Mana'o - Papers on Anthropology

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    Why Anthropologists Should Support BDS
    ( 2015-04-02) Silver, Isaiah ; Golub, Alex
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    Boasian Critiques of Race in The Nation, by Franz Boas, et al., edited by Alex Golub and Angela Chen, with an introduction by Richard Handler
    ( 2014-06-24) Boas, Franz ; Herskovits, Melville ; Sapir, Edward ; Bercovici, Konrad ; Van Loon, Hendrik Willem ; Goldenweiser, Alexander ; Barnes, Harry Elmer ; Golub, Alex ; Chen, Angela ; Handler, Richard
    This series of 7 essays by Franz Boas, his students and those in his circle of liberal New York City intellectuals, appeared in The Nation in 1925. Boas had for years been fighting against the rising tide of scientific racism that triumphed with the passage of the Johnson Immigration Bill in April 1924, the second such bill in three years to restrict entrance to the U.S. on the basis of race. But Boas continued his work as a public intellectual, critiquing the “myth” behind the bill and mobilizing his colleagues to do the same. In these essays, Boas and his students—Edward Sapir, Melville Herskovits and Alexander Goldenweiser—rehearsed the main tenets of the Boasian consensus: that race “antagonism” is not instinctive; that American racial categories could not be correlated with fixed biological facts; that “civilization” included “contributions” from all peoples (not just the “Nordics”); that there was no relationship between a people’s cultural achievements and the biology of the group; and that such sciences as eugenics were little more than rationalizations of commonsense prejudices (as Sapir put it, the “heated desire” of racists “subdued to the becoming coolness of a technical vocabulary”). The series is rounded out by the inclusion of essays by the Columbia-trained historian Harry Elmer Barnes (who published several standard textbooks on American and Western civilization), the popular historian Hendrik Willem van Loon (whose children’s book, The Story of Mankind, won the first Newberry Medal in 1922), and the journalist and travel writer Konrad Bercovici, whose romantic appreciation of peoples scorned by proponents of the Nordic myth is evident in his contribution.
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    Cultural Anthropology and Psychiatry by Edward Sapir, edited and with an introduction by Alex Golub
    ( 2014-03-11) Sapir, Edward ; Golub, Alex
    “Cultural Anthropology and Psychiatry” is perhaps the best summary of Sapir’s approach to what would become known as the ‘culture and personality’ movement in anthropology. But this brief, rich, and intelligent essay is more then that. It is also a statement about the nature of culture, the role of human agency in culture, and the complex, differentiated nature of culture. It is a remarkable piece that demonstrates the incredible clarity and sophistication of Sapir’s thought.
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    The Science of Culture: The Bearing of Anthropology on Contemporary Thought by Ruth Benedict, edited and with an introduction by Alex Golub
    ( 2014-02-04) Benedict, Ruth ; Golub, Alex
    In this SMOPS I’m very pleased to present “The Science of Culture,” an essay that Ruth Benedict published in 1929 and has languished unread since then. “Science of Culture” was significantly revised to become the first chapter of Patterns of Culture, so readers will be familiar with the ideas expressed in it. However, this original version is significantly different from that chapter, and works better as a standalone essay. It seems that every decade or so, anthropologists feel the need to write an essay to tell a general audience what our discipline’s main findings and beliefs are. This article, like Kroeber’s “The Superorganic” published 12 years earlier, is Benedict’s version of a popular account of the anthropological credo.
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    The Methods of Ethnology by Franz Boas, edited and with an introduction by Alex Golub
    ( 2014-01-21) Boas, Franz ; Golub, Alex
    “The methods of ethnology” is among the two most taught and anthologized essay by Franz Boas, the founder of American anthropology, and I include it here to give you a sense of who Boas was and what he thought. Boas is famous for doing ethnography, not talking about it. As a result it is extremely difficult to find explicit theoretical statements from him regarding what anthropology is or should be. There are three main texts that represent Boas at his most explicit: “the study of geography” is Boas’s earliest and most general statement, followed by “limitations” in the 1890s. “Methods” was written in 1920, and represents Boas’s views at the time that he had finally achieved institutional dominance in anthropology.
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    Configurations of Culture in North America by Ruth Benedict, edited and with an introduction by Alex Golub
    ( 2014-01-17) Benedict, Ruth ; Golub, Alex
    This edition of “Configurations of Culture in North America” is the openest, freest, and shortest summary of Ruth Benedict’s 1934 classic _Patterns of Culture_ available. In it, Benedict rehearses the same arguments — often with the same data — that we see in _Patterns_. I hope that it will introduce these arguments to readers who do not have the time (or money) to read _Patterns_, which is still under copyright (at least in the United States).
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    Anthropology and the Humanities by Ruth Benedict, edited and with an introduction by Alex Golub
    ( 2013-12-20) Benedict, Ruth ; Golub, Alex
    This number of the Savage Minds Occasional Paper Series features Ruth Benedict's “anthropology and the humanities.” This piece is the published version of the lecture Benedict delivered for her presidential address at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological association in 1947. In this piece, one of the last she wrote before she passed away, she argues that anthropologists can benefit from drawing on the methods of the humanities in addition to scientific methods. Benedict's argument is worth examining in its own terms, but it is also worth reading between the lines of her essay. In making her case for the humanities, Benedict implicitly describes anthropology’s core values. This piece is valuable, then, not only for its argument about the humanities, but because it gives us a summary of what one of our foundational figures considered the essence of anthropology to be.
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    Culture in the Melting-Pot by Edward Sapir, edited and with an introduction by Alex Golub
    ( 2013-12-09) Sapir, Edward ; Golub, Alex
    What would it mean to have a uniquely, authentically American culture? One free from its roots in Europe and anchored in the lived reality of Americans? This is just as pressing a question when Edward Sapir addressed it in 1916 as it is in today’s era of reactionary conservatism. But in truth, the points raised in Sapir’s brief comment are relevant to any settler colony, and hence is of interest far beyond the United States. “Culture in the Melting-Pot” is hardly Sapir’s definitive answer to this question. Rather, his full treatment of this topic is his paper “Culture, Genuine and Spurious” (SMOPS #5). Instead, “Culture in the Melting-Pot” is one Sapir’s earliest attempts to combine anthropology with cultural criticism. In it, he responds to a piece by John Dewey (a leading thinker and philosopher of education) which itself deals with these topics. I’ve chosen to republish this short piece because it is difficult to find (it has been reprinted only once since 1916, in the very important but prohibitively expensive Collected Works of Edward Sapir); it is a lovely little piece that deserves a wider readership; and finally, because Sapir demonstrates the relevance of Boasian anthropology to contemporary political debates, he provides a nice illustration of the main ‘theoretical moves’ that Boasians make.
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    Culture, Genuine and Spurious by Edward Sapir, edited and with an introduction by Alex Golub
    ( 2013-11-11) Sapir, Edward ; Golub, Alex
    This number of the Savage Minds Occasional Paper Series presents an edited version of Edward Sapir's essay "Culture, Genuine and Spurious." “Culture, Genuine and Spurious” is worth reading for several reasons: it demonstrates the way anthropological theory can be applied to ethical issues; it exemplifies the way Boasians founded public anthropology by weighing in on the great issues of their day alongside cultural critics like Randolph Bourne or George Seldes; it gives us insights into the opinions of Boasians on cultural imperialism and the exploitation of labor; and above all, it presents us with a set of questions -- and answers -- that are as relevant today as they were eighty years ago.