Panel 6: Approaching the present through anthropology’s past

This panel grows out of discussions among the editors and advisors of the History of Anthropology Review and our wish to make the study of ideas, institutions, and methods of past anthropologists directly relevant to anthropologists working today. What light can the history of anthropology shed on issues of current anthropological concern, through revisiting the field’s earlier moments? For example, speakers might consider how past anthropologists’ positions within and at times opposed to imperial and colonial projects can shed light on contemporary politics of indigeneity, the global distribution of suffering, or relations between researchers and their interlocutors. Or historians looking at anthropology’s role in forming 19th-century race science and debunking it in the 20th century might consider how their work speaks to current ethnographers who are working on mass incarceration, militarized policing, or the reappearance of eugenics in big-data collection and surveillance– or vice versa. Perhaps anthropologists concentrating on the politics and practices of the environment and climate change might point out the ways earlier attention to the interactions between environments and cultures (for example in 19th-century geography, or in 20th-century ethnoscience or cultural ecology) offers useful perspectives on the present. Other burning anthropological issues today– gender definitions and hierarchies, class relations, intersections of religion and politics, the impacts of technology and media – might also find useful anticipations in the field’s past. This panel welcomes contributions both from anthropologists making use of their discipline’s past, and from historians mobilizing anthropology’s archives toward the present.

Convenors: John Tresch (The Warburg Institute, University of London), Richard Handler (University of Virginia).

Wednesday, 6 December 2023

Session I [Watch here!] — Session II [Watch here!] — Session III [Watch here!]

From series to experience: historicizing anthropological and indigenista fieldwork in Mexico (1940) — Paula López Caballero

The Making and Unmaking of Religious Identities in Northeast India — Roshni Brahma

Indigenous Anthropologists, Action Anthropology, and the Origins of Indigenous Studies — Robert L.A. Hancock

Otherness and Sameness: Decolonial Representational Schemes of Asian Peoples in Hungarian Ethnology and beyond — Csaba Mészáros

The history of the study of Amerindian languages. The case of Maya languages in France — Margarita Valdovinos

The Forgotten Anthropological Pasts of the Concept of the Corporation: What Are Its Lessons for the Here and Now? — Ira Bashkow

Appreciating Multimodal Pasts: What if We Have Never Been Monomodal? — Judith Albrecht, Tomás Criado, Ignacio Farías, Andrew Gilbert, Karina Piersig

Communication without Control: Anthropology and Alternative Models of Information at the Josiah Macy, Jr. Conferences in Cybernetics — Samuel Gerald Collins

The Rise and Decline of the Natural Science of Human Culture, 1869-1920 and Thereafter — Brooke Penaloza-Patzak

Digging up my ancestors — Emma Kowal

Dilemmas in decolonizing anthropology: thinking with the historical case of Irawati Karve — Thiago Pinto Barbosa

Engagement, Solidarity, and a Return to the 1990s — Michael Edwards

“Savage knowledge,” ethnosciences, and the colonial ways of producing reservoirs of indigenous epistemologies — Raphael Uchôa

“He Spoke the Way we Did”: James A. Teit and the Oral vs. Written History of the 1911 Declaration of the Lillooet Tribe — Sarah C. Moritz, Morris Prosser, Qwalqwalten