The start of a new year seems a good time to look back on what has been happening and to give you, faithful HAR readers, a sense of what’s ahead with our online journal. As always, we are very grateful to you for checking in with us, submitting new works, alerting us to upcoming events and opportunities, and letting us know about the work you and others are doing.
One of the the biggest events of 2023 in history of anthropology was the first-ever History of Anthropologies International Conference, held online in December and organized by the European Association of Social Anthropologists’ History of Anthropology Network, with input from several partners, including HAR, Berose, and the AAA’s HOA Interest Group. Nearly one hundred talks were given, with 20 parallel sessions, on a huge range of topics with participants speaking literally from around the world– which made scheduling it all a particular feat! Most of the talks were recorded, and once made available they will provide a fascinating snapshot of a healthy, varied, and growing field.
HAR was very actively involved, with panels organized by editors and advisors, and talks given by many of our steadfast collaborators and contributors. The twelve talks in the HAR-sponsored panel, “Approaching the Present through Anthropology’s Past,” organized by Richard Handler and John Tresch, showcased many new approaches. Speakers from several continents explored diverse forms of engagement with anthropological knowledge taken up by people studied by anthropologists; they traced anthropology’s shifting institutional locations, including its relationships to Indigenous Studies, museums, and projects of state-building; they experimented with new ethical and pragmatic reflections on anthropology’s ambivalent past, moving beyond simple celebration or denunciation and considering its uses in the present. Several essays from these panels will appear in HAR, along with versions of other talks from the conference, and a first “Participant Observation” from Han Vermeulen reviewing the conference as a whole will be published soon. Congratulations and thanks to the lead organizers, EASA’s Fabiana Dimpflmeier and Hande Birkalan-Gedik, and to all the participants, for giving such a great boost to history of anthropology and fostering its current and emerging directions.
Throughout the year and continuing in 2024, several HAR editors– Brigid Prial, Nick Barron, Rosanna Dent, along with Paula López and advisory board member Ramah McKay– have been hosting the monthly online History of Anthropology Reading Group through the Center for History of Science, Technology, and Medicine. These informal meetings allow scholars to present new work and examine enduring concerns through lively and friendly discussions. The next session, on January 10th, features Sam Holley-Kline on connections between Guatemalan archaeology and the United Fruit Company and 20th century US imperial expansion. To attend simply sign up at the link above.
Along with regular updates in News and Bibliography, and a steady stream of reviews and individual essays, HAR has several exciting dossiers currently in the works to be published in 2024. A series of Field Notes essays on the “History of Ethnoscience,” with guest editors Raphael Uchôa and Staffan Müller-Wille, is going to begin soon. The same is true of a Reviews Round Table on Bernard Geoghegan’s Code: From Information Theory to French Theory, which details the interactions among cybernetics, anthropology, and other branches of the human sciences, with responses coming in from anthropologists and historians of computing. We also have a project underway for a history of anthropology syllabus archive, for which we welcome new additions.
An in-person event to pencil onto your calendars is HAR’s upcoming conference at Yale University, provisionally scheduled for October 3-4, 2024, called “Excavating Environmental Anthropologies.” An exciting line-up of historians, anthropologists, and environmental scholars is taking shape. They will look back at 150 years of past paradigms for studying interactions between culture and environment, thinking through what can be helfpully retrieved and what’s best left buried in these histories, to confront the global climate crisis today. Stay tuned for more details.
HAR has added a new social media account on Bluesky, which we invite you to check out here: https://bsky.app/profile/histanthro.bsky.social. Our News team, led by Sarah Pickman, will continue to post on the app formerly known as Twitter, but we will now also be using this platform which is proving more hospitable.
Finally, the HAR editorial collective has added several new editors. They’ve been getting up to speed through some online “short sessions” on editing, social media, and future publishing plans, but mostly just getting down to it. We’re delighted to have them on board. And many of our current or alumni editors have moved into new positions, including at Duke, UNLV, UCSF, the Max Planck in Berlin, UC Santa Barbara, Cambridge, and Sydney. It’s great to see HAR’s networks continue to grow, with our publication serving as an online and in-person point of connection for scholars with a wide range of disciplinary orientations and research directions.
Thank you for keeping engaged with HAR and the history of anthropology. We look forward to hearing from you in the New Year!