Accepted Paper:

has pdf download Peripheries of influence: international and disciplinary intersections in early 20th century British Anthropology  


Jaanika Vider (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will explore the international networks of influence and support that shaped anthropology during its professionalization in 1910s by examining intersections of Oxford anthropology with Russian, Polish, and American anthropological and geographical traditions in Maria Czaplicka's research.

Paper long abstract:

In my title I draw from Wilson Wallis's recollections of studying at Oxford in 1910s, where he suggests that it is misleading to think of British Anthropology as a 'breed apart' during that period. He suggests that the 'periphery of influence' was wide and that 'intellectual ferments [were] bounded by neither geography nor politics'. In my paper I want to explore just these 'peripheries' and 'intellectual ferments' by focusing on the research and career of Maria Czaplicka - a Polish-born, Oxford-educated anthropologist.

While there has been some attempt to populate history of British anthropology with foreign 'others' (Hann 2005, Kuklick 2008), the approach has suffered from pre-set division of traditions according to nationalist settings. At the same time, focus on theories and practices of a handful of individuals, has obscured the interchange of ideas and practical counsel that guided the professionalization of the discipline.

As a foreign woman, Czaplicka offers a fascinating, but not unrepresentative example of the first generation of fieldwork anthropologists in the UK. Focusing on the 1914 Siberian Expedition lead by Czaplicka and drawing on scattered archival material in the UK, Russia and the USA, published work, and museum collections, I will explore how the international networks of influence and support that flowed via mentor figures in anthropology, allowed for, and influenced anthropological research. I will further point to the hybridity of the subject as demonstrated by Czaplicka's particular anthropo-geographical approach and association with the Royal Geographical Society.

Panel P060
Themes in the history of anthropology and ethnology in Europe [Europeanist network]