Participant Observations (page 1 of 2)

Participant observations are reports from conferences and other gatherings. To submit such news, please email us at news@histanthro.org.

From Subfield to Field: The First Histories of Anthropologies International Conference

Anthropologists habitually regard the history of anthropology as a “subfield,” a hobby for retired anthropologists. Yet the first “Histories of Anthropologies International Conference” (HOAIC), taking place online, December 47, 2023, with the support of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) and the University of Pisa, Italy, shows that this is an outdated view: the subfield has become a genuine and lively field in its own right.

The conference was organized by HOAN convenors Fabiana Dimpflmeier (University of Chieti-Pescara, Italy) and Hande Birkalan-Gedik (Goethe University, Germany). They were supported by ten stakeholders in this growing field, including HAR and the HOA Interest Group of the American Anthropological Association; History of Anthropology Working Groups in the US (CHSTM) and Germany (DGSKA); the Historical Approaches to Cultural Analysis Working Group (HACA) of the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF); the Royal Anthropological Institute in London; the International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology BEROSE in Paris; as well as three book series: “Critical Studies in the History of Anthropology” and the “Histories of Anthropology Annual” (both University of Nebraska Press), and “Anthropology’s Ancestors” (Berghahn Books).

The European initiative updates efforts in the US, the UK and elsewhere to professionalize the history of anthropology as a subject worth pursuing internationally. Fifty years ago, George W. Stocking, Jr. established the History of Anthropology Newsletter in Chicago. He and several colleagues used the logo “HoA” (History of Anthropology) on the cover of the first HAN, in the Fall of 1973. This newsletter went digital in Pennsylvania in June 2016, to be soon converted into the History of Anthropology Review (HAR). That same year, the History of Anthropology Network (HOAN) was founded at the EASA conference in Milan in July 2016, and the online encyclopedia BEROSE was refounded in Paris in September 2016. Since then, the field has become dynamic and transnational. HAR and BEROSE have been very productive, publishing articles and volumes online and in print. And now, at the initiative of HOAN convenors, key stakeholders in the history of anthropology came together for an online conference in virtual Pisa, which produced nine scholarly panels, one roundtable, two keynotes, and many conversations. Out of a total of 133 submitted papers, 98 were accepted and 87 were actually presented. They provoked lively discussions, online, with hundreds of conversations that were managed and recorded with the technical assistance of NomadIT. The recordings are now available online.

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Actors – Narratives – Strategies: Constellations of Transnational Folklore Research, 1875‒1905

This essay by Frauke Ahrens and Christiane Schwab (Institute for European Ethnology and Cultural Analysis, LMU Munich) introduces their new project examining European folklore research of the late nineteenth century. It is a shortened version of a presentation from the First International Conference of the Histories of Anthropologies (HOAIC), on December 5, 2023, as part of the Panel, “Challenging Narratives and Frameworks of Knowledge in Histories of Anthropology,” convened by Robert Oppenheim (University of Texas at Austin) and Grant Arndt (Iowa State University). Thanks to Fabiana Dimpflmeier, one of the conference organizers, for commissioning this essay for HAR.

***

The historiography of folklore studies has been traditionally pursued within national frameworks – not at least because the interest in popular traditions and nationalism were deeply intertwined. However, especially from the 1870s onwards, folklore studies were shaped by transnational exchange. Our project “Actors ‒ Narratives ‒ Strategies: Constellations of Transnational Folklore Research, 1875‒1905,” funded by the German Research Foundation, aims to investigate folklore studies, taking into account new approaches in the history of knowledge. It scrutinizes “transnational folklore research” as both an object and an interpretative framework, allowing us to reconsider established histories of folklore and anthropologies. The project addresses the potential and scope of the concept of transnational folklore research in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, inquiring into the extent to which transnational processes contributed to the formation, professionalization, and systematization of folkloristic knowledge and practice.

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The Politics of AAA in Action: From Pseudo to Epitomizing Events

Introduction

When corresponding with a colleague about the 2023 American Anthropological Association Meeting in Toronto, I caught myself referring to the association’s business meeting as a “historic event.” Before sending the email, I decided to qualify my rather grand statement with the phrase “at least I think so.” The qualification did not stem from the bureaucratic sterility of academic association business meetings that most folks have come to expect. The meeting was a matter of business, but not in any mundane sense of the term. Something of note most definitely took place. Upon reflection, I realized that my decision to qualify my initial description (i.e., a historic event) had less to do with the adjective (i.e., historic) and more to do with the noun (i.e., event). The business meeting was most certainly an event, but an event composed of references to other events. More specifically, these other events were of a particular kind. At play in the business meeting was the nature and significance of nonevents and their connection to the history of the AAA as a site for political action.

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On the Planned Closure of Berkeley’s Anthropology Library

On 23 February 2023, the University of California, Berkeley announced in a campus-wide email its intention to close its George and Mary Foster Anthropology Library, long housed in the Anthropology and Art Practice Building on campus.

Although a small departmental library was already present in the early years of Berkeley’s Anthropology Department and Museum (both founded in 1901), it was only in 1956 that the Anthropology Library was established as an official branch of the Berkeley system, after vigorous efforts by Berkeley archaeologist John Howland Rowe (1918–2004). It has since acquired significant collections of some 80,000 volumes in the department’s four subfields (sociocultural anthropology, archaeology, biological anthropology, and linguistic anthropology), as well in related fields such as folklore, medical anthropology, and ethnic studies.

In 1997, the Anthropology Library was officially renamed to honor cultural anthropologist George McClelland Foster (1913–2006), professor at Berkeley from 1953 to 1979 and expert in Mexican peasant societies, who also helped found the joint Berkeley-UCSF program in medical anthropology in 1975, as well as the anthropological linguist Mary (Mickie) LeCron Foster (1914–2001), who specialized in the anthropology of peace and the origins of language. It currently remains one of only a handful of dedicated anthropology libraries in the United States (leaving aside anthropological collections in the libraries of natural history and art museums), including the Tozzer Library at Harvard University, the Penn Museum Library at the University of Pennsylvania, the John Wesley Powell Library of Anthropology at the Smithsonian, and the Anthropology Library at SUNY Buffalo.

Under the university’s current plans, which cite an estimated $400,000 in annual savings, the library’s dedicated space would be closed and its volumes would be merged with the collections of the Main (Gardner) Stacks Library, with many volumes held in storage off-site. The university’s announcement drew immediate criticism from both students and faculty in the Department of Anthropology, as well as the wider public, including public figures such as Ralph Nader and former Governor of California Jerry Brown. Several have noted that this closure is the culmination of longstanding resource and budgetary reductions to the library; indeed, opening hours were only maintained after two previous student sit-in protests in 2009 and in 2012. The Anthropology Department’s website hosts both testimonials and an open letter related to the closure, and students have been engaged in a continuous occupation of the library since April 21 in protest, prompting coverage in national news outlets such as the New York Times.

‘Self in the World’ by Keith Hart

Keith Hart. Self in the World: Connecting Life’s Extremes. Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2022. 314 pp., appendix, bibliography, index.

Editor’s note: This response to Keith Hart’s new book was presented at a book launch at the London School of Economics on May 10, 2022. As both a review of a recent work and a glimpse into a scholarly life, HAR is pleased to publish this essay in both Reviews and Participant Observations.

The title of anthropologist Keith Hart’s entertaining and unpredictable new book, Self in the World: Connecting Life’s Extremes, is a good case of truth in advertising: readers get a lot of views of the world, and a fair bit of Hart’s self. He follows the commandment, cited towards the end, to “only connect.” As E. M. Forster had in mind with that slogan (Forster 1910), the book connects prose and passion, inner life and outer life—but also a vast scattering of disciplines and locations. Above all, it reflects on the possibilities for using the methods, theories, and epistemic ethics of anthropology to connect the immediate and personal with the abstract, global, and world-historical.

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REVIEW: Essays on A. L. Kroeber (1876–1960) and the Unnaming of Kroeber Hall

Editors’ note: The following review by Rosemary Lévy Zumwalt, the accomplished historian of anthropology and folklore, reflects on a collection of essays recently published about the 2020 decision by officials of the University of California Berkeley to change the name of Alfred Kroeber Hall. At the time, HAR reported on the controversy, with links to comments by Berkeley professors Rosemary Joyce and Nancy Scheper-Hughes; readers may also wish to read Berkeley linguist Andrew Garrett’s later 38-page evaluation of the issues or Native American scholar David Shane Lowry’s 2021 essay in Anthrodendum. Professor Zumwalt’s essay represents her views and not necessarily those of HAR’s editors.

The 2021 meeting of the American Anthropological Association included a panel of six papers focusing on “Alfred Louis Kroeber: The Man, His Work and His Legacy.” These six papers have now been revised and published in BEROSE. Herbert Lewis explains the panel’s genesis: “On January 27, 2021, the University of California, Berkeley, removed the name of Alfred Kroeber from the building that housed the Department of Anthropology and the Museum of Anthropology—institutions he had built.”

My own interest in the controversy around the unnaming of Kroeber Hall has both professional and personal roots. I spent eight intense years in Kroeber Hall working toward my Master’s in folklore (1978) and my PhD in anthropology (1982). From 1977 to 1980, I was on the editorial board of the Kroeber Anthropological Society Papers (KAS) – established in 1950 and the longest running student publication in the United States – and was an organizer of the Kroeber Anthropological Society Meetings. (It was touching to me to read Nancy Scheper-Hughes’s recollection of Claude Lévi-Strauss’s visit to the department in 1984, and his request “to see the Kroeber Anthropological Society Journal, a graduate student journal that he much admired”.)[1]The KAS journal that Lévi-Strauss perused was Opportunity, Constraint and Change: Essays in Honor of Elizabeth Colson, Nos. 63–64, 1984. I remember one day sitting in the afternoon sun on a wooden bench just off to the side of the front wall with the name that has now been chiseled from the building, “Kroeber Hall,” pondering the treacherous, demanding journey toward a PhD. I visualized myself in a tunnel, too far down to turn back, and not close enough to the end to see the light of possibility; I perceived also that my only practical option was to continue through the tunnel. This struggle and perseverance are connected in my mind always with Alfred Louis Kroeber.

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References

References
1 The KAS journal that Lévi-Strauss perused was Opportunity, Constraint and Change: Essays in Honor of Elizabeth Colson, Nos. 63–64, 1984.

Reflections from the 2020-2021 History of Anthropology Reading Group on Race, Racism, and White Supremacy

On October 7, 2020, nearly fifty participants convened via Zoom for the first in a yearlong series of discussions organized by members of the editorial collective of the History of Anthropology Review (HAR). Hosted in collaboration with the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, the History of Anthropology Review Reading Group (HARRG) was created as an outgrowth of the content published by HAR, intended as a space to discuss anthropology both as a topic of historical inquiry and as a contemporary discipline and practice. For its inaugural year, the group’s conveners—John Tresch, Tracie Canada, Allegra Giovine, and Patrícia Martins Marcos—identified a series of topics and readings focused on anthropology’s relationships with race, racism, anti-racism, authoritarianism, as well as on the anthropology of policing. These topics and readings focused the group’s attention on the different ways that anthropology, as both an object of inquiry and a disciplinary practice, has contributed to legacies of colonialism and white supremacy.

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Enclosures and Extraction: MOVE and the Penn Museum

This essay is the last 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 am writing as someone who sits in one of the oldest anthropology departments in the United States, which sits in one of the oldest ethnographic museums in the country, and the world. Our department played a key role in the elaboration of scientific racism in the 19th century, as scholars applied the insights of Darwinian evolutionary theory to develop racist ideas about human origins and culture. Daniel Brinton, for example, was the first professor of anthropology at Penn. Though he was trained as a medical doctor, Brinton was hired in 1886 as a Professor of Archaeology and Linguistics, having previously held the position of Professor of Ethnology and Anthropology at the Academy of Natural Sciences. He was also the president of the American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS) during the last years of the 19th century before he died in 1899, and an avid segregationist. In 1896, while president of the AAAS, Brinton argued in Popular Science Monthly that “the black, the brown and the red races differ anatomically so much from the white…that even with equal cerebral capacity they never could rival its results by equal efforts.”[1] Brinton publicly advocated theories of scientific racism across several scientific institutions in Philadelphia. He believed that acquired “traits” developed within particular environments were passed down from generation to generation, and this laid the basis for later proponents of the “culture of poverty” paradigm.

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On Demarcation

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.

Physical anthropology began as a science of skulls. As the Italian practitioner Giuseppi Sergi put it in 1893, “The skull chiefly furnishes the characters of classification; it shows the external shape of the brain, the most important and the highest organ of man; the skull is the means of the classification of the brain.”[1]

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Spiritual Inequality

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 2015, as a graduate student at the University of Chicago, my class had the opportunity to speak with Richard Lariviere, the then-director of the Field Museum, about museum ethics and repatriation. I had just been working on repatriation projects at Colorado State University, and had asked him whether it was difficult for museum staff to value Indigenous stakes in the objects/entities as much as their own stakes. His response was familiar to many situated within the museum and repatriation landscape: 

“The Field Museum is compliant with both the letter and the spirit of the law.”

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 create 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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Special Focus: The Morton Cranial Collection and Legacies of Scientific Racism in Museums

Pressures in and outside the academy are forcing museums to grapple ever more deeply with the legacies of scientific racism embedded and embodied in their anthropological collections. The removal of the nineteenth century Samuel George Morton collection of hundreds of human skulls from display in a classroom at the University of Pennsylvania in summer 2020, following student protest, is a provocative metaphor for these changes. In this “Participant Observations” series, the History of Anthropology Review has invited scholars to respond to the shifting fate of this and other physical anthropology collections, opening critical discussion of other anti-racist reckonings and aspects of decolonization in museums, ethical concerns about human remains collections, and the intertwined histories of racial science, medicine, and anthropology.

Read the series.

Activist Realignments in the History of Anthropology: The Association of Senior Anthropologists’ Panels at “Raising our Voices”

When the Covid-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, an online event titled “Raising our Voices” was offered as a substitute. I had organized a history of anthropology-themed panel for the cancelled meeting, but along with my fellow panelists, elected to put it on hold as we all prepared for the transition of service and teaching to online platforms. I was therefore delighted when the Association of Senior Anthropologists announced that they had organized two panels for “Raising our Voices.” It was clear from the panel abstracts that the ASA sought to bring an historical dimension to the activist theme implied by the title of the new event, emphasizing the continuity of activism throughout the history of the discipline.

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Tripod: Performance, Media, Cybernetics by Jennifer Cool

A New Way of “Staging” the History of Anthropology

Jennifer Cool, Assistant Professor (Teaching) of Anthropology at the University of Southern California, is both a social anthropologist and ethnographic filmmaker. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that she has spent the past few years experimenting with staged performances and film in an attempt to draw out what she has described as “the performative entanglements of media.”[1]

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