News (page 1 of 10)

The News section gathers announcements and current events relevant to anthropology and its history. To submit such news, please email us at news@histanthro.org.

Enslaved remains, scientific racism, and the work of counter-history (Part Two)

This essay is one of a series of “Participant Observations” on the removal of the Samuel Morton Cranial Collection from public display and legacies of scientific racism in museums. Read part one and more reflections from this series here.

Part 2. ‘Recollection’

Dr. Holmie recalled the skull had belonged to one of his former patients, a child “owned” by the hospital’s keeper and who died under his medical care. “The boy,” Holmie wrote to Davis:

…was owned by the keeper or headman of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s hospital at Fort Vancouver, Columbia River, in 1840 and previously under my medical care. He was when in health a very fat, well featured, cheerful little fellow much liked by those he came in contact with on account of his mild and obliging disposition and he died after a few days illness—apparently inflammation of the brain, or its membranes.[1]

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Recording Kastom: Alfred Haddon’s Journals – Webinar and Book Launch

The Royal Anthropological Institute will host a webinar and book launch for Recording Kastom: Alfred Haddon’s Journals from his Expeditions to Torres Strait and New Guinea, 1888 and 1898, with the book’s editors Dr. Anita Herle (University of Cambridge) and Dr. Jude Philp (University of Sydney) on April 20, 2021 at 12:00 pm GMT (7:00 am EST).

To register, please click here.

Recording Kastom brings readers into the heart of colonial Torres Strait and New Guinea with the personal journals of Cambridge zoologist and anthropologist Alfred Haddon. Haddon’s journals highlight his comprehensive vision of anthropology and preoccupation with documentation and reveal the central role played by named Islanders who worked with him to record their kastom. The work of Haddon and the members of the 1898 Anthropological Expedition to the Torres Strait was hugely influential on the nascent discipline of anthropology and remains of great interest to Islanders and scholars working in the region.

Join the authors and editors for a discussion of the content and process of publishing the journals, involving collaboration with Islander communities and descendants of the people with whom Haddon worked. The session will also provide an opportunity to reassess the importance of Haddon’s work and consider the far-reaching value of anthropological archives today.

Recording Kastom: Alfred Haddon’s Journals from his Expeditions to Torres Strait and New Guinea, 1888 and 1898 is published by Sydney University Press.

Enslaved remains, scientific racism, and the work of counter-history (Part One)

This essay is one of a series of “Participant Observations” on the removal of the Samuel Morton Cranial Collection from public display and legacies of scientific racism in museums. Read more reflections from this series here.

The recent debate over the relocation and restitution of over 50 human crania of enslaved people in Samuel George Morton’s collection at the Penn Museum prompts a reflection on anthropology’s entanglements with the history of slavery. When the HAR editorial team asked me to offer some thoughts a propos this event, I revisited my research notes in search of archival traces of these complex crossings. This short note is an analytical reflection about one such trace—a letter exchange found in the private papers of another notorious race scholar and skull collector and Morton’s contemporary) British surgeon Joseph Barnard Davis (1801-1881). I ask how enslavement becomes epistemically and politically embedded in collections of human remains. I ask how historiographical work may help us to counter, subvert, heal, and remember the presence and effects of these past processes today.

Part 1. ‘Inscription’

Fervently devoted to racial craniology, Joseph Barnard Davis spent his life and wealth assembling a comparative anthropological collection of human crania. By 1880 he was the owner of the world’s largest private collection of skulls, an achievement inspired partly by Samuel George Morton (1799-1851) in Philadelphia.[1] Davis’s skull collecting and investigations were, like Morton’s, founded upon conceptions grounded in scientific racism. It reflected his belief, for example, that specific physical features of the cranium represented differences and hierarchies in mental attributes and moral and social states; and that (inferior) African “black” and (superior) “white” European human races were separate “natural” occurrences with separate origins.[2] Davis’s collection was based on a vast network of skull suppliers and collaborators based in a number of different colonies and territories outside Europe. His manuscript catalogues and letters, held in the Royal College of Surgeons in London, along with what survives of his cranial collection, show how the collection was generated and how certain human skulls entered the museum embedded in histories of enslavement.

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Reminder: History of Anthropology Working Group, “Visualization,” April 7, 2021

The next meeting of the History of Anthropology Working Group, hosted by the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, will be held on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. ET. The topic for the discussion will be “Visualization.”

The discussion will be led by Abigail Nieves Delgado and Iris Clever, and will take a broad view of visualization from the 18th to 20th centuries across a range of traditions. It will focus on the following readings:

  • Keevak, Michael. 2011. “Taxonomies of Yellow: Linnaeus, Blumenbach, and the Making of a ‘Mongolian’ Race in the Eighteenth Century.” In Becoming Yellow: A Short History of Racial Thinking. Princeton University Press.
  • Qureshi, Sadiah. 2012. “Peopling the landscape: Showmen, displayed peoples and travel illustration in nineteenth-century Britain.” Early Popular Visual Culture 10(1): 23-36.
  • Evans, Andrew. 2020. “‘Most Unusual’ Beauty Contests: Nordic Photographic Competitions and the Construction of a Public for German Race Science, 1926–1935,” Isis 111(2): 289-309.
  • Stinson, Catherine. 2020. “Algorithms Associating Appearance and Criminality Have a Dark Past.” Aeon, May 15, 2020. https://aeon.co/ideas/algorithms-associating-appearance-and-criminality-….

The readings are available for download via the Working Group home page. Additional details about the group and information on how to attend may also be found on the site.

The Penn & Slavery Project: On Visualizing The Afterlives of Slavery at Penn

This essay is one of a series of “Participant Observations” on the removal of the Samuel Morton Cranial Collection from public display and legacies of scientific racism in museums. Read more reflections from this series here.

In both 2006 and 2016, the University of Pennsylvania released statements denying any connections to the institution of slavery. Since 2017, The Penn and Slavery Project (P&SP) has repeatedly challenged and disproven that claim, revealing the many ways in which “America’s first university” benefitted from and contributed to the institution. But that denial is not unique to Penn; it reflects the tendency to value optics over functions, the idea of focusing on the way things look instead of the way things work. That’s a U.S. tradition. In the U.S., we release statements, circulate textbooks, and wave flags that paper over histories that make us uncomfortable. We have statues that elevate some historical figures and cast others in shadow. 

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New Release from BEROSE – Cole and Andreson on Landes

HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: two articles in English on Ruth Landes, the “scandalous” disciple of Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict. 

Andreson, Jamie Lee, 2021. “In the City of Women: The Life and Work of Ruth Landes,” in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

URL: article2218.html

Cole, Sally, 2021. “The End of Chastity and Modesty: Ruth Landes Writing Race and Gender in 1930s Anthropology,” in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

URL: article2219.html

Jamie Lee Andreson presents the life and work of American anthropologist Ruth Landes (1908-1991), the famous disciple of Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict who contributed to the development of Afro-American Studies and Feminist Anthropology. Landes did ethnographic fieldwork in Brazil from 1938 to 1939. Her work that had the greatest impact was the dynamic narrative ethnography, The City of Women (1947) published in Brazil as A Cidade das Mulheres (1967), which documented the lives of prominent head priestesses of Candomblé temples and argued that the religion was a matriarchy, based on the prominence of Black women’s leadership and community reverence for the priestesses as Mothers. Her close collaboration with Brazilian colleague Edison Carneiro granted her privileged access to research sites and subjects, producing an historical archive of Candomblé still available at the National Anthropological Archives (NAA) of the Smithsonian Museum. However, her research approach and relationships in the field were considered scandalous by prominent male colleagues, who negatively impacted her career opportunities in the United States. Nevertheless, her legacy remains strong in Brazil both in academia and among Candomblé practitioners themselves.

Sally Cole’s article focuses on Ruth Landes writing race and gender in 1930s anthropology. City of Women (1947) was anomalous in its time for its focus on women’s agency and gender fluidity among Afro-Brazilian Candomblé practitioners in 1930s Bahia and for its personal memoir writing style. Melville Herskovits (1895-1963) and Arthur Ramos (1903-1949), who were then working to establish the field of Afro-Brazilian studies, severely critiqued Landes’s study of cultural creativity and internal dynamics and her failure to engage in their search for African survivals.  Twenty-first-century historians of anthropology now describe the text as um espelho, a mirror, on gender and race in 1930s Brazil. This article traces the singularity of Landes’s ethnography to her autobiographical experience of gender conventions in the Russian Jewish labor Zionist immigrant milieu she was raised in; her training by Ruth Benedict (1887-1948) to pay attention to the experience of “culturally unprovided for” individuals; and, Landes’s method of intensive fieldwork with Indigenous collaborators – prior to coming to Brazil with Ojibwa elder Maggie Wilson (1879-1940) in Canada that resulted in the book, The Ojibwa Woman (1938) and, in Bahia, with Salvador-born folklorist, Edison Carneiro (1912-1971).  

“Death, Dignity, and Descendants”

This essay is one of a series of “Participant Observations” on the removal of the Samuel Morton Cranial Collection from public display and legacies of scientific racism in museums. Read more reflections from this series here.

I have long been uncomfortable with the public display of human remains.[1] As a child, it disturbed me that museums would display mummified bodies in glass cases. I was equally uncomfortable at funeral homes, but the juxtaposition between the two sites troubled me. I wondered then, as now—why are some dead bodies accorded such respect and ceremony, while others are objectified and subjected to our gaze? 

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New Release from BEROSE – Marquet on Colonial India

HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article in French on the caste system in Colonial India and more specifically about the production of law in British- and French-ruled territories in the eighteenth to twentieth centuries. 

Marquet, Julie, 2021. “Le régime des castes dans l’Inde coloniale. Productions du droit dans les territoires sous domination anglaise et française, XVIIIe‑XXe siècles” (“The Caste System in Colonial India. Making Law in the Territories under British and French Rule, 18th through 20th Centuries”), in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

URL: https://www.berose.fr/article2181.html?lang=en

As they gradually asserted their domination over parts of the Indian subcontinent, the British and the French initially committed themselves to respecting the rights, customs, and manners of Indian peoples. In matters of caste, they established a specific legal regime, constituted by local regulations, justice decisions actively sought by the Indians, and collections of jurisprudence. This surprising article by Julie Marquet focuses on this legal regime as a lost chapter in the history of anthropology. It sheds light on the constitution and implementation of the caste legal regime in colonial India, from the eighteenth century to independence. From a comparative historical perspective, it examines both the legal rules regulating the functioning of castes and the methods of their production. It is published as part of the BEROSE research theme “History of the Relationship between Law and Anthropology,” directed by Frédéric Audren (CNRS) and Laetitia Guerlain (University of Bordeaux).

Bring the Old People Home

This essay is one of a series of “Participant Observations” on the removal of the Samuel Morton Cranial Collection from public display and legacies of scientific racism in museums. Read more reflections from this series here.

It was good to learn recently of the decision, by the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Museum, to arrange for the decent burial of the crania of fifty-three enslaved people; crania which were acquired by Philadelphia physician and anthropologist, Samuel George Morton (1799-1851). Along with many other U.S. institutions, the Penn Museum has complied with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) in repatriating Native American crania from the collection. Hopefully the burial of the bones of these enslaved people will encourage the Penn and other U.S. museums to take a more active approach in returning the enslaved ancestors of Australian Indigenous communities for burial.

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New Release from BEROSE – Laurière on van Gennep

HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article, in French, on French anthropologist and folklorist Arnold van Gennep, who coined the famous concept of “rites of passage.”

Laurière, Christine, 2021. “L’ethnographie pour raison de vivre: un portrait d’Arnold van Gennep” (“Ethnography as a reason for living: A Portrait of Arnold van Gennep”), in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

URL: https://www.berose.fr/article1899.html?lang=en

Contrary to scholarly clichés, this biographical essay on French anthropologist and folklorist Arnold van Gennep does not treat him as a cursed figure under the shadow of the Durkheimian school. Nor should he be remembered solely for having coined the famous concept of “rites of passage” in 1909. Christine Laurière reconstructs disciplinary, ideological, institutional, and personal clashes underpinning van Gennep’s entire scientific career, which was marked by numerous failures and bifurcations, but was also remarkably productive.

The article follows his intellectual transformation in the course of exchanges with historians of religion and later attempts at rapprochement with Durkheimian sociologists. This failed due to theoretical and methodological divergences, but also for political reasons related to van Gennep’s anarchist Weltanschauung and his views on the place of the individual in society. This startling essay puts forward an alternative understanding of van Gennep’s trajectory, avoiding the trap of focusing on Rites of Passage or his later, impressive works on French folklore. To understand van Gennep’s career and scientific choices, it is necessary to consider his crucial yet underexplored rivalry with Marcel Mauss, rather than his opposition to Durkheim, which has been the subject of several studies.  Rivalry with Mauss, Laurière argues, is one of the main reasons for van Gennep’s definitive abandonment of “classical,” “exotic” anthropology to devote himself solely and entirely to the field of French folklore from the 1920s onwards. After burning all his bibliographical files on general anthropology, he fiercely defended ethnography as an autonomous discipline, rejected the great divide between “Us” and “Them,” and advocated the import of ethnographic fieldwork “at home.” Thanks to his many editorial and institutional initiatives, which never ceased to challenge and stimulate methodological and theoretical reshufflings in French anthropology and museology throughout the first half of the twentieth century, van Gennep was a dynamic maverick with a decisive role in the history of the discipline.

A Reckoning Renewed: Museums and the Legacy of Scientific Racism Today

This essay is one of a series of “Participant Observations” on the removal of the Samuel Morton Cranial Collection from public display and legacies of scientific racism in museums. Read more reflections from this series here.

In 2006, while working at the Colorado Historical Society, I played a small role in helping prepare a collection of ancient American Indian human remains for their journey home. As a recent college graduate with some professional experience related to repatriation, I thought I knew something about the problematic history leading to the widespread exploitation of Native remains and the creeping expansion of scientific racism. With this project, however, my eyes were about to be opened to this story and its importance.

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Medicine, Racism, and the Legacies of the Morton Skull Collection

This essay is one of a series of “Participant Observations” on the removal of the Samuel Morton Cranial Collection from public display and legacies of scientific racism in museums. Read more reflections from this series here.

In the summer of 2011, I made my one and only visit to the Morton skull collection. While it seemed absurd that Morton could speak so categorically about something so transparently false, standing among those skulls was provocative. There, whether imagined or real, I began to feel how the possession, collection, and storage of thousands of dead individuals must have been empowering. Not just defined by Morton, craniometry combined with anatomists’ sense of authority over corpses shaped the future of both physical anthropology and anatomical training.[1]

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New Release from BEROSE – Amos on Lorenzo Dow Turner

HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article in English on Lorenzo Dow Turner, the first African-American linguist.

Amos, Alcione M., 2021. “Connecting Communities through Language: Life and Work of Lorenzo Dow Turner,” in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

URL BEROSE: article2198.html

The anthropological legacy of Lorenzo Dow Turner (1890-1972), the first African-American linguist, has an impact beyond linguistics, namely in African-American, Afro-Brazilian, and transatlantic history. Turner’s research started in the early 1930s in South Carolina and Georgia when he interviewed Gullah speakers. It continued in the 1940s in Brazil, when he worked with the people of the Candomblé houses of worship (terreiros); and in Africa in the 1950s, when he researched mostly in Nigeria and Sierra Leone. In this inspiring article, Alcione Amos, curator at the Anacostia Community Museum, sustains that the essence of Turner’s linguistic ethnography consisted of connecting communities of the African diaspora – even before he was able to go to Africa – through language. Starting with his pioneering work among the Gullah, continuing with his studies in London and his visit to the Exposition Internationale in Paris, through his sojourn in Bahia and finally into his visit to African countries, Amos reveals how Turner could always connect his audiences to other peoples by playing his recordings. Much of the material collected by Lorenzo Dow Turner among the U.S. Gullah, in Brazil, and in Africa, remains unexplored to this day. Appearing in a BEROSE topical dossier giving access to audio and video files, photographs, and other resources at Anacostia Community Museum and other institutions, Amos’s article encourages a new generation of researchers to dedicate themselves to further explorations of this important material. 

‘The Self as Other: Franz Boas between Psychology and Anthropology’

The Warburg Institute presents an online seminar via Zoom: Noga Arikha (Associate Fellow, Warburg Institute): ‘The Self as Other: Franz Boas between Psychology and Anthropology’

March 3, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. GMT

Psychology and anthropology have deep connections, since both are concerned with the study of humankind. The one focuses on the functioning of the embodied mind. The other focuses on how minds create culture. The psychology of our day, especially that concerning the embodied self, which is Arikha’s central focus, has established (and continues to show) how culture, which anthropologist Margaret Mead defined as “experiments with what could be done with human nature,” is indeed an aspect of our nature, and how biological evolution is a handmaiden to cultural adaptations. Insofar as we humans have evolved as social animals, and that anthropology can also be seen as a type of comparative psychology, the respective realms of these disciplines overlap – as Aby Warburg knew well – and have done so since their formation in the nineteenth century, in particular after Darwin. Arikha’s current project, a commissioned intellectual biography of Franz Boas, the German founder of cultural anthropology who created the first ever chair in the subject at Columbia University (and was a teacher of Mead, inter alia), is an occasion to unravel the complex interplay of ideas about biological constants and cultural variations in light of the history of the debates about what we understand as nature and what as culture, what as individual and what as social, what as evolved and what as acquired. In this talk, she will show how the history of the inherently multidisciplinary field that is anthropology, navigating as it does between empirical investigation and theoretical speculation, can throw light on the origins of current concerns about the embodied self in psychology. 

The Work in Progress seminar explores the variety of subjects studied and researched at the Warburg Institute. Papers are given by invited international scholars, research fellows studying at the Institute, and advanced Ph.D. students.

This program is free, but registration is required. Please sign up for the seminar here.

Ignoble Trophies: The Samuel G. Morton Collection, Repatriation, and Redress for the 21st Century

This essay is one of a series of “Participant Observations” on the removal of the Samuel Morton Cranial Collection from public display and legacies of scientific racism in museums. Read more reflections from this series here.

When “Police Free Penn: An Abolitionist Assembly,” a coalition of staff, faculty, and students at the University of Pennsylvania, called for the Morton Collection to be abolished, I was struck, yet again, by the inevitable resonance of the past in the present—if I may be so cliché. The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, my hometown, spurred Police Free Penn into action, and they included in their central goals the “redress [of] the legacy of racism, colonialism, and slavery on campus.” Since this summer, some of the skulls from the Morton Collection that were previously stored in a classroom behind glass have now been removed from anyone’s view. Similarly, early in this Black History Month (February 2021), a public Facebook post telling the story of “The Man Fortune,” has been making the rounds in a few anthropology and archaeology groups. Fortune, a husband, father, and slave in Connecticut, died accidentally in 1798, and his body was cut up and used as an anatomical specimen and then a museum display. Work by a coalition composed of the Mattatuck Museum’s African American History Project Committee, the NAACP, and Howard University culminated in his lying in state at the Connecticut capitol and his burial in a Waterbury cemetery in 2013. I hope the small acts of redress represented by Police Free Penn’s activism (along with that of other groups on and beyond Penn’s campus) and Fortune’s laying to rest may lead to a similar fate of repatriation and (re)burial for the entirety of the Morton Collection.

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Resource Spotlight: International Encyclopedia of Anthropology Foregrounds the History of the Discipline

The History of Anthropology Review (HAR) would like to bring to the attention of our readers the International Encyclopedia of Anthropology, a pioneering reference resource for the field of anthropology and interrelated areas. This online compendium contains over 1000 entries on the discipline’s key concepts, research and techniques–many of which touch on issues related to the history and histories of anthropology. HAR’s Bibliographies editor, Janet Steins, has kindly put together a brief summary of this resource.

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Editor’s Introduction: The Morton Cranial Collection and Legacies of Scientific Racism in Museums

This essay introduces a series of “Participant Observations” on the removal of the Samuel Morton Cranial Collection from public display and legacies of scientific racism in museums. Read more reflections from this series here.

As part of ongoing discussions about racism and calls for anti-racist work, and with an eye toward thinking about how anthropology has historically contributed to structures of inequality, the History of Anthropology Review is beginning a new series of Participant Observations. This series of essays was provoked by the summer 2020 removal of the Samuel George Morton cranial collection—which includes the remains of over 50 enslaved people born in Africa—from public display at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia. Penn, and more recently Harvard, have committed to historical research of their physical anthropology collections and to pursuing repatriation, reburial, commemoration, and other futures for the remains of African-descendant and enslaved people contained within them. The shifting fates of these collections creates space for critical discussion of other anti-racist reckonings, the push toward decolonization in museums, ethical concerns about the collection, analysis, and display of human remains, and the intertwined histories of racial science, medicine, and anthropology. 

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Affective Responses to Normalized Violence in Museums

This essay is one of a series of “Participant Observations” on the removal of the Samuel Morton Cranial Collection from public display and legacies of scientific racism in museums. Read more reflections from this series here.

Over the past year, many museums have reflected on their internal structural inequalities. Anthropology museums face the added challenge of addressing the history of anthropological collecting, display, and research. Reflecting on recent protests concerning the Penn Museum’s ownership and use of human remains, I find myself considering the variability of museological encounters, and the diversity of affective responses to everyday museum practices. I share the following vignette to highlight the emotional impacts of normalizing and encouraging the routine handling and display of ancestors whose bodies—“specimens” in the museum—represent historical violence against Black and Brown people, and others. 

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Morton, the Maya and Me: Reflections from a Yucatec Maya Graduate Student

This essay is one of a series of “Participant Observations” on the removal of the Samuel Morton Cranial Collection from public display and legacies of scientific racism in museums. Read more reflections from this series here.

My second day as a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania, I entered classroom 190 in the CAAM labs of the Penn Museum—what I would later half-jokingly term the Penn Museum’s catacombs. As I sat, I took in the crania sitting on shelves lining the walls, naively assuming they were ethically collected medical specimens or realistic models. Later that week, one of my colleagues informed me: “those are Morton’s skulls.” My second time in the classroom, uneasy in my seat, I looked at the skulls immediately to my right, and observed that one of them had the number 990 and a label across its forehead: “Maya from Yucatan.” [1]

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Colonizing the Indigenous Dead

This essay is one of a series of “Participant Observations” on the removal of the Samuel Morton Cranial Collection from public display and legacies of scientific racism in museums. Read more reflections from this series here.

The ideological claims and scientific practices that transformed Indigenous Native American bodies into public specimens emerged from racial prejudices that colonized both the living and the dead. Philadelphia physician Samuel George Morton inferred that European “conquering invaders” had some measurable innate superiority over the “aboriginal races.”[1] His efforts inspired other researchers, who manipulated dead bodies to support their search for evidence of a social hierarchy that placed white Europeans topmost. This research was considered necessary: as Franz Boas put it, “It is most unpleasant work to steal bones from a grave, but what is the use, someone has to do it.”[2]

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New Release from BEROSE – García on archaeological museums in Colombia

HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article in Spanish on the history of archaeological museums in Colombia.

García Roldan, Daniel, 2021. “La invención de los museos arqueológicos en Bogotá, Colombia (1935-1955): geografías del conocimiento y concepciones de patrimonio arqueológico”, in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

English translation: “The Invention of Archaeological Museums in Bogotá, Colombia (1935-1955): Geographies of Knowledge and Conceptions of Archaeological Heritage”

URL BEROSE: article2180.html

This article is dedicated to the history of archaeological museums in Colombia. It reconstructs the process of establishing national museums in Bogotá starting in the 1930s and highlights the different notions of archaeological heritage that were forged in each case. In the National Archaeological Museum, the concept of archaeological heritage was closely connected to education, research, and archaeological fieldwork, while in El Museo del Oro (The Gold Museum) it was associated with the sumptuous aspects of pre-Colombian objects; their aesthetic, technical, and even monetary value. Daniel García Roldan identifies the geographies of knowledge behind the history of both museums, analyzes the local institutional contexts in which they emerged, and explores the global processes of knowledge circulation and appropriation in which they participated.

Online Event: “Race and Nation in Puerto Rican Folklore: Franz Boas and John Alden Mason in Porto Rico”

On Wednesday, February 17 at 1:00 pm ET Dr. Rafael Ocasio will be presenting on his new book Race and Nation in Puerto Rican Folklore: Franz Boas and John Alden Mason in Porto Rico (Rutgers University Press, 2020).

The event will be hosted by the American Philosophical Society and held via Zoom. The event is free of charge but registration is required. Additional details and registration may be found on the event website.

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CFP: “Changing Fields: Hilde and Richard Thurnwald’s Ethnology”

Conference: Paris, July 8-9, 2021   

Like Felix von Luschan, Richard Thurnwald started his career in the Habsburg Empire, before moving to Berlin. He was probably the most well-known German anthropologist outside of Germany between the two World Wars, when he developed what came to be known as historical functionalism. He was well integrated within ethnological research networks and being in contact with sociologists, he also tried to claim recognition in this field. His wife Hilde Thurnwald, who hadn’t been trained as an ethnologist, accompanied him in the field in East Africa (1930-31) and New Guinea (1933), developed her own research, and also began to publish in the 1930s. Although Richard Thurnwald expressed his opposition to the rising national-socialist party in letters, the couple left the USA in 1936 and returned to Germany, adapting to the new regime. After 1945, they both participated in the reorganization of ethnological research in Berlin, Hilde Thurnwald leading in fieldwork in 1946-47 about the situation of families and youth criminality, Richard Thurnwald (re)founding the review Sociologus (which still exists today), and continuing to publish. Their concessions to the Third Reich did not seem to overtly alert the Occupation Authorities, either Soviet or American. One can thus state that after 1945 the Thurnwalds were typical of the thematic and personal continuation of the previous era, a reason why, as with others, they were condemned in the 1960s when a new generation of German ethnologists started to investigate the history of the discipline.    

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New Release from BEROSE – Launay on Ferguson

HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article on Scottish anthropologist Adam Ferguson, by Robert Launay.

Launay, Robert, 2021. “Savagery in 18th-Century Scotland: An Intellectual Portrait of Adam Ferguson,” in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

An eminent representative of the Scottish Enlightenment, Adam Ferguson (1723-1816) was one of the most important theoreticians of progress of the era and author of the famous Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767). He was one of the very first thinkers to propose a theory of the origins of civilization in four stages (hunting, pastoralism, agriculture, trade). In his Essay, he defined “savagery” as not a state but a stage. Just as much as so-called “civilized” people, savages were portrayed by Ferguson as fully social beings. He insisted on the importance of the economy in characterizing social organization – private property, social inequalities and division of labor being decisive criteria in defining a society. In this challenging article, Robert Launay rediscovers Ferguson’s work, which was admired in the twentieth century by E.E. Evans-Pritchard and Ernest Gellner.

Online Event: Lee Baker on “W.E.B DuBois, Franz Boas, and ‘the Real Race Problem'”

On Friday, February 5, 2021, from 9:30am to 11:00am, Lee Baker is delivering a talk as part of Duke University’s tgiFHI speaker series. Entitled “W.E.B DuBois, Franz Boas, and ‘the Real Race Problem,” this presentation examines the racist anti-racism of American Anthropology, focusing particularly on the writings and activities of DuBois and Boas during the first decade of the 20th century.

The presentation will be virtual (via Zoom). There will be an opportunity to join a facilitated discussion with the speaker and other participants after the lecture. Registration information can be found here.

A short overview of the talk is provided below.

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