History of Anthropology

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Upcoming Meetings

There are no currently scheduled upcoming events.

Past Meetings

  • December 2, 2020

    Session 3: "Race, slavery, ethnography"
    This session considers two very different texts—one ethnographic, one historical—that consider racism, race science, and slavery as central structures of "enlightened" industrial modernity:

    Below are suggested excerpts for a short, medium, and longer reading, depending on the time readers have available (all readings/excerpts are available in the zip file below if you are logged into your CHSTM account):

    SHORT VERSION: 56 pp

    • Thomas: introduction excerpts pp. 1-7, 14-19; chapter 1 excerpts pp. 22-32, 52-60
    • Curran: chapter 4 excerpts pp. 167-86, 190-94, 199-204


    • Thomas: add preface pp. xi-xv
    • Curran: add preface pp. ix-xi and introduction excerpt pp. 1-15

    LONG VERSION: 150 pp

    • Thomas: read full preface + introduction + chapter 1
    • Curran: read full preface + introduction + chapter 4


    For those interested in hearing the oral testimony of Tivoli Gardens community members captured by Thomas (in ch 1 excerpts), see also: https://www.tivolistories.com/bearing-witness.html.
    Additional readings:


  • November 4, 2020

    Session 2: "Race in American anthropology"
    This session focuses on work by Lee D. Baker to explore the history of American anthropology and its role in creating, reinforcing, and challenging racial categories. We selected a forthcoming piece  from Baker to capture a picture of American anthropology that is wider than its predominant figure, Franz Boas (around which many histories have been narrated). However, recognizing the continuing importance of Boas studies, we will also read an essay by Geoff Bil that reviews 3 major recent works on Boas and offers a critical evaluation of the direction Boas histories are going.
    Main readings:

    Additional readings:


  • October 7, 2020

    Please use pass code 989255 to join the meeting
    Session 1: "Anthropology and the universal liberal human"
    In this first session, led by Rosanna Dent (NJIT), we will read pieces by Ryan Cecil Jobson and Sylvia Wynter that consider how anthropology is mired by problems of the (so-called) universal liberal human. Readings for this opening session are longer than we anticipate future sessions will be (normally we aim for ~50pp max). Given the length of Wynter's piece, we have provided Elisabeth Paquette's encyclopedia article for a guide to Wynter's work. PDFs of all readings (main and additional) are provided in the "Session 1 Readings."
    Main readings:

    • Ryan Cecil Jobson, “The Case for Letting Anthropology Burn: Sociocultural Anthropology in 2019,” American Anthropologist 122, no. 2 (2020): 259–71, https://doi.org/10.1111/aman.13398.
    • Sylvia Wynter, “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation--An Argument,” CR: The New Centennial Review 3, no. 3 (2003): 257–337, https://doi.org/10/d2js45.

    Additional readings:

    • Elisabeth Paquette, “Wynter and Decolonization,” in Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory, ed. Michael A. Peters (Singapore: Springer, 2017), https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-287-532-7_476-1.
    • Aisha M. Beliso-De Jesús and Jemima Pierre, “Special Section: Anthropology of White Supremacy (introduction),” American Anthropologist 122, no. 1 (2020): 65–75, https://doi.org/10.1111/aman.13351.

Group Conveners

  • nmbarron's picture

    Nicholas Barron

    Nicholas Barron is an Assistant Professor (Faculty-in-Residence) at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. His research interests include the history of applied anthropology and Indigenous political formations in North America. He is a managing editor with the History of Anthropology Review and the book reviews editor for Anthropology and Humanism. 


  • rdent's picture

    Rosanna Dent

    Rosanna Dent is an assistant professor at NJIT, where she teaches courses on the history of science, medicine, and technology, with an emphasis on the global South. She is currently working on a book manuscript on the history of twentieth century research in A'uwe (Xavante, Indigenous) communities in Central Brazil. The book examines how a half-century of iterative interactions of scholars and community members have shaped knowledge production as well as the political and social realities of both subjects and scholars. 


  • Paula's picture

    Paula Lopez

    Paula López Caballero is a historian and anthropologist working at the National University in Mexico. The transversal question of her research is to critically examine indigeneity as a historical variable where the State, knowledge production, and ethnographic mediation are deeply intertwined. Her current project examines the first long-term anthropological expeditions in Mexico by Mexican- and U.S.-based social scientists from 1940 to 1960, as a privileged site to document how the daily, routine and systematic encounter with native inhabitants during fieldwork implied new standards of scientific objectification and representation.


  • Ramah Mckay


  • brigidp's picture

    Brigid Prial

    Brigid Prial is a PhD student in the History and Sociology of Science department at the University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation explores how chimpanzees became lab animals in the 20th century U.S. She examines how chimpanzees transformed from a promising research animal to an inappropriate one and what forms of knowledge, experience, and relations matter in high-stakes decisions about animal lives.


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