2021 (page 2 of 5)

Activating the Torres Strait Archive: An Interview with Anita Herle and Jude Philp on Recording Kastom

We at HAR were very excited to learn about the recent publication of Recording Kastom: Alfred Haddon’s Journals from the Torres Strait and New Guinea, 1888 and 1898. The book features the previously unpublished journals of Cambridge zoologist and anthropologist Alfred Haddon, who worked in the Torres Strait and New Guinea in 1888 and 1898. “Kastom” is a dynamic concept which refers to contemporary knowledge and practices that derive authenticity from a perceived origin in the pre-colonial past. It’s defined further in the Torres Strait Islander Commission Act (2005 (2019)): “Ailan [Island] Kastom means the body of customs, traditions, observances and beliefs of some or all of the Torres Strait Islanders living in the Torres Strait area.” Haddon’s extensive documentation, originally seen as salvage ethnography, is currently used by Islanders as a means of connecting with the past and as a crucial resource for maintaining and revitalizing aspects of kastom in the present.

Recording Kastom analyzes and contextualizes the journals and intimate documents Haddon sent to his wife Fanny for information and safe-keeping. These documents reveal many details of day-to-day life in the field, including the central role played by the Islanders in his collecting practices. The book’s authors, Anita Herle (AH) and Jude Philp (JP), agreed to virtually sit down with HAR editors Cameron Brinitzer (CB), Freddy Foks (FF), and Laurel Waycott (LW) for a chat. What follows is an edited transcript of the conversation.

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‘Creatures of Cain’ by Erika Lorraine Milam

Erika Lorraine MilamCreatures of Cain: The Hunt for Human Nature in Cold War America. 408 pp., 33 b/w illus., app., notes, index. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019.

“Human nature” is nearly as pliable and ambiguous a term as “Cold War” but Erika Lorraine Milam pins down these slippery concepts in Creatures of Cain: The Hunt for Human Nature in Cold War America. Milam successfully crafts an important analysis of the science of human nature that crystallized around questions of aggression in post-war America. Milam’s “Cold War” is less of an international geopolitical event than it is a setting in which US governmental concerns about American society intersected with and funded the work of anthropological experts studying the origins of human behavior. Against this backdrop, Milam sets out to discover how questions of human behavior became important and how the science of evolution gained popular explanatory power to answer them. In Creatures of Cain, Milam examines American social science after World War II and its attempts to make sense of humanity’s species-level relationship with violence. This book spans the late 1950s and the emergence of the “killer ape” hypothesis and ends in the 1980s with the rise of sociobiological explanations for violence.

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Latest Additions to the Bibliography, September 2021

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 bibliographies@histanthro.org.

Achim, Miruna, Susan Deans-Smith, and Sandra Rozental, eds. Museum Matters: Making and Unmaking Mexico's National Collections. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2021.
Berger, Lee R., and John Hawks. Almost Human: The Astonishing tale of Homo naledi and the Discovery that Changed Our Human Story. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2017.
Coffman, Elesha J. Margaret Mead: A Twentieth-Century Faith. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021.
Comelles, Josep Maria, and Enrique Perdiguero Gil. Medicina y Etnografía en Cataluña. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 2015.
Darnell, Regna. The History of Anthropology: A Critical Window on the Discipline in North America. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2021.
Evans, Brad, and Aaron Glass. Return to the Land of the Head Hunters: Edward S. Curtis, the Kwakwaka'wakw, and the Making of Modern Cinema. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2014.
Fischer, Marilyn. Jane Addams's Evolutionary Theorizing Constructing "Democracy and Social Ethics." Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019.
Georget, Jean-Louis, Hélène Ivanoff, and Richard Kuba, eds. Construire l'ethnologie en Afrique coloniale: politiques, collections et médiations africaines. Paris: Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle, 2020.
Glazier, Jack. Anthropology and Radical Humanism: Native and African American Narratives and the Myth of Race. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2020.
Gmelch, George, and Sharon Gmelch. In the Field: Life and Work in Cultural Anthropology. Oakland: University of California Press, 2018.
Hertler, Steven C., Aurelio José Figueredo, Mateo Peñaherrera-Aguirre, Heitor B. F. Fernandes, and Michael A. Woodley of Menie. "George Peter Murdock: Stemming the tide of Sterility with an Atlas of World Cultures." In Life History Evolution A Biological Meta-Theory for the Social Sciences. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
Howell, Brian M. "Anthropology and the Making of Billy Graham: Evangelicalism and Anthropology in the 20th-Century United States." American Anthropologist 117, no. 1 (2015): 59–70.
Kelly, Evadne, Dolleen Tisawii'ashii Manning, Seika Boye, Carla Rice, Dawn Owen, Sky Stonefish, and Mona Stonefish. "Elements of a counter-exhibition: Excavating and countering a Canadian history and legacy of eugenics." Journal of the History Behavioral Sciences 57, no. 1 (2021): 12–33.
Kubica, Grażyna. Maria Czaplicka: Gender, Shamanism, Race. Translated by Ben Koschalka. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2020.
Larson, Frances. Undreamed Shores: The Hidden Heroines of British Anthropology. London: Granta Books, 2021.
Mackenthun, Gesa, and Christen Mucher, eds. Decolonizing "Prehistory": Deep Time and Indigenous Knowledges in North America. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2021.
Poskett, James. Materials of the Mind: Phrenology, Race, and the Global History of Science, 1815-1920. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020.

New Release from BEROSE – Kan on Goldenweiser

HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article in English on the career of Alexander Goldenweiser. 

Kan, Sergei, 2021. “An Unorthodox Boasian: Life and Work of Alexander Goldenweiser,” in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

In the annals of the history of anthropology, Alexander Goldenweiser (1880-1940) usually occupies a less prominent place than his fellow Boasians. His academic career suffered from his own difficult personality and erratic behavior, and for this reason, plus the fact that quite a few of his writings appeared in non-anthropological journals, he receives little attention. In this important article, Kan sustains that a careful reading of the entire corpus of Goldenweiser’s work reveals the brilliant mind of a highly erudite scholar. Usually identified as the author of a seminal work on totemism, which offered a thorough criticism of this concept as developed by late nineteenth-century evolutionist anthropologists, Goldenweiser also introduced such important notions as “the limited possibility in the development of culture” and “cultural involution.” Moreover, along with Edward Sapir and Paul Radin, he insisted on the key role of the individual in culture and promoted a rapprochement between anthropology and psychology. Finally, he was also a strong advocate of an interdisciplinary approach to the social sciences, combining anthropological with historical, psychological, and sociological interpretations of culture history. 

Alexander Alexandrovich Goldenweiser was born in Kiev (Ukraine, Russian Empire) into a Russian Jewish family. He studied under Franz Boas at Columbia University, where he taught until 1919. He did fieldwork among the Iroquois, but Kan reveals that he dedicated himself mostly to anthropological theory and had an important role as a progressive public intellectual. His work includes one of earliest textbooks in anthropology in the U.S., Early Civilization: An Introduction to Primitive Culture (1937), a popular book called Robots and Gods: An Essay on Craft and Mind (1931), as well as a collection of essays, History, Psychology and Culture (1933).

Comment on “Memoirs of Women and Harvard” by Alice B. Kehoe

Editor’s note: The following essay is a response to “Memoirs of Women and Harvard” by Alice B. Kehoe, published on 9 August 2021 in Reviews. You can find the original essay here.

Alice Kehoe, in her review article, “Memoirs of Women and Harvard,” makes the following inaccurate assertion, “Cora Du Bois was there [Harvard’s Department of Anthropology] only because wealthy patron Doris Zemurray Stone recommended her for the chair the Zemurray family endowed specifically for a woman.” This was in the context of discussing Victoria R. Bricker’s book, Transformational Journeys: An Ethnologist’s Memoir (2017), in which Bricker mentions some of her experiences as a graduate student in anthropology at Harvard and references Du Bois’s mentoring of her.

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Memoirs of Women and Harvard

Victoria R. Bricker. Transformational Journeys: An Ethnologist’s Memoir. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 106, part 5. 344 pp., illus. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 2017.

Becky Cooper. We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence. 512 pp., notes. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2020.

That Harvard’s Department of Anthropology did not favor women is well-known. So well-known that some of it is pure myth. Contrary to a common story, women were not required to sit outside classrooms listening through the door. David Browman, who researched and wrote most of Anthropology at Harvard,[1] discovered that up until about 1925, professors could, if they wished, offer separate meetings of their classes, one for men and one for women. Harvard had a School for the Collegiate Instruction of Women that in 1893 became Radcliffe College, with its own campus and classrooms. During the 1920s, women began sitting in classrooms with men.[2] Women who earned an Anthropology PhD at Harvard received a Radcliffe diploma until 1963. Mine, in Spring 1964, may have been the first Harvard diploma in Anthropology issued to a woman.

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‘Structures’ in Context

“Mythical thought, this bricoleur, builds structures by putting together events, or rather the residues of events, while science ‘at work,’ simply as a result of having been established, creates its means and its results in the form of events, thanks to the structures that it is ceaselessly producing and which are its hypotheses and theories.”

            Claude Lévi-Strauss, Wild Thought (2021[1962], 25-26).

“It is the hallmark of productive experimental systems that their differential reproduction leads to events that may induce major shifts in perspective within or even beyond their confines. In a way, they proceed by continually deconstructing their own perspective.”

           Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, Toward a History of Epistemic Things (1997, 36).

“Perhaps something has occurred in the history of the concept of structure that could be called an ‘event,’ if this loaded word did not entail a meaning which it is precisely the function of structuralor structuralistthought to reduce or suspect.”

            Jacques Derrida, “Structure, Sign, and Play” (1978[1967], 278).

“Archaeology, however, must examine each event in terms of its own evident arrangement; it will recount how the configurations proper to each positivity were modified…it will analyze the alteration of the empirical entities which inhabit the positivities…it will study the displacement of the positivities each in relation to the others…lastly, and above all, it will show that the general area of knowledge is no longer that of identities and differences…but an area made up of organic structures, that is, of internal relations between elements whose totality performs a function…”

            Michel Foucault, The Order of Things (1970 [1966], 218).

“Although Foucault, in his analysis of the processes by means of which the classical episteme was replaced by our own, had proposed that these epistemes be seen as being discontinuous with each other, what he oversaw was that such a discontinuity, like the earlier discontinuity that had been effected by the classical episteme itself, was taking place in the terms of a continuous cultural field.

            Sylvia Wynter, “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom” (2003, 318).

“This book has traced how epistemology and ethos emerged and merged over time and in context, one epistemic virtue often in point-counterpoint opposition to the others. But although they may sometimes collide, epistemic virtues do not annihilate one another like rival armies. Rather, they accumulate…”

            Lorraine Daston & Peter Galison, Objectivity (2007, 363).

***

If structuralism has implied a denial of history, does studying structuralism as a historical phenomenon mean denying its validity? What difference might it make to shift analytic attention from specific structuralists or structuralisms to structures as epistemic things?

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Structure

Editors’ note: This essay was first published in Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences, Vol. 42, No. 5 (November 2012), 496-499. Special Issue “50 Years of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,” edited by Michael Gordin and Erika Lorraine Milam. It is reprinted here with the permission of the author and HSNS editors.


“Structure” was a word to conjure with in 1962. Claude Lévi-Strauss’s Structural Anthropology had appeared in 1958 (translated into English in 1963); Noam Chomsky’s Syntactic Structures was first published in 1957 and had reached its fifth printing by 1965.[1] Even if they didn’t brandish the word “structure” in their titles, a cluster of influential books in the humanities and social sciences published circa 1960 raised hopes that the complexities of, say, the plays of Racine or cultural taboos or bargaining might reveal simpler basic structures the way an X-ray revealed skeletons.[2] The runaway success of Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions did its part to glamorize an already up-and-coming word. Even scholars more resistant to the lure of structuralism than linguists and anthropologists, for example historians and philosophers but also psychologists and psychoanalysts, fell under the spell of Kuhn’s structures of scientific development.[3]

Yet probably no word strikes historians of science nowadays reading Kuhn (if they do) as more dusty and dated than the once glittering “structure.” This is not because the whole book is a fossil from a bygone era. Even if it is no longer assigned in courses across the university, much of Kuhn’s analysis still seems fresh and even avant garde: the close studies of scientific pedagogy that he flagged as crucial to understanding the cognitive and social cohesion of research communities are still a desideratum; much work in the history, philosophy, and sociology of science still focuses on the resolution of controversies as the moment when researchers’ most fundamental assumptions are laid bare; topics such as the know-how implicit in mastering scientific paradigms have been revived by the history of the body and other explorations of what is often called, not always accurately, tacit knowledge. Even though many of the polestar words that do now guide the history of science—“context,” “controversy,” “consensus”—were first made luminous in Kuhn’s Structure, “structure” itself has lost its shine.

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1966: The Year of Light

By François Dosse

Translated by Cameron Brinitzer & John Tresch

Editors’ note: This is a new translation and abridged version of text previously published in François Dosse, Histoire du structuralisme, Vol.1 Le champ du signe, 1945-1966: chapitres 33 à 35 (Paris: La Découverte, 1991), translated by Deborah Glassman, The History of Structuralism: The Rising Sign, 1945-1966 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997). This translation is printed here with the permission of the author and La Découverte.

Copyright © Editions La Découverte, Paris, 1991, 2012.


“Everything went downhill from 1966 on. A friend had lent me Les mots et les choses, which I was giddy to open… I suddenly abandoned Stendhal, Mendelstam, and Rimbaud, just as one stops smoking Gitanes, to devour the people that Foucault was discussing: Freud, Saussure, and Ricardo. I had the plague. The fever didn’t let me go and I loved that plague. I was careful not to cure myself. I was as proud of my science as a louse on the pope’s head. I was discussing philosophy. I called myself a structuralist, but I did not shout it from the rooftops because my knowledge was still tender, crumbly; a wisp of wind would have dispersed it. I spent my nights alone learning, stealthily, the principles of linguistics, and I was happy… I filled myself with syntagms and morphemes… If I debated a humanist, I would crush him in a single blow of épistémè … I pronounced, in a voice filled, almost trembling, with emotion, and preferably on autumn evenings, the names of Derrida or Propp, like an old soldier caressing flags taken from the enemy… Jakobson is my tropic or my equator, E. Benveniste my Guadeloupe, and the proaïretic code my Club Med. I see Hjelsmlev as a steppe… It seems to me that I am not the only one to have strayed into these canyons” (Lapouge 1986, 30).

It is in these burlesque terms that Gilles Lapouge described, twenty years later, what was in 1966 a true Saturday night fever for a structuralism reaching its peak. All the effervescence of the human sciences converged at that moment to light up the horizons of research and publication around the structuralist paradigm. 1966 is the “central landmark (…) It can be said that, at least at the Parisian level, there was that year a great, and probably decisive, mixing of the most acute themes of research” (Barthes 1981, 7). The year 1966 can be crowned the year of structuralism, and if we can speak of the children of 1848 or those of 1968, we must add the children, just as turbulent, of the luminescent year of structuralism, 1966.

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Nine Pails of Ashes: Social Networks, Genocide, and the Structuralists’ Database of Language

Confined as we are to a structural analysis, we need give only a brief justification of the proposition just advanced, and according to which complex kinship structures—i.e., not involving the positive determination of the type of preferred spouse—can be explained as the result of the development or combination of elementary structures. A special and more developed study is to be devoted to these complex structures at a later date.

Claude Lévi-Strauss, The Elementary Structures of Kinship, 1949

It’s complicated.

Facebook, ca. 2007

Precritical and commonsensical accounts imagine language as liberation from bodily constraints.[1] Through language, internal representations escape their cranial enclosure permitting, if not a communion, at least a confluence of individual thoughts and experiences. In 1972, American literary critic Fredric Jameson suggested recent theoretical trends might be flipping this notion on its head, when, inspired by Russian formalism and structuralism, he spoke of a “prison-house of language” (1974, i, 186, 214-215). This analogy suggested a carceral account of language, in which humans—perhaps including theorists—were held captive by words and signs. Utterances became less like the expressions of a rich subjective interiority than a trace of fetters, anchored in the walls of cells assigning the speaker’s perspective.

In some crucial respects, the carceral analogy had much to recommend it. French structural anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss’s Tristes Tropiques recounts indigenous life enclosed by a vicious colonial state and reduced to a dispersed network of fragmentary elements. Swiss structural linguist Ferdinand de Saussure’s accounts of speech as situated in a “spoken chain,” “sound-chain,” and “phonetic chain” envisions the subjects of language as manacled in linguistic determinants that precede and exceed them (1959, 22-23). His celebrated account of language as a game of chess implies not merely containment but also a highly regimented warfare in which capture and defeat spring more from the “rules of the game” than individuals’ agency.[2] French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan’s account of the criminal as subject to the demands of a social structure, rather than aberrancy of conscience or soul, suggest analyst and society are, in fact, oriented and constrained by an individual’s pathology (2006, 102-122, 739). Such examples illustrate a few of the “constraints” operative within structuralist models. The subjects of structuralism find themselves governed by spaces, operations, procedures, and transformations not of their own making, where potential moves follow precisely assigned steps.

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The Place of Structuralism on the Hungarian Intellectual Scene: Late 1960s – Early 1970s

I am writing these notes from the perspective of a peripheral observer, having been a student of psychology and linguistics when structuralism reached Hungary. I was mainly a consumer of—if at times kitchen sink social participant in—the debates spurred by the arrival of structuralism. There was a great difference, for many of us, from what we saw on the French philosophical scene in the 1960s. The French history of structuralism has focused on structuralism as a comprehensive social theory that questioned the commitments of what were then traditionally left-leaning social power- and history-oriented social sciences and humanities in France. Seen from Hungary, however, structuralism appeared as a culmination of half a century of (what was assumed by many to be an almost) organic development: from Saussurian linguistics to universal structures of cognition and society. In Hungary, in addition, we had a political situation where the social implications of scientific theories could take the form of direct political intervention.

Structuralism hit many youngsters in Hungary coming from linguistics proper, and not from Foucault, Lacan, and Lévi-Strauss. At the same time, the message of structuralism in the Hungarian context was the concentration on pure structure and form rather than history and content. It was in a way like the 1920s Russian and Czech formalism: the inspiration towards form was coming from linguistics and language-inspired poetics.

Status quo of Hungarian linguistics in the early 1960s

To understand the situation of modern linguistics in Hungary and the impact of a structural vision, a few basic background factors should be considered. Hungarian linguistics in the 1930s and 1940s saw a small but promising structuralist attempt in the work of Gyula Laziczius (1896–1957), a phonologist and general linguist who initiated the Prague School (Linguistic Circle) and inspired Karl Bühler’s vision of language structure. Laziczius conceived langue as a system of signs accommodated to states of affairs in actual speech, or parole, and characterized by three functions: the descriptive, the directive, and the expressive functions (Laziczius 1942, 1966). As a phonologist with an instrumental phonetic background, Laziczius concentrated especially on the expressive function in his studies of emphatic aspects of speech.[1] One aspect of this had particular relevance for the following generation: between 1938 and 1949, Laziczius built the first European department of structuralist general linguistics at the University of Budapest (Pázmány, later Eötvös). Amidst the communist reorganization of academic life, the department was shut down, which resulted in a 10-15 year cessation of structuralist activity in Hungarian linguistics and hindered intergenerational transmission of structuralist orientations.

In the early 1960s, there was an interesting triangularity, wherein both traditional linguistics and Marxist ideology were opposed to a structural study of language. Traditional linguistics, still clinging to the frozen metatheory of the late nineteenth century neogrammarians, claimed that the only scientific study of language was historical linguistics. This attitude harbored suspicions about the structuralist and form-based “static” analysis of the linguistic system. Formális nyelvészet, or “formal linguistics,” moved away from immediately-given folk categories in a language and instead towards a view of language as a system of signs. Not an easy move.  

There was another tension surrounding the introduction of a structuralist approach to language in Hungary. The Marxist social imaginary understood society to be the result of constant class conflict and struggle, and applied a radical historicism and historical relativism to its interpretation. Class interest and history permeated everything. The structuralist attitude—when extended from the proper domain of language, with its concentration on system rather than history—presented a significant challenge.[2]

Structural analysis and would-be Hungarian structuralists thus had to face two inbuilt ideological, scientific, and existential rivals in the 1960s. Structuralists were considered problematic because they both neglected meaning and treated language as an object rather than an internal essence of humans. The other criticism, which Marxists leveled at structuralists’ ahistorical treatment of language, was that their concentration on structure implied a vision of eternal human nature.

Two structuralist Hungarian linguists in the 1960s: Antal and Fónagy

In spite of these intellectual and political contexts, two short-lived attempts to build up a structural linguistics still took form in Hungary. One was that of László Antal (1930-1993), a dynamic young linguist who was exceptionally well-read for the rather intellectually-closed communist country at the time. Antal started a campaign for structuralism in 1958 with a short paper published in a widely-read journal, Magyar Nyelvőr.[3] There, he outlined the idea that structuralism could serve as a generic name for all approaches that considered language to be “a closed system of signs,” and proposed “that the value of a given sign or sign category is determined by its definite place in the entire system” (Antal 1958, 94). Antal (1959, 1961b) worked to apply the structuralist approach to long-debated and difficult issues of Hungarian descriptive morphology.[4] He also published a popular book on what he called formal linguistic analysis (1964). This book—the first linguistics book that I ever read—combined the ideas borrowed from Harris (1951) and from Shannon (1948) with Shannon and Weaver’s (1949) information theory.

Antal had started from the mentalistic frames of Saussure, but he gradually became committed to a strictly behavioral vision of language. Morphological boundaries in segmentation would correspond to changes in entropy. Antal “started from the problems of segmentation in agglutinative languages and proposed that over words, the usual tendency is decreasing entropy. By this he meant the number of possible continuations at any given point that correspond to lexical density and grammatical structure.”[5] Thus, Antal used Shannon and Weaver’s (1949) notion of entropy for equal probability outcomes, where entropy is a function of the number of possible outcomes.[6] It is important that Antal’s structural approach had a hidden existential component: his structuralism campaigned for the independence of linguistics (from psychology and logic) by arguing for the existence of self-sufficient linguistic structures. In this approach, there was a corollary between the independence of linguistic structure and the independence of general linguistics.    

Iván Fónagy (1920-2005), the other representative of structuralism in Hungary in the early 1960s, was the fundamental contrast to Antal. Instead of independence, he looked for interdependence. He was committed to combining the psychological (in fact, the psychoanalytic) and the literary approaches to language with a structural approach to the language system.

Fónagy had a pupil-mentor relationship with Laziczius and thus represented a sort of continuity with a Saussure-inspired mentalistic structuralism, which Fónagy embedded in his sophisticated approach to multiple functions of language and framed in the tradition of the Prague School (Jakobson 1960) and Karl Bühler (1934).

Fónagy mainly contributed to a structuralist approach in three ways. Unlike Antal, he was not interested in an internalist structural approach but rather its extension toward a comprehension of the total communicative situation (Kiefer 2005; Szende 2008; Pléh 2018).[7] A second novel contribution was his analysis of the functions of language, with special attention to emotional expression. Finally, he reinterpreted the arbitraire of linguistic signs. As Kiefer (2005) has pointed out, for Fónagy, arbitrary linguistic signs had been historically motivated, and in actual communicative acts they obtain a secondary iconic or indexical motivation.[8]

What happened to linguistic structuralism in Hungary?

As Ferenc Kiefer (1931-2020), a Hungarian linguist of the subsequent generation, recently chronicled, a sui generis, fully-fledged Hungarian linguistic structuralism never developed (Kiefer 2019). There were several reasons for this. The first was the reaction of official academia, which was dominated by traditional historical- and meaning-centered linguistics. In 1961, for example, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (an important intellectual compass in Budapest) organized a grand “debate” about structuralism, with a plenary talk by Zsigmond Telegdi (1909-1994), one of the most educated and influential linguists in Hungary at the time. Telegdi claimed that there was a proper place for formal analysis. He tried to ease the worries of traditionalists by suggesting that this place for structure should not reduce interest in historical linguistics. He also tried to relax the Marxists by claiming that, while formal analysis had its autonomy, in a comprehensive vision of language the study of meaning and society also had their places.

As Kiefer presents it, the debate resolved very little, if anything. Since that time, the duality of traditional historical linguistics, on the one hand, and more method-oriented theoretical linguistics, on the other, has remained prominent in Hungary. But two of Telegdi’s other rhetorical moves have proved to be very productive. First, he pointed out that in the Soviet Union discussions about structuralism led to an official academic resolution in 1960, in which a clear differentiation between structuralism as an idealist ideology and structuralism as a method was made (Telegdi 1961, 24). Second, he highlighted how older questions concerning linguistic structures were taken up by mathematicians in the Soviet Union, and applied to the new problems of machine translation and computerized language processing.[9]

As chair of the re-established Department of General Linguistics in Budapest, Telegdi helped create an educational curriculum for “general and applied linguists,” separate from both language-specific philology and traditional Hungarian linguistics.[10] The new linguistics, however, was much more than structural. Antal’s and Fónagy’s first attempts at a modern structuralism in Hungary were quickly displaced by generative grammar. Structures were soon supplemented or even replaced by rules all over the place.[11]

For my generation, which was trained by these early converts to generative grammar, the famous examples of separating grammaticality and meaning—for example, with sentences like Chomsky’s (1957) “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously”—introduced the idea that syntax and form had primacy in cognitive organization. This idea was also taken up in psychology through “a primary concentration on formal aspects both regarding representations and regarding models of cognition. Cognitive research in the 1960s repeated for general cognition what had been initiated by the early linguistic structuralism of the Russian formalists and the avant-garde artistic movements in the 1920s” (Pléh 2019, 405). A focus on form and sentences soon appeared in experimental cognitive psychology as well as in linguistic theory. This attitude has remained a persistent feature of Hungarian psycholinguistics and cognitive psychology ever since.

Addendum: What happened to other structuralisms in Hungary?

Structuralism first appeared in Hungary, albeit belatedly, in linguistics. Being trained as a psychologist and linguist, I viewed developments at the time in other fields mainly with the eye of a linguist. I was happy to see the methods and worldview of formal linguistics extended to other domains. As a consequence, at the time we felt a number of critical interventions to be threats to the entire “linguistic turn” (Bollobás 2019). Other fields, such as folklore, anthropology, and literary studies followed suit about a decade later. But because of the complex—sometimes joined, sometimes rivaled—interests of the Communist Party’s ideological leadership in traditional historical, sociological, and literary scholarship, structuralism’s entry into these fields created a much bigger splash.

In my naïve view, this was related to two factors. Anthropological structuralism questioned the historical relativity so cherished by mainstream Marxists. Literary structuralism, for its part, posed a challenge to many literary scholars for reasons of tradition. The dominant view at the time held that literary analysis should be centered on life history and sociological contextualization. For the Marxists, this contextualization should embed literature into the frames of class struggle and aesthetic realism. With its concentration on form and sometimes even quantitative methods, and with its choice of authors to be studied and researchers to do these studies, structuralism in these fields created a real uproar.

One could list many examples.[12] Elemér Hankiss (1928-2015), who was at the time a politically-compromised multilingual literary scholar, edited a double book of translations on structuralism (Hankiss, 1971) that was provocative for two reasons. First, it collated all modern literary studies under the banner of structuralism; and second, it avoided the question of whether structuralism was an ideology—an issue that was crucial even for soft-line party treatments of structuralism at the time (Kelemen, 1969). Hankiss (1969) also published a book of essays for a general audience, and it employed structural analysis to show how similar principles operate in phenomena as seemingly diverse as Hungarian folk songs and the writings of Samuel Beckett. Both the ahistoricity and the choice of works were provocations.[13]That was enough from a single intellectual. Hankiss had to leave Szeged University and later the entire literary scene. He became a noted sociologist, politologist, a liberal political figure, and the president of Hungarian National television after 1990.

Gábor Bezeczky (2006), a Hungarian literary scholar, also provides a detailed description of the multiple forms that Hungarian literary structuralism took in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the Communist Party’s ideological reactions against it, ultimately resulting in a high-profile ideology session. These official reactions undermined foreign influences during the early 1970s. We were in the aftermath of the 1968 Prague Spring crackdown, and in the middle of what Kremlinologists have called a hardening of the Brezhnev party line and Soviet ideological control. All of the central party’s interventions felt threatening at the time. Structuralism—though a pseudo-official summary of the “debate” was still published in 1977 (Szerdahelyi 1977)—was practically stopped in literary and human sciences. Bezeczky (2006, 6) put it ironically: “The reason for alarm on the part of the party line literators was probably that they ran out of ideas. Within literary scholarship they were unable to juxtapose anything to what they called ‘formal’. Thus they reverted to a political stance”. Bollobás (2019) recently described the consequences ironically as well, noting how the new generation of students started a new chapter of post-structuralism. Thus, the late appearance of structuralism was fast followed by a strong post-structuralist movement in Hungarian literary theory. Does that mean that party hardliners won?  

One can see sad or instructive parallels in the fate of certain social and human sciences in Hungary. The politically-minded and tradition-oriented critics of modernity killed some trends, but much stronger and longer lasting ones appeared in their place. There was true human suffering and tragedy involved. The much-criticized linguistic structuralism was replaced by generative grammar. Literary structuralism was wiped out in the name of a strong post-structuralism and literary hermeneutics. And the party line critique of soft or revisionist Marxism led both to the death of Marxism in Hungary and the birth of a strong philosophy of language and mind.

Works Cited

Antal, László. 1958. A strukturalizmusról. [On structuralism]. Magyar Nyelvőr 82: 94–99.

Antal, László. 1959. Gondolatok a magyar főnév birtokos ragozásáról. [Thoughts on the possessive declination of Hungarian nouns]. Magyar Nyelv 55: 351–7.

Antal, László. 1961a. A magyar esetrendszer. [The Hungarian case system]. Budapest: Akademiai.

Antal, László 1961b. “On the Possessive Form of the Hungarian Noun.” General Linguistics 5: 39-46

Antal, László. 1964. A formális nyelvi elemzés. [Formal linguistic analysis]. Budapest: Gondolat.

Bernáth, Árpád. 2019. “Az irodalomelmélet 1956 után újra polgárjogot nyert Magyarországon.” [Literary theory has been licensed again after 1956 in Hungary]. In Elméletek vonzásában, edited by Enikő Bollobás, 50-112.

Bezeczky, Gábor. 2006. “A strukturalizmus Magyarországon.” [Structuralism in Hungary.] 2000, 17.4: 64-76.

Bollobás, Enikő. 2019. “Az első nyelvi fordulat Magyarországon. A strukturalista szemlélet megjelenése az irodalomtudományban.” [The first linguistic turn in Hungary. The appearance of strcturalsist approach I literary scholarship]. In Elméletek vonzásában, edited by Enikő Bollobás, 113-155.

Bollobás, Emikő, ed. 2019. Elméletek vonzásában. [Attracted by theories]. Budapest: Gondolat.

Brown, Roger. 1970. Psycholinguistics: Selected Papers. New York: Free Press.

Bühler, Karl. 1934. Sprachtheorie: Die Darstellungsfunktion der Sprache. Jena: Fischer. English edition: 1990. Theory of Language: The Representational Function of Language. Translated by D. F. Goodwin. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Chomsky, Noam. 1957. Syntactic Structures. Hague: Mouton.

Fónagy, Iván. 1960. “A hang és a szó hírértéke a költői nyelvben.” [The information value of sound and word in poetic language]. Nyelvtudományi Közlemények 62: 73–100.

Fónagy, Iván. 1962. “Beszéd és valószínűség.” [Speech and probability]. Magyar Nyelvőr 86: 309–320.

Fónagy, Iván.  1963. “A stílus hírértéke.” [Information value of style]. Általános Nyelvészeti Tanulmányok 1: 69–76.

Fónagy, Iván. 1971. “Double Coding in Speech.” Semiotica 3: 189–222.

Fónagy, Iván. 1990/91. “The Chances of Vocal Characterology.” Acta Lingustica Hungarica. 40: 285–313.

Fónagy, Iván. 2001. Languages within Language. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Fónagy, Iván, and Fonagy, Peter. 1995. “Communication with Pretend Actions in Language, Literature and Psychoanalysis.” Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought 18: 363–418.

Harris, Zellig. 1951. Methods in Structural Linguistics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Jakobson, Roman. 1960. “Closing Statement: Linguistics and Poetics.” In Style in Language, edited by T. Sebeok. Cambridge: MIT Press, 350-377.

Kelemen, János. 1969. Mi a strukturalizmus? [What is structuralism?]. Budapest: Kossuth.

Kenesei, István. 2006. “Antal László igazgyöngyei és hamis ékszerei.” [The real pearls and hake jewelry of A.L.] In: Kálmán László (szerk.), KB 120 A titkos kötet Nyelvészeti tanulmányok Bánréti Zoltán és Komlósy András tiszteletére. Budapest: MTA Nyelvtudományi Intézet – Tinta Kiadó, 337–352.

Kiefer, Ferenc. 2005. “Fónagy Iván (1920-2005).” Magyar Tudomány 166: 1170–1172.

Kiefer, Ferenc. 2008. “Gyula Laziczius, a Hungarian structuralist.”  Acta Linguistica Hungarica 55: 121–130

Kiefer, Ferenc. 2019. “A hatvanas évek magyar nyelvtudománya. Az elméleti nyitás korszaka.” [Hungarian linguistics of the 1960s. The age of theoretical opening]. In Elméletek vonzásában, edited by Enikő Bollobás, 19-49.

Laziczius, Gyula. 1942. Általános nyelvészet. Alapelvek és módszertani kérdések. [General linguistics: Basic principles and questions of method]. Budapest: MTA.

Laziczius, Julius. 1944/1961. Lehrbuch der Phonetik. Berlin: Akademie Verlag.

Laziczius, Gyula. 1966. Selected Writings of Gyula Laziczius, edited by Thomas A. Sebeok. The Hague: Mouton.

Hankiss, Elemér. 1969. A népdaltól az abszurd drámáig. [From folk song to absurd drama]. Budapest: Magvetó.

Hankiss, Elemér, ed. 1971a. Strukturalizmus. I–II. Budapest: Európa.

Hankiss, Elemer, ed. 1971b. Formateremtő elvek a költői műalkotásban. [Form creating principles in poetry.] Budapest: Akademiai Kiado.

Hankiss, Elemer, ed. 1971c. A novellaelemzés új módszerei. [New methods of short story analysis]. Budapest: Akademiai Kiado.

Pléh, Csaba. 2019. “The Inspirational Role of Chomsky in the Cognitive Turn of Psychology.” Acta Linguistica Academica 66: 397–428.

Pléh, Csaba, Németh, Kornél, Varga, Dániel, Fazekas, Judit and Várhelyi, Klára. 2013. “Entropy measures and predictive recognition as mirrored in gating and lexical decision over multimorphemic Hungarian noun forms.”  Psihologija 46: 397–420.

Shannon, Claude. 1948. “A Mathematical Theory of Communication.” Bell System Technical Journal 27: 379–423.

Shannon, Claude, and Weaver, Warren. 1949. A Mathematical Model of Communication. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Szende, Tamás. 2008. “Ivan Fonagy (1920–2005): Leitmotifs in his Oeuvre.” Acta Linguistica Hungarica 51: 131–143.

Szerdahelyi, István, ed. 1977. A strukturalizmus-vita. I.-II. [The structuralism debate]. Budapest: Akademiai.

Telegdi, Zsigmond. 1961. “A nyelvtudomány újabb fejlődésének egyes kérdéseiről.” [On some questions of newer developments in linguistics]. MTA I. Oszt. Közl. 18: 11–27.


[1] Kiefer (2008) gives a detailed account of his life and oeuvre.

[2] This challenge was outlined in the local context, for example, by the booklet that claimed to put structuralism back in its proper place, by Kelemen (1969), a linguistically well-read and rather young (just 26 years old!) Marxist philosopher at the time.

[3] The journal has no official English name but can be translated as, Hungarian Language Guardian. The meaning of guardian is as a safeguard of proper language use. It could, in fact, be translated almost as a “watchdog.”

[4] For example, he started to apply morphemic analysis in the style of Bloomfield and Harris (1951) for the Hungarian possessive nominal forms and the status of the plural possessed markers (ház-a-i-m-ban ‘house-Poss-Plau-Mine-IN’) that had already created plenty of discussion. In the same vein he published a much influential book on the Hungarian nominal case system showing how distributional analysis and the concept of allomorphy was helping to decide the status of certain endings if they are case markers and the status of linking vowels without a recourse to meaning intuitions (Antal 1961a).

[5] To take an English example, the string boo can continue as boot, book, boor, boom etc., having high uncertainty, while prog can only continue as progr, having no uncertainty at that point.

[6] This point is first made and elaborated in (Pléh et al. 2013, 398).

[7] The first extension had a starting point similar to Antal. Fónagy (1960, 1962, 1963) also wanted to extend the recently emerging information theory to the analysis of language. But while for Antal entropy was an issue related to language segmentation, for Fónagy who was using information theory to consider issues of parole, uncertainties of prediction were related to some language-external factors to be found in the Sender, to be analyzed as a symptom mature for psychoanalytic interpretation.

[8] This is the essential element of his ideas about double coding (Fónagy 1971, 2001). There are two coding processes on all levels of language. There is a primary code, where the grammar is manipulating arbitrary signs to arrive to a propositionally articulated message. The secondary coding introduces a Distorter in the communicative chain that reshapes, recodes, distorts and transforms the arbitrary signs of primary code into messages referring to unconscious underlying processes as well. The two layers are never separated, they constantly “interplay”. The secondary code is “parasitic”: it builds upon the primary code, there is no secondary code without an elaborated primary code. As Szende (2008, 135) his student and follower in Hungarian phonetics put it, the notional, propositional component “on its way to implementation undergoes another encoding operation by way of which the linguistic form eventually uttered becomes a full-fledged utterance. That operation of expressing emotions or the speaker’s attitude towards the entity or included in the statement changes the utterance mimetically and/or articulatorily. This can be most immediately recognized in the use of emphatic forms. It is in that sense, thus, that speech is ’doubly encoded’”.

[9] Kiefer also describes in detail how similar initiatives were implemented in Hungary among, for example, mathematicians involved in information theory and cybernetics in both Szeged and Budapest. The Academy’s Institute for Computer Science opened an entire section of mathematical linguistics and a machine translation section for a new generation of linguists—Kiefer included. Parallel developments took shape in Debrecen as well with the guidance of Ferenc Pap.

[10] The department also issued a successful yearbook series Általános Nyelvészeti Tanulmányok (Studies of General Linguistics). The scientific training was assisted substantially through co-teaching by members of the Hungarian Academy of Science’s Research Institute of Linguistics as well.

[11] The cultivation of a new generation of linguists dedicated to generative grammar was also facilitated by American Ford Foundation scholarships in the mid-1960s to the would-be teachers of the next generation.

[12] Here, I merely draw a few from the excellent surveys of Bernáth (2019) and Bollobás (2019).

[13] The same provocations held for his selective collections of modern poetry and short stories, which were analyzed by a select group of mainly structuralist and psychoanalytic experts (Hankiss 1971b, 1971c).

Structures of Contagion and Forms of the Social Environment

The genealogies of structuralism have established that its intellectual roots should be found not in mathematics, as Jean Piaget or Michel Serres once indicated, but in biology (Descombes 1979). In many aspects, “structure” in the twentieth-century human sciences replaces the nineteenth-century notion of “organization”. Both notions aim at solving political crises by displaying the elementary conditions of social life: the French Revolution for the notion of organization, the Second World War for the notion of structure. But while organizations rely on laws of development and progress, structures rely on models to anticipate future disasters.

In his famous 1952 article on “the notion of structure in ethnology”, Lévi-Strauss (1958, 333, 342, 343) quotes three times from Kurt Goldstein’s book, Der Aufbau des Organismus (1934), which had just come out in French under the title La structure de l’organisme. In this book, Goldstein presented his diagnostic on patients suffering from aphasia—the loss of speech—to show that new forms of living can be invented after a traumatic shock such as the First World War. This book was a major source for Georges Canguilhem’s philosophy of normativity as well as for Roman Jakobson’s structural linguistics. By contrast with nineteenth-century anatomy, which relied on divine models of organization, Goldstein showed that a structure is a form of re-organization after a shock which shows that life doesn’t have a substantial basis. While organization is grounded on a center that is politically expressed in institutions, structure is decentered because it is grounded on void entities, which are politically expressed in transformations.

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Structures and Relations: Seeing the Entwined Lives of Concepts in an Exercise of Conceptual Flocculation

In asking about the lives of “structure” and “relation,” I do not take a head on approach. Rather, I sidle up to the concepts. John Dewey, whose early twentieth-century method in these matters I admire, called it “a flank approach” when he took on the concept of “The State” in his 1927 The Public and its Problems (Dewey, 1927). Such a military metaphor is not for me. I prefer to imagine a child on a playground asking, “Can I play with you?” Thus, I begin by playing a game with other concepts: “assemblage” and “polity.” I could propose this game by analogy to mathematical method, imagining it as a peculiar wordy calculus involving differentiation and provisional (re)integration. But I prefer analogy to chemistry. Telling it as the chemical method of flocculation, I take the anthropologically entwined pair of concepts, “structure” and “relation,” lyse them so that they float apart and, in reacting with other concepts as little wordy stubs, change their form, and rise to the top in a process of analytic flocculation. In subsequently being skimmed off, these novel concepts become useful in catalyzing divergences.

Around ten years ago, I claimed that it is useful to think of collective method in knowledge and culture work as a complex form of assemblage. In developing this proposition, I worked with two quite disparate exemplars of such work: a nineteenth-century British scientific expedition and a twenty-first-century Indigenous Australian digitization project. Attributing a precise meaning to the commonplace term, assemblage, one that went on from the STS sense of sociotechnical bricolage, but also quite different than post-structuralist “assemblage theory,” my 2009 concept of assemblage envisioned complex material-semiotic entwining of two distinct moments of generalizing—a one-to-many, inductive form, and a whole-to-parts abductive form of generalizing. In this Field Note on the concepts “structure” and “relation,” I pick up that proposition, this time focusing on the work that concepts do to mediate relations in the workings of these complex processes of structuring assemblage.

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Introduction to the New English Edition of “Twenty Days with Claude Lévi-Strauss in Korea”

Editors’ note: This is the first appearance in English of a seminar hosted by the Academy of Korean Studies in 1981. The following is a new introduction written by Kang Shin-pyo. Both selected excerpts and the full seminar transcript with appendices are also available.


This book is the record of a remarkable conversation between Claude Lévi-Strauss, the leading proponent of structural anthropology in the twentieth century, and a group of South Korean scholars invited as leaders in their respective disciplines. It took place in Seongnam, in the context of a seminar that was conceived as an encounter not only between scholarly generations but also between East and West and North and South. The conversation filled five days in October 1981, interrupted for eleven days while Lévi-Strauss traveled in the South Korean countryside to explore aspects of the country’s cultural traditions.

The seminar was initiated by Kang Shin-pyo, then Chairman of the Department of Socio-Cultural Research at the Academy of Korean Studies. Kang had begun to apply a structuralist approach to the analysis of East Asian cultures in the course of his doctoral studies at the University of Hawaii and became acquainted with Lévi-Strauss’s work during academic sojourns in London and Paris. In this respect he was typical of a generation of South Korean humanities scholars who by the mid-1970s were internationally mobile and alert to developments in European and American theory and methodology. The 1981 seminar provided an opportunity for them to engage with Western scholars on their home ground; although Lévi-Strauss and his ideas were the focus of the seminar, other North American and European anthropologists took part by invitation: David Eyde, David Wu, Bob Scholte and Henry Lewis.

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Selected Excerpts from October 14, 1981, “Kinship and Social Organization”

Editors note: This is the first appearance in English of a seminar hosted by the Academy of Korean Studies in 1981. These are excerpts from the seminar’s first day. The full seminar transcript with appendices is also available.


Appendix 2, Figure 4: Seminar Kinship and Social Organization (October 14, 1981).
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Special Focus: Structures

In the course of the twentieth century, structure became a central category of thought across a wide array of sciences. From linguistics to anthropology, psychoanalysis and history, the epistemic aim of analyzing structures guided a diverse range of research programs. And yet, the quest for immaterial or timeless structures that might underlie, order, organize—let alone determine—more readily perceptible domains of reality today appears strange, even suspicious, to most cultural anthropologists and historians of science. To grapple with these changes in the epistemic virtues guiding the work of anthropologists and their historians, as well as structures’ many afterlives outside of the academy, this Special Focus Section aims to adopt a broader historical view of the phenomenon by shifting analytic attention away from specific structuralist texts, intellectuals, and institutions toward structures as epistemic things in the history of anthropology and adjacent domains of inquiry.

Table of Contents

New Release from BEROSE – Seymour on Du Bois

HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article in English on Cora Du Bois by her biographer, Susan Seymour.

Seymour, Susan C., 2021. “A 20th Century American Anthropologist and ‘First Woman’: The Life and Work of Cora Du Bois,” in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

Cora Du Bois (1903-1991) was an American anthropologist whose life spanned much of the twentieth century and whose professional career reflects major developments in the history of that discipline. In addition, Du Bois was a twentieth-century “first woman,” one of the few women of her generation to succeed in having a career that included both university teaching and research but also government service. During World War II, Du Bois served as a high-ranking intelligence officer and then as a Southeast Asia specialist in the State Department in Washington, D.C. Her prominence as an anthropologist was established during the 1930s when she did groundbreaking research in culture and personality. In 1954, Du Bois was appointed the Zemurray-Stone Radcliffe professor of anthropology and social relations at Harvard University, the university’s first tenured woman in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In this seminal article by Du Bois’s biographer, Seymour concludes that Du Bois’s “intense intellect, curiosity, and formidable character had propelled her through a series of unprecedented accomplishments in both government service and academe,” as she moved from “salvage” anthropology to pioneering research in culture and personality, and then to a new form of research on a complex society through time, using an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach.

New Professional Opportunities with Hawaiian and Pacific Collections at the Bishop Museum

The Bernice P. Bishop Museum is launching a transformative new program with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that builds internal curatorial capacity at the Museum in preparation for designing and implementing a training program in Indigenous curatorial practice for the next generation of museum curators. Building a Pacific Pipeline: Bishop Museum & The Te Rangi Hīroa Pacific Curators and Caretakers Program aims to diversify the pipeline of future cultural heritage professionals, increase the number of historically underrepresented Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in the museum field, and demonstrate how museums can change their practices and positively impact their communities.  

The first phase of Building a Pacific Pipeline will increase staffing in the Bishop Museum’s Cultural Resources Division by hiring a team that includes two curators, a collections manager, and a collections technician to steward a collection that represents more than half of the world’s primary source material of Hawai‘i and the Pacific. The Bishop Museum is an ideal learning laboratory for examining how Oceania collections are understood, interpreted, and cared for.  

All those interested in these job opportunities should visit the “Careers” section of the Bishop Museum website, where they can also find information on how to submit applications for these positions. This is part of a major Andrew W. Mellon-funded project at the Bishop Museum to prioritize and support indigenous knowledge, values and practice in the custodial care and scholarship of these collections going forward. 

New Release from BEROSE – Sansone on Melville and Frances Herskovits in Brazil

HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article in English on the Brazilian experience of Melville and Frances Herskovits.

Sansone, Livio, 2021. “‘No Sun Helmets!’ Melville & Frances Herskovits in Brazil,” in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

Among the representatives of culturalism, Melville Herskovits (1895-1963) stands out for his pronounced inclination to African studies, bringing Africa and the Americas closer together around cultural issues, without neglecting the challenges of the historical framework of slavery. From the 1920s, he was active in several African-American and African research contexts. 

Between 1935 and 1943, the city of Salvador, Bahia in Brazil received different degrees of attention from a large number of foreign scholars and intellectuals, all of them impressed—if not seduced—by the “magic” of this city, largely the result of its Black popular culture. Among them were Frances Shapiro Herskovits (1897-1975) and her husband Melville Jean Herskovits. In this article, Sansone explores the manifold reasons for the lasting success of Melville and Frances’s fieldwork in Brazil, in spite of the fact that they never published the book they had planned. Their painstaking, detailed, and focused fieldwork in Brazil benefited from the experience, reputation, images, and recordings they had built up elsewhere in the Americas and Africa. The notion of African survivals or Africanism was in those days politically convenient and fitted with the priorities of the local modernist elites. Moreover, their presence and interest was convenient to the candomblé community, and the cult houses used the Herskovitses as leverage for local political support. Sansone concludes that Frances and Melville Herskovits were “the right people, with the right ideas, at the right time and place.” 

New Release from BEROSE – Pinho on Hasenbalg

HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article in Portuguese on Argentinian/Brazilian anthropologist Carlos Hasenbalg. 

Pinho, Osmundo, 2021. “Sociologia crítica do racismo à brasileira: um retrato intelectual e político de Carlos Hasenbalg” [Transl.: “Critical Sociology of Racism in Brazil: an Intellectual and Political Portrait of Carlos Hasenbalg”], in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

Born in Buenos Aires, sociologist Carlos Hasenbalg (1942-2014) pursued his academic career abroad, following the Argentine military coup of 1966. From Chile, where he studied for two years, he moved to Rio de Janeiro, where he worked until his retirement. In the early 1970s, he did his doctoral studies in Berkeley in the United States, under the guidance of American sociologist Robert Blauner. His book Discriminação e Desigualdades Raciais no Brasil (Discrimination and Racial Inequalities in Brazil), from 1979, posits that the development of capitalism, the industrialization of the economy and the modernization of social relations do not guarantee an end to racism, its structural foundations, and its consequences. In this revealing article, Pinho argues that Carlos Hasenbalg’s place in the history of Brazilian anthropology, sociology, and social sciences in general is at the epicenter of a vast Brazilian and international debate marked by sociological discussions on race, class, and racial stratification. Hasenbalg’s work was a decisive influence on later studies of race relations.

New Release from BEROSE – Peatrik on Kenyatta

HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: a fascinating article, in English, on Jomo Kenyatta, the famous Kenyan disciple of Malinowski. 

Peatrik, Anne–Marie, 2021. “Jomo Kenyatta’s Facing Mount Kenya and its Rival Ethnographies: The Kikuyu in the Mirror of Colonial Anthropology,” in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

Born around 1895 in southern Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta (c. 1895-1978) or Kamau wa Ngengi (his name from his youth) was a Kenyan pan-African activist and politician. As a representative of an association defending the land interests of the Kikuyu dispossessed by the white settlers, he went to London in 1929, and remained in Europe until 1946, meeting more and more with the English-speaking and anti-colonial intelligentsia. A hero of Kenyan decolonization, he became the first president of the newly independent country from 1964 until his death in 1978. Jomo Kenyatta was also an anthropologist. In 1938, he published Facing Mount Kenya, The Traditional Life of the Gikuyu, a book based on a master’s degree in anthropology under the supervision of Bronislaw Malinowski. It was the first academic anthropological monograph to be written by an African about his people. In this challenging article, Peatrik unveils the tumultuous trajectory of Jomo Kenyatta’s monograph, which was ignored, disparaged, and celebrated in turn. Particularly from the 1930s until the period following the Second World War, other writers engaged in relations of anthropological rivalry with Kenyatta, clashing over the legitimate representation or anthropological truth of the Kikuyu. By unravelling the ways in which these competing versions affected the status of Facing Mount Kenya, Peatrik eventually reveals the hidden or forgotten story of a major work in the history of anthropology. 

Culture, Community, and Collaboration on the National Mall: A Review of ‘Curatorial Conversations’

Olivia Cadaval, Sojin Kim, and Diana Baird N’Diaye. Curatorial Conversations: Cultural Representation and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. 304 (hardcover) or 360 (paperback) pp., 71 b&w illus., ref., index. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2016.

Curatorial Conversations explores the legacy of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival (SFF) by bringing together scholars with decades of experience as curators, researchers, and participants. This collection of essays is not so much a history of the festival as it is an attempt to trace the evolution of what it means to be a SFF curator and a reflection upon how relationships with cultural communities—whether Cajun fiddlers, Tibetan expatriates, or NASA engineers—have been refined and strengthened since the festival’s 1967 debut. My intention here is to provide a brief overview of the anthology and highlight three themes I found particularly salient, before concluding with some questions concerning the future of the festival.

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New Release from BEROSE – Aranzadi, López and Sánchez on Spanish colonial ethnography in Africa

HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: two articles (in Spanish) on Spanish colonial ethnography in Africa.

Aranzadi, Juan, 2021. “Estereotipos étnicos de los indígenas en los primeros estudios coloniales sobre la Guinea española (1900-1936)” [Transl: “Ethnic stereotypes of indigenous people in early colonial studies of Spanish Guinea (1900-1936)”], in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

López Sanz, Hasan G. & Nicolás Sánchez Durá, 2021. “Imaginación colonial y formas de aproximación gráfica de las poblaciones negro africanas. El caso de la Guinea española (1880-1968)” [Transl: “Colonial imagination and graphic representations of Black African populations. The case of Spanish Guinea (1880-1968)”], in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

Often overlooked in the historiography of anthropology, Spanish colonialism in Africa is the subject of these two interconnected articles. The Instituto de Estudios Africanos, founded in 1945 after Francisco Franco’s victory in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), promoted ethnological studies on the populations of Spanish Guinea. Despite their “scientific” pretensions and uneven quality, they are imbued with the national-Catholic ideology of the Franco regime and inherit the ethnic stereotypes of Guinean indigenous peoples elaborated in early colonial publications (1900-1936). These earlier sources are analyzed in the first article, by Aranzadi, including missionary writings on the island of Fernando Po, where the Claretian Fathers of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary arrived in 1883. The second article, by López and Sánchez, is dedicated to some forms of popular iconographic representation of Black African populations, especially the little-known case of Spanish Guinea, now Equatorial Guinea. This lavishly illustrated article results from the exhibition “Let’s Bring Blacks Home! Colonial Imagination and Graphic Representations of Africans (1880-1968),” which was held in 2020 at the Cultural Center La Nau of the University of Valencia (Spain), illustrating different aspects of anthropological investigation through objects, photographs, popular periodicals, books, documentaries, and fragments of fictional films.

New Release from BEROSE – Oliveira on Ramos

HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article (in English) on Brazilian anthropologist Arthur Ramos, a leading figure of Afro-Brazilian studies during the first half of the twentieth century.

Oliveira, Amurabi, “Afro-Brazilian Studies From Psychoanalysis to Cultural Anthropology: An Intellectual Portrait of Arthur Ramos,” in BEROSE  International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

Arthur Ramos (1903-1949) was one of the most prominent Brazilian anthropologists of the first half of the twentieth century, specializing in Afro-Brazilian populations. In his intellectual portrait of this paramount figure in the history of Brazilian anthropology, Oliveira retraces his path from racialized psychoanalysis to cultural anthropology. From 1935 on, Ramos had fruitful exchanges with Melville J. Herskovits and maintained his connections with U.S. anthropology in various ways – including his polemical critique of Ruth Landes’s “fantastic conclusions about a matriarchal cult and male ritual homosexuality among Black Brazilians.” Oliveira reveals that Ramos insisted on the importance of comparing Afro-American to African models to avoid “distorting” views. As Professor of anthropology and ethnography at the Universidade do Brasil in Rio de Janeiro beginning in 1939 and founder of the Brazilian Society of Anthropology and Ethnology in 1941, Ramos also had a relevant role in the institutionalization of anthropology in Brazil. He became the first head of the Department of Social Sciences at UNESCO in 1949, but he held this position for only a short time, as he died a few months after his arrival in Paris. Although his legacy for Brazilian anthropology and his influence over generations of Brazilian anthropologists are particularly significant, his place in disciplinary history is gaining wider international recognition within the world anthropologies paradigm.

Free registration for EASA “Anthropological Pathways and Crossings” conference, July 21 and 22, 2021

The European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) is offering free registration for its upcoming digital conference, “Anthropological Pathways and Crossings: Knowledge Production and Transfer in and Beyond Europe” until July 19, 2021. (After that date, registration will close completely.) The conference will take place on July 21 and 22, and is being organized jointly by EASA’s EuroNet group and the History of Anthropology Network (HOAN).

No knowledge, and particularly anthropological knowledge, is contingent upon a single tradition but is instead composed of multiple practices and contexts. Next to “major” European anthropological traditions, “minor” or “marginal” traditions in and beyond Europe bloomed and supported intellectual interactions at different points in time, and dynamically produced and disseminated anthropological knowledge. Based on these premises, the conference organizers aim to challenge the narrative of major, self-standing European traditions. Presenters will investigate the complexities and the embeddedness of anthropological knowledge transfer in and beyond European(ist) research, especially emphasizing the work at/between the “margins” — both geographic and conceptual — in past and present times.

Please visit the conference website to register and to read the full event program.

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