History of Anthropology
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There are no currently scheduled upcoming events.
February 3, 2021
Session 5: "Racism in science"
How does racism shape science? How has anthropology (biological and cultural) contributed to Western/European self-definitions as rational, scientifcally progressive-- and white? How do we reckon withthe fact that biologists have long claimed to recognize the abritrary, constructed nature of race, while racial categories remain central to much biological research, and remain profoundly consequential in everyday life and politics? How do race and racism-- including "eugenic scripts" (Subramaniam)-- continue to inform scientific training, careers, and content, in biology, chemistry, and environmental justice?
In addition to discussing readings by Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Ann Morning, and Michelle Murphy (50 pages total), we want to signal last week's appointment of Alondra Nelson as "STS Czar" (or, officially, Deputy Director of the the Office of Science and Technology Policy for Science and Society) with a news clip on the announcement and brief essays in response to her book, The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the Genome. The discussion will be facilitated by John Tresch.
Main readings (provided in zipfile):
- Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. "Anthropology and the Savage Slot: The Poetics and Politics of Otherness." In Global Transformations, pp. 7-28 (New York: Palgrave, 2003).
- Morning, Ann. The Nature of Race: How Scientists Think and Teach about Human Difference (California: University of California Press, 2011); Chapter 7, "Conclusion" 219-248.
- Murphy, Michelle. "Alterlife and Decolonial Chemical Relations." Cultural Anthropology 32, no. 4 (2017): 494–503.
- Subramaniam, Banu. n.d. Ghost Stories for Darwin: The Science of Variation and the Politics of Diversity-- Introduction, 1-24 (in zipfile).
- Book Forum on Alondra Nelson, The Social Life of DNA, Somatosphere: http://somatosphere.net/2018/book-forum-alondra-nelson.html.
- Benjamin, Ruha. 2017. “Cultura Obscura: Race, Power, and ‘Culture Talk’ in the Health Sciences.” American Journal of Law & Medicine, December. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0098858817723661.
- Manning, Kenneth R. 1983. Black Apollo of Science: The Life of Ernest Everett Just. New York: Oxford University Press. https://global.oup.com/academic/product/black-apollo-of-science-9780195034981.
- Marks, Jonathan. 2017. Is Science Racist? Malden, MA: Polity Press. https://politybooks.com/bookdetail/?isbn=9780745689210.
January 6, 2021
Session 4: "Antiblackness and indigeneity"
- Patricia M. E. Lorcin, "Imperialism, Colonial Identity, and Race in Algeria 1830-1870: The Role of the French Medical Corps," Isis 90 no. 4 (1999): 653-79. https://doi.org/10/fspzkm.
- Maile Arvin, Possessing Polynesians: The Science of Settler Colonial Whiteness in Hawai`i and Oceania (Durham: Duke University Press, 2019). https://www.dukeupress.edu/possessing-polynesians. Excerpt: Chapter 2, "Conditionally Caucasian: Polynesian Racial Classification in Early Twentieth-Century Eugenics and Physical Anthropology."
- Warwick Anderson and Ricardo Roque, “Introduction: Imagined Laboratories: Colonial and National Racialisations in Island Southeast Asia,” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 49, no. 3 (October 2018): 358–71. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022463418000309.
- Yuko Miki, Frontiers of Citizenship: A Black and Indigenous History of Postcolonial Brazil (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018). https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108277778. Excerpt: Chapter 1, "Outside of Society: Slavery and Citizenship."
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:
- Deborah A. Thomas, Political Life in the Wake of the Plantation: Sovereignty, Witnessing, Repair (Duke University Press, 2019).
- Andrew S. Curran, The Anatomy of Blackness: Science and Slavery in an Age of Enlightenment (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011).
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
MEDIUM VERSION: 78 pp
- 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.
- David Graeber, “Turning Modes of Production inside out: Or, Why Capitalism Is a Transformation of Slavery,” Critique of Anthropology 26, no. 1 (2006): 61–85.
- Terence D. Keel, “Religion, Polygenism and the Early Science of Human Origins,” History of the Human Sciences 26, no. 2 (2013): 3–32.
- Kavita Philip, Civilizing Natures: Race, Resources, and Modernity in Colonial South India (Rutgers University Press, 2004). [Excerpt: introduction]
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.
- Lee D. Baker, "W.E.B. Du Bois & Anthropology." (forthcoming in The Oxford Handbook of W.E.B. Du Bois)
- Geoff Bil, “Boas in the Age of BLM and Idle No More: Re-Evaluting the Boasian Legacy,” History of Anthropology Review 44 (September 14, 2020).
- Ira Bashkow, “The Boas Circle vs. White Supremacy,” History of Anthropology Review 44 (June 15, 2020), http://histanthro.org/reviews/the-boas-circle-vs-white-supremacy/.
- Lee D. Baker, From Savage to Negro: Anthropology and the Construction of Race, 1896-1954 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520211681/from-savage-to-negro. [Introduction and chapter 5, "Rethinking Race at the Turn of the Century: W.E.B. Du Bois and Franz Boas," provided below.]
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."
- 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.
- 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.
Nicholas Barron is an Assitant 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.
Tracie Canada is an assistant professor of cultural anthropology at Duke University. She has research and teaching interests in race, sport, kinship, and the performing body.
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 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.
Patrícia Martins Marcos
Patrícia Martins Marcos is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History and Science Studies Program, University of California, San Diego.
Taylor M. Moore
Taylor M. Moore is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research focuses on the history of magic, medicine, and museums in 19th and 20th century Egypt. She is currently an Academy Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies.
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.
John Tresch is Professor and Mellon Chair in History of Art, Science, and Folk Practice at the Warburg Institute in the University of London. He is author of The Romantic Machine: Utopian Science and Technology after Napoleon and editor-in-chief of the History of Anthropology Review.