2019 (page 1 of 2)

Histories of Anthropology at the History of Science Society, Seattle, 2018: Conference Report

The 2018 History of Science Society (HSS) conference in Seattle, Washington, was blessed with a rich offering in the history of anthropology, staking the field’s relevance to growing conversations around science in the world, Indigenous knowledges, and comparative cosmology.

For the first time, a formal land acknowledgement was explicitly incorporated into the plenary opening the conference. The settlement now known as Seattle sits on the historical territory of the Duwamish. After an introduction by Eli Nelson (Williams College), member of the Kanien’kehá:ka and historian of Native science, Cecile Hansen, Chairwoman of the Duwamish tribe, rose to the podium. She extended a welcome to members of HSS and detailed the tribe’s history in the area, including its ongoing struggle for federal recognition, and invited the packed audience to visit the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center.

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CFP: Die Bilder der Aufklärung / Pictures of Enlightenment / Les Images des Lumières, Annual Conference of the German Society for Eighteenth Century Studies, Halle, Germany, 16-18 September 2020

The German Society for Eighteenth Century Studies (DGEJ) has issued a call for papers for its annual conference Die Bilder der Aufklärung / Pictures of Enlightenment / Les Images des Lumières. Taking place at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Enlightenment Studies, Halle (Saale), Germany from 16-18 September 2020, this trilingual event will explore the relations of and intersections between the Enlightenment and pictorial media. In particular, this event will focus on the role that artistic works, technical drawings, depictions of everyday objects, tables and diagrams and artisanal book illustrations played in shaping past and present concepts of the Enlightenment period.

The conference design proposes a combination of plenary papers and slightly shorter session papers. Conference organizers welcome German, English, or French-language papers and would like to particularly encourage early stage researchers to apply. To submit a paper, please send the title of your proposed presentation together with an abstract (max. 3000 characters incl. spaces) and a bio-bibliographical note to bilder2020@izea.uni-halle.de by 15 August 2019.

See here for the full CFP, written in German, English and French.

‘Writing the Past’ by Gavin Lucas

Gavin Lucas. Writing the Past: Knowledge and Literary Production in Archaeology. 188 pp., 1 b/w illus., 8 tables, bibl., index. London: Routledge, 2018. $39.95 (paper), $150 (hardback), eBook ($35.96)

In a magisterial and impressively learned way, Gavin Lucas details in his new book how archaeologists in the English-speaking world have been struggling for generations to turn what they are digging up into reliable knowledge about the past. The disagreements at the core of these struggles have often been intense. Moreover, these clashes over method and theory are far from over. As Lucas observes, “In the wake of debates in archaeology during the 1980s and 1990s one can no longer entertain any naivety about archaeological knowledge as an untroubled road to the truth about what happened in the past” (3).

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2019 Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) Annual Meeting


This week from June 26-29, 2019, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) will convene its annual meeting at the University of Waikato in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Check out this year’s program and catch up on past years’ meetings with these reflections on sessions from 2016, 2017, and 2018. Also, if you are attending NAISA 2019 and would like to share your experiences or reflections on any panel sessions relevant to the history of anthropology, drop us a line!

History of Anthropology at NAISA 2018: Examining “Archival Diasporas”


Native American and Indigenous scholars often consult archival holdings in multiple sites and collections. Archival materials are frequently split, scattered, or dispersed across various repositories, and researchers will have to visit multiple institutions to access the papers and materials of previous anthropologists. For instance, the records and manuscripts of Margaret Mead are kept at the Library of Congress, American Philosophical Society, American Museum of Natural History, and other sites. Thus, scholars have over the years considered archival dispersion as a lens to examine the very nature of archives. What are the challenges and opportunities of studying the stories and contexts of dispersed collections? Continue reading

History of Anthropology at NAISA 2017 in Vancouver, BC


The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) held its annual conference in Vancouver, Canada, on the traditional and unceded lands of the Musqueam Nation.  Hosted by the University of British Columbia (UBC), the conference reflected the vibrant explosion of work in this field, and brought together a group of scholars, artists, activists, and community members from nations across all continents (except Antarctica) for three days of work, play, and celebration. Continue reading

Event: Archives, Collections and Practices of Knowledge-Making: Histories of Anthropology, São Paulo, Brazil, 1-5 July 2019

From July 1-5, 2019, the Cidade Universitária and the Centro de Pesquisa e Formação SESC are hosting a conference entitled: “Practices of Knowledge-Making: Histories of Anthropology.” This event aims to reflect on anthropological archives and collections in order to retrieve histories of anthropology and shed new light on the discipline and its practices and procedures. More detailed information about this conference can be found below.

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Call for Nominations: General Anthropology Division Awards

The General Anthropology Division (GAD) of the American Anthropology Association is seeking calls for nominations for three awards: the GAD New Directions Award, the GAD Prize for Exemplary Cross-Field Scholarship, and the CASTAC David Hakken Prize for graduate student papers. These awards will be presented to recipients at the GAD’s annual awards ceremony. More information about these awards, and instructions for submitting a nomination can be found below.

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New Resource: Michael C. Carhart’s “Leibniz Discovers Asia: Social Networking in the Republic of Letters”

The History of Anthropology Newsletter (HAN) is happy to announce the publication of Michael C. Carhart’s new work Leibniz Discovers Asia: Social Networking in the Republic of Letters. Part of the Johns Hopkins University Press series “Information Cultures,” which illuminates the material and cultural circumstances that have shaped the production, reading, and public consumption of texts, Carhart’s work traces the history of linguistics through following the work of philosopher, scientist, and mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who developed a vast network of scholars and missionaries throughout Europe to acquire the linguistic data he needed.

Dr. Carhart has written a short description of his book, which can be found below:

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‘The Story Box’ Exhibition Review

The Story Box: Franz Boas, George Hunt and the Making of Anthropology. An exhibition at the Bard Graduate Center Gallery in New York and the U’mista Cultural Centre in Alert Bay, Canada, curated by Aaron Glass with designs by Corrine Hunt.

On view at the Bard Graduate Center from February 14-July 7, 2019
On view at the U’mista Cultural Centre from July 20-October 26, 2019

In April of 1897, American anthropologist Franz Boas wrote a letter to a group of Kwagu’ł chiefs on Canada’s northwestern coast. He explained that “It is good that you should have a box in which your laws and stories are kept. My friend, George Hunt, will show you a box in which some of your stories will be kept. It is a book I have written on what I saw and heard when I was with you two years ago.”

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Lightswitch and Crankshaft: Poetical Linguistics and Linguistical Poetics

Editors’ Notes: In our latest addition to Clio’s Fancy, Charles Greifenstein touches on the relationship between poetry and anthropology through the letters between the poet Gary Snyder and the sociolinguist Dell Hymes.

In these folders, one finds the most intriguing things. Drawings labelled “Chart of World Symbols”; a letter in crayon; gossip about teachers and girlfriends; what the author is reading, and what he thinks of it; what the author is thinking when he is not reading; what the author is writing (other than letters); how the author and correspondent will survive in the academic world. The author sometimes signs his letters “Aleksandr Leitswics” (“light switch?”). And there is poetry:

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Histories of Anthropology: Transforming Knowledge and Power, Cambridge, 2017: Conference Report

 

Histories of Anthropology: Transforming Knowledge and Power” was a two-day conference held at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, on 18–19 September 2017. Papers ranged widely in geographical scope, in their methodological approach, and in their focus on different anthropological subfields. This report analyses submitted abstracts to give a suggestion about the state of the field and summarizes the contributions of each of the speakers made in their presentations.

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Introducing Generative Texts

At the American Anthropological Association Meeting in 2017, Sydel Silverman humbly asked Janet Steins, a HAN bibliography editor, if her 2002 book The Beast on the Table: Conferencing with Anthropologists could be included in our publication’s ever-evolving online bibliography.  Because our cutoff date for publications is 2013 or later, we were forced to decline. Fortunately, Silverman’s inquiry kicked off lengthy discussions among the HAN editorial collective concerning how we might bring the attention of our readers to important, provocative, and influential texts published at any time in the past which have generated discussions and new lines of thought for researchers and others interested in the history of anthropology. The recent and unfortunate passing of Silverman in March 2019 spurred these discussions and our desire to devise ways of better accounting for important works that have fallen through our cataloguing sieve. After many months of deliberation and collaboration, we are pleased to introduce a new subsection to the Bibliography page: Generative Texts.

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The Beast on the Table

Silverman, Sydel. The Beast on the Table: Conferencing with Anthropologists. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press, 2002.

Synopsis

In this “ethnography of anthropologists and their conference behavior” (x), Sydel Silverman describes the interworking of the Wenner-Gren Foundation’s International Symposia, writing from the perspective of a participant observer.  As president of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research from 1986 to 1999, Silverman was the principal organizer of these invitation-only meetings. She begins by detailing the general process by which a conference was conceived and implemented, including attention to the idiosyncrasies of the Wenner-Gren conferencing model. The five- to six-day conferences were structured around discussions of pre-circulated papers, collective meals and cocktail hours. The strict rules of participation prohibited outsiders, including spouses, which regularly engendered “dissension and conflict” (13). The book proceeds to explore the interworking of 25 conferences that nearly span the entire course of Silverman’s 13-year presidency. While some gatherings proved more successful in terms of bringing the “beast” to life (a metaphor for the events originally coined by participant Gregory Bateson), Silverman identifies consistent patterns such as a persistent “epistemological division” between essentialist and constructionist views of science (261). Thus, The Beast on the Table offers a rare insider perspective on the collective (and often contested) formation of anthropological knowledge within institutional settings.

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“Remarks on Frazer’s Golden Bough”

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. “Remarks on Frazer’s Golden Bough.” In Philosophical Occasions, 1912–1951, edited by James C. Klagge and Alfred Nordmann, 118–55. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1993.

Synopsis

Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Remarks on Frazer’s Golden Bough is a set of aphoristic notes and marginalia scribbled in reaction to Sir James George Frazer’s armchair account of magical rites, ritual, and ceremony. Frazer’s The Golden Bough, first published in 1890, grew to thirteen volumes by 1936, four years prior to Frazer’s death at Cambridge; a 1922 abridgment compiled by Frazer’s spouse has circulated widely ever since. The bulk of Wittgenstein’s Remarks were composed during his initial encounter with Frazer’s text in 1931, the rest “not earlier than 1936 and probably after 1948,” according to one biographer. They were first published[1] after his death, also at Cambridge, in 1951. 

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Objects and Others

Stocking, George W., editor. Objects and Others: Essays on Museums and Material Culture. History of Anthropology, Volume 3. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1985.

Synopsis

Objects and Others, the third installment of the History of Anthropology series published by University of Wisconsin Press, is an edited volume featuring essays on the role of material culture and museums in the history of anthropology. While originally conceived as a series of essays on the “museum period”[1] of anthropology, George Stocking explains in his introduction how the process of assembling and editing the essays opened up larger questions about “objects and others”—in other words, how material culture mediates the relationship between science and its subjects. The case studies, primarily drawn from British and North American contexts, illustrate the role of material culture and museums in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Several case studies focus on key institutional spaces: the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford (William R. Chapman), the Peabody Museum at Harvard (Curtis Hinsley), the Trocadero Museum in Paris (Elizabeth A. Williams), and the American Museum of Natural History, where Ira Jacknis memorably narrates how Franz Boas attempted, and ultimately rejected, the role of exhibition designer. The remaining essays focus on the negotiations that happen around the collection, preservation, and display of objects, including how the Rockefeller Foundation’s philanthropy shaped scientific priorities (Stocking), how market forces guided the creation and valuation of American Indian art in the Southwest (Edwin L. Wade), how Quebec selected a particular aesthetic version of its French past to preserve and perpetuate (Richard Handler), and how the shifting institutional place of archaeology within the academy shaped collecting trends (Bruce G. Trigger). 

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The Savage Within

Kuklick, Henrika. The Savage Within: The Social History of British Anthropology, 1885-1945. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Synopsis

Henrika Kuklick’s The Savage Within: The Social History of British Anthropology, 1885-1945 charts the professionalization and academic institutionalization of British anthropology across three “stages,” “generations,” or “schools”—evolutionist, diffusionist, and functionalist—by reading anthropological texts as cultural products which illuminate changes in British political mores and social life. Kuklick claims that “whatever their views on technical problems, anthropologists [of each generation] were, above all, creatures of their historical moments” (250). Taking anthropologists’ “analyses of remote societies” as “vehicles for projective fantasy” (244), and “interpretive differences” among each school as “products of observers’ social circumstances” (3), Kuklick evaluates the “significance of anthropological ideas on the basis of their social consequences” (242) in order to “contextualize anthropology within the national culture” of Britain (278). Thus, she explains evolutionist theories of linear historical progression in terms of their ability to justify educational reforms at home and colonial rule abroad, as well as the growing popularity of meritocratic ideals among the British middle-class. She explains diffusionist contentions that cultural variation was a product of differences in social organization, as opposed to unequal natural endowments of humans, by reference to World War I and a concomitant sense among the British that “individuals’ fortunes could be altered by the circumstances in which they were placed” (181). Finally, she explains functionalists’ “triumph” during the interwar years as a result of their successful appeals for patronage, hinging on claims about the superiority of professional fieldwork and anthropological expertise relative to the practices of rural colonial administrators. 

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From Savage to Negro

Baker, Lee D. From Savage to Negro: Anthropology and the Construction of the Race, 1896-1954. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

Synopsis

Lee Baker’s From Savage to Negro: Anthropology and the Construction of Race, 1896-1954 highlights the consequential role of anthropology in the development, dissemination, and critique of hegemonic conceptions of race.

Using the diametrically opposed Supreme Court rulings Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) and Brown v. the Board of Education (1954) as his landmarks for reckoning the changing nature of race relations in US politics, Baker documents the ways in which anthropology has been appropriated by politicians, popular media, and the courts to affirm, and later to challenge a racialized worldview steeped in Social Darwinism and eugenics. Importantly, Baker identifies a notable shift in this history. During the 1890s, amateur and professional anthropological thought, encapsulated in the works of Josiah Nott, Daniel G. Brinton, John Wesley Powell, and Frederic Putnam, affirmed the presumed racial inferiority of African Americans codified in Plessy. With care and precision, Baker shows how by the mid-20th century, African American intellectuals and leaders selectively appropriated anthropology­—specifically, the work of Franz Boas—in their efforts to affirm notions of racial equality. Thus, From Savage to Negro documents the paradoxically liberating and normalizing potentiality of anthropological thought.

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Event: Jean Cuisenier (1927-2017): Jalons d’une odyssée en anthropologie de l’Europe, June 21-22, 2019, Paris

On June 21-22, 2019 the Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac and Bibliothèque Nationale de France François Mitterand is hosting a two-day colloquium in commemoration of Jean Cuisenier, the former director of the Centre d’ethnologie française (1968-1986), conservateur en chef of the Musée National des Arts et Traditions Populaires (1968-1988), and editor of the journal Ethnologie française.

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Event: Documentary Screening and Panel Discussion of JUNOD, Lisbon, 19 June 2019

On June 19, 2019 the University of Lisbon’s Institute of Social Sciences is hosting a film screening and panel discussion of the 2006 documentary JUNOD which portrays the life of Henri-Alexandre Junod (1863-1934), a Swiss Protestant missionary, anthropologist, linguist, photographer, entomologist and fiction writer. Filmed in Mozambique and South Africa, countries where Junod lived, this work examines his work and thought by situating the diversity and specificities of his work. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring the film’s director/producer Camilo de Sousa, Matheus Serva Pereira, a historian specializing in Social History of Africa, and Paulo Granjo, an anthropologist whose research focuses on industrial contexts in Portugal and Mozambique. The screening will take place at 5:00pm in the Sedas Nunes Auditorium (ICS -ULisboa).

More information about this event can be found here.

Event: Missionaries as the First Anthropologists? Les missionnaires, premiers anthropologues ? Retours sur une idée reçue. Paris, 14 June 2019

On June 14, 2019 the Study Center In Social Studies Du Religieux is hosting a workshop that examines the roles of missionaries as producers of proto-ethnological-knowledge and the patterns of the relations between the activities of  Catholic or Protestant missionaries and those of ethnologists and anthropologists in the field. Entitled Les missionnaires, premiers anthropologues ? Retours sur une idée reçue (Missionaries as the First Anthropologists?), the event is taking place on salle Alphonse Dupront, 10 rue Monsieur le Prince, Paris from 13.00 h – 19.30 h. More information about the event can be found here.

Event: Repatriation Strikes Back, Le retour de la restitution. Géopolitiques du patrimoine, éthiques du transfert, économies du retour. Sorbonne Université, Paris, 12 June 2019

On June 12, 2019 the Sorbonne will be hosting a workshop entitled “Repatriation Strikes Back,” or Le retour de la restitution. Géopolitiques du patrimoine, éthiques du transfert, économies du retour. This workshop will address the question of restitution of stolen or stolen objects from the point of view of the actors, the public and the countries concerned with their return and reception. Location information and the event’s program can be found below.

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Call for Papers: Special Issue in Stedelijk Studies on Imagining the Future of Digital Archives and Collections

Stedelijk Studies has issued a CFP for a special issue on Imagining the Future of Digital Archives and Collections. More information about this opportunity can be found below:

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‘Beyond Compare: Art from Africa in the Bode Museum’ Exhibition Review

Beyond Compare: Art from Africa in the Bode Museum.” A temporary exhibit at the Bode Museum, Berlin, Germany, on view from October 27, 2017 to June 2, 2019.

In introducing their Beyond Compare exhibit at the Bode Museum, curators Julien Chapuis, Jonathan Fine, and Paola Ivanov have been very clear and consistent about the unique opportunity that allowed them to juxtapose African and European art: objects from the ethnographic collections became available while they waited for their new home in the controversial Humboldt Forum.[1] The ephemeral nature of this experiment thus hovers over this temporary exhibition more than over most—a window is only briefly open to challenge our current museological practice, and will close again soon. That said, we are keenly aware of this because the curators, to their credit, have used this opportunity to raise fundamental questions about how we display the arts of different places and periods, and to investigate the meaning of continuing disciplinary and institutional divisions between them. In the catalogue, in the introductory wall panels, and in the “About this Exhibition” section of the exhibit’s companion app, they almost immediately segue from explaining this unique opportunity to challenging their visitors’ ideas and expectations. “What causes us to view objects as similar or different? What insights can we gain from the joint display of works of art with different histories? Why were some objects classified in the past as ‘ethnological’ and others as ‘art’?” In the end, however, the temporary nature of this exhibit and the questions raised by this remarkable and ambitious show are poignant and haunting because they underscore the disciplinary and institutional divides that will re-emerge when it closes in June.

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‘A Future in Ruins’ by Lynn Meskell

Lynn Meskell. A Future in Ruins: UNESCO, World Heritage, and the Dream of Peace. 400 pp., illus., notes, bibl., index. Oxford University Press,  2018. $29.95 (hardcover)

Histories of heritage seem to be having their moment in the sun. Within the past year, Christina Luke’s A Pearl in Peril: Heritage and Diplomacy in Turkey (OUP, 2019) has been published, as has Lucia Allais’s Designs of Destruction: The Making of Monuments in the Twentieth Century (Chicago, 2018). Lynn Meskell’s A Future in Ruins: UNESCO, World Heritage, and the Dream of Peace is the third part of this (unintentional) trilogy. Part history and part anthropology, the volume puts the operation of UNESCO’s heritage concept in historical perspective, detailing the development of that notion and its institutional governance from the interwar period to the present day. As Meskell admits (xxi), her own disciplinary background in archaeology means that she concentrates on the “cultural” side of a concept that also deals with “natural” sites, most famously through the 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. That limitation aside, however, throughout the volume Meskell charts the intertwined histories of heritage and UNESCO in a way that is, to my knowledge, unparalleled in its depth.

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