EASA2018: Staying, Moving, Settling

(P030)
On the move: Fieldwork, academy and home in the early anthropologists' careers
Location
Date and Start Time [TBD] at [TBD]
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Dorothy Louise Zinn (Free University of Bozen-Bolzano) email
  • Grazyna Kubica-Heller (Jagiellonian University) email

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Short abstract

Focusing on the interconnections between geographical and social mobility, academic policy, forms of family and the gendered division of work, this panel examines the careers of early anthropologists — above all women — who were on the move in order to professionalize.

Long abstract

Almost a century ago, particularly during the interwar period, many young intellectuals moved to those academic centers, in both Europe and North America, where modern anthropology was growing. They were generally young men, but increasingly also women. They not only left home to study and professionalize, but also travelled to take part in scientific expeditions or to carry out intensive fieldwork. Moving became the condition of their profession and career. In search of academic positions, some of them went from one institute to another living in different countries, others returned home to advance the new discipline. Finally, many had to flee because of the Nazi-Fascist persecutions and the war. For many of these early anthropologists, travelling and continuing their career was not easy, especially for women and for young students from the colonies and peripheral regions. What conditions and relations did (or did not) help them to move, stay, settle, and move again? What networks of academics, sponsors and institutions made their professional travels and their careers possible or impossible? What was the actual role of their colleagues, collaborators, informants, friends and partners who supported them in fieldwork or at home? This panel aims to discuss the interconnections between academic policy, geographic and social mobility, forms of family and gendered division of work in the early anthropologists' careers. Papers are welcome that focus on both individual trajectories and collective networks, according to different methodological approaches and diverse theoretical and historical perspectives.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

"Emigration of capabilities" and political exile - the trajectories of two Polish anthropologists: Maria Czaplicka and Alicja Iwańska

Author: Grazyna Kubica-Heller (Jagiellonian University) email
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Short abstract

The paper deals with political aspects of emigration, fieldwork and "job-hunting" of women-anthropologists of two generations: Czaplicka (1884-1921) and Iwańska (1918-1996), who represent two ways of mobility.

Long abstract

The paper deals with political aspects of emigration, fieldwork and "job-hunting" of women-anthropologists of two generations: Czaplicka (1884-1921) and Iwańska (1918-1996), who represent two ways of mobility. One was called "migration of capabilities" by educated people who could not find room for their aspirations in the (subordinate) country before IWW. The second was caused by political situation in Poland after IIWW and the communist regime. The initial push out of the country of the two women made both of them move later to various places: to study in England and the U.S., to the field in Siberia and Mexico, and later in search for permanent position in academia in various universities in Europe and America.

The paper is based on the historical-anthropological research in the frame of "biographies of anthropologists as anthropological data".

"No place for a women": South African anthropology, 1930-1960

Author: Adam Kuper (Boston University) email
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Short abstract

In the 1930s Agnes Winifred Hoernle? inspired a cohort of young South

Africans to become critical, scholarly witnesses to the grim politics of

"race relations" in their country. Among them were Monica Wilson, Eileen

Krige, Ellen Hellman and Hilda Kuper, all of whom became significant figures

in the field.

Long abstract

In the 1930s Agnes Winifred Hoernle? inspired a cohort of young South

Africans to become critical, scholarly witnesses to the grim politics of

"race relations" in their country. Among them were Monica Wilson, Eileen

Krige, Ellen Hellman and Hilda Kuper, all of whom became significant figures

in the field.

Eileen Krige and Hilda Kuper produced classic accounts of African

chiefdoms, but Krige also carried out urban studies, and Kuper analysed the

politics of race in the British enclave of Swaziland. Monica (Hunter)

Wilson's monograph "Reaction to Conquest" laid out the social dislocation

caused by white settlement. Their fieldwork was politically fraught, and

their situation uneasy, even risky, not least as women in a conservative,

patriarchal and racist society.

Almost an anthropologist: Elsie Masson observes indigenous Australia before becoming Mrs. Malinowski

Author: Daniela Salvucci (Free University of Bolzano-Bozen) email
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Short abstract

Utilizing feminist theories and text analysis, this paper underlines the originality of Elsie Masson's gaze on the social change in colonized indigenous Australia, and shows how family care and the commitment to the career of her husband, Bronislaw Malinowski, influenced her own mobility and career.

Long abstract

In 1913, Elsie Masson, the young daughter of a British academic based in Melbourne, moved to Port Darwin in the Northern Territories of Australia to work as "an au pair". Living there for a year and travelling through this still "untamed" region of the country, Masson had the opportunity to observe and describe different aspects of the local social life, paying special attention to the multicultural dimension of the colonial town and the situation of aboriginal people within the colonial system. She published her notes first in several local newspapers and then in a book. A few years later, young Bronislaw Malinowski, who spent several months in Melbourne between his two long field stays in the Trobriand Islands, read Masson's book and asked her for help to process the huge amount of ethnographic material he had collected. It was the beginning of both a life-long intellectual collaboration and a love relationship, since after they got married and moved to Europe, she continued assisting him.

Following a biographical approach, and using concepts from feminist theories and text analysis, this paper underlines, on the one hand, the originality of Elsie Masson's gaze on social change in colonized, indigenous Australia. On the other hand, referring to the letters that Malinowski and Masson sent to each other, the paper shows how family care activities as a wife and mother and the commitment to her husband's career influenced Elsie Masson's mobility and her possibilities to travel and work again as a journalist and social observer.

Between Polish and Britsh academia and Macedonian fieldwork. Józef Obrębski and the first functionalist research of European village

Author: Anna Engelking (Institute of Slavic Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences) email
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Short abstract

The paper deals with unknown legacy of Józef Obrębski, a Polish precursor of gender studies. He was a first anthropologist who applied (in the early 1930s' in Macedonia) Malinowski's method and theory to European village. His writings on social structure and magic are now being edited critically.

Long abstract

The paper deals with the beginnigs of the scientific career of Józef Obrębski (1905-1967), a student of Moszyński in Cracow and Malinowski in London. During his lifetime he migrated between several Polish, British and American academic institutions as well as between various fieldworks in Slavic and non-Slavic countries, never becoming a prominent figure in the field. His works, although extremely innovative at his time, remained mostly unpublished. Obrębski conducted field research in Orthodox peasant communities in Macedonia in the early 1930s. He was the first anthropologist who applied Malinowski's ethnographic field method together with his functionalist theory to European village. He analysed social structure and ritual in the researched communites in terms of gender relations. He focused on the social, economic and symbolic contexts of marital law (such as, for instance, bridewealth, marriage by eloption or sexual relations). Using the method of "objective observation and direct experience", as he called it, he also researched witchcraft and the secret practices of love magic as well as other rituals performed by women in the terms of both gender power struggle and cooperation. Due to the events of the World War II and his subsequent emigration from Poland he failed to complete and publish his Macedonian field monographs. The author of this paper aims to reintroduce Obrębski's work to the contemporary anthropology by preparing a critical edition of his writings.

Between the United States and Brazil: Ruth Landes and the construction and reception of "The City of Women"

Author: Amurabi Oliveira (Federal University of Santa Catarina) email
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Short abstract

The american anthropologist Ruth Landes (1908-1991) conducted a field research between 1938 and 1939 in the city of Salvador (Brazil). I analyze in this paper the transit, and the formation of networks that allowed her displacement to Brazil, and the reception of her work in both countries.

Long abstract

The american anthropologist Ruth Landes (1908-1991) held a Ph.D. from Columbia University, and was a professor at Fisk University before conducting field research between 1938 and 1939 in the city of Salvador (Brazil), originating the book "The City of Women "which was originally published in 1947 in the United States and in 1967 in Brazil. I analyze in this paper the transit, and the formation of networks that allowed the displacement of Landes to Brazil, as well as the reception of her work in both countries. Tthe results of Landes's research were profoundly criticized, generating a intense controversy in the field of Afro-Brazilian studies, and I questioned if the criticisms received were not only related to the ideas expressed, but also to the relations between gender and academic hierarchies. Therefore, in addition to revisiting "The City of Women", I analyze other works produced in that period and letters exchanged between intellectuals who got involved in this discussion.

Erika Sulzmann (1911-1989) and her academic career during the National Socialist period

Author: Katja Geisenhainer (University of Vienna, Austria) email
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Short abstract

Erika Sulzmann studied during the Nazi-period and was entrusted with a colonial political task including trips to France and Belgium. The beginning of her career gives insight into the then "normal" academic life of a woman, how easily she became part of the regime and into the coping with the past.

Long abstract

The beginning of Erika Sulzmann's academic career fell to a significant extent in the Nazi era. In 1931 she started to work as a designer, photographer and librarian at the Institute of Culture Morphology in Frankfurt under Leo Frobenius. Here Sulzmann could attend courses of "Völkerkunde" simultaneously. After the death of Frobenius in 1938 Sulzmann continued her study in Vienna in 1940, where Hermann Baumann had only just become the head of the department of "Völkerkunde". Sulzmann worked as a technical assistant to Baumann. On his instruction she began to draw a "tribe-map of Africa". For this work and with support of the NSDAP Office of Colonial Policy and of the Reich Research Council, Sulzmann, who was unmarried and childless, travelled to research in French and Belgian archives. This "tribe-map" was never completed but Sulzmann used some of the material to write her dissertation after the war. Today her name is associated with the establishment of the "Institut für Völkerkunde", University of Mainz, founded after WW II, as she was one of the first assistants. Furthermore she led the Congo Expedition (1951-1954), a German post-war fieldwork project. The beginning of Sulzmann's career reminds us of several aspects: the "normal" academic lifeworld of those who were not persecuted during the Nazi period; how women undertook more tasks because many men were drafted to military-service, how easily the individual became part of the regime and how personal networks inhibited a reflection on the Nazi period at the universities in the postwar period.

From Odessa to Chicago with a detour to the battlefields of Spain: politics and anthropological vocation in John Murra's life

Author: Marian Viorel Anastasoaie (New Europe College) email
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Short abstract

Based on archival research, written and oral testimonies about John Victor Murra (1916-2006), this paper explores the first half of Murra's life including his early political activism in Romania, his participation in the Spanish Civil War and his anthropological training in the U.S.

Long abstract

John Murra's (1916-2006) life trajectory intersected some of the most important events of the 20th century: the Russian Revolution and the Spanish Civil War. Born in 1916 into a Russian‑Jewish family in Odessa, he grew up, studied, and became involved in the Communist movement in Romania before his departure for Chicago in 1934. There he studied anthropology, joined the International Brigades and fought in the Spanish Civil War, before returning to the U.S. to continue anthropological training at the University of Chicago. After defending his Ph.D. thesis on the economic organization of the Inca state (1956), he embarked on a long career of research, teaching and intellectual brokerage between Latin American, U.S. and European anthropologists interested in the Andean cultures. Based on archival research in Romania and at the National Anthropological Archives (Washington), written and oral testimonies, this paper explores the first half of Murra's life including his early political activism in Romania, his participation in the Spanish Civil War and his anthropological training. Having lost his Romanian citizenship in 1938 as a result of anti-Semitic legislation, he was stateless until 1950, when he was granted U.S. citizenship after a long legal battle against the U.S. government's refusal to naturalize him on the grounds he had served in the Spanish Republican Army. This paper argues that Murra's biography offers relevant material for understanding how political commitment and anthropological vocation can be mutually beneficial in an anthropologist's self-transformation, in spite of the adverse historical context.

Mircea Eliade and the Nostalgia for Origins

Author: Gheorghita Geana (Academia Romana) email
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Short abstract

As applied to the great historian of religions, "nostalgia for origins" refers to Eliade's status of living in exile, far from his native Romania, and also to his strong interest in the primordial cultural facts ("archetypes") by which he may be epistemologically integrated to anthropology.

Long abstract

In the first part of the paper, the author refers to Mircea Eliade's status of living in exile, far from his native Romania. Paradoxically, the exile helped him to survive physically and, moreover, to achieve his intellectual vocation. The scholar assumed the exile as a distressing experience of moving away from the "centre", but, as a saving solution, he decided that the centre may be spiritualized and taken all over the the world. In the second part, an epistemological profile of Mircea Eliade is sketched starting from the echoes of his works in several domains. Successively, Eliade is presented as mythologist, philosopher, and historian of religions (the last being the identity he personally preferred). To these well-known facets one more is added: that of anthropologist. The author's argumentation is based, largely, on the special attention Eliade paid to the "archaic" cultures (and especially on his Indian experience), here interpreted under the perspective of the cross-cultural comparisons and participant observation as principal methods of anthropology. Finally, the two hypostases of nostalgia are synthesized by Mircea Eliade in his volume "De Zalmoxis à Gengis-Khan. Études comparatives sur les religions et le folklore de la Dacie et de l'Europe Orientale" (Paris, Payot, 1970; English version: "Zalmoxis, the Vanishing God", Chicago, 1972).

Up as ethnographer: Women moving anthropology in early Socialist Central Europe

Author: Blanka Koffer (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) email
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Short abstract

By comparing the professional biographies of female ethnographers in Czechoslovakia and in the GDR this paper analyzes the links between social mobility provided by the political changes after 1945 and the transformation of anthropology into ethnography.

Long abstract

Since the institutional beginnings of anthropology in the 19th century, women were - as in any other academic professional field - underrepresented, according to their position in society in general. This situation changed rapidly in the course of the 1940ies and 1950ies after the political and economic order in parts of Central Europe transformed to state socialism. New professional opportunities for the formerly excluded and expulsion for the formerly included were introduced. The experience of social mobility was wide spread in anthropology as an academic and cultural branch.

This paper analyzes the links between political change and the development of anthropology with a special focus on four important female scholars: Olga Skalnikova and Bozena Filova in Czechoslovakia, Ursula Schlenther and Irmgard Sellnow in East Germany. All of them have been trained in the 1940ies and 1950ies and all of them have had active impact on the transformation of anthropology into socialist ethnography. In activating the right resources and networks at the right time these women moved not only their own biographies to new frontiers but the whole discipline with new concepts of research and teaching and the organization of socialist academic work.

My presentation draws on my completed PhD thesis at the Department for Contemporanean History, HU Berlin, and my further research during Volkswagen-funded "Akteurinnen, Praxen, Theorien: Zur Wissensgeschichte der Ethnologie in der DDR" at the Institute for European Ethnology, HU Berlin.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.