Works of Caroline Tennant-Kelly Rediscovered

PhysOrg.Com has an interesting item on the rediscovery of some of the anthropological works of Caroline Tennant-Kelly:

Mrs Tennant-Kelly’s work as an anthropologist spans from 1932 to 1970.

The collection details daily Aboriginal life at Cherbourg Aboriginal Settlement in Queensland in 1934. In the late 1930s she also worked at Aboriginal settlements in New South Wales. She recorded kinship practices, traditional ceremonies, language, territorial knowledge and genealogies. Her research fills large holes for today’s anthropological study.

The collection will be valuable for indigenous communities in Queensland and New South Wales as Tennant-Kelly makes numerous references to families and individuals and their links to land.

The discovery also includes private letters and photographs from her famous friend, the American anthropologist Margaret Mead, correspondence likely to add to the knowledge of Mead’s groundbreaking
work.

More info here.

Herskovits At The Heart Of Blackness: A Review

Melville Herskovits was one of a number of Boasian anthropologists. Like Kroeber, and a plethora of Boas’ other students, Herskovits founded an anthropology department. He wrote economic anthropology and cultural relativism. He is not really mentioned in theoretical overviews (such as in High Points in Anthropology) and I hardly ever heard him in mentioned in anthropology classes. Where his name did come up was in African-American Studies classes. This is largely due to his classic book The Myth of the Negro Past. Prior to Herskovits, there seemed to be this notion that African-Americans were a people without a cultural past or rather that there was a clean cultural break, caused by the Middle Passage, between Africa and African-Americans. The voyage across the Middle Passage combined with the horrid effects of slavery were enough, it was felt, to completely eradicate any trace of African culture from the African-American. Of course, the African culture itself was deemed to be static and unchanging and the documentary illustrates this, to great effect, using clips from old cartoons and Tarzan movies.

Herskovits, although not the first, disagreed and argued that there was cultural continuity between the cultures of African and the far flung members of the African Diaspora. He based this, in a large part, on fieldwork in Africa, South America, and the West Indies. Which brings me to an upcoming episode of the PBS Series Independent Lens. Continue reading

Big Pharma Peddles Racism

At least that is the message I take away a story I heard on NPR. I was listening to The Marketplace when I heard this story about a book by Ethan Watters. Watters is being interviewed by Kai Ryssdal and has this to say:

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In Memorium: Claude Levi-Strauss

Via Hawks comes the news that Claude Levi-Strauss has died. MSNBC has more:

The French intellectual was regarded as having reshaped the field of anthropology, introducing structuralism — concepts about common patterns of behavior and thought, especially myths, in a wide range of human societies. Defined as the search for the underlying patterns of thought in all forms of human activity, structuralism compared the formal relationships among elements in any given system.

Although I don’t spend much time writing about cultural anthropology (mainly because I’m an old school fuddy duddy and don’t like those new fangled post-modernist theoretical orientations) Levi-Strauss was one cultural anthropologist I read quite a bit of (along with Malinowski and Boas). He will be missed…

Yale, Skull and Bones, and the Federal Government Sued By Geronimo’s Family: Complications

I recently wrote about a lawsuit filed against Yale, Skull and Bones, and the Federal Government by descendents of Geronimo. The situation has become a little more complicated.

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Happy Birthday Claude Levi-Strauss

I don’t know how I missed this, but last Friday legendary anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss turned 100. The International Herald Tribune has an interesting article on Levi-Strauss that is worth a read.

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American Anthropological Association Nods In The General Direction of Open Access

The American Anthropological Association has announced that it will give open access to the American Anthropologist and Anthropology News. There are limitations, however. Starting in 2009 the AAA will give free access to issues published between 1888 and 1973. Basically, there will be a 35 year wait time on an article before it becomes available via open access. This is an small step in the right direction, many important articles will become available, but, and this is a big but, the field has changed vastly in the last 35 years. Part of the need for open access, it seems to me, is for people to have access to start of the art articles, something not found in a 35 year window. I’m not sure why it can’t be six months or one year like a lot of other science journals.
One does have to wonder, though, when the American Journal of Physical Anthropology and American Antiquity are going to follow…

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