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P001
Ethnographers before Malinowski [History of Anthropology Network]
Convenors:
Christine Laurière (CNRS)
Frederico Rosa (Universidade Nova de Lisboa-CRIAFCSH)
Discussant:
Han F. Vermeulen (Max Planck Institute of Social Anthropology)
Format:
Network affiliated Panels
Time zone:
UTC+1
Sessions:
Tuesday 21 July, 11:00-12:45, 14:00-15:45

Short abstract:

This panel invites papers that reassess in creative ways ethnographic works produced by observers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, whose writings may regain importance in the eclectic futures of the discipline. The panel welcomes diversity within a history of anthropology framework.

Long abstract:

The history of anthropology as a subdisciplinary field keeps moving from the margins to the centre of the discipline with great relevance for current anthropological debates. The panel's idea is to challenge the unfounded prejudice that ethnographies before Malinowski were mostly travelogues, expeditionary surveys, or defective and fragmentary ethnographic descriptions by unqualified amateurs. The questions earlier ethnographers addressed and the vernacular contents they gathered may regain importance in the eclectic futures of the discipline, while the disconcerting answers they sometimes gave may defy postcolonial self-confidence. At a time when anthropologists keep claiming new sorts of fieldwork experience and ethnographic output, from anti-positivist to post-structural, from "gone native" to compassionate, a second chance should be given to earlier texts through a creative combination of historicism and presentism. The disparate sensibilities of twentyfirst-century practitioners reveal more than ever that once prevailing criteria of professionalism, whether methodological or theoretical, are insufficient or inadequate to assess the significance of previous ethnographies (c. 1870-1922) as both a crucial part of the history of anthropology and a relevant source for contemporary dialogues and anthropological praxis. Within a comparative framework, this panel invites contributions on ethnographers from different settings in Europe and beyond. It reflects the vitality of the History of Anthropology Network within EASA (HOAN) and the ongoing consolidation of the field. It welcomes contributions that shed light on the ethnographic archive as a surprise box, while focusing on the discipline's past as an ever renewing anthropological horizon.