as the hysterics of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Baxstrom and Meyers’s book is structured into two parts and seven chapters, following the structure of the film itself. The two parts focus on the on-screen realization of the witch (Part 1) and on the links between the witch and modern psychiatric understandings as presented in the film (Part 2), but the authors explore all themes throughout the book.
In honor of the American Philosophical Society‘s 275th anniversary, the Society’s 2018 lecture series will feature talks inspired by the APS’s history and the work of its Members. Margaret Mead was elected to the Society in 1977.
On 8 March 2018 the APS will host a public event entitled: Coming of Age: The Sexual Awakening of Margaret Mead, which will engage author Deborah Blum in a discussion of her new book of the same title. A reception will be held at 5:30pm, and the lecture will take place at 6:00pm. All events will take place in Benjamin Franklin Hall, 427 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA.
This eight-week paid internship program at the American Philosophical Society Library in Philadelphia will offer a hands-on research experience and will include mentorship and networking opportunities. The APS Library has rich and varied collections related to over 440 different Indigenous cultures throughout the Americas. Working with mentors, interns will develop their own archives-based projects or pursue research projects identified by the Indigenous communities, with which the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research (CNAIR) interacts and collaborates. More information about this opportunity as well as detailed application instructions can be found below:
Sudeshna Guha has written a book that not only complicates the history, but also provides a searing critique, of the practices and historiography of archaeology and heritage in India. Artefacts of History is required (and perhaps uncomfortable) reading for anyone interested in that history, questions about the global circulation of knowledge, issues surrounding the role these practices have played in the making of the pre- and post-partition Indian nation-state, and the conduct and role of archaeology and heritage in ‘postcolonial’ countries more generally. Furthermore, Guha makes the reader rethink the history of Indian archaeology in ways that question the writing of that and other archaeological histories. Similar to the recent work of Christina Riggs on the history of Egyptology, her volume also prompts renewed consideration of the role such histories might play in helping to constitute archaeological and heritage practice that actually interrogates the categories and taken-for-granteds upon which it relies.
On Monday, February 19, 2018 Julia Rodriguez (University of New Hampshire) will be presenting a paper as part of the University of Pennsylvania’s HSS Workshop series. The presentation, titled: “No mere accumulation of material’: Land as Evidence in Americanist Anthropology” will have a strong history of anthropology focus, and will look at the role that Latin America played in the origins of transnational Americanist anthropology. The workshop will take place at 3:00pm in Claudia Cohen Hall, Rm 337.
The full abstract of Dr. Rodriguez’s paper can be found below:
The American Philosophical Society Library in Philadelphia, PA invites applications for predoctoral, postdoctoral, and short-termresearch fellowships from scholars at all stages of their careers, especially Native American scholars in training, tribal college and university faculty members, and other scholars working closely with Native communities on projects in Native American and Indigenous Studies and related fields and disciplines. These funding opportunities are supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Native American Scholars Initiative (NASI). Fellows will be associated with the APS’s Center for Native American and Indigenous Research (CNAIR), which promotes greater collaboration among scholars, archives, and indigenous communities.
Histories of museum anthropology often have been constrained by the particularities of the institutions in which anthropological and archaeological objects have been gathered and displayed. Furthermore, these institutional narratives have tended to neglect the broader political implications of curatorial practices. In Collecting, Ordering, Governing, seven scholars specializing in the history of anthropology and museum studies have begun to subvert these accounts through a thoughtfully-crafted book that relies as much on the careful application of theory as it does on recounting the histories of specific museums. Focusing on case studies of museum displays and collecting projects organized in settler-colonial states (the United States, Australia, New Zealand) and in former imperial powers (Great Britain and France), the authors highlight both the explicit and implicit connections between developments in museum anthropology and the establishment of government policies. Yet the authors are careful to note that the book is not meant to serve as a “comparative analysis” of anthropological museums as established in different national and/or regional political contexts; rather, it concentrates on using these cases to trace the complex networks of influence and authority that enabled transactions of particular things and ideas across both physical and conceptual spaces (2). By focusing on these processes of exchange during what is typically regarded as the height of anthropology’s “museum era” (Sturtevant 1969; Stocking 1985), the authors shift away from scholarship that positions the museum as the central organizing force in the collection of anthropological objects and data and instead look to a variety of sites and actors that supported the management of populations as well as the dissemination of scientific and cultural knowledge.
Archivist Alex Pezzati of the Penn Museum was on the verge of discarding a “curious collection” in the fall of 2016, when I invited him to present at a workshop I was then co-organizing with other members of the Penn Humanities Forum. “Translation beyond the Human” was our chosen theme, and I was hoping he could divert us with anecdotes about the history of early computing in anthropology. Continue reading
All museums use pesticides and preservatives, though their health impacts are not always known; ethnographic collections can thus pose a health risk. Here we open one cold case file, in which we believe a prominent American anthropologist may have directly suffered from such effects. Our own experience and inquiries confirm this hunch.
Clark Wissler fell ill in 1905, soon after he began working in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. At some point during the period of Wissler’s illness, Museum Director Henry Fairfield Osborn recommended that his own physician examine Wissler. But despite this additional medical consultation, the illness persisted and was never successfully diagnosed—making him appear frail until 1928 when it mysteriously cleared up. The symptoms were severe enough to cause Wissler to give up his fieldwork on the Blackfeet Reservation. Continue reading
This year, the American Historical Association is offering a behind-the-scenes tour of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History‘s Department of Anthropology collections and National Anthropological Archives (NAA) at the museum’s off-site storage site, the Museum Support Center, in Suitland, Maryland. This tour will be held on Friday, Jan. 5th, from 2:30-4:30 pm, and is open to 20 participants. Interested historians should RSVP to Caitlin Haynes, NAA Reference Archivist at email@example.com by Dec. 29, 2017 with your name and contact information to reserve your spot.
The short documentary Historia de un ballet (History of a Ballet, 1962) dramatizes an ethnographic encounter central to a creative process. Director José Massip followed Cuban choreographer Ramiro Guerra and his company of modern dancers as they researched, created, and premiered a new work, Suite Yoruba (1960), about Afro-Cuban ritual music and dance. The film depicts dancers actively engaging with anthropological methods as they conduct fieldwork and share their findings with a wider public through performance. Though not formally trained as anthropologists, dancers traversed disciplinary and social boundaries to create work that animated political visions of revolutionary collectivity. Continue reading
The Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) is pleased to announce that it will be holding a one day meeting to explore the history of biological anthropology and the RAI on 20 April 2018.
Dr. David Shankland, Director of the RAI & Dr. Simon Underdown, Oxford Brookes University, invite paper submissions that examine the history of biological anthropology or the changing relationship between bio- and social anthropology, focusing particularly on how these histories intersect with the RAI. They also welcome papers about the Institute’s publications, its Presidents, Fellows, or its projects from its foundation to the present. The full symposium abstract and details for submission are provided below:
In celebration of its 150th anniversary, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology at Harvard University has curated All the World Is Here: Harvard’s Peabody Museum and the Invention of American Anthropology. The exhibition boasts an impressive array of ethnographic artifacts, which range from a Feejee mermaid to Hopi baskets to a bracelet from the Iron Age. Photographs, correspondence, and newspaper clippings set the historical contexts during which the artifacts were created, collected, and circulated. Together, these materials document the late-nineteenth-century ambitions behind the founding of the museum, while granting particular attention to the work of Frederic Ward Putnam, who served as the Peabody’s second director (1875-1909) and trained the first generation of ethnographers in the country, including Franz Boas. The exhibit argues that the Peabody Museum, as a hub for the aggregation of artifacts and intellectual engagement, provided an initial scaffolding for anthropology as an academic discipline in the United States.
This project provides researchers with many resources related to Malinowski and Masson, such as a bibliography, and a set of links to the main archives and collections that contain manuscripts, papers, photos, letters and the objects that Malinowski brought with him from the Trobriand Islands .
Does archaeology matter? Scholars at various levels of the academic ladder have grappled with the need to explain the significance of their research to non-academics. Among one another, scholars can certainly explain the intellectual merit of their work. However, in the US, archaeologists have increasingly come under public scrutiny for an apparent lack of relevance in contemporary society. Parents ask, why pay thousands of dollars for their kids to shovel dirt? Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) targets archaeological projects as scapegoats for apparent bad spending by the National Science Foundation. The random stranger asks “what is left to find?” Through forty-two succinct case studies, Schiffer examines how archaeological research has impacted a broader world. By mustering examples that span the history of archaeological inquiry, he argues that archaeologists have reshaped various aspects of contemporary societies and how people think about the past. Schiffer demonstrates that “[a]rchaeology’s impact on modern societies reaches far beyond the media and college courses” (xv). He provides a “panorama” of archaeology’s unique footprints in the modern world (xv). In his words, “[f]rom the many case studies, I hope you will acquire a deeper understanding of what [archaeologists] do and why we do it and will come to appreciate that archaeology is as significant as it is cool” (xxiv).
The annual meeting of the History of Science Society (HSS) will take place November 9-12 at the Sheraton Centre in downtown Toronto, ON. Here is a list of sessions and events relevant to the history of anthropology:
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
In celebration of the second anniversary of the online relaunch of the Newsletter, HAN will be hosting a public lecture by Professor Alice Conklin (Ohio State University). Her lecture, “‘Nothing is Less Universal than the Idea of Race’: Anti-Racism and Social Science at UNESCO, 1950-1962,” will be held on Monday, October 30 from 3:30-5:00pm as part of the Department of History and Sociology of Science workshop series and will take place in Room 337, Claudia Cohen Hall, University of Pennsylvania. See poster for abstract and additional details.
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.
The History of Anthropology Newsletter has been a venue for publication and conversation on the many histories of the discipline of anthropology since 1973. We became an open access web publication in 2016; please subscribe to our emails below to receive updates as we publish new essays, reviews, and bibliographies.
The revival of the History of Anthropology Newsletter (HAN) as an online publication began with volume 40 in 2016. Content is updated continually, and subscribers receive weekly emails with links to new content.
HAN is based at the Department of History and Sociology of Science, 303 Claudia Cohen Hall, 249 S. 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6304. Fax: 215-573-2231.