In 1973, the first issue of the History of Anthropology Newsletter opened with a statement of purpose from the editorial committee, called “Prospects and Problems,” by George Stocking. The editors were self-consciously defining and claiming a field. They let loose with territorial metaphors: occupation, soil, furrows, forays. Now, as we continue our relaunch of HAN, we return to this 40 year-old manifesto as a starting point for thinking about the past, present, and future of the field.
The 1973 essay noted a sense of disciplinary crisis as a spur to growth; it asked whether this history should be done by anthropologists, intellectual historians on “one-book forays,” by “anthropologists manqué,” or by a new generation of interdisciplinarians; it announced the need for “landmarks” including lists of archival holdings, bibliographic aids, research in progress, recent publications—which HAN would provide. It ended with a call for participation from readers.
Seeking to continue HAN’s role as a site for debating the field’s present state and shaping its future, in late 2016 we invited a series of scholars from various fields to respond to this manifesto. The eight distinguished authors below responded with generosity, insight, experience, good humor—and impressive speed. (The fact that in this list authors primarily identified as historians slightly outnumber those primarily identified as anthropologists is an accident of availability; it does not reflect an editorial preference. Whether it corresponds to a general historical and disciplinary shift is another question– one discussed by several of the authors below.)
We are planning to extend this discussion with further reflections in the months ahead. For now we encourage HAN readers and subscribers to make use of the comments section to respond to individual pieces, or to the section as a whole. Dig in and leave a mark.
As the first half-year of the revived History of Anthropology Newsletter closes, we’d like to bring your attention to a handful of posts which will appear in the next months, and some interesting changes to the site:
Stay tuned for more, and please keep us informed by submitting news, publications, and potential contributions!
The History of Anthropology Newsletter officially relaunches in online form on June 20, 2016. Originally edited by George W. Stocking, Jr., then by Henrika Kuklick, the HAN is now under the direction of a new editorial team based at the University of Pennsylvania, with the guidance of an esteemed advisory board—several of whom have been involved in the HAN since its inception.
The first aim of the relaunched newsletter is to make available online, in a searchable mode, all the earlier issues of the HAN, originally published from 1973 to 2012. Thanks to a grant from the Price Lab for Digital Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania and the Mellon Foundation, and thanks to the generous assistance of Penn Libraries, you can now find all those back issues online.
The newsletter also features:
- News of interest to those working in the history of anthropology, including announcements about conferences and funding opportunities.
- Reviews of books and other relevant works.
- Bibliographies of recent publications in the field.
- Field Notes, a space for pointed observations on questions in the history of anthropology; our first issue contains fascinating reflections on the history of the newsletter itself, from Richard Handler, Ira Bashkow, and Regna Darnell, as well as notes on the history of anthropological collections and museums by Ira Jacknis.
- Clio’s Fancy, a section devoted to oddities and curiosities found in the archives, which was originally edited by George Stocking and which we’re renewing with a wedding announcement connecting the Boasian tradition to the history of science fiction.
- A Twitter feed with frequent updates of interest to the history of anthropology community.
We invite you to explore the newsletter, either as a return or for the first time. We also invite you to post responses, offer suggestions, submit news, articles, and reviews, and keep the conversation going.
The first issue of the History of Anthropology Newsletter was published in 1973. As a project launched and directed by George Stocking—a founder and leading practitioner of the history of anthropology—HAN has played an important role in the field for four decades.
From the beginning, its mission has been to connect dispersed scholars working on the history of anthropology from a variety of geographical, institutional, and disciplinary locations, and to serve as a repository for resources which might otherwise be missed or neglected. The biannual newsletter has included sections listing and describing recently acquired papers and collections, newly published monographs and manuscripts, dissertations and research in progress, as well as news, notes, and queries. Continue reading