Reassembling the social organization: museums, collaboration, and digital media in the making and remaking of Franz Boas's 1897 monograph
Judith Berman (University of Victoria)
Aaron Glass (Bard Graduate Center)
Paper short abstract:
A collaborative team is producing a new critical edition of Franz Boas's 1897 landmark, The Social Organization and Secret Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians, which uses digital media to link museums, archives and Native communities while recuperating ethnographic records for current and future use.
Paper long abstract:
Franz Boas's 1897 monograph, The Social Organization and Secret Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians, was a landmark in anthropology for its integrative approach to ethnography, the use of multiple media, and the collaborative role of Boas's indigenous partner George Hunt. Not only did the volume draw on existing museum collections from around the world, the two men also left behind a vast and now widely distributed archive of unpublished materials relevant to the creation and afterlife of this seminal text, including hundreds of pages of Hunt's corrections and emendations. This paper discusses an international and intercultural collaborative project to create a new, annotated critical edition of the book--in both print and digital formats--that unites published and unpublished materials with one another and with current Kwakwaka'wakw knowledge. We catalogue the range of museum collections and archival materials at issue and present an interactive prototype for the digital edition that re-embeds ethnographic knowledge within indigenous epistemological frameworks and hereditary protocols for access. This unprecedented effort within anthropology promises new ways of using digital media to link together disparate collections and Native communities in order to produce a critical historiography of the book while recuperating long dormant ethnographic materials for use in current and future cultural revitalization.
Re-visioning material anthropological legacies for cosmo-optimal futures