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‘Aboriginal Rights Claims and the Making and Remaking of History’ by Arthur J. Ray

Arthur J. Ray. Aboriginal Rights Claims and the Making and Remaking of History. McGill-Queen’s Native and Northern Series 87. 360pp., 11 maps, 17 images, notes, bibl., index. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queens University Press, 2016. Can$110 (cloth), Can$29.95 (paperback)

There are two ways to read Arthur Ray’s Aboriginal Rights Claims and the Making and Remaking of History. The first, following Ray’s own stated goals, is as a “single-volume introduction to the use of historical evidence in the varied aboriginal and treaty rights claims settings of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States” (27). Drawing on decades of experience as a scholar and an expert witness in Canada as well as an impressive breadth of comparative legal, historical, and anthropological scholarship, Ray provides an effective overview of some of the most significant land claims processes of the twentieth century settler colonial landscape. He focuses in particular on the ways in which these processes have been shaped by the testimony of expert witnesses—scholars who have been tasked with providing reports to courts and tribunals regarding Indigenous historical land and resource ownership and usage—and on how this applied work has in turn shaped academic disciplines, offering new perspectives, challenging dominant paradigms, and at times engendering bitter and sustained debates. As Ray moves across this vast scope, his text coalesces into a powerful indictment of the extraordinary lengths to which Indigenous Peoples have had to go in order to claim and receive recognition for their legal, political, and cultural rights. This second way of reading the text is particularly valuable for an undergraduate audience unversed in international Indigenous issues, which appears to be one of the book’s primary intended readerships.

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Living Monuments: Imagining Ancient Gene Pools in the Middle East

In 1927, the Polish-Jewish physical anthropologist Henryk Szpidbaum published an account of his recent expedition to Mandate Palestine on behalf of the Polish Society for the Exploration of the Mental and Physical Condition of the Jews. He had traveled to Palestine not to investigate the Zionist settlers, but rather the Samaritans, an obscure religious group of no more than 150 members living in the town of Nablus. In the introduction to his study, Szpidbaum described the Samaritans as “a living monument [Denkmal] of the biblical period. This tribe can be traced back 2800 years, during which it should be noted that the Samaritans have never left their country of Palestine. Detailed knowledge of this tribe will hopefully help to solve many difficult problems concerning the anthropology of the former inhabitants of Canaan and partially [also of] today’s Jews ” (Szpidbaum 1927). Unfortunately, he warned, the community might soon disappear forever: “The Samaritans believe themselves to be a vanishing tribe [due to] the insufficient number of women. [Footnote:] In order to counter the extinction, the Samaritans try to enter into mixed marriages with Jews. For the time being there is only one such a marriage.”

“The Samaritans of Nablus,” early 1900s (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

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‘Anthropologists and Their Traditions Across National Borders’ edited by Regna Darnell and Frederic W. Gleach

Regna Darnell and Frederic W. Gleach (Editors). Anthropologists and Their Traditions Across National Borders. Histories of Anthropology Annual Series 8. 296 pp., 8 photos, 1 illus. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2014. $40 (paper), $40 (eBook)

This volume’s title gives a good sense of its contents; it includes articles on the American, British, and French traditions of anthropology. An equally valid title might suggest another construal for this volume, for the diversity of historiographical approaches by the various authors is equally striking. The range of genres gives a good sense of current approaches to the history of anthropology.

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Fellowship: Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities

2019-2020 Topic: KINSHIP

Application Deadline: October 15, 2018

The Wolf Humanities Center at the University of Pennsylvania is now accepting applications for its 2019-2020 Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities on the general theme of Kinship. The fellowship is open to untenured junior scholars who have received or will receive their Ph.D. (the only eligible terminal degree) between December 2010 and December 2018. You must have your degree in hand or have passed your defense no later than December 2018 to be eligible.

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CFP: JHBS Special Issue on “Living Well: Histories of Emotions, Wellness & Human Flourishing”

The Forum for the History of the Human Sciences is putting together a special issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences in honor of historian John Burnham on the topic of “Living Well: Histories of Emotions, Wellness & Human Flourishing.”

As guest editor Mark Solovey notes: “Though the CFP doesn’t mention the history of anthropology specifically, we’d love to have a contribution from this area.  Anthropologists have often considered what it means to live well. What can historians today tell us about the nature and significance of anthropological work in this area?”

The submission deadline is November 1, 2018. Read on for application instructions and additional details.

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Event: History of Anthropology Sessions at the 18th UISPP World Congress in Paris, France, June 4-9, 2018

The 18th World Congress of the Union Internationale des Sciences Préhistoriques et Protohistoriques will take place in Paris, France from June 4-9, 2018. This event will focus on the adaptation and durability of prehistoric and protohistoric societies in the face of climate change.
Four panels at this event are particularly relevant to the history of anthropology  (shown below). More information about these sessions, as well as the World Congress in general, can be found here.

Fellowship: Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine Fellowships

The Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine  offers fellowships for scholars conducting research in the collections of its member institutions. Applications for 2018-2019 are due before June 16, 2018.

For more information, visit

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“The Relation of Darwin to Anthropology”: A Previously Unpublished Lecture by Franz Boas (1909)

In 1909 Columbia University celebrated both the fifty-year anniversary of The Origin of Species and the centenary of the birth of its author with a series of lectures titled “Charles Darwin and His Influence on Science.” The first talk in the series, “Darwin’s Life and Work,” was delivered by Henry Fairfield Osborn on February 12, one hundred years to the day after Darwin’s birth.  Another lecturer was John Dewey, whose talk, “Darwinism and Modern Philosophy,” became the title piece in his well-known volume The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy and Other Essays in Contemporary Thought.[i] Despite the publication and wide circulation of these other lectures in the series, the one given by Franz Boas, “The Relation of Darwin to Anthropology,” was never published. Strangely, it was also never archived with his other unpublished lectures in the American Philosophical Society (APS), nor, apparently, was it ever noted anywhere except in the announcement of the lecture series in Science.[ii]

In late June 1996, while waiting for delivery of files from the Boas archive at the APS, I passed the time flipping through the library card catalogue under “Boas, Franz” and came across a plain, typed card, with the words: “Boas, Franz– The Relation of Darwin to Anthropology.” Surprised and intrigued, I asked librarian Roy Goodman if he could locate it.  He returned a few minutes later with a 33-page typed manuscript, with Boas’s additions and corrections in pen. It had been hiding– not quite in plain sight– for many years.

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Resource: New Content in HAN’s Bibliography

The History of Anthropology Newsletter (HAN) is pleased to announce the addition of new items to our Bibliography section. This section features citations of recently published works (stretching back to 2013) in all formats that are relevant to the history of anthropology. A full list of the new titles added can be found below. More information on our latest bibliography entries can be found here.

HAN welcomes bibliography suggestions from our readers. If you come across a title of interest during your own fieldwork in the library, whether that be physical or virtual, please let us know by emailing us at

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‘A Brief History of Archaeology’ by Brian M. Fagan and Nadia Durrani

Brian M. Fagan and Nadia Durrani. A Brief History of Archaeology: Classical Times to the Twenty-First Century. 2nd edition. 271pp., 70 color images, glossary, bibl., index. London and New York: Routledge, 2016. $195 (hardback), $72.95 (paperback)

This updated version of Fagan’s 2004 first edition covers the development of archaeology as a discipline from the first recorded attempts to excavate as a means of finding out about the past, up to emergent and future trends that will shape the discipline during the coming decades.

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CFP: “‘To disseminate the sciences and to benefit humanity’: On the 250th Anniversary of the Physical Expeditions of the Academy of Sciences,” St. Petersburg, Russia, November 19-21, 2018

The Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences (St. Petersburg, Russian Federation), the Francke Foundations (Halle, Germany) and the University of Hamburg have issued a call for papers for the international scientific conference “‘To disseminate the sciences and to benefit humanity’: On the 250th Anniversary of the Physical Expeditions of the Academy of Sciences,” which will be held in St. Petersburg, Russia from November 19-21, 2018.

More detailed information and submission instructions can be found below:

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Beyond Silverbacks: A Lost History of the Gorilla Wars

The history of anthropology was once a genealogy of silverbacks: Elsie Clews Parsons, Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead excepted, a genealogy of venerated men who contributed something perceived definitional to the field, worth rearticulating in the present. The histories of those who died early or outside of institutions, who had written or done something that no longer squared with anthropology’s rapidly swinging moral arc (such as practicing as an ethnologist), or who had the misfortune of being born female, non-white, or outside of Europe and the United States, were often left forgotten, and their recovery more recently has changed the field and its historical accounting. Continue reading

CFP: History and Anthropology Revisited, Paris, France, May 2-4, 2018

From May 2-4, 2018 the Centre Universitaire de Norvège à Paris will be hosting a three day workshop entitled History and Anthropology Revisited, which will examine promising intersections between history and anthropology in present scholarship. The workshop will be a combination of keynote lectures, and an in-depth discussion of a series of pre-circulated papers. It is envisioned as an opportunity for young scholars working on the different dimensions of the history of anthropology to meet and discuss their research in progress.

More detailed information and submission instructions can be found below:

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‘A Passion for the True and Just’ by Alice Beck Kehoe

Alice Beck Kehoe. A Passion for the True and Just: Felix and Lucy Kramer Cohen and the Indian New Deal. 256pp., illus., notes, bibl., index. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2014. $55.00 (hardcover), $24.95 (paperback), $24.95 (e-book)

The Indian New Deal—the name given to the series of policies that shifted Native American-US relations from one of allotment[1] to limited tribal recognition in the 1930s and 1940s—lies at the center of Alice Kehoe’s A Passion for the True and Just: Felix and Lucy Kramer Cohen and the Indian New Deal. However, the book is more than a rehashing of the debates surrounding the implementation and legacies of the Indian New Deal. On one level, A Passion for the True and Just is an account of the relatively unexamined role of Felix and Lucy Kramer Cohen in designing key pieces of Indian New Deal legislation and texts. On another level, the book has the more ambitious goal of “[juxtaposing] two histories seldom merged, that of the Indian New Deal and Jews in twentieth-century America” (8). Through the life and work of the Cohens, Kehoe details the ways in which Jewish intellectuals significantly shaped the construction of this “turning point in colonialism” (163).

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CFP: 2018 AAA Meeting in San Jose, CA, November 14-18, 2018

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) has issued a call for papers for it’s 117th Annual Meeting which will take place in San Jose, CA from November 14-18, 2018. The theme of the meeting is “Change in the Anthropological Imagination: Resistance, Resilience and Adaptation.” The conference committee is currently accepting submissions for papers, posters, workshops, roundtables that address the themes of resistance, resilience, and adaptation from a wide range of perspectives. The deadline for proposals is April 16th, 3:00pm EST. 

Additional information about the conference theme and submission process can be found here.

New Resource: Ramah McKay’s “Medicine in the Meantime: The Work of Care in Mozambique”

The History of Anthropology Newsletter (HAN) is pleased to announce the release HAN Advisory Board member Ramah McKay‘s new book Medicine in the Meantime: The Work of Care in MozambiquePublished this past January by Duke University Press, McKay’s work follows two medical projects in Mozambique through the day-to-day lives of patients and health care providers, showing how transnational medical resources and infrastructures give rise to diverse possibilities for work and care amid constraint.

A full description of the book can be found below:

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New Resource: “History of Archaeology” Internet Dossier

An internet dossier on the “History of Archaeology” has just been published by the National Institute of Preventative Archeological Research (INRAP).

By tracing how major archaeological discoveries occurred around the world and how they have been approached, interpreted and enhanced over the centuries, this resource helps us to better understand how archaeology became the scientific discipline we know today and where the field is headed.

More information can be found here

CFP: Panel on “New Encounters with Museum Anthropology,” 18th IUAES World Congress, Florianopolis, Brazil, July 16-20, 2018.

Mariana Françozo (Leiden University) and Christiano Tambascia (Unicamp, Brazil) invite submissions for a panel on museum anthropology at the upcoming 18th IUAES World Congress, to be held in Florianopolis, Brazil from July 16-20, 2018. The panel abstract and details for submission are provided below:

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CFP: History of Anthropology Panels at the 15th EASA conference in Stockholm, Sweden, 14-17 August 2018

The 15th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) will take place at the University of Stockholm, Sweden from August 14-17, 2018. The theme of this event is “Staying, Moving, Settling,” with all panels, labs and plenary discussions touching on some aspect of the varied forms of mobility.

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.

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Event: History of Anthropology Events at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists Annual Meeting, Austin, TX, April 10-14, 2018

The annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) will take place from April 10-14, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency in Austin, TX. A  list of sessions and events relevant to the history of anthropology can be found below:

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History of Anthropology and a Name Change at the German Ethnological Society Meeting in Berlin: Conference Report

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

‘Realizing the Witch’ by Baxstrom and Meyers

Richard Baxstrom and Todd Meyers. Realizing the Witch: Science, Cinema, and the Mastery of the Invisible. 296pp., 64 b&w illus., filmography, bibl., index. New York: Fordham University Press, 2016. $95 (hardcover), $29.95 (paperback), $19.99 (e-book)

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.

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Event: Coming of Age: The Sexual Awakening of Margaret Mead, American Philosophical Society, PA, 8 March 2018

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.

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Fellowship: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Native American Scholars Initiative (NASI) Internship

The Native American Scholars Initiative (NASI) Undergraduate Summer Internship provides an opportunity for three talented undergraduates to conduct research, explore career possibilities in archives and special collections, and learn about advanced training in Native American and Indigenous Studies and related fields.

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:

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‘Artefacts of History’ by Sudeshna Guha

Sudeshna Guha, Artefacts of History: Archaeology, Historiography and Indian Pasts. xiii+273 pp., 15 illus., bibl., index. New Delhi: SAGE Publications, 2015. $59 (hardcover)

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,[1] 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.

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