On May 13, 1985, the city of Philadelphia killed eleven people by bombing the home of the MOVE organization. Local Philadelphia media recently reported that for the 36 years since then, anthropologists at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology and Princeton University kept remains attributed to two children killed in that bombing, Tree and Delisha Africa, without their family’s knowledge or consent. They also filmed these remains for online lectures on forensic anthropology in 2019. During one of these videos, some of these remains were shown to the camera while the Morton Cranial Collection, including the remains of Black Philadelphians and enslaved people, filled shelves in the background. The objectification of human remains and the dehumanization of non-white people remain among the most insidious and persistent legacies of scientific racism in anthropology, archaeology, and museums.
Coyault, Bernard, 2021. “Karl Edvard Laman, missionnaire ethnologue suédois au Congo (1891-1919). Entre culture savante et humanisme chrétien: l’utopie missionnaire face au léviathan colonial,” in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.
[Transl: “Karl Edvard Laman, A Swedish Missionary and Ethnologist in Congo (1891-1919). Between Learned Culture and Christian Humanism: The Missionary Utopia in the Face of the Colonial Leviathan”]
Karl Edvard Laman (1867-1944) belonged to the first generation of Swedish missionaries who established themselves in the Congo Free State in 1881. He stayed there for more than a quarter of a century, from 1891 to 1919. Laman gradually asserted himself as a great scholar, linguist, and expert on Kongo culture, which he documented, including its material expressions, at a time when its foundations were breaking up under the shocks of the colonial enterprise. His scientific work was coupled with a humanist project: the emancipation of the population through popular education, the two vectors of which were access to the Bible in the Kikongo language (its first translation appeared in 1905) and the promotion of Kongo cultural values. This enhancement of the Kongo language and culture was the basis of his scholarly activity. Coyault’s in-depth article shows the complexity of Laman’s work, which straddles the line between apostolic mission and anthropological study.
Brock, Peggy, 2021. “The Ethnographic Calling of a Lutheran Missionary in Central Australia: A Short Biography of Carl Strehlow,” in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.
German missionary Carl Strehlow occupies a peculiar place in the history of anthropology. His language-centered ethnographic work in central Australia contrasted in several respects with Spencer and Gillen’s naturalistic and evolutionist approach. Strehlow’s Die Aranda- und Loritja-Stämme in Zentral-Australien (1907-1920) was regarded with suspicion by James George Frazer and other European admirers of Spencer and Gillen, but Strehlow’s contemporaries in Germany, France, and Britain were more familiar with his findings than Australian researchers. At the time of its publication, and until very recently, Strehlow’s detailed study of the Arrernte and Loritja peoples was largely ignored in Australia. This was partly a result of his work never having been published in English, but probably more importantly because of Strehlow’s disagreements with Spencer and Gillen, whose The Native Tribes of Central Australia (1899) garnered a huge amount of attention and praise as one of the earliest studies based on detailed ethnographic fieldwork. In this enlightening article, Brock sustains that Strehlow’s careful recording of language, customs, folklore, and other aspects of Arrernte and Loritja life has survived over a century. Despite the ongoing controversies around Strehlow’s work, his ethnography rather than the missionary work to which he devoted his life may be his lasting legacy.
On view now at the Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawai’i through October 24, 2021
(Re)Generations: Challenging Scientific Racism in Hawaiʻi explores a collection of photographs and plaster busts created by anthropologist Louis R. Sullivan as a tool to measure and classify the physical traits of a supposedly “pure” Native Hawaiian race. The collection was presented at the Second International Eugenics Conference (1921) with the Bishop Museum’s endorsement and support. Measuring, classifying, and categorizing people through “race science” has been used to justify slavery, displacement, colonial occupation, eugenics, and genocide. There is no biological truth to race, and research like Sullivan’s is now long discredited. Yet the myths of race and racial superiority, and the structural inequalities they support, have lasting and traumatic effects.
Though Sullivan’s photographs and busts are tied to a legacy of scientific racism, the collection has become one of the Bishop Museum’s primary sources for genealogical research in Hawaiʻi. (Re)Generations aims to celebrate the ways this collection has been reappropriated by Native Hawaiian descendants as a vehicle for (re)discovering ancestors, genealogical connections, and family. Photographs of persons celebrated in the exhibit were selected through collaboration with their living descendants. Photographs and busts are recontextualized outside of Sullivan’s eugenics research through meaningful histories, including the additions of descendant interviews and family heirlooms, which offer a glimpse into these people’s lives and legacies.
The Bishop Museum’s hope is that this exhibit is not an end in itself, but rather aims to start conversations on how the Museum can better connect with and serve Native Hawaiian communities and stakeholders.
For more information on how to see the exhibit, including relevant COVID-19 policies, please visit the Bishop Museum’s website.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Brazilian anthropologist Thales de Azevedo (1904-1995) has stood out in the history of anthropology since the 1950s, when he was part of a major study on race relations in Brazil sponsored by UNESCO. In this sensitive article, Antonio Guimarães argues that Azevedo was a politically engaged Catholic whose conservatism was counterbalanced by his sense of social justice. His studies of Catholicism sought to apply anthropology to the understanding of folk religiosity in Brazil. With a focus on Brazilian folk cultures, Azevedo conducted ethnographic fieldwork and wrote about daily life and its rites. Azevedo was among the first generations of scholars who instituted anthropology as an academic discipline in Brazil and he was a central figure in the foundation and later the direction of the Brazilian Association of Anthropology. Azevedo’s vast work includes As elites de cor (1955), Catolicismo no Brasil (1955), Social Change in Brazil (1963), and Democracia racial: ideologia e realidade (1975).
Pieces should be no longer than 3000 words (including references). Editors particularly welcome contributions from early career scholars and postgraduates–although they welcome submissions from established scholars too.
Interested contributors should submit a brief expression of interest outlining the proposed chapter (circa 300 words) to Patrícia Ferraz de Matos (email@example.com) and Livio Sansone (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 5 March 2021.
More information on the thematic focus of this special issue is provided below.
A reminder that the deadline to apply for pre and postdoctoral fellowships at the Library & Museum of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia is Friday, January 29, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
The Library & Museum of the American Philosophical Society invites applications for predoctoral, postdoctoral, and short-term research fellowships from scholars at all stages of their careers, especially Native American scholars in training, tribal college and university faculty members, and other scholars working closely with Native communities on projects in Native American and Indigenous Studies and related fields and disciplines.
Fellows will be associated with the APS’s Center for Native American and Indigenous Research (CNAIR), which promotes greater collaboration among scholars, archives, and Indigenous communities. CNAIR focuses on helping Indigenous communities and scholars to discover and utilize the APS collection in innovative ways. The Collections comprise a vast archive of documentary sources (including manuscript materials, audio recordings, and images) related to over 650 indigenous cultures, predominantly from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The Indigenous Subject Guide may be accessed through the CNAIR webpage: http://www.amphilsoc.org/CNAIR
See individual fellowship descriptions below for more information and instructions on how to apply.
The aim of the issue is to provide the journal’s (mainly) Russian speaking readership with an idea of the current state of the field of history of anthropology in Europe or as practiced by European scholars. Editors are interested in research articles that exemplify current practices of writing the history of anthropology. Contributions that reflect on purposes and trends in this field are also welcome. Submissions do not need to be fully original research articles. Rather, they might present versions of already published research or works that are expected to be published in languages other than Russian.
Articles should be approximately 9,000 words. Submissions can be written in English, German, Italian, Spanish, and French, and will be accepted until 15 March 2021.
Original English texts will be published in both English and Russian versions of the journal.
More information about the journal and the submission process can be found here.
The panel features author Richard Werbner (University of Manchester) in conversation with Marilyn Strathern (University of Cambridge), Adam Kuper, (Boston University), Richard Fardon (SOAS), and Sakkie Niehaus (Brunel University). The discussion will be moderated by Wale Adebanwi (University of Oxford).
When the iconic U.S. visual anthropologist Frank Cancian – who died on November 24, 2020 – was a 23-year old, he did path-breaking fieldwork in Southern Italy, the Mezzogiorno. In the late 1950s, this region was in the forefront of community studies, but social scientists were divided between a commitment for knowledge, reformist and ideological perspectives, or simply the aspiration to describe a supposedly archaic world that was finally embracing “modernity.” While some shed a gloomy light on the supposed lack of agency of the Mezzogiorno peasants, Frank Cancian conducted his systematic photographic survey in the village of Lacedonia with utmost respect for the inhabitants and attention to their daily community social life. Away from ideological prejudice, he showed a desire for visual experimentation within a frame of reciprocity. In this illustrated article, which was written in dialogue with Cancian and now pays tribute to his legacy, Francesco Faeta claims that no anthropologist who studied the South of Italy during those years has left us with a more vivid and complete photographic portrait of its communities. Cancian experienced the desire to understand the dark side of the observed society, manifest through emigration, unemployment, social disparity, mistrust, disenchantment, and an ambiguous relationship with looming modernity. Faeta gives the reader an in-depth historical, theoretical, and methodological account of the issues at stake in Cancian’s visual ethnography and Italian studies of the post-war period. Fifty years later, in 2017, Frank Cancian bequeathed 1,801 photographs and his field notebooks to the community of Lacedonia, so passing on an invaluable testimony which is displayed in a photographic exhibition curated by Francesco Faeta, held in Rome at the Museo delle Civiltà (Museum of Civilizations) until January 2021.
Since 1973, the History of Anthropology Review (formerly the History of Anthropology Newsletter) has been a venue for publication and conversation on the many histories of the discipline of anthropology. We became an open access web publication in 2016. Please subscribe to our emails below to receive updates as we publish new essays, reviews, and bibliographies.
The History of Anthropology Review became an online publication with volume 40 in 2016, and changed its title from History of Anthropology Newsletter to History of Anthropology Review on October 18, 2019. Content is updated continually, and subscribers receive weekly emails with links to new content.
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