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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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
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.
Entitled “Geographies of Cultural Memory,” the workshop will address methodological and historical problems in the study of global visual and aesthetic traditions. Drawing upon Severi’s foundational work on cultural memory and indigenous arts, discussions will place particular emphasis on the role of images and visual arts within anthropology and ethnography. How has anthropology dealt with the formal variety and geographical diffusion of aesthetic objects in the past, and what new modes of investigation offer themselves to us today? In this connection, we will also have occasion to revisit long-dormant anthropological aspects of Aby Warburg’s cultural science, and to consider its ramifications for a global study of culture in both the past and the present.
Under Severi’s direction, the workshop will consist of group discussions of key texts and a limited number of research presentations by participants. Please note that space for the workshop is very limited. To apply, please send a brief description of your research in relevant areas (150-200 wds) and a brief CV (2 page max) to John.Tresch@sas.ac.uk and email@example.com
Applications from London-area postgraduate students and early-career scholars working at the crossroads of art history, anthropology, geography, and/or the history of the human sciences are especially welcome.
In large measure, archives have made our careers. From Nash’s first book on the history of tree-ring dating in the American Southwest to Colwell’s intellectual history of the first Native American archaeologist, Arthur C. Parker,we have depended on archives to illuminate anthropology’s fantastic and twisted story. In 2009, we applied for a Save America’s Treasure’s grant, which provided funding to hire an archivist, Aly Jabrocki, to garner intellectual and physical control over several of the key collections at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS), including materials donated by the famed pioneering anthropologist Ruth M. Underhill (1883-1983). The grant enabled us to explore this neglected historical resource—half-archived but entirely unstudied and unpublished since the materials were donated twenty-five years earlier. We were astounded by the result of Aly’s efforts. Rumors we had long heard of the archive’s historical wealth proved to be true. The Underhill Collection runs eighty-five linear-feet and includes such finds as original ethnographic notes from her work with Native Americans, syllabi and class notes from 1930s Columbia University, hand-corrected manuscript drafts, nearly three thousand photographs, and original sound recordings—all created during a life spanning more than ten decades.
Anatomy as a science and as an educational discipline in the medical curriculum is forever in transition. One of the greatest areas of change in recent decades has been the systematic evaluation of ethical questions in anatomy. At the center of these deliberations is the status of the dead human body, which is no longer only seen as a mere “object” or “material” of research or as an educational “tool.” Rather, it is described as a body that still has connections with the person who once inhabited it, thus becoming part of a social network of knowledge gain and requiring respectful treatment.
This change of perspective will be explored in the symposium, “Human Tissue Ethics in Anatomy, Past and Present: From Bodies to Tissues to Data,” which will take place in Gordon Hall, Harvard Medical School Campus on April 4, 2019 from 9:00am to 3:00pm. At this event, an international group of scholars will discuss the ethical aspects of existing questions, explore the relevance of non-profit and for-profit body donation, and examine newly emerging technologies in anatomy that may need innovative ethical approaches. The aim of this symposium is to present evidence for the insight that transparent and ethical anatomical body and tissue procurement is indeed at the core of medical ethics in research and education.
The event’s program and registration information can be found here.
In four chapters, Farooq analyzes a multitude of scientific and artistic “border-crossers,” beginning with Charles Darwin in the 1830s and concluding with African American artist-ethnographers who traveled to Haiti in the mid-twentieth century. Chapter 1 considers Charles Darwin’s journey alongside Captain Robert FitzRoy aboard the HMS Beagle in 1834, and his interactions with three returned captives in Tierra del Fuego. These interactions led Darwin to question ideas about fixed biological difference among humans, thus influencing his subsequent theories of evolution. The most fascinating and novel intervention of this chapter is the link Farooq draws between Darwin’s fieldwork and ideas of cultural relativism embraced by later anthropologists like Franz Boas and Zora Neale Hurston. Farooq convincingly argues that while Darwin himself was not an anthropologist nor an ethnographer, his evolutionary theory shaped the field by showing that “social and biological taxonomies are […] contingent, always shifting, never stable” (48). Darwin’s theory of evolution implied that humanity was in a constant state of “becoming,” and this led to a conviction that differences among human races were “neither fundamental nor fixed” (55). What’s more, Darwinian theories of a shared human kinship and common ancestry were eventually appropriated by socially and politically marginalized intellectuals like Boas and Hurston. In these ways, Farooq shows how Darwin’s evolutionary theories—frequently associated with subsequent scientific racism and eugenicist theories—also opened up new avenues for thinking about racial fluidity and connections among humanity.
The workshop aims to explore the history of knowledge exchange in the twentieth century. In particular, it focuses on channels of communication between Eastern Europe, Germany, and East and South Asia and examines the ways in which scholars used the notion of human character, social betterment, and social change to analyze the complex relationship between epistemology and stereotypes.
Questions about this event can be directed to Olga Linkiewicz at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Council for Museum Anthropology (CMA) has issued a call for papers for its second biennial conference that will take place in Santa Fe, New Mexico from Thursday, September 19th through Saturday, September 21st, 2019. Using the unique position of Santa Fe—the “City Different”—as a starting point for thinking broadly about both local and global approaches to museum anthropology, the conference theme is “Museums Different.”
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 email@example.com.
David Anderson and Joshua Smith invite submissions for a panel on Cold War anthropology at the upcoming AAA Annual Meeting, to be held in Vancouver, British Columbia from November 20-24, 2019. The panel abstract and details for submission are provided below:
The Warburg Institute has issued a call for papers for “Freud’s Archaeology,” a conference that examines archaeology’s role within psychoanalysis and how these two fields have oscillated between theoretical and practical work. This event will take place in London from June 4-5, 2019. More detailed information and submission instructions can be found below:
The 18thInternational Union of Anthropological und Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) World Congress was held at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC) in Florianópolis, Brazil, July 16-20, 2018. Approximately 2,000 participants discussed the Congress theme “World (of) Encounters: The Past, Present and Future of Anthropological Knowledge” across 236 panels. Four panels dealt with the history of anthropology, among them one convened by History of Anthropology Network (HOAN) members.
My path as a historian forever changed during my first year in the archives. When I began working at the National Anthropological Archives (NAA) in an ominous, cloudy box of a building near the end of the Washington DC metro train line, I thought I might write a dissertation on exhibiting material culture. Secretly, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing or looking for. What I did know by this point in my research life and education as a historian was how to ask questions and search for answers from different perspectives. I also knew how to benefit from the expertise of archivists. The brilliance of archivists, in fact, is where this story really took a fundamental turn for me.
The Story Box: Franz Boas, George Hunt and the Making of Anthropology on view at the Bard Graduate Center Gallery from February 14 through July 7, 2019, explores the hidden histories and complex legacies of one of the most influential books in the field of anthropology, The Social Organization and the Secret Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians (1897). Organized by Bard Graduate Center Gallery in partnership with U’mista Cultural Centre, a Kwakwaka’wakw museum in Alert Bay, British Columbia, the exhibition is curated by Aaron Glass, associate professor at Bard Graduate Center, and features designs by artist Corrine Hunt, a great-granddaughter of George Hunt.
The exhibit’s launch is accompanied by a series of events that explore contemporary indigenous creative practice and raise questions around representation, colonialism and cultural history. A full list of these activities can be found below.
Canguilhem’s historical epistemology continues to inspire historians and anthropologists to attend to how current and former human practices of science shape our conceptualizations and engagement with natural and experimental environments, non-human beings, and human life. Now, with the publication of a translation of La connaissance de la vie ( 2008), which contains many of Canguilhem’s key works, “The Living and Milieu” speaks with new urgency.[ In the spirit of the History of Anthropology Newsletter’s call for multidisciplinary exploration of novel topographies for the history of anthropology, this Special Focus Section gathers five insightful considerations of reversals and collapses in relations between organism and environment for the history of human and life sciences since their seminal characterization in “The Living and Its Milieu.”
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.
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