HAR is pleased to announce the latest release from BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology: an article in English on Cora Du Bois by her biographer, Susan Seymour.
Seymour, Susan C., 2021. “A 20th Century American Anthropologist and ‘First Woman’: The Life and Work of Cora Du Bois,” in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris.
Cora Du Bois (1903-1991) was an American anthropologist whose life spanned much of the twentieth century and whose professional career reflects major developments in the history of that discipline. In addition, Du Bois was a twentieth-century “first woman,” one of the few women of her generation to succeed in having a career that included both university teaching and research but also government service. During World War II, Du Bois served as a high-ranking intelligence officer and then as a Southeast Asia specialist in the State Department in Washington, D.C. Her prominence as an anthropologist was established during the 1930s when she did groundbreaking research in culture and personality. In 1954, Du Bois was appointed the Zemurray-Stone Radcliffe professor of anthropology and social relations at Harvard University, the university’s first tenured woman in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In this seminal article by Du Bois’s biographer, Seymour concludes that Du Bois’s “intense intellect, curiosity, and formidable character had propelled her through a series of unprecedented accomplishments in both government service and academe,” as she moved from “salvage” anthropology to pioneering research in culture and personality, and then to a new form of research on a complex society through time, using an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach.