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Accepted Paper:

Anthropological biography: a new type of reflexive-historical writing  
Grazyna Kubica-Heller (Jagiellonian University)

Paper short abstract:

I present a methodological and theoretical approach to the history of anthropology focused on a researcher, which I call “anthropological biography”.

Paper long abstract:

Anthropological biography is a cultural study of the dynamics of the anthropological "tribe" presented from a perspective centered on a person, intimate, close to experience and diachronic.

It allows us to see how academic knowledge arises, and how it is produced. How does academia work in the personal experience of a researcher (a men or a woman)? What mark does it leave on his or her life? But also, how can her or his sense of agency and subjectivity enrich and shape the practice of the discipline? The study of archives and historical sources can be seen as a special kind of fieldwork conducted on the past of one's own "tribe": through investigation of the then cultural context to better understand our own against this background. It is the way to escape the presentism vs. historicism dichotomy to the way of doing research on the history of anthropology, which creates a rich and contextualized account of the practices, ideas and commitments of our predecessors. This allows us, modern anthropologists, to reflect not only on our own genealogy, but most of all on our way of practicizing the discipline here and now: over practices of today, involvement in theory, methodological sensitivity. This aim is easier to achieve by studying the history of a failure, unfinishedness, non-realisation, as can be seen in my biography of a Polish-British anthropologist, Maria Czaplicka.

Panel P020
Themes in the history of anthropology
  Session 1