Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: General Anthropology Division
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students
Primary Theme: The Political
Secondary Theme: Inequality
A common theme in the history of anthropology is the conflicting motivation, practices, and outcomes of the anthropological knowledge production across time and space. Michel-Rolph Trouillot distilled these tensions into his characterization of anthropology’s Janus-faced nature, which, he argued, predates the institutionalization of the discipline in the late 19th and early 20th century (2003). Recently, David Price has followed the Janus-face of anthropology into the Cold War. Price identifies a “dual use” function of anthropology in which scholars pursued their own intellectual ends while contributing to “the military industrial university complex” (2016, xii-xiv). In this panel, we seek to revisit anthropology’s Janus face by considering the life and work of individual anthropologists who operated in and across multiple ethnographic field sites. It also aims to trouble and even further unpack this “dual use” function of anthropology that Price identifies by highlighting the varying and often fraught public and private faces of these historical figures. To address these tensions within the lives of anthropologists, we take cues from and attempt to extend the critical biographical research of people like Regna Darnell, Alice B. Kehoe, William J. Peace, Susan C. Seymour, and Rosemary Lévy Zumwalt. Explored through themes of enchantment/disenchantment, romanticization, nostalgia, and commemoration, we consider the way in which these figures and their legacies epitomize the ambivalent tensions that lay at the very foundation of the field, thereby opening up the history of anthropology to new realms of analysis.