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Accepted Paper:

The Transatlantic Republic of Letters of Franz Boas: Re-Imagining the History of Arctic Anthropology  
Dmitry Arzyutov (The Ohio State University)

Paper short abstract:

In my paper, I aim to examine the history of relationships between the pioneer of American anthropology Franz Boas and his Russian colleagues and friends of the period between 1897 and 1942.

Paper long abstract:

In order to understand 45 years of those relations, I employ two epistemically intertwined concepts. They are the newly emerged notion of "paper tools" (Klein 2001; Jardine 2017; Foks 2020) and the well-established but rarely applicable to the history of anthropology concept of Res Publica Literaria (see Casanova 2007; Daston 1991). If the first has a very strong material and pragmatic dimension in understanding knowledge production, the latter adds to it a tendency to expand our horizon beyond the national borders. As historians of science remind us, writing, sending and receiving letters were an essential part of producing scientific knowledge in intellectual circles of Renascence and early modern Europe and remained likely the same in later epochs. By merging these notions together, I argue that the voluminous collection of letters of Franz Boas, Waldemar Bogoras, Waldemar Jochelson and some American, Russian and Scandinavian anthropologists materially constituted the pre-war Arctic and Siberian anthropology as a certain Res Publica Literaria. The careful reading of those letters by generations of historians of anthropology not only revealed the networks of letters, friendship and conflicts but also shaped the genealogy of the field. In other words, the letters were a cosmopolitan means of transnational communication of like-minded scholars who epistemically constructed transnational ethnographic regions such as the Arctic. Such a very material meaning of knowledge production and exchange allows us to intersect the public and the private, the national and the transnational and as a result to re-imagine the intellectual life of Arctic anthropology. The research is based on my long-term archival work in AMNH, APS, SPF ARAN and other institutions and sums up the collective editorial work (together with Sergei Kan, Laura Siragusa and Alex Pershai) of the volume of correspondence between Boas and Russian anthropologists prepared for the Franz Boas Papers: Documentary Edition series, University of Nebraska Press (general editor Regna Darnell).

Panel P03a
Collaborations and Confrontations during the Cold War and Into the Future
  Session 1 Thursday 9 June, 2022, -