HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article in French about the Cornell Project in Peru (1951-1966).
Grillot, Thomas, 2022. “L’hacienda de Vicos, laboratoire d’anthropologie appliquée. Le Projet Cornell au Pérou (1951‑1966),” in BEROSE – International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.
Grillot notes that the ‘Cornell Project in Peru’ remains in the history of anthropology as one of the most controversial examples of the practical value of the discipline. Initially conceived as a place of experimentation that would allow for brilliant theorizations of cultural change, the hacienda of Vicos has above all secured its place as a location of memory for the profession. At the end of the 1940s, when the experiment began, anthropology was still widely perceived by the general public as a technique for the physical and cultural identification of ethnic and racial groups. At Vicos, it was thought of and presented differently, as a ‘technique of technique,’ a knowledge of supervision and transmission that rightfully belonged to the ‘social sciences.’ Even if it never allowed Allan Holmberg, the initiator of the experiment, to reach the holy grail of ‘transferability,’ the site reveals the transferability of the Vicos anthropologists themselves, whether they are ‘local’ or ‘foreign.’ Taking them from site to site, from South American field to U.S. field, from discipline to discipline, and moving them from the position of researchers to that of community organizers or trainers, their itineraries invite us to question the image of a transmission of knowledge that would start from a (U.S.) transmitting center and be ‘received’ elsewhere. On the contrary, the golden age of applied anthropology appears to be a time when anthropologists learn to define their specificity through the project, at the intersection of tangled ‘scenes’: the academic world, the development circle, local societies and survey sites.