HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: two articles (in French) on two major Americanist institutions in anthropology.
Laurière, Christine, 2021. “La construction d’une discipline. Histoire des congrès internationaux des américanistes (1875-1947)” [Transl.: “The construction of a discipline. History of the international congresses of Americanists (1875-1947)”], in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.
Laurière, Christine, 2021. “La Société des Américanistes de Paris (1895-) : ombres et lumières de l’américanisme français” [Transl.: “The Paris Society of Americanists (1895-): Shadows and Lights of French Americanism”], in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.
Organized for the first time in 1876 in Nancy, France, the International Congresses of Americanists have been a highlight for researchers studying the American continent. The congress crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1895 for a session in Mexico. Since then, it has been held alternately in Europe and America – first organized on a biennial basis and then, from 1976, every three years. For many decades, the congresses were dominated by the anthropological sciences, and dedicated exclusively to the continent’s first inhabitants, the Amerindians. The historical and scholarly specificities of the host nation were salient on each occasion, combined with international scientific considerations that made the congresses an unparalleled record of research trends. The faith in scientific internationalism and neutralism was jeopardized after WWI, when a group of scholars wanted to prevent German-speaking Americanists from participating. But Franz Boas, Paul Rivet, and Erland Nordenskiöld worked hand-in-hand to thwart such an attempt. Against all odds, the 1924 congress in Gothenburg reunited the Americanist community and restored the cardinal value of internationalism, reinforcing the importance and legitimacy of the congress.
On Erland Nordenskiöld’s initiative, a strong symbolic gesture was created with a photograph of the French Paul Rivet shaking hands with the German Karl von den Steinen – a close friend of Franz Boas – on the front page of a Gothenburg daily newspaper. In her unexpected article, Laurière concludes that neither WWI nor WWII broke the Americanist momentum. Since the 1980s, the definition of Americanism has broadened considerably to include sociology, history, educational sciences, political science, and applied anthropology. There has been a profound transformation of Americanist practice, with an unprecedented expansion of universities and research in South America, enhancing the dialogue between scholars from the center and the periphery who cooperate in international projects. The second article by Laurière further explores the European (particularly French) side of the coin, by unravelling the history of the Société des Américanistes de Paris, founded in 1895 by Ernest-Théodore Hamy. This learned society has published the Journal de la Société des Américanistes since 1896, bringing together researchers in various anthropological sciences: ethnologists and anthropologists, linguists and philologists, archaeologists and prehistorians. After Hamy’s death in 1908, Paul Rivet played an essential role in the development and international influence of the Société and its journal for half a century. It was the first learned society in the world to claim to be Americanist, but Laurière reveals its worldwide connections.