EASA2018: Staying, Moving, Settling

(P050)
Writing the history of anthropology in a global era [History of Anthropology Network]
Location SO-B413
Date and Start Time 14 Aug, 2018 at 10:30
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Han F. Vermeulen (Max Planck Institute of Social Anthropology) email
  • Frederico Rosa (Universidade Nova de Lisboa-CRIA/FCSH) email

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Short abstract

This panel invites papers on authors, institutions and traditions relevant to the history of anthropology and ethnology, including museum and visual studies in the Global Era, taking off in the 18th century. The papers should derive from research undertaken within a history of science framework.

Long abstract

The history of anthropology is an expanding field in several European countries, relevant both to historians of science and practicing anthropologists. New accounts of the discipline's past are paying more attention to its diversities, whether within or beyond the major traditions of former colonial powers. Current ways of interconnectedness allow for more inclusive perceptions of anthropology, defined in the broadest sense to include ethnology, folklore studies and related disciplines. Prominent figures are being reappraised and forgotten ones revealed, without leaving aside the human dimensions of the anthropological encounter, the interlocutors in the field, and the communities concerned. Notwithstanding the critique of power asymmetries, alternative narratives are unfolding as older European or intercontinental dialogues are recovered with unpredicted results. This panel reflects the reviving of the History of Anthropology Network within EASA (HOAN) and the ongoing professionalisation of the field in Europe. It welcomes contributions that shed light on the archive's magnitude and anthropological significance, while focusing on the discipline's past as a world in motion.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Was Anthropology the Child and Handmaiden of Colonialism?

Author: Herbert Lewis (University of Wisconsin-Madison) email
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Short abstract

A critical re-examination of the trope of anthropology's complicity with colonialism with specific reference to early American cultural anthropology and British social anthropology.

Long abstract

Critical writing about the origins of modern anthropology generally begins with the assumption that it was complicit with colonialism at its birth. This paper considers the early years of anthropology in the U.S. before and after the Boas "revolution" and in Britain after the establishment of Malinowski's reign at the LSE. I argue that the conventional wisdom is generally inaccurate and that the idea of anthropological collusion with colonialism originates as a politicized product of the torments of the late 1960s.

In the U.S., even while racial ideology reigned in physical anthropology, studies of the languages and cultures of American Indians were carried out by devoted amateurs without connection to colonial policies. Franz Boas and his students fought the racism and invidious evolutionism of the earlier era and continued the researches of their predecessors. Only a handful of Americans had any contact with peoples in the colonial world before World War II. By the time the first PhD students were turned out of Malinowski's shop at the end of the 1920s the British Empire was centuries old and its administrators felt little need for interference from know-it-alls from the liberal-left LSE. Investigation of the researches and contributions of the early members of the ASA in Britain tends to exculpate them as well from the charge of handmaiden of colonialism.

'Silence, silence. The story is (not) done': redeploying the Harvard-Irish Mission (1930-1936) archive for the present.

Author: Anne Byrne (NUI Galway Ireland) email
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Short abstract

How might anthropological archives be expanded to articulate concerns of the present? Using a multi-disciplinary perspective on the Harvard-Irish Mission (1930-1936), exemplars on sharing the gift of the archive for diverse interests are interrogated for future use.

Long abstract

How might anthropological archives be expanded to articulate concerns of the present? Using a multi-disciplinary perspective, the creative arts, community engagement, rural development and scholarship on the Harvard-Irish Mission (1930-1936), exemplars on sharing the gift of the archive for diverse interests are interrogated for future use.

The Harvard-Irish Mission (1930-36) (archaeology, physical anthropology and social anthropology) persistently attracts multi-disciplinary creative inquiry. The import of scholarly studies on communities, history of disciplines, narratives of Ireland continue to inspire new work. Conrad Arensberg and Solon Kimball's Family and Community in Ireland (1940, 1968, 2001) is a classical account of a changing rural society and a standard reference for understanding the agricultural family system and consequences for society and individuals. Scholarly studies of the Irish as anomic and a rural society in decline followed -and contested- by academics and research participants.

The history and impact of the publications and unpublished archives on local communities in Ireland has been critically examined (Byrne 2017, Byrne and O'Mahony 2012, 2013) for Irish ethnography, community identity, speaking back to the archive and reimagining new research relations. 'Successors read Predecessors' returned the unpublished anthropological field-diaries (a gift) to communities written about in the published accounts. A two-year community project, reading Kimball's field-diary, produced a multi-media exhibition of family and forbears that altered the local reception of the Harvard study. A multi-disciplinary, participatory, community-based model for ethnographic and anthropological research 'across the generations' was implemented and has endured.

An Episode from the Beginnings of Anthropology in the Amazon: Curt Nimuendajú and the Xipaya Indians - A research in adverse circumstances

Author: Peter Schröder (Universidade Federal de Pernambuco) email
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Short abstract

Between 1915 and 1919, the German ethnologist Curt Nimuendajú (1883-1945) carried out field work among the Xipaya in quite adverse circumstances. This is an illuminating episode an anthropology without universities where texts written by self-educated researchers were still accepted.

Long abstract

The German ethnologist Curt Unckel Nimuendajú (1883-1945), who had immigrated to Brazil in 1903, moved his permanent residence to Belém in 1913, where he established professional contacts with the Goeldi Museum. Between 1915 and 1919, he survived with precarious jobs, but also carried out field work among the Xipaya Indians in quite adverse circumstances. This is an illuminating episode about the beginnings of anthropology in the Amazon, which allows relativizing some stereotypes about the history of anthropology which are commonly reproduced in social sciences curricula. In addition, it allows shedding a light on an anthropology without universities where still prevailed the influences of German ethnology and where texts written by self-educated researchers were still accepted.

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The lesser known legacy in Sir Raymond's biography

Author: Patrick Laviolette (Tallinn University/UCL) email
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Short abstract

As a preliminary intellectual biography, this paper provides an introductory study into R. Firth's early research, as it initially related to Maori issues. It demonstrates the use of archival and other techniques as well as collaboration in creating an archaeology of anthropology's contemporary past

Long abstract

A significant interest in the biographic description of anthropologists is currently taking place. As a newly developing self-conscious genre, the intellectual biography is becoming central to the way in which the discipline writes its own history. This paper not only provides an introductory study into the work of Professor Sir Raymond Firth as it initially related (through his MA and PhD research) to Maori and economic issues, but also demonstrates the use of archival techniques and collaborative work in creating an archaeology of anthropology's contemporary past. In seeing the lesser known and largely disregarded (not to say discarded) elements of Firth's papers as a poorly investigated type of biographical and material culture, I suggest that such interdisciplinary approaches are essential in conducting an 'archaeology of us'. Despite several Festschrifts, there is as yet no lengthy intellectual biography of this internationally acclaimed economic anthropologist. Firth was 'born and bred' in Aotearoa/NZ, but migrated to the UK in 1924, after obtaining 'free passage' to Europe for earning the highest recommendation possible for his economics Masters thesis on the Kauri gum industry of the Northland region. By tracing the early career path and initial written output of one of the longest lived and most influential ethnographers/ethnologists in the discipline's legacy, this paper contributes to expanding the biographical genre - both regarding antipodean academic history, as well as in terms of dealing with international migration, the movement of ideas and social anthropology's diasporic intellectual landscapes.

Renaissance Philosophy and the Emergence of Modern Anthropology

Author: Simone De Angelis (University of Graz) email
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Short abstract

Anthropology as a "science de l'homme" is often traced back to the 18th century. By reconsidering Renaissance Aristotelianism, especially the commentaries of De Anima, we see modern anthropology emerging as an interaction of philosophical, theological, medical, psychological and natural law issues.

Long abstract

Recently, scholars have underlined the relevance of the Aristotelian tradition for the emergence of empirism in the early modern period. First, because the Corpus Aristotelicum was a significant part of the university curriculum, especially in medicine and law; second, because Aristotelian philosophy was held to support an empiristic approach to knowledge based on sense perception. Aristotelian philosophy was particularly relevant for anthropology as a science of humankind, which emerged from the interaction of philosophy, anatomy, psychology and natural law theory in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The seminal text was Aristotle's De anima, which had been commented on by Greek, Arab and Christian authors since the Hellenistic period, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. In the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries De anima was studied in the context of the new anatomical practice, specially at the universities of Padua and Bologna, where the practices of textual exegesis and of dissection of the human body coincided. In this paper I will demonstrate how modern anthropology emerged from the interaction of the commentaries on Aristotles' De anima and the anatomical practice that transformed the Aristotelian doctrine of the soul into a science of humankind. I shall focus on the relation between natural law theory and medicine around 1670, which takes into account both the domain of the physical (physica) and that of the moral world (ethica). This relation formed the presupposition for the link established between natural history, anthropology and the history of humankind in the late Enlightenment.

Proto-Rassenkunde or Proto-Anthropology?: Göttingen University's Wissenschaft vom Menschen

Author: Demetrius Eudell (Wesleyan University) email
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Short abstract

This paper examines the contributions of three professors at Göttingen University Johann David Michaelis (1717-1791), Christoph Meiners (1747-1810), and Heinrich Moritz Gottlieb Grellmann (1756-1804) to the history of anthropology and increasingly racialized modes of scholarship and knowing.

Long abstract

This presentation examines the contributions of three professors at Göttingen University to the history of anthropology. As active interlocutors of the German Aufklärung, the work of Johann David Michaelis (1717-1791), Christoph Meiners (1747-1810), and Heinrich Moritz Gottlieb Grellmann (1756-1804) can be situated within the epistemological field of Wissenschaft vom Menschen, or in David Hume's terms, "the science of man." The convergence in the eighteenth century of European travel writing with the emergence of natural history initiated the anthropological and historical turns that provoked a re-formation of the founding Christian origin narrative as well as a reconceptualization of the related ontological question of the being of being human (Was ist der Mensch?). Directly and indirectly responding to this question, the research of Michaelis, Meiners, and Grellmann employed historical, comparative, and linguistic methodologies that influenced scholarship in their respective fields, i.e. biblical criticism, philosophical anthropology/ethnology, and comparative linguistics/Zigeunerforschung ("Gypsy research"). Their work also fitted into the Göttingen pedadogical and scholarly milieu in which scholarship and instruction in topics such as Policeywissenschaft (political and social science), universal history (Weltgeschichte), and statistics (Statistik) became increasingly prevalent. This presentation aims to show how notions of difference constituted an indispensable element in the theoretical architecture of newly-established and reconfigured fields of knowledge at Göttingen, ones not without social and political implications globally for Jews, Blacks, and the Roma.

Harvesting the archive: historical explorations of early 20th century physical anthropology in Greece

Author: Ageliki Lefkaditou (The Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology) email
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Short abstract

The paper reflects on the multiple dimensions of the archive's importance in writing anthropological history by engaging with earlier accounts of the history of physical anthropology in Greece.

Long abstract

The encounter with the archive affects our historical knowledge, our ways of seeing people and institutions, our understanding of our practices and selves, and the archive itself. This paper reflects on the importance of the archive in writing the history of anthropology. By engaging with several earlier histories of physical anthropology in Greece, the emphasis is on the nuances and reappraisals facilitated by archival work from a history of science perspective. The case study allows us to appreciate how historical analysis reveals early 20th century physical anthropology in Greece as a field moving from French to German traditions, while trying to establish its own institutional and intellectual space. But the paper also considers the affective dimensions of harvesting the archive. The emphasis here is on how the historian becomes enchanted by the archive and its custodians, historical and contemporary. Finally, it addresses the kinds of commitments generated by leaving the archive behind in a state of precarity by inverting the lenses and looking at the writers of anthropology's history as people in motion.

Global Stage of Local Stories: Siberian Landscapes, Samoyedic Indigenous Ethnogenesis, and the (Soviet) Anthropological Imagination

Author: Dmitry Arzyutov (KTH Royal Institute of Technology) email
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Short abstract

This paper deals with the transnational history of Soviet concepts of indigenous ethnogenesis and its effect on the Cold War anthropology.

Long abstract

This paper deals with a transnational moment in the study of Samoyedic ethnohistory (Nenets, Enets, Selkup and Nganasan). Based on indigenous narratives about ancient dwarfs living in Siberian subterranean landscapes (Nenets sikhirtia), Russian/Soviet ethnographers (Shternberg, Bogoras, Chernetsov, Prokofiev, Okladnikov, Rudenko and others) in collaboration with their American and European colleagues (Boas, Hrdlička and others) drew up a theoretical model of the origin and migrations of a Siberian indigenous people (Russ. etnogenez). They selected four places on the Siberian/Arctic map (Yamal, Sayan and Altai, Amur, Beringia) as the most important areas for making a unified model of indigenous history. In the academic texts this modeling was intertwined with the geographical and even geological determinism of indigenous histories that ironicaly did not contradict local narratives. This paper aims to show the history of the concept of a Siberian indigenous people's origin through a multisited and multiscaled intellectual history of anthropology. For this purpose, I shall focus on (1) the academic appropriation of vernacular concepts of indigeneity and indigenous origins, (2) a Marxist reframing of these concepts, and (3) the effect of early Soviet transnational academic collaborations on Cold War anthropology in the Soviet Union. The paper is based on archival documents from Russia and US, and interviews with senior Russian ethnographers.

Totalitarian critique? Johannes Fabian and the history of "primitive" anthropology

Author: Frederico Rosa (Universidade Nova de Lisboa-CRIA/FCSH) email
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Short abstract

The paper proposes a reassessment of Johannes Fabian thesis that anthropology of the colonial period denied coevalness to the "Observed". Focusing on diverse historical monographs, it puts into perspective the critic's dismissal of an allegedly flawed epistemology.

Long abstract

35 years after the publication of Johannes Fabian's 'Time and the Other', this paper proposes a reassessment of the prevailing idea that "classical anthropology" denied coevalness to the "observed". Focusing on several cases of language-centered anthropology in the past, it puts into perspective the critic's dismissal of the ancestors' ideologically flawed epistemology. Works resulting from salvage and related ethnographies, both professional and amateur, are presented as far more inter-subjective, even implicitly co-authored, and cross-culturally sensitive than would be assumed under Fabian's influential thesis. Moreover, it pays renewed attention to the local people's conviction that much of their heritage was under threat of irretrievable loss. The paper argues that the recording entreprise, based on listening more than seeing, did not deny the reality of the collaborator's existence in face of colonial power structures. It also takes into account current insights of Native/Indigenous researchers and the historical dialectics of Indigenous Peoples, concerning the enduring omnipresence of power inequities; and explores the sometimes paradoxical nature of the "Critique of anthropology". The paper marshals diverse materials (around figures such as Alfred Kroeber, Elsdon Best, Henrique de Carvalho, among others) in the effort to provide a corrective to the extreme claims made against older anthropology at a time when the discipline underwent its self-reflexive period.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.