News (page 2 of 16)

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

Friedl’s Anthropological and Ethnographic Legacy, by Peter S. Allen

HAR is pleased to announce one of the latest releases from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article, in English, on Ernestine Friedl as an accidental feminist anthropologist.

Allen, Peter S., 2023. “From New York to Vasilika: Ernestine Friedl, an Accidental Feminist in a Greek Village,” in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris. 

URL BEROSE: article3117.html

This article is a comprehensive account of the life and work of Ernestine Friedl (1920–2014), a professional anthropologist, teacher, and university administrator. Born in Hungary, she immigrated to New York and settled in the Bronx. Her academic career began with her graduation from Hunter College and a PhD from Columbia University, where her doctoral dissertation concerned the Chippewa, whom she had studied on their reservation in Wisconsin. Friedl then taught at Queens College of the State University of New York for more than 20 years before becoming the chair of the Anthropology Department at Duke University in 1973. Meanwhile, she accompanied her husband, classicist Harry Levy, to Greece where she conducted fieldwork in a small village, resulting in her monograph, Vasilika: A Village in Modern Greece (1967), a pioneering work of European ethnography. She was the first American female anthropologist to conduct modern—if not innovative—ethnographic fieldwork in Greece beyond folklore studies, and one of the first to do so in a European society. The article outlines Friedl’s peculiar place in a broader history of anthropological research on Europe, while focusing on feminism and discrimination within her academic and scientific milieu. A special section reveals the ethnographer in the field, her coping with local ways, and the privileged but not necessarily easy interactions of an “American wife” with Greek interlocutors, both female and male. Friedl’s stature in the discipline is testified to by her presidencies of the American Ethnological Society (1967) and the American Anthropological Association (1975), her service on the Board of the National Science Foundation (1980–1988), and her editorship of the Journal of Modern Greek Studies (1986–1990). Friedl concluded her career by spending five years as the dean of arts and sciences at Duke and several years teaching at Princeton University.

University of Groningen Postdoc: History of Anthropology or Religious Studies

The University of Groningen seeks a highly motivated candidate for a postdoc position within a project funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO), for a period of 35 months.

The project is entitled “Culture Wars and Modern Worldviews: A Transnational Conceptual History” and is located in the Department of Christianity and the History of Ideas. The core research team will consist of the P.I., Prof. Dr. Todd H. Weir, and two postdoctoral scholars, with one focusing on the history of anthropology and/or religious studies, and the second providing expertise in digital humanities.

The aim of this project is to develop a model of the formative power of culture wars in shaping modern thought, politics and religion by investigating the history of the concept of “worldview.” It is a transnational and multilingual project, that traces the history of worldview from its popularization in nineteenth-century Germany, to its invocation by Dutch and North American Christian thinkers, to its use by political ideologies such as National Socialism, to its contemporary usage in Latin America in the context of arguments about indigenous rights.

The postdoctoral scholar will contribute to research into the impact of worldview-thinking on theory production in academic disciplines concerned with religion and the secular. Following training in the project methodology, which combines conceptual history with digital humanities techniques, the postdoc will co-design and then carry out research into the role of worldview in the history of religious studies and anthropology from around 1900 to the recent calls for replacing religious studies with “worldview studies.” In particular, the postdoc will look at the role of international anthropological research in the translation of Weltanschauung into the Spanish cosmovisión and its application to indigenous cultures in Latin America. The project team is interested in the role of theories of worldview/cosmovisión in the “ontological turn” in contemporary anthropology and will explore its appropriation by public actors advocating for indigenous rights.

Tasks and responsibilities:

  • Semi-autonomous research in the history of anthropology and/or religious studies from ca. 1900 to the present, with the ability to engage in transnational investigations
  • Learning and utilization of digital humanities techniques of conceptual history
  • Presenting research results at conferences and workshops
  • Publishing academic articles
  • Participating in regular meetings with the other project team members
  • Participation in teaching activities related to the research
  • Assisting in communication tasks, such as co-managing project website, writing blog posts, participating actively in creation of a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course).

Applications are due October 5, 2023. For more information, including salary and desired qualifications, please visit the full job posting page. Questions can be directed to Prof. Dr. Todd Weir.

Job Opportunity: Assistant Professor, Rhetoric of Global Imaginaries of Race or Environmental Rhetoric, Department of Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley

The Department of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley invites applications for a tenure-track position at the Assistant Professor level either in the Rhetoric of Global Imaginaries of Race, or, in Environmental Rhetoric. Applicants who work at the intersection of these two fields are also encouraged to apply.

In the field of the Rhetoric of Global Imaginaries of Race, the Department seeks applicants whose research and teaching are focused by the discursive structures and practices that shape imaginaries of race and racialization globally. In the field of Environmental Rhetoric, it seeks applicants whose research and teaching centers around the rhetorics that inform natural or built environments, or their interfaces. 

Rhetoric is a multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary department distinguished by its ongoing interrogation of existing and emerging fields of knowledge at their boundaries. While the Department is open to all disciplines in the humanities or the humanistic social sciences, it strongly values theoretical approaches that cross conventional disciplinary divisions. For more information about Rhetoric, visit the Department’s homepage.

Applicants should demonstrate evidence of a strong humanistic research agenda and scholarly potential in areas that complement existing strengths in the Department, as well as an ability to teach a wide range of courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels, to mentor graduate students in the Ph.D. program, and to participate in departmental and campus life.

Review of applications will begin September 26, 2023.

Additional details and instructions on how to apply may be found here.

Working Group on Language Sciences at CHSTM

Members of the HAR community may be interested in a new working group on the history of the language sciences hosted by the Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine. The group’s thematic focus this year will be on questions of epistemic transfer, highlighting historical connections to physical anthropology, archaeology, comparative philology, and ethnomethodology, among other topics. Anyone interested is encouraged to preview the schedule and sign up for membership here.

The first meeting of this working group will take place on September 12th, 2023 at 9:00 a.m. EDT. It will be an opportunity for framing, orientation, and introductions. Participants who want to attend are asked to read a short position paper in advance and to bring an object (possibly from summer reading, research, or lived experience) for show-and-tell. Further information, registration, readings, and the video conference link are available at the History of the Language Sciences working group page. The co-conveners hope to see some of you there!


The Royal Anthropological Institute is delighted to announce the call for panels for a major conference on Anthropology and Education that will take place at Senate House, University of London, 25 to 28 June 2024.

Please browse the Conference Website to learn more!

The Call for Panels will close on 13 October 2023. The Call for Papers will follow, opening on 1 November 2023. Registration will open 26 February 2024.

The RAI has chosen Anthropology and Education as the theme of the conference, a focus that is sparked by the multiple contemporary challenges that we are faced with as a discipline as we seek to teach and educate. We are equally convinced that the best way to face these challenges is to share best practice and new responses. For this reason, we are delighted to welcome as co-organisers the Education Commission of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, the Teaching Anthropology Network of the European Association of Social Anthropologists, and the Council on Anthropology and Education of the American Anthropological Association.

The conference will be face to face only. However, in order to have as wide a possible a discussion as possible, we will be running a series of virtual events with our partners beforehand. These will be recorded and placed on our website in order to ensure their wide dissemination.

There will be distinct strands which we invite delegates to explore, of which we offer a brief explanation below. However, panel proposals are also invited on any topic that may be found of interest. In no particular order of priority these are:

Indigenous Boarding Schools The historic phenomenon of boarding schools which take indigenous peoples away from their homelands for education is well discussed, notably with regard to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. However, there has been something of a return to this system in other countries. This strand invites panel proposals that will enable comment and discussion, as well as whether it will be possible to develop suggestions for best practice in this regard that might be adopted at an international level.

Anthropology in Pre-University Environments There are often attempts to teach anthropology at the school level, a notable example of which is the International Baccalaureate in Anthropology, a qualification that is well-established. Other initiatives may be pursued at the national level, both with regard to primary and secondary school, with varying degrees of success. We invite panels that seek to share experiences, both with regard to success and failure as to how anthropology can be strengthened in schools.

Translating Cultures and Diaspora Communities Anthropologists have long regarded themselves as translating cultures, but there is a striking more recent phenomenon, which is the way that Diaspora communities have started to codify for teaching purposes their hitherto predominantly oral cultures, often seeking formal recognition they do so from their host society. One instance of this is the Alevi community originally from Turkey, but there are many others. Proposals are welcome that seek to unravel the complexity of the pedagogic issues that come to the fore when such texts books have to be written where none have previously existed.

Anthropology, AI and Media The recent Covid lockdown made us all realise that traditional anthropology teaching will have to adapt and change if it is to remain and flourish in the classroom. This strand invites panels which seek to share this, and similar experiences in using innovative media in the classroom. In this connection, it may be noted that there will be a film stream at the conference, and panel proposals concerning film and pedagogy are also welcome.

Anthropology, Teaching and Museums One of the most interesting aspects of anthropology in recent decades is the gradual rapprochement between anthropology teaching and ethnographic museums. This relationship, having been in the second half of the twentieth century often rather distant, now is a central and creative part of our discipline. Panels are invited that reflect upon the implications of this growing proximity, and consider how we can build further on it.

Anthropology, Representation and Ethics The intensification of globalisation has rendered ethical understandings of the way that our discipline can be taught in need of reconsideration and revision. How is anthropology going to adapt and change as it becomes only one of a number of multiple actors in this complex process of mutual interaction?

Academic Teaching and Truth University teaching can be nothing without freedom of expression. Yet, from various parts of the world there appears to be increasing intolerance of a plurality of views. How can we as anthropologists contribute toward maintaining the integrity of our Higher Education institutions, wherever they may be found? Panel proposals are particularly invited that give instances of these potential problems, from whatever location.

Public Anthropology The interface between anthropology as an academic discipline and its public presence is one of the most crucial questions facing the subject today. How can it appeal to a wider, non-specialist audience? How can it teach the subject in a transparent way that ensures that it gains and attracts wider interest without compromising its intellectual message? Proposals are most welcome that will help us address this dilemma.

Anthropology in Non-Anthropology Departments All around the world, anthropologists may find a teaching position in a non-anthropology department, and likewise many universities may not have a distinct departmental structure. What implications does this have for individual careers, teaching and intellectual trajectories of the subject? Panels are invited that consider any aspect of this fascinating question as to the relationship between individual anthropologists, anthropology as a discipline and the wider structures of academia.


DATES: 25 June – 28 June 2024

LOCATION: Senate House, University of London



Call for Panels opens on 1 June 2023 and closes on 13 October 2023

Call for Papers opens on 1 November 2023 and closes on 13 January 2024

Registration opens on 26 February 2024


RAI Fellows; EASA Members; AAA Members; IUAES Members: £320

RAI Members: £390

Non-members: £420

Concessions (students; unemployed; retired persons): £150

Delegates with low income from low income countries ( £100

All conference delegates must register and pay the conference fee.


RAI Education Committee

IUAES Commission on Anthropology and Education

EASA Teaching Anthropology Network

Council on Anthropology and Education, A section of the American Anthropological Association

New Resource: Information on Deceased Anthropologists

Editors’ note: today’s post is courtesy of Sharlotte Neely, Professor Emerita of Anthropology at Northern Kentucky University. Our thanks to Dr. Neely for making this resource available.

I have organized a list of more than 1,200 deceased anthropologists using the free online site Find a Grave. It accomplishes goals absent in other sites, such as the American Anthropology Obituary Index, which is a list of people whose obituaries have appeared in either the American Anthropologist and/or the Anthropology Newsletter from 1899 through early 2003, Recent Obituary Articles in American Anthropologist, which has actual obituaries from 2018 through 2023, and Royal Anthropological Institute Obituaries, which is mostly limited to distinguished members of the Royal Anthropological Institute.

My ongoing list of 1,200+ anthropologists is located online through this link. With some editing the goal is to have a photo, short bio (or some other pertinent information, such as published books), and grave location (or confirmation of cremation) for each individual. There are hundreds of anthropologists’ existing graves/cremations yet to be located on Find a Grave, which has no index, and hundreds more anthropologists’ graves/cremations yet to be created for Find a Grave. The Find a Grave site has several advantages including the large number of individuals there, a diversity of anthropologists from the entire world, its free to use status, the ease of adding or correcting information on all individuals, and the breadth of individuals defined as “anthropologist.” For the Find a Grave site, “anthropologist” includes Ph.D. professors (like Franz Boas), proto-anthropologists (like John Aubrey), honorary anthropologists (like James Neel), almost anthropologists (like Alan Dundes), amateur anthropologists (like George McJunkin), and unintended anthropologists (like Ishi).

To participate on the Find a Grave site, go to the Find a Grave homepage to join for free. You can then add new graves, add photos to any grave, and correct or add to any particular site by contacting the individual site manager through the edit tab. To gain “famous” status for anyone on the list who does not already have famous status, you may email Find a Grave to make a case for famous status. To get someone added to the deceased anthropologist list, contact me, Sharlotte Neely, via email.

Robert de Wavrin as Visual Anthropologist, by Moderbacher and Winter

HAR is pleased to announce one of the latest releases from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article, in French, on the Belgian explorer, ethnographer and visual anthropologist Robert de Wavrin.

Moderbacher, Christine & Grace Winter, 2023. “La vie et l’œuvre du Marquis Robert de Wavrin, un des premiers anthropologues visuels”, in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

URL BEROSE: article2908.html

Born into a noble family from Belgian Flanders, Robert de Wavrin (1888–1971) was an explorer, ethnographer and visual anthropologist who spent most of his life in Latin America. Financially independent (thanks to the family fortune from coal mines), he lived in Paraguay, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. His first contacts with Amerindian populations, around 1915, led him to join learned societies of geography and anthropology in Brussels and Paris, where his empirical observations were appreciated in line with the theoretical views of the time. From his first trip, he used photography to illustrate the Indigenous way of life, which he actually shared. He was soon introduced to the film camera and, from 1919 onwards, visually recorded the daily life of various communities. His 2,000 photographs and four films represent an important contribution to the history of visual anthropology. He is also the author of 14 books and numerous articles.

In this pioneering article, Moderbacher and Winter trace the life and work of Wavrin, with a focus on his film work as a contribution to the history of visual anthropology. Although fragments of his work are known to some researchers in South America, Wavrin is almost entirely absent from historical studies and largely forgotten in the anthropological and Americanist fields. Although his work cannot be studied outside the colonial context of this discipline and the legacy of Eurocentrism, according to Moderbacher and Winter his visual contribution provides remarkable historical insights and deserves the attention of researchers.

The Declaration of Barbados and Brazilian Anthropology, by João Pacheco de Oliveira

HAR is pleased to announce one of the latest releases from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article, in English, on the impact of the Declaration of Barbados of 1971 in Brazilian anthropology.

Oliveira, João Pacheco de, “‘Not mere objects of study’: The Declaration of Barbados (1971) and the Remaking of Brazilian Anthropology”, in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

URL BEROSE: article2897.html

In 1971, young anthropologists who were gathered on the island of Barbados denounced the dramatic situation in which Indigenous peoples lived. With its context in the histories of social sciences in Latin America, the resulting manifesto criticized conservative governments and Christian missions, while calling for a new attitude in anthropology. Social studies should not be based solely on the theoretical agendas of hegemonic sociologies and anthropologies, it argued; they should address ethical and political issues related to processes of liberation and decolonization of Indigenous populations. In the following decades, military coups and intense political repression meant that teaching and research in the social sciences were placed under tight surveillance in various Latin American countries. Pushed to the margins of the intellectual and political scene, the Barbados message had a limited impact in many academic spaces, but there were a few exceptions – including Brazil.

In this illuminating article, Pacheco de Oliveira explores the trajectories of the political legacy of the Barbados statement in Brazilian anthropology, through lasting debates and practices around themes such as Indigenous agency, decolonization, and dialogic anthropologies. The current plurality of anthropology demands a fresh reading of the 1971 document as both a historical landmark and an inspirational statement for generations to come.

Scholar, Activist, Humanist: A Portrait of Eric Wolf in Charlottesville, by Jeffrey L. Hantman

HAR is pleased to announce one of the latest releases from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article, in English, portraying Eric Wolf’s humanist scholarship and activism in the1950s.

Hantman, Jeffrey L., 2023. “Scholar, Activist, Humanist: A Portrait of Eric Wolf (the Charlottesville Years 1955-1958)”, in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

URL BEROSE: article2894.html

Eric R. Wolf (1923–1999) was a leading figure in American anthropology throughout the second half of the twentieth century. Born in Austria, Wolf escaped Nazi-occupied Europe and moved with his family to New York City in 1939. He earned his Ph.D. in 1951 at Columbia University. He was a leader among those who sought to restore historically and regionally situated understandings of power relations to anthropological study. Wolf conducted ethnographic research in Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Southern Italy. He is best known for his book, Europe and the People Without History (1982), and is remembered as well for organizing academic responses to American wars in Southeast Asia in the 1960s. This article focuses on a little-known chapter of Eric Wolf’s career as an activist when he was a young professor at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia in the 1950s. Wolf spoke out against racism through an anthropological lens while working in the white supremacist environment of Virginia’s flagship state university and state government. Always mindful of the value of interdisciplinarity, he joined with the few other faculty across the university who took the then dangerous step of lecturing publicly on race and inequality in the South. Wolf’s early exposure to Southern U.S. regional tensions, rooted in class and race-based inequality, and his discussion of anthropology’s apparent retreat from activism provide context for his actions in Charlottesville over a three-year span.

Hantman draws on Wolf’s brief references to his time in Charlottesville in published interviews, but especially from the correspondence he maintained with his close friend, Sidney Mintz. The article is thus a biography of Wolf, a comment on anthropological activism in the 1950s, and an account of his unique efforts in Virginia that foretold his well-known political engagement while teaching later at the University of Michigan and Lehman College (CUNY) in New York City.

“Histories of Latin American Anthropologies: Contemporary Experiments,” June 12-15, 2023, São Paulo & Campinas (Brazil)

The international conference “Histories of Latin American Anthropologies: Contemporary Experiments,” held at the Centro Universitário Maria Antonio (University of São Paulo) and the Arquivo Edgard Leuenroth (University of Campinas) between June 12 and 15, 2023, is dedicated to the history of ethnography and anthropology in several Latin American countries (19th–21st centuries) from a comparative and transatlantic perspective.

In order to compose a diverse and heterogeneous picture of anthropologies as practiced in the south of the continent and in the Caribbean, the conference explores the uses and meanings of the past within the anthropologies practiced today and projected for the future. Contemporary experiments around the histories of Latin American anthropologies can be of various types: experiments with (and against) history; theoretical and methodological experiments; institutional experiments (museographic and museological experiments); experiments with various types of knowledge (academic and non-academic); also with the natural sciences, arts and literature. In this sense, participants are encouraged to present case studies allowing wider reflections on the transits of knowledge and transatlantic flows; materials and materialities; inflections of gender, race and sexuality; new museographic knowledge and shared curatorships. The guiding idea of the conference is to radically play with the idea of experimentation, bringing new topics, new actors and their problematics to the fore as a reflection of risky and daring experiments. By listening to them and thinking with them, alternative tools and unexpected memories and histories of anthropology may emerge. The central goal of this meeting is thus to review – and play with – the diverse anthropologies developed in Latin America, and to consider their potential for a broader reflection on anthropological knowledge and its reconfigurations.

This conference is organized by Fernanda Arêas Peixoto (USP), Christiano Tambascia (Unicamp), Gustavo Rossi (Unicamp), Stefania Capone (CNRS, EHESS, Césor), Antonio Carlos de Souza Lima (PPGAS – Museu Nacional, UFRJ) within the HITAL International Research Network (IRN), made up of researchers from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, France and Portugal, in collaboration with BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology. The conference program is now accessible online.

FHHS Article Prize – June 1 Deadline

The Forum for History of Human Science awards a biennial prize (a nonmonetary honor) for the best article published recently on some aspect of the history of the human sciences. The article prize is awarded in odd-numbered years. The winner of the prize is announced at the annual History of Science Society meeting.

Entries are encouraged from authors in any discipline, as long as the work is related to the history of the human sciences, broadly construed, and is in English. To be eligible, the article must have been published within the three years previous to the year of the award. Preference will be given to authors who have not won the award previously.

The submission deadline will be June 1, 2023. Please submit your article (in PDF format) to

2021 Prize: Carola Ossmer, “Normal Development: The Photographic Dome and the Children of the Yale Psycho-Clinic,” Isis, vol. 111, no. 3, 2020. 

CFP: First International Conference of the Histories of Anthropologies: Doing Histories, Imagining Futures

The History of Anthropology Network (HOAN) of the European Association for Social Anthropology is happy to announce a call for papers for the First International Conference of the Histories of Anthropologies, Doing Histories, Imagining Futures.

The event will be held on-line between 4-7 December 2023 and it is collaboratively organised by key stakeholders in our field to discuss methodological, theoretical, pedagogical, and ethical aspects of the histories of anthropologies.

Please browse the Conference Website and Panels to discover more!

The call for papers will close on June 30, 2023. Notifications of accepted papers will be sent by July 15, 2023.

This is an exciting opportunity for everyone working in the field of history of anthropology to gather and learn from each other and set new directions for the field. You are warmly invited to join us and submit a paper proposal.

Continue reading

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.

Jean-Baptiste Vaudry as Accidental Visual Anthropologist, by Isabelle Combès

HAR is pleased to announce one of the latest releases from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article in Spanish on Jean-Baptiste Vaudry, a French ethnographer working in Bolivia in the early twentieth century.

Combès, Isabelle, 2023. “Los aportes de Jean-Baptiste Vaudry a la antropología boliviana”, in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

French civil engineer Jean-Baptiste Vaudry (1875–1938) worked for the Bolivian government between 1902 and 1913 on commissions to delimit the borders with Argentina and Brazil. In the 1920s, he worked for several years in the tin mines of the altiplano. Although widely distributed at the time, the more than 500 photographs he took during those years fell into oblivion until recently. Beyond exoticism, they show Indigenous people from the Chaco, the Chiquitania, the altiplano and the valleys, in the most varied situations: workers on the haciendas or in the mines, in remote communities or in the streets of the cities, giving a realistic and lively testimony of a colorful Bolivia in the early twentieth century. In this profusely illustrated article, Combès minutely explores photographic material that was rediscovered in the 2010s, and explains how Vaudry portrayed a multi-ethnic Bolivia where indigenous people were in contact with each other within national society. Along with both published texts and unpublished manuscripts, Vaudry’s iconography is thus reassessed as that of an accidental “visual anthropologist” who gains a peculiar but important place in disciplinary history, and within Bolivian studies.

The Puerto Rican Ethnography of John Alden Mason, by Rafael Ocasio

HAR is pleased to announce one of the latest releases from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article, in Spanish, on Boasian ethnographer John Alden Mason.

Ocasio, Rafael, 2023. “De la criollización a la compilación del folclore puertorriqueño: el legado de John Alden Mason y de sus colaboradores jíbaros en el campo de Puerto Rico”, in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

US anthropologist John Alden Mason (1885–1967) was a student of Alfred L. Kroeber with a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. He did fieldwork under Franz Boas’ supervision, namely within the “Scientific Survey of Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands,” which began in 1914–1915 as a multidisciplinary study under the auspices of the New York Academy of Sciences. The earliest part of the twentieth century after the Spanish American War of 1898 can be characterized as the beginning of an intense exploration in the United States of Puerto Rican culture. This interest led to active scientific fieldwork by representatives of American academic institutions. Boas’ and Mason’s was among the first research trips of this kind. They oversaw the gathering of hundreds of oral riddles, folk poetry, and stories, which were published in The Journal of American Folklore from 1916 through 1929. Mason considered this collection of folk tales as being among the largest from a Spanish-speaking country or territory. Following the publication of Race and Nation in Puerto Rican Folklore: Franz Boas and John Alden Mason in Porto Rico (Ocasio, Rutgers University Press, 2020), this article focuses on Mason’s ethnographic endeavors and discusses some of the special categories of folk tales that Mason – and Boas – presented as exemplary representations of a well grounded Puerto Rican identity. The published folktales favor rural cultural practices of the peasants known as “Jíbaro,” while ignoring folk data gathered in Loíza, a traditional fishing village inhabited by African descendants. Indeed, the choice to highlight Jíbaro oral folklore not only determined the geographical scope of the project (rural and inland culture) but also the types of native characters that stand as representatives of a Puerto Rican identity to this day. The Penn Museum, an institution for which Mason served as curator of the American Section from 1926 until his retirement in 1955, celebrates him as “one of the last of the great generalist anthropologists of the 20th century”, but his legacy is inseparable from his descriptive ethnography and the folk materials he compiled.

Florestan’s Insight into Brazilian Society, by Christophe Brochier

HAR is pleased to announce one of the latest releases from BEROSE International
Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology
: an article, in French, on the influential Brazilian sociologist Florestan Fernandes.

Brochier, Christophe, 2023. “Florestan Fernandes: ‘patron’ de la sociologie pauliste et chercheur engagé”, in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

Florestan Fernandes (1920–1995), of immigrant origin and from a very poor background, was arguably one of the most influential Brazilian sociologists of the second half of the twentieth century and one of its great modernizers, who tirelessly tried to understand the singularities, changes, and challenges of Brazilian society. In this ambitious article, Brochier traces the professional career and scholarly production of Florestan – as he is known in Brazil – starting with an examination of his formative years as an atypical student from the working classes at the University of São Paulo. Florestan’s intellectual brightness was noticed by French anthropologist Roger Bastide, who encouraged him and supervised his first research into folklore and race relations in São Paulo. His doctoral research was then devoted to the historical anthropology of the Tupinambá. The article reveals how the study of functionalism in anthropology was a starting point in Florestan’s development of a series of precepts and ideas concerning the epistemology of the social sciences in the 1950s. The way in which his intellectual and life trajectories were strongly affected by the military coup in 1964 is the theme of the second part of the article: clearly opposed to academic conservatism, Florestan abandoned epistemology and devoted himself to the study of the political and economic transformations of Brazilian society from a critical perspective. Finally, the last phase of his activity is recounted, when he was a deputy of the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Brazilian Labor Party) in the 1980s and 1990s, during which he tried to analyze the Brazilian political situation in real time. In conclusion, a draft assessment of Florestan’s work is proposed, in an effort to create a distance from the hagiographic perspective generally in use. He eventually emerges as a key figure in a wider history of sociology, anthropology, and the social sciences in general.

New Documentary Film on the Life and Career of James C. Scott

HAR readers may be interested in the new film In A Field All His Own: The Life and Career of James C. Scott, a documentary that offers an unprecedented look at the lauded Yale political scientist and activist. Created and produced by UC Berkeley Oral History Center (OHC) historian Todd Holmes, the film draws from nearly thirty hours of oral history interviews with Scott and affiliated scholars at Yale and UC Berkeley to trace the intellectual journey of the award-winning social scientist from his childhood in New Jersey through each of the ground-breaking works he produced throughout his accomplished career. Overall, the film presents an intellectual biography of one of the world’s preeminent academics.

The documentary is currently available for viewing online on YouTube, and more information about the film can be found on the Berkeley Library’s website. In a Field All His Own developed out of the Yale Agrarian Studies Oral History Project, which Dr. Holmes conducted between 2018 and 2020.

Upcoming Conference – Imagining Lost Origins: Migration and the Politics of the Deep Past

The editors of HAR would like to draw your attention to this conference, which will be held in person and online May 19-20, 2023. Those interested in attending should register with Dr. Frederika Tevebring (

Culture has always been on the move, but the notion that culture is itself a product of movement is relatively recent. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, scholars hypothesised that the world’s cultures developed not by linear evolution, but through migration, invasion, conquest, trade and exchange. Diffusionism became a master paradigm across several disciplines. The fascination and concern with how movement had shaped cultures historically reflected the anxieties of a time that witnessed more global migrations of people than ever before. Further, the modern quest for lost origins was (and is) inherently entangled in contemporary debates about the rights to land and resources.

This conference explores the relation between scientific and artistic imaginings of prehistoric migrations. To map cultural diffusion is also to theorize the relationship between bodies, place, art, and innovation. When investigating societies who have left no written records, the visual has a dual role: it is both the means by which these cultures are reconstructed, and the tool by which knowledge about them is disseminated. We ask how artists and scholars influenced one another in reconstructing lost origins, and probe the ways that these images were embedded in contemporary debates about race and migration.

The conference will take place in the River Room, King’s College London (The Strand, London WC2R 2LS) and online. Dates and times are as follows: Friday, May 19th, from 6pm – 8pm (BST) and Saturday, May 20th, 10am – 5pm (BST).


Friday, 19 May
18.00 – Keynote lecture: Michael Kunichika (Amherst): ‘Debating the Origins of Art: Case Studies from the Prehistoric Front of the Cold War’
Response: Maria Stavrinaki (Paris)
Wine reception

Saturday, 20 May
10.00 – Introductory remarks by Frederika Tevebring and Matthew Vollgraff
10.30 – Felix Wiedemann (Berlin): ‘Pure and Mixed Types. The Anthropological Reading of Ancient Works of Art and Their Use as Visual Evidence in Bio-historical Narratives at the Turn of the 20th Century’
10.50 – Frederika Tevebring (London): ‘Women are from Venus, Men are from the Russian Steppe: Gendering Prehistoric Migration’
11.10 – Response: John Robb (Cambridge)
11.20 – Discussion

11.50 – Carlotta Santini (Paris): ‘Under Western Eyes. Prehistoric Art and the Migration of Culture in the Work of Leo Frobenius’
12.10 – Matthew Vollgraff (London): ‘The Monarch and Medusa: Wilhelm II, Leo Frobenius and the Quest for Sacred Kingship’
12.30 – Response: John Tresch (London)
12.40 – Discussion

Lunch Break

14.30 – Jonathan Dentler (Paris): ‘Revisiting “Red Atlantis”: Hilaire Hiler’s Aquatic Park Mural Project (1936-1939) and the Transatlantic Frontier’
14.50 – Eva Miller (London): ‘Only America Can Americanize: Immigration, Inheritance, and Civic Art’
15.10 – Response: Alison Boyd (Utrecht)
15.20 – Discussion

15.50 – Hans Hönes (Aberdeen): ‘Prehistoric Art, Climate Change and 19th-Century Geographies of Culture’
16.10 – Sria Chatterjee (London): ‘The Robbery of the Soil: Vitalism, Nationalism, and Art in Early Twentieth-Century India’
16.30 – Response: Chris Manias (London)
16.40 – Discussion

Link to conference flyer

Recent Obituary Articles in American Anthropologist

Readers of History of Anthropology Review may be interested in the obituaries that are published in American Anthropologist. Each one is a fascinating portrait of an individual’s life and contribution to anthropology—an intimate history. Collectively they are a fabulous resource for learning about the recent history of anthropology and its diversity.

The following obituary essays have appeared in American Anthropologist during the last five years:

Nancy Oestreich Lurie by Grant Arndt (June 2018)

Paula G. Rubel by Lesley A. Sharp (June 2019)

Wendy Ashmore by Patricia Urban and Edward Schortman (Sept 2019)

Sydel Silverman by Jane Schneider (Dec 2019)

Charles Goodwin by Frederick Erickson (Dec 2019)

Deanna Jeanne Trakas by Athena McLean (Dec 2019)

Deborah Bird Rose by Thom van Dooren (Mar 2020)

Richard King Nelson by Sharon Bohn Gmelch and George Gmelch (June 2020)

Constance R. Sutton by Antonio Lauria-Perricelli, Linda Basch, A. Lynn Bolles, Nina Glick Schiller, Linden Lewis, Susan Makiesky Barrow, William P. Mitchell, David Sutton, Deborah A. Thomas, and Andrea J. Queeley (June 2020)

Jane H. Hill by Susan U. Philips (June 2020)

Napoleon A. Chagnon by William Irons (Sept 2020)

Kenelm O. L. Burridge by Dan Jorgensen (Dec 2020)

Jamie Pearl Bloom (James F. Weiner) by Alex Golub (Mar 2021)  

Abraham Rosman by Lesley A. Sharp and Maxine Weisgrau (Mar 2021)

Frederick George Bailey by Elisa J. Sobo, Kevin Avruch, David Lipset, and Paula Levin (June 2021)

June C. Nash by Christine Kovic (June 2021)

Saba Mahmood by Noah Salomon (June 2021)

Lambros Comitas by Gerald Murray (Sept 2021)

Sally Engle Merry by Mark Goodale (Sept 2021)

Audrey Smedley by Faye V. Harrison and Janis Hutchinson (Sept 2021)

Leith P. Mullings by Lee D. Baker (Dec 2021)

Marshall David Sahlins by Robert Brightman (Dec 2021)

Michael Silverstein by Susan Gal (March 2022)

Amelia Louise Susman Schultz by Jay Miller (March 2022)

Nancy D. Munn by Robert J. Foster and Webb Keane (June 2022)

Steven Gregory by Arlene Dávila (June 2022)

Jan Vansina by Nancy Rose Hunt (Sept 2022)

Frederick K. Errington by Martha Macintyre (Dec 2022)

Paul Rabinow by Talia Dan-Cohen and Nicolas Langlitz (Dec 2022)

Mary Catherine Bateson by William O. Beeman (Mar 2023)

Roy Wagner by Ira Bashkow and Justin Shaffner (June 2023) (early version)

Douglas Feldman by Tiantian Zheng (forthcoming in Sept 2023)

American Anthropologist has been publishing obituaries for a long time. Sydel Silverman edited them from 2001 to 2017. In her last years she was assisted by Flemming Daugaard-Hansen. I began serving as the journal’s Associate Editor for Obituaries in 2018.

I wish to publicly thank all of the authors who have written obituaries. These biographical articles require extensive research, and they are an effortful form of service to the history of anthropology and to the memory of colleagues, teachers, and friends. Many obituary authors are HAR subscribers and regular readers.

He also thanks the previous and current editors-in-chief of American Anthropologist, Deborah A. Thomas and Elizabeth J. Chin, for continuing to support the publication of substantive obituaries.

In addition, I hope everyone is aware of the shorter “In Memoriam” articles regularly published by Anthropology News, which is currently edited by Natalie Konopinski. Readers can find these articles online in Anthropology News. They, too, are an excellent history of anthropology resource.

And of course, there are obituaries of anthropologists in other scholarly journals, such as Transforming Anthropology, Ethnohistory, and the Journal of Anthropological Research.

Upcoming Event: A Rosetta Stone for Erving Goffman

The editors of HAR would like to draw your attention to the following upcoming event: a free online discussion of Erving Goffman’s 1953 dissertation, “Communication Conduct in an Island Community”—newly published as an open access book. The event will take place on Friday, May 5, 2023 at 15:00 UTC (11am EDT/4pm BST/ 5pm CET). It will run 45 minutes.



  • Yves Winkin, University of Liège
  • Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, University of Wisconsin-Parkside
  • Peter Lunt, University of Leicester
  • Greg Smith, University of Salford
  • Filipa Subtil, Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa

Join Yves Winkin, Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, Peter Lunt, Greg Smith, and Filipa Subtil for a discussion of Erving Goffman’s 1953 dissertation, “Communication Conduct in an Island Community”, recently published as an open access book with a new introduction by Winkin. This free Zoom session, sponsored by, marks the dissertation’s publication with a discussion of the work’s significance by Winkin and other leading Goffman scholars.

Canadian-born Erving Goffman (1922–1982) was the twentieth century’s most important sociologist writing in English. Goffman’s 1953 dissertation, based on fieldwork on a remote Scottish island, presents in embryonic form the full spread of his thought. Framed as a “report on a study of conversational interaction,” the dissertation lingers on the modest talk of island “crofters.” It is trademark Goffman: ambitious, unconventional in form, and brimmed with big-picture insight. The thesis is that social order is made and re-made in communication—the “interaction order” he re-visited in a famous and final talk before his death in 1982. The dissertation is, as Winkin writes in the new introduction, the “Rosetta stone for his entire work.” It was here, in 360 dense pages, that Goffman revealed, quietly, his peerless sensitivity to the invisible wireframes of everyday life. is a scholar-led, nonprofit, no-fee open access publisher in the media, film, and communication studies fields.

Questions? Email

CFP: RAI Workshop on Fieldwork Sketches

The Anthropology of Art Committee of the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) will host an in-person workshop on “Fieldwork Sketches: Blurring the Lines between Art and Anthropology,” 16 February 2024 at the RAI, 50 Fitzroy Street, London.

Deadline for abstract proposal submissions: 1 September 2023

Fieldwork sketches, drawings, diagrams, and illustrations have been used by anthropologists since the beginning of the discipline. From Franz Boas, to Levi-Strauss, Raymond Firth and more recently Michael Taussig and Tim Ingold among others, ethnographers have variably used or discussed them as helpful aids to the construction of anthropological knowledge.

Capitalising on examples from the rich visual material stored in the RAI collections, the present workshop intends to bring together researchers and scholars to discuss the nature, roles, and modes of communication embodied in fieldwork sketches with the aim of evaluating what kind of information can be elicited from a study of images made for ethnographic purposes.

The workshop is intended to be a first step towards recognising the significance of this much neglected area of anthropological data within its own discipline, but also with reference to cognate fields such as art history, folklore, and visual culture studies. Raising methodological and theoretical questions related to the production, use, purpose, and not least anthropology’s inattention to this vast field of enquiry, the workshop hopes to contribute to the recent ‘graphic turn’ in anthropology, a disciplinary stance concerned with the potential of images, pictures, drawings, and illustrations to elicit and construct anthropologically-rich information that complements textual based knowledge.

The RAI invites presentations focused but not limited to the following topics:

  • Production of images in fieldwork settings
  • Drawing as ethnography
  • Illustrations’ relationship to Visual Anthropology
  • Case studies (from RAI collections, from external sources)
  • Comparisons between anthropological traditions
  • Fieldwork illustrations/drawings as art
  • Fieldwork illustrations/drawings as data
  • Fieldwork illustrations/drawings between Folklore Studies and Visual Anthropology
  • Images in anthropological books
  • Illustrations and photography
  • Style, aesthetics, accuracy, objectivity, naturalism in ethnographic drawings and illustrations
  • Art with ethnographic subjects as anthropological data

The workshop will be held in form of a study day during which there will be ample time for discussion following presentations. The aim is twofold: draw the attention to the RAI collections; encourage research, discussion and further study of this important facet of anthropological knowledge construction.

Proposals should consist of a title and an abstract of 200 words (maximum) and be sent to: no later than 1 September 2023. Refreshments will be provided on the day, and there is no conference fee.

Geographical Relativities: Online Conference on the Legacy of Boas in Geography

The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group presents an online conference, “Geographical Relativities,” on April 14, 2023.

This conference marks the publication of Rosemary Lévy Zumwalt’s recent work, Franz Boas: Shaping Anthropology and Fostering Social Justice (2022), the follow up installment to Franz Boas, The Emergence of the Anthropologist (2019).

Franz Boas (1858 – 1942) has been memorialized for his important role in fostering of cultural relativity, a key research methodology in social anthropology. Yet, as a boy, Boas was interested in geography. Later, at the time of his doctoral studies his interests swung from physics to anthropology, a move that was sealed during his 1883-84 fieldwork on Baffin Island. Boas also authored an early paper about geography (1887). However, with a few exceptions (Bravo 2009; Powell 2015) Boas has received less attention from geographers and historians of geography, and his fashioning of the geographies of geography has been little explored. Why was this so? In what ways does Boas’s own disciplinary shift inform the epistemological, disciplinary and institutional flux of the twin disciplines of fin-de-siècle anthropology and geography? With him we can examine the tensions between anthropogeography, geography and anthropology (and ethnology) in universities and other institutions such as savant societies and museums. We can also locate where he fits into the longer running entanglement of anthropogeography, cultural ecology in anthropology, and political ecology. 

This conference affords the chance to share reflections on the place or absence of Boas in late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century geographical and historical geographical research. The evolutionism, historicism, cosmography and the productive dynamism of attempts to reconcile understandings of local conditions and universality seen in Boas’s works are similarly features in late nineteenth-century geographers, including anarchist geographers. It explores wider concepts, and practices, of relativity in geography and historical geography. In addition, it asks what the shift in Boas’s interests tells us about broader disciplinary and institutional transformations, and how these might inform the relationships between emergent geographical practices and practitioners and those in cultural ecology, and cultural, social and physical anthropology. It seeks to reflect upon the spatial aspects of his thought and his spatializing practices. The papers in this conference address Boas’s work on race and anthropometric measurements, his subsequent resonance across the transnational histories of geographical theory, as well as methods and practice around the turn of the 19th and 20th century in British and European thought and practice. They attend to the places and subsequent resonance of his ideas across the interdisciplinary fields of geography, anthropology and their shifting places within wider epistemic maps. Other papers bring to light broader historical geographies of relativist geographical, ‘cultural’ or other, frames of understanding. 

The conference is open to both faculty and postgraduate students and will take place online on Friday, April 14th, from 15h00 – 18h00 (GMT)

To attend, please email: Dr. Emily Hayes (Oxford Brookes University) or visit the conference Eventbrite page. More information can also be found on the RGS website or on the homepage for the RGS-IBG History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group (HPGRG).


15h00 –15h15: Emily Hayes – Welcome and Introduction

15h15-16h00 (GMT): Rosemary Zumwalt, Keynote: Franz Boas’s Cartographic and Ethnographic work on Baffin Island (1883 – 1884)

16h00-16h20 (GMT): Federico Ferretti, The relativity of cultures between geography and anthropology: Early anarchist geographers in humane and empathetic sciences, and Franz Boas 

16h20-16h40 (GMT): Peter R. Martin, Franz Boas and the Search for the ‘Origins of the Inuit’

16h40-17h00 (GMT): Emily Hayes, ‘[T]he relativity of all cultivation’ (Boas, December 23, 1883 in Cole, 1983, 33): a short comparative study of Boas and Mackinder

The Amazonian Utopia of Stefano Varese, by Irène Favier

HAR is pleased to announce one of the latest releases from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article, published both in Spanish and in French, on Stefano Varese as a key figure of applied anthropology, with a focus on Amazonian activism.

Favier, Irène, 2023. “Utopía y consuelo amazónico. Stefano Varese como antropólogo activista, hitos biográficos” (translated by Isabelle Combès), in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

Favier, Irène, 2023. “Utopie et consolation amazonienne. Stefano Varese en anthropologue activiste, jalons biographiques”, in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

Born in Genoa in 1939, anthropologist Stefano Varese left Italy for Peru in 1956. His ethno-historical doctoral researches on the Asháninka of the Gran Pajonal region resulted in La sal de los cerros (1968), a milestone in the history of Peruvian Amazon studies. In the late 1960s, Varese gave up his position at the University of San Marcos to participate in the agrarian reform carried out by the new military government. While pursuing his studies of the Amazonian worlds, he contributed to a decree recognizing the legal existence of native communities as late as 1974. From being an intellectual under construction, Varese found himself propelled to the rank of a figure in the “strange revolution” carried out by the state apparatus between 1968 and 1975. Following the demise of this political experience, he went into exile, first in Mexico, then in the United States. Migration movements in Latin America and the United States became one of his fundamental research topics. In this compelling article, Irène Favier shows how the biographical itinerary of this Italian-Peruvian anthropologist crosses the second half of the twentieth century, while giving an account of the dynamics that affected anthropology at the time. Favier reveals how Varese continued to produce knowledge and to raise awareness of indigenous issues, thus becoming a key figure in the development – and the history – of applied anthropology, to which he gave a stronger political dimension. Apart from teaching – namely at the University of California, Davis, where he helped create the Native American Studies department in 1988 – Varese pursued international activities of expertise on indigenous issues. This article retraces this trajectory by restoring its historical context, and attempts to identify Varese’s legacy in the long and complex history of applied anthropology.

The Histories of Keith Hart’s Anthropology

HAR is pleased to announce one of the latest releases from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: a special issue, in English, on Keith Hart’s trajectories as reflected in his recent volume (2022).

Shakya, Mallika & Keith Hart (eds.). 2022. “Keith Hart’s Anthropology: Auto-Ethnography, World History and Humanist Philosophy” (with the participation of Arjun Appadurai, Yasmeen Arif, Supriya Singh and John Tresch), BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.

Born in Manchester, Keith Hart (1943–) studied classics and social anthropology at Cambridge University. His research focuses on economic anthropology, Africa, money in all its forms and the digital revolution. He developed the concept of the informal economy in the field of development studies. He carried out fieldwork in Ghana in 1965–1968. In the 1970s, he advised on development policy in the Cayman Islands, Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong and West Africa. After immersion in the street economy, his experience of participant observation as a high-level adviser of governments and international organizations was crucial for his evolution as an anthropologist. He has taught at a dozen universities (Manchester, Yale, Chicago, Michigan, West Indies, London School of Economics, Pretoria, etc.), including Cambridge University between 1984 and 1998, where he directed the Centre for African Studies for six years. In 1993, with Anna Grimshaw, he created the collection Prickly Pear Pamphlets, which had a dozen issues. Edited by Mallika Shakya and Keith Hart himself, this special issue features two book launches of his Self in the World: Connecting Life’s Extremes (Oxford and New York, Berghahn Books, 2022), held on May 10, 2022, at the London School of Economics, and on June 13, 2022, at Delhi’s South Asian University. Commentary from the Delhi launch by Mallika Shakya, Arjun Appadurai, Yasmeen Arif and Supriya Singh is followed by an open discussion. A review from the LSE launch by John Tresch (first published in History of Anthropology Review) and a summary of his book by the author conclude this presentation. Keith Hart has written and edited several other books including: Money in a Human Economy (2017); Economy For and Against Democracy (2015); The Memory Bank: Money in an Unequal World (2000), The Political Economy of West African Agriculture (1982), Market and Society: The Great Transformation Today (2009) and Economic Anthropology (2011) with Chris Hann and The Human Economy: A Citizen’s Guide (2010) with J-L. Laville & A. D. Cattani). Keith Hart is also a writer of fiction and professional gambler.

CFP: AAA/CASCA Panel on Fieldwork Technologies

CFP: Fieldwork Technologies: Transitional Histories of Ethnographic Mediation (Panel)

AAA/CASCA 2023 Call for Papers

Organizers: Jennifer Hsieh (University of Michigan), Matthew C. Watson (Mount Holyoke College)

Mythologies of ethnographic research – past and present – often construct fieldwork as a series of unmediated intersubjective encounters. But particular tools routinely enable, shape, and frame ethnographers’ field experiences. This panel rethinks the mediation of anthropologists’ embodied sensory, technical, and epistemic labors through fine-grained attention to historically-specific fieldwork technologies. We expect the panel to draw together work on past and present fieldwork technologies in order to reframe constructions of the field’s history and rethink the contemporary techno-politics of extended ethnographic embodiment. How might attention to technologies aid us to recompose fieldwork’s history and to reimagine the technical, ethical, and epistemic contours of ethnography today? How have anthropologists, and the tools that they use, uniquely constructed ethnographic fieldwork at a specific time and place? 

While a longstanding literature – bridging anthropological subfields – examines the social production of technologies, comparatively little attention has been directed to ethnography’s own tools of mobility, recording and documentation, and inscription. Work on the practical, aesthetic, and epistemic shapes of film and photography comprises a clear exception to this technical aversion. But the ethnographic imagination also forms through technologies of travel and mobility, audio recording tools, and varied inscription devices – ranging from pen and paper to typewriters to contemporary tablets and computers. Such tool-enabled recording and textualization are not just objects for use by the researcher; they produce ethnographic insights and modes of theorization—in cases when the tools are deployed as intended, and in cases when they aren’t. These technologies further invite consideration of the limits and potentials of ethnographic embodiment and access in terms that might engage disability studies critiques.

We invite presenters to track the role of technologies in affecting the sensorial, political, and ethical shapes of ethnographic labor across fieldwork, interpretation, and exposition. While panelists should situate ethnographic fieldwork and writing in specific sociotechnical contexts, this work of contextualization may take up diverse theoretical inspirations, including research in the anthropologies of technology and the body, science & technology studies, disability studies, digital ethnography, feminist assemblage theory, and affect theory.

Orienting questions for historical and critical work on this topic may include:

  • How is the sensory and bodily experience of fieldwork constrained or extended through technological mediation?
  • How have technological transitions and transformations shifted the very construction (including the imaginable site) of the ethnographic “field?”
  • How have shifts in technologies of mobility shaped the imagination, planning, and practice of fieldwork?
  • How have transitions in inscription technologies – e.g., typewriters and computers – reshaped the evidentiary, analytical, and expository work of ethnography?
  • How have transitions in computer technology shaped the interpretation of ethnographic data and, hence, the field’s prevailing narratives of theoretical development and change?
  • How do computer programs, software, or apps yield distinct kinds of ethnographic reasoning and analysis?
  • How has the development of cellphones into discrete and ubiquitous audiovisual devices affected the terms and practices of recording and analysis in the field?
  • How have technologies of record keeping – e.g., bibliographies, filing cabinets, computer hard-drives, the “cloud” – affected modes of ethnographic reasoning and reportage?
  • How have anthropologists adapted technologies, using them in unintended ways?

For consideration, please send a draft abstract to and by Friday, March 17, 2023.

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