The 14th biennial EASA conference was held at the University of Milano-Bicocca from July 20-23, 2016. Framed around the topic “Anthropological Legacies and Human Futures,” the conference included two panels on themes in the history of anthropology. The first panel was convened by David Shankland (Royal Anthropological Institute, London, UK) and Aleksandar Boskovic (University of Belgrade/Institute of Social Sciences, Belgrade, Serbia); the second by Andrés Barrera-González (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain) and Han F. Vermeulen. The second panel was the official panel of the Europeanist network for this conference. The panels were attended by between 30 and 40 people and received positive reactions. Based on the success of the conference, plans were made to publish one or more volumes. Subsequently, a network devoted to the history of anthropology (HOAN) was refounded (see below).

Papers presented during Panel 020, “Themes in the History of Anthropology”:

Natalie Wahnsiedler (University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK), A Life History of the Concept “Pomory” in Russian Scholarship and Society

Anna Engelking (Institute of Slavic Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland), Anthropology in the Service of Politics. The case of Józef Obrębski, a precursor of ethnic and postcolonial studies in the interwar Poland

Marleen Metslaid (University of Tartu, Estonian National Museum, Estonia), Knowledge Production in the Age of Uncertainty

Thomas Reinhardt (LMU Munich, Germany), Don’t Mess with Structuralism! How Germaine Tillion Made It to the Panthéon and Lapsed into Anthropological Oblivion at the Same Time

Erik Petschelies (Universidade Estadual de Campina, Brazil), Karl von den Steinen and the Indian Policy of the Brazilian Empire

Grazyna Kubica-Heller (Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland), Anthropological Biography – A New Type of Reflexive-Historical Writing

José Manuel Sobral (Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal), A Portuguese Anthropologist, Nationalism, Racism and Colonial Domination

Pawel Krzyworzeka (Kozminski University, Poland), Transdisciplinary Practices of W. Lloyd Warner

Alice Bellagamba (University of Milan-Bicocca, Italy), African Slavery and Post-Slavery in the Past and Present of Anthropology

Discussant: Andre Gingrich (University of Vienna, Austria).


Papers presented during Panel 060, “Themes in the History of Anthropology and Ethnology in Europe”:

Andrés Barrera-González (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain), Precedents for the History of Ethnography and Ethnology in 16th Century New Spain

Montserrat Clua Fainé (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain), Traces of the Past: Racism and Colonialism in the History of Spanish Anthropology

Isabella Riccò (Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain), Medical Anthropology and Health Education in Southern Europe. Co-Authors: Josep M. Comelles, Enrique Perdiguero-Gil, Aida Terrón

Jaanika Vider (University of Oxford, England, UK), Peripheries of Influence: International and Disciplinary Intersections in early 20th century British Anthropology

Vida Savoniakaite (Lithuanian Institute of History, Lithuania), Small Nations in the History of European Anthropology

Hande A. Birkalan-Gedik (Yeditepe University, Istanbul, Turkey), Rethinking the Anthropological Landscape in Turkey: Intersecting Anthropologies, Establishing Disciplinary Dialogues

Han F. Vermeulen (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Germany), Research Expeditions and the Genesis of Ethnography and Ethnology in the Eighteenth Century

Gheorghiţă Geană (University of Bucharest, Romania), Once Again about the Native Anthropology: The Case of “Descriptio Moldaviae” by Dimitrie Cantemir (1716)

Sergei Alymov (Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow), Intellectual and Political Contexts of the Theory of “Etnos” in Russian and Ukrainian Ethnography (1880s-1920s)

Dmitry V. Arzyutov (University of Aberdeen, Scotland), Order Out of Chaos: Political History and Anthropological Theory of Sergei M. Shirokogoroff (1920-1930s)

Peter Schröder (Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Brazil), “Three Long Rows of Empty Shelves…”: Curt Nimuendajú as Collector and researcher for the Ethnological Museums of Hamburg, Leipzig and Dresden

Diego Ballestero (Universidad Nacional de la Plata, Argentina), Indigenous Drawings as “Cultural Fossil Guides”: An Archaeological Comparative Study on the Evolution of the Human Mind (Robert Lehmann-Nitzsche)

There was also considerable support for refounding a network devoted to the history of anthropology. A previous “History of European Anthropology Network” (HEAN) had been founded in August 1992 during the 2nd EASA conference at Prague (following the organization of a panel on the “History of European Anthropology” held at the 1st EASA conference in Coimbra, Portugal, in September 1990 and again at Prague); unfortunately, after the 3rd EASA meeting held in Oslo (June 1994), the network fell inactive. Although panels relevant to the history of anthropology were organized for the 8th conference in Vienna (2004) and the 9th in Bristol (2006) (both resulting in publications, as were the results of the Prague workshop), it was not until the 13th conference in Tallinn (2014) that a distinct panel on the history of anthropology was again convened under the guidance of David Shankland and Andrés Barrera-González. Following the success of the aforementioned panels held in Milan, plans were made by the four panel convenors to re-activate the history of anthropology network. 48 scholars present at the sessions signed a letter in support of its creation. With the support of EASA President Thomas Hylland Eriksen and EASA founder, Adam Kuper, a proposal was submitted to EASA’s Executive Committee for reviving the previous network under a new, more general name—the History of Anthropology Network (HOAN). During the Executive Committee’s meeting on December 9, 2016, the refounding of a separate HOA Network within EASA was approved. As of February 2017, the network currently counts 102 members. For more information, see

Thanks to the positive resonance during and after the panels, and the refounding of the History of Anthropology Network as a result of the 2016 panels in Milan, the field looks good and opportunities for future developments in Europe and elsewhere are promising.

Han F. Vermeulen: contributions / website / / Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology