Note: This review first appeared in The TLS: Times Literary Supplement (no. 6114, 5 June 2020, pp. 4–6) with the title “Lines of thought: Franz Boas: The Man Who Opened Up Anthropology in America” and is reprinted with permission of TLS and the author. (In the UK, Charles King’s book is published as The Reinvention of Humanity: A Story of Race, Sex, Gender and the Discovery of Culture.) The essay’s timeliness is self-evident. The History of Anthropology Review joins with the many now protesting against the reprehensible police killings and systemic racism which have afflicted Black, Indigenous and other Communities of Color for so long; we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and are committed to documenting, discussing, and critically evaluating racism’s legacies in anthropology, while working for greater equity within our disciplines, institutions, and communities.—The Editors
The President of the United States was saying “America must be kept American,” emboldening white supremacists to blame darker-skinned immigrants for causing crime and taking working-class jobs. It was the 1920s, and the US was erecting barriers against immigration, with severe effects on those who were poor or classed as non-white. White patricians, feeling under threat from those who spoke foreign languages and clustered in tenements, rallied around a confident, energetic, mustachioed ideologue named Madison Grant, a wealthy New Yorker and close friend of President Theodore Roosevelt. Grant’s book The Passing of the Great Race(1916) implausibly suggested that America had once been racially homogeneous but was becoming degraded by immigration—plunged into a chaotic, impoverished “racial abyss.” “Teutonics” or “Nordics” like him were being “replaced,” he warned, by “lower” races and would soon be “extinct.” Grant’s malevolent thesis that racial mixing posed a grave threat to white vitality was seized on by Hitler, who in 1925 wrote Grant a fan letter, praising the German translation of his book as “my Bible” (114, 306).
In addition to unveiling the richness, vividness and sophistication of the ethnographic reports and reflections contained in Forster’s travelogue, A Voyage Round the World (1777), this piece also discusses the travelogue’s popular reception, and explains how Forster came to be recognized as a founding father of German scientific literature
The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research and SAPIENS will co-host a webinar on “Anti-Blackness: Readings on Violence, Resistance, and Repair” on June 17, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. EST. The discussion will feature books by Laurence Ralph (The Torture Letters), Savannah Shange (Progressive Dystopia), Christen A. Smith (Afro-Paradise), and Deborah A. Thomas (Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation) and a conversation with the authors on how their work speaks to our current moment. Discussion will be moderated by Danilyn Rutherford, Eshe Lewis, and Chip Colwell.
Participants should register in advance, as participation is limited to the first 1,000 individuals to sign up.
A sharp, comparative analysis of symbolic boundary maintenance across times and cultures, Mary Douglas’s Purity and Danger intervened in the anthropology of religion and ritual, as well as in the theoretical development of the field as a whole. It is a key text in symbolic anthropology, an approach that, in viewing symbols as the building blocks of socio-religious worlds, sought to analyze the ways symbolic constructions either generated order or disorder. Innovative for its time, Douglas follows E. E. Evans-Pritchard ethnographic account of The Nuer when she claims that we cannot understand ideas of purity or pollution—that is, hygiene—in isolation. Solid anthropological knowledge comes from an analysis that attends to the ways systems relate to one another and form the structural “backbone” of a society.
Alfred L. Kroeber, Anthropology: Race, Language, Culture, Psychology, Prehistory (New York: Harcout, Brace and Company, 1948).
I was sixteen, browsing the shelves in the public library downtown in Mount Vernon, New York—a suburb just north of the Bronx—when I pulled out a thick tome, Anthropology, by A. L. Kroeber. Taking it home, I read it through, all 856 pages. ANTHROPOLOGY! Everything in the world, everything could be studied through Anthropology! Humans are ubiquitous.
Evon Z. Vogt, Fieldwork among the Maya: The Harvard Chiapas Project (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1994).
There is a moment in Evon Vogt’s Fieldwork Among the Maya: Reflections on the Harvard Chiapas Project when Paul Lazersfeld—the sociologist famous for his methodological rigor—passes a stack of books sitting on Vogt’s desk on the Chukchee of northeastern Siberia and remarks: “My God, you anthropologists know a lot. You don’t know how you found it all out, but you certainly know a lot” (47). How Vogt knows what he knows—and more generally, the methods through which anthropologists come to know other cultures—is the motivating question in this “autobiography of his fieldwork.”Fieldwork Among the Maya traces the impact of Vogt’s participation in multiple interdisciplinary, collaborative ethnographic projects— including W. Lloyd Warner’s study of social stratification in the Midwest and Clyde Kluckhohn’s investigation of values in five cultures in Ramah, New Mexico—on the development and operation of the Harvard Chiapas Project. Written fifteen years after the “official” conclusion of the project, Vogt’s memoir traverses, in a personal and intimate fashion, over forty years of tumultuous transformation in anthropology.
HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology. This article by João Leal (Centre for Research in Anthropology, NOVA University, Lisbon) presents the complex anthropological legacy of Raimundo Nina Rodrigues, who played a key role in the emergence of the anthropology of Afro-Brazilian religions (and especially the Candomblé studies) at the turn of the twentieth century.
Raimundo Nina Rodrigues (1862-1906) is a key figure – albeit a controversial one – in the history of Brazilian anthropology at the turn of the twentieth century. He was a major representative of the racialist theories that prevailed in Brazil at that time, but was also a pioneer in the study of Afro-Brazilian religions, to which he devoted his best-known work, The Fetishist Animism of Bahian Blacks (1896-97). Resulting from his own ethnographic fieldwork, this paradoxical work combines evolutionary and racialist ideas with a thorough first-hand description of candomblé. It launched several themes – such as syncretism – that were to inspire later representatives of this subdisciplinary field, namely from the 1930s and 1940s, when Arthur Ramos (1903-1949) revitalized Afro-Brazilian studies.
Featuring a variety of panelists, including Ramona Perez, Kalfani Ture, Donna Auston, Shanti Parikh, and Avram Bornstein, discussions will be guided by two principle questions: (1) What should an Anthropology of policing look like and (2) What practical and actionable steps should anthropologists, as cultural experts of the lived experiences of impacted communities, take to transform American policing.
This webinar is FREE and open to the public. Instructions for how to access this event can be found here. The full event abstract is provided below.
Drawing on examples from the Philippines and Malaysia, this event will explore how indigenous struggles for land and livelihood are central to understanding the emergence of a zoonotic pathogen like SARS-CoV-2.
The seminar will be available to stream on YouTube live on June 9, 2020 from 10am – 11:30am (Australian Eastern Standard Time, GMT+10). Registration information can be found here.
More information about this event can be found below.
HAR is happy to continue to draw readers’ attention to a remarkable and growing online source for History of Anthropology. BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology reflects the diversity of anthropological traditions and currents, whether hegemonic or pushed to the margins. BEROSE welcomes and fosters the pluralization of the history of anthropology and aims at recovering the dialogues or tensions between classical protagonists and forgotten, sometimes excluded and sometimes cursed figures.
Today, we are pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE – an essay by Stafania Capone (Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Paris) and Fernanda Peixoto (University of São Paulo) on the history of anthropology in Brazil. The article is available in both Portuguese and English.
This page displays our most recent batch of citations; a comprehensive bibliography of citations we’ve collected since 2016 (going back as far as 2013) and a search tool are also available.
We welcome suggestions from readers. If you come across something of interest during your own fieldwork in the library, whether that be physical or virtual, please let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are pleased to share a new page of HAR with our readers: Doing the History of Anthropology Online: Resources for COVID-19 and Beyond. This page follows up on an initiative announced in our Spring 2020 Update to gather HoA-relevant virtual resources for researchers who have lost access to physical collections during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to research collections, you will find resources to support teaching, scholarly community, and public engagement in the history of anthropology online.
We would like to draw special attention to the second section, HoA Scholarly Literature, since some of these resources are set to expire as soon as 31 May. The University of Nebraska Press in particular has extensive publications in the history of anthropology that it is making freely available through the end of the month (find more information under “Project MUSE”).
This list will be updated periodically and we welcome suggestions from our readers. Please email us with more resources or other comments at email@example.com.
HAR is happy to draw readers’ attention to a remarkable and growing online source for History of Anthropology. BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology reflects the diversity of anthropological traditions and currents, whether hegemonic or pushed to the margins. BEROSE welcomes and fosters the pluralization of the history of anthropology and aims at recovering the dialogues or tensions between classical protagonists and forgotten, sometimes excluded and sometimes cursed figures. This pluralization makes it possible to highlight the richness of World Anthropologies. The same challenge is addressed to Western or Northern anthropologies as well: these are sometimes reduced to a monolithic vision of the most famous theoretical currents and major actors, thus masking the wealth of national anthropological traditions and the vitality of specializations in cultural, geographical or thematic areas.
The purpose of this book is to redress an injustice committed against someone who could have had a central place in the history of anthropology. According to Wendy Wickwire, this might have been the case of James Teit (1864-1922) if he had not been pushed to the margins of the discipline as an amateurish ethnographer in the service of Franz Boas. In comparison with the legendary George Hunt, who has been the subject of several studies (and, recently, a series of events at the AAA/CASCA in Vancouver, 2019), James Teit is practically “unknown” (12). In her monograph on him—the outcome of several decades of archival research and ethnographic encounters with the concerned communities—Wendy Wickwire makes a challenging comparison with Boas himself, hoping that her reassessment of Teit as a visionary anthropologist in his own right will not be like other episodic rediscoveries of forgotten figures who, after a certain time, fall back into obscurity. According to her, Boas played his part in obscuring Teit’s stature (particularly after his death in 1922), and subsequent narratives kept reproducing, if at all, the portrait of an untrained collector subordinated to the academic expert. In fact, she argues that the professionalization of anthropology was one of the causes in this process: “For a new scientific discipline housed in the university, a high school diploma did not measure up” (273). The time has come, she writes, to question “the authority of mainstream history” (22), according to which Teit provided Boas with the field data that allowed the latter to produce a series of eleven monographs on the Nlaka’pamux and other Plateau groups, starting withThe Thompson Indians of British Columbia(1900), the fourth in the twenty-seven-part series of Jesup North Pacific Expedition monographs. Wickwire’s perusal of their correspondence allows her to affirm that this is “wrong” (15) and that Teit’s authorial status was paramount.
Because the work of the History of Anthropology Review is largely conducted online, during these COVID days we continue much as we have. But most members of our editorial board are early career scholars, including graduate students and post-docs, and we are acutely aware of the anxieties and uncertainties the current situation presents for precarious workers of all kinds, including in the academy. We wish everyone safe passage through these times, and stand in solidarity with academic workers who are demanding protections and extensions to cope with these conditions.
As research travel and archival visits are extremely restricted, HAR would like to provide lists and links for electronic resources for the history of anthropology. Our “kin” page lists various journals, but we are now planning to publish a list of archives and collections for the history of anthropology available online. Do you know of any from your research, or from your place of employment? Please send suggestions and links to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will get these up as soon as we can!
We do have some good news. Last fall we invited applications to join our editorial collective, and we are delighted to add to our masthead the following new associate editors, who will keep HAR growing: Tracie Canada (University of Virginia); Abigail Nieves Delgado (Ruhr University Bochum); Olga Glinksii (University of New Mexico); Sophie Hopmeier (St. Andrews); Patricia Marcos (UC San Diego); Sarah Pickman (Yale); Shu Wan (University of Iowa); and Paul Wolff Mitchell, Brigid Prial, and Koyna Tomar (University of Pennsylvania). We’re thrilled to welcome them to the team.
Further, we would like to announce the addition of four new members to our Advisory Board: William Carruthers (University of East Anglia), Christine Laurière (CNRS, codirector of Bérose), Joanna Radin (Yale), and Han Vermeulen (Max Planck Institut, Halle, co-convener of HOAN). We’re honored to have the advice and support of these distinguished scholars.
Had Selected Writings by Sigmund Freud been published by the Pelican press in 1948, it is likely Ashley Montagu—the prolific British-American anthropologist, and the work’s main compiler—would today have been recognized as a noteworthy figure in Freud’s postwar US reception. Yet after several months reading Freud’s corpus, deciding which texts and passages to include, writing an introduction, and compiling a bibliography, Montagu was forced to shelve the project, thwarted by the Freud family’s famous reluctance to allow such maverick publications. His attempts, a decade later, to initiate a sibling study under a new title, Freud Re-Examined, comprised of reprints of scholarly essays mostly by contemporary psychologists, also went nowhere, frustrated by a publisher’s aversion to the genre. By the 1980s, if Montagu discussed these works at all, he presumed them “irretrievably lost.”
Yet several folios of materials were preserved, including those relating to the aborted 1940s anthology. Today all are gathered in box 65 of the Ashley Montagu Papers, held at the American Philosophical Society, in Philadelphia.[i]
These documents enrich our understanding of Montagu beyond his recognized association with the UNESCO Statements on Race (1950/51), and his countless publications on gender, aggression, and human nature—all of which vaulted him, in the words of Henrika Kuklick, to a position “below Margaret Mead, but far above many others.”[ii] Surrounding correspondence with co-editors, publishers, and Freud’s sons, Oliver and Ernst, also help to define American anthropology’s midcentury relationship with psychoanalysis. In relief, they offer us a sturdy platform from which to consider the terms by which we standardly discuss this period, and subject, in the history of the field.
The idea of compiling a short selection (200 pages) of Freud’s works aimed at a general readership, particularly “the college audience,” reflected the growing US interest in psychoanalysis. With few rival editions, the collection would have preceded by several years the burst of biographies and official translations that began to appear in the 1950s. It would certainly have expanded access to Freud’s corpus beyond the six texts that the psychoanalyst A. A. Brill republished in 1938, and, costing just 25¢, would have been a fifth of its price. It would almost certainly have returned respectable sales, as its publisher, Pelican, new to the US market, hoped.[iii]
Working with a co-editor, his friend from the New School, the psychoanalyst Eric Fromm, Montagu spent several months choosing twenty-two of Freud’s essays, books, and cases to republish, and identifying illustrative passages from each. While much would have been sampled, Freud’s Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex (1905) would not have been one of them, probably because Montagu remembered Bronisław Malinowski’s bracing handling of the text in the 1920s, and because he thought it was not the most ‘fruitful’ for future anthropological work.
The four pages Montagu typed for the intended work’s introduction, in October 1947, made clear his compilation’s aim to “orient the reader in relation to Freud” through his “most representative writings.” “Psychoanalysis is largely the creation of one man, Sigmund Freud,” the draft introduction begins, before it moves to provide “a post-Freudian historical conspectus of the development of psychoanalysis,” placing “Freud’s enormous contribution in perspective.” While he ran into forbidding headwinds around copyright in November, Montagu continued to revise his manuscript, hoping to add “a good word” for Otto Rank and Alfred Adler, heretics to most strict Freudians, to the final copy. In such modest ways, the document implies the wider appeal that neo-Freudians held for those anthropologists who engaged psychoanalysis in these years.[iv]
Montagu seems to have been drawn to the project, beyond commercial reward, out of a belief he was providing “a public service”, widening the audience to those “whom Freud would not otherwise reach,” and regarding it as a tool of social policy, “increas[ing] mutual understanding and sympathy.” These were lofty claims though they chimed with his wartime enthusiasm for scientific humanism, and, crucially, his sense that anthropology was improved as it conversed with other fields. The book’s blurb would have described Montagu not as an anthropologist, though he was trained in that field, but as one with expertise in the “borderland in which the social and biological sciences meet.”
Although neither of Montagu’s books about Freud made it into print, they nevertheless influenced the direction and character of his later work. References to Freud abound in several of the books he wrote in the 1950s, and they drove his interest in alternative branches of psychoanalysis: to object relations theory; to Adler, who buttressed his views on the importance of social interaction in shaping personality; and to the Glaswegian analyst Ian Suttie (whose The Origins of Love and Hate Montagu presciently introduced for a US audience, in 1952, twenty years before US psychoanalysis discovered the work) who colored his comparative studies of love and cooperation in societies.[v] When in the late 1960s and 1970s Montagu debated Robert Ardrey and Konrad Lorenz about the nature of human aggression, he characterized them, not unreasonably, as putting “new garb” around what Freud had written on the topic; his 1976 monograph The Nature of Human Aggression opens with an epigraph from Civilization and Its Discontents (1930). That Montagu, in 1947 and again in 1959, expressed interest in publishing works on Freud and psychoanalysis, also testified to the fact these subjects remained “important undercurrents” for anthropology, even as some took aim at “culture and personality,” presuming the tributary was running dry.[vi]
We should not try to wrench Montagu’s commitment to these projects, which admittedly sprang from several sources, into the “culture and personality movement,” which was only one phase in a dense process of interaction between psychoanalysis and anthropology around midcentury. What, I think, the materials in box 65 instead suggest is our need to resuscitate the distinction that Montagu’s friend, the Duke University anthropologist Weston La Barre, drew between “the culture-and-personality movement in general,” and psychoanalysis’s “larger and more diffuse influence upon American anthropology as a whole.”[vii] It is within this latter category that Montagu’s work best fits, offering a strand of inquiry that has been absent from histories of American anthropology. Such diverting projects certainly burnished Montagu’s reputation as one of America’s “most versatile anthropologists”; at least that’s what Clifford Geertz wrote in 1961.[viii] Had he known of them, Geertz would likely have understood Montagu’s midcentury engagements with Freud as characteristic of an earlier group of scholars who, he said in 1991, came “in from an angle” to anthropology, bringing “influences from outside” that enriched the discipline. Such traits had been eroded, Geertz regretted, by the insular character the discipline developed in the twenty years after the 1950s.[ix]
These materials, like many discussed in the History of Anthropology Review, testify to the value and excitement of archival work as discovery. Had Montagu published either of these books, a younger generation, including students of anthropology, would have read Freud’s work firsthand, and plausibly found fresh ways of reckoning with it, nurturing an alternative orientation better able to endure the decimation of ‘culture and personality’. In the absence of such publications, later historical treatments of American anthropology condensed, and dismissed, the influence psychoanalysis had on the field to this “fashionable slogan,” in ways that might soon no longer hold up.[x]
[i] Folios: A Critique of
Freud, Box 65, Ashley Montagu Papers, American Philosophical Society,
[ii] Henrika Kuklick quoted in
Ramirez, “Ashley Montagu, 94, Anthropologist and Popular Author,” New York Times (Nov. 29, 1999). Montagu was a prodigious writer and commentator,
addressing both scholarly and popular audiences on many subjects between the
1940s and 1980s. Among his best-known works are: Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race (1942); On Being Human (1951); The Natural Superiority of Women (1952);
The Nature of Human Aggression (1976).
[iii] On Pelican’s origins
and market see Peter Mandler, “Good Reading for the Million: The ‘Paperback
Revolution’ and the Co-Production of Academic Knowledge in Mid
Twentieth-Century Britain and America,” Past
and Present 244 (Aug. 2019): 235-69.
[iv] Robert A. LeVine, “Culture
and Personality Studies, 1918-60: Myth and History,” Journal of Personality 69 (Dec. 2001): 803-18.
[v] Suttie’s reception
among American psychoanalysts is described in Elizabeth Lunbeck, The
Americanization of Narcissism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,
[vi] George Stocking, “Anthropology
and the Science of the Irrational,” in Malinowski, Rivers, Benedict and
Others: Essays on Culture and Personality, ed. George W. Stocking, Jr, vol.
4: History of Anthropology (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1986),
13-49, at 43.
[vii] Weston La Barre, “The Influence of Freud on Anthropology,” American Imago 15 (Fall, 1958), 275-328, at 286.
[viii] Clifford Geertz, “Aspects
of Mankind Examined Provocatively,” Chicago Daily Tribune (June 18,
[ix] Richard Handler, “An
Interview with Clifford Geertz,” Current Anthropology 32 (Dec. 1991),
[x] Clyde Kluckhohn and O. H. Mowrer, “‘Culture and Personality’: A
Conceptual Scheme,” American
Anthropologist 46 1 (1944): 1-29, at 1.
In response to COVID-19, which has resulted in the closure of many universities and university libraries, Berghahn Books is providing researchers with free access to their entire journal archive up until June 30 2020.
Of special interest to historians of anthropology are:
Every once in a while, an important figure makes an appearance, makes a difference, and then disappears from the public record. James Teit (1864-1922) was such a figure.
Join Dr. Wendy Wickwire in conversation with Brian Carpenter, Curator of Native American Materials at the American Philosophical Society, as they discuss Teit’s life and work and the continued impact of the records he left behind.
Building on the collaborative, community-engaged work of the American Philosophical Society’s Center for Native American and Indigenous Research (CNAIR), the APS Library & Museum launched The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Native American Scholars Initiative (NASI) in 2016 to foster the development of the next generation of Indigenous and allied students and scholars.
Grant Arndt, Iowa State, is seeking a few more participants for a panel on the relationship between research into the history of anthropology and the modes of historical self-consciousness evident in contemporary anthropological work.
Since its inception, Edward Said’s Orientalism has enjoyed tremendous and well-deserved influence across the humanities and social sciences. While this text has never been without its critics, Said’s underlying assertion that representations of the “other” have been intimately embedded in imperial domination has contributed to a disciplinary commonplace that assumes European imaginings of non-Europeans are inevitably and eternally domineering. It is this overextension (and perhaps simplification) of Said’s thesis that Robert Launay critically addresses in Savages, Romans, and Despots: Thinking about Others from Montaigne to Herder.
The History of Anthropology Interest Group at the American Anthropological Association encourages the organization of panels and events related to history of anthropology for this year’s annual meeting in St. Louis, MO (November 18-22). Submissions must be started by April 3rd and are due by April 8th. Visit the AAA’s website for information on how to submit proposals.
The HOA Interest Group would also appreciate information on HOA related panels and events being planned for the meeting. Messages may be sent directly to the listserv address: email@example.com.
Since 1973, the History of Anthropology Review (formerly the History of Anthropology Newsletter) has been a venue for publication and conversation on the many histories of the discipline of anthropology. 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 History of Anthropology Review became an online publication with volume 40 in 2016, and changed its title from History of Anthropology Newsletter to History of Anthropology Review on October 18, 2019. Content is updated continually, and subscribers receive weekly emails with links to new content.
HAR 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.