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Other titles in the History of Anthropology series:
Glimpses Into My Own Black Box: An Exercise in Self-Deconstruction (History of Anthropology)by George W., Jr. Stocking
Synopses & Reviews
The terms andquot;centerandquot; and andquot;peripheryandquot; are particularly relevant to anthropologists, since traditionally they look outward from institutional andquot;centersandquot;-universities, museums, government bureaus-to learn about people on the andquot;peripheries.andquot; Yet anthropology itself, as compared with economics, politics, or history, occupies a space somewhat on the margins of academe.and#160; Still, anthropologists, who control esoteric knowledge about the vast range of human variation, often find themselves in a theoretically central position, able to critique the andquot;universalandquot; truths promoted by other disciplines.
Central Sites, Peripheral Visions presents five case studies that explore the dilemmas, moral as well as political, that emerge out of this unique position. From David Koester's analysis of how ethnographic descriptions of Iceland marginalized that country's population, to Kath Weston's account of an offshore penal colony where officials mixed prison work with ethnographic pursuits; from Brad Evans's reflections on the andquot;bohemianismandquot; of both the Harlem vogue and American anthropology, to Arthur J. Ray's study of anthropologists who serve as expert witnesses in legal cases, the essays in the eleventh volume of the History of Anthropology Series reflect on anthropology's always problematic status as centrally peripheral, or peripherally central.and#160;
Finally, George W. Stocking, Jr., in a contribution that is almost a book in its own right, traces the professional trajectory of American anthropologist Robert Gelston Armstrong, who was unceremoniously expelled from his place of privilege because of his communist sympathies in the 1950s. By taking up Armstrong's unfinished business decades later, Stocking engages in an extended meditation on the relationship between center and periphery and offers andquot;a kind of posthumous reparation,andquot; a page in the history of the discipline for a distant colleague who might otherwise have remained in the footnotes.
George W. Stocking, Jr., has spent a professional lifetime exploring the history of anthropology, and his findings have shaped anthropologists’ understanding of their field for two generations. Through his meticulous research, Stocking has shown how such forces as politics, race, institutional affiliations, and personal relationships have influenced the discipline from its beginnings. In this autobiography, he turns his attention to a subject closer to home but no less challenging. Looking into his own “black box,” he dissects his upbringing, his politics, even his motivations in writing about himself. The result is a book systematically, at times brutally, self-questioning.
An interesting question, Stocking says, is one that arouses just the right amount of anxiety. But that very anxiety may be the ultimate source of Stocking’s remarkable intellectual energy and output. In the first two sections of the book, he traces the intersecting vectors of his professional and personal lives. The book concludes with a coda, “Octogenarian Afterthoughts,” that offers glimpses of his life after retirement, when advancing age, cancer, and depression changed the tenor of his reflections about both his life and his work.
This book is the twelfth and final volume of the influential History of Anthropology series.
About the Author
Richard Handler is professor of anthropology at the University of Virginia. He is author of Critics Against Culture and Nationalism and the Politics of Culture in Quebec, and coauthor of Jane Austen and the Fiction of Culture and The New History in an Old Museum.
Table of Contents
Part I: Autobiographical Recollections
My Life under Surveillance
From the Lincoln School to Harvard College: 1944-45
Pascal's Wager and Communist Politics at Harvard: 1945-49
Divergent Family Histories within a Wasp Tradition: 1630-1949
Imagining a Future Together: Summer 1949
Life in the Working Class during the McCarthy Era: 1949-56
American Civilization, Positivist Historiography and Political Disillusion at the University of Pennsylvania: 1956-60
Political Conflict, Cultural Turmoil, Marital Breakup and Historicist Historiography at the University of California, Berkeley, 1960-68
Tenure without a Book: Essays Toward a New History of Anthropology,1962-68
From History to Anthropology at the University of Chicago: 1968-74
Blocked Projects, False Starts, and Miscast Roles: The Misadventures of an Interdisciplinary Hybrid: 1974-82.
Disciplinary Marginality as a Condition of Productive Scholarship: 1982-86
From Academic Striver to Disciplinary Doyen: 1987-93
Conversations across a Widening Generation Gap: 1993-96
Biography in an Autobiographical Context: 1996-2006
Part II: Historiographical Reflections
Inside an Historian's Study: The "Micro-technology" of a "Botfom Up" Historicism
Intellectual Topographies, Concentric Models, Enduring Biases: Some Limitations of a Professed Historicism
Interesting Questions and Blocked Researches: On Anxiety and Method in the Historiography of Anthropology
Revelatory Moments Unexplored: The Mead/Freeman Controversy and the Amplification of Anxiety in Present History
From the Big Picture to the Biographical Vignette: The Ulterior Historiographical Motives of an Aging Old Historicist
The Problematic Character of Influence: The "Gate-Keeper" and The "New" History of Anthropology
Doing "Good Work": Thoughts on the Craft of One Historian
Part III: Octogenarian Afterthoughts "Fragments Shored Against My Ruins"
Further Steps Down a Pyramid of Deterioration
Conjuring a Readership: Yet Another Try at Influence
Refocussing Historicism: "Handling the Rich Complexities of the Lives of Others"
Office in a Storeroom: Trashing the Icons of a Scholarly Life
Becoming an Octogenarian and Accentuating the Positive
The Audacity of Hope and the Politics of Mr. In-Between
Notes from the Edge of the Abyss: The Serenity Prayer and Pascal's Wager
A Coda: Penelope's Shroud, Zeno's Paradox and the Closure of the Black Box
What Our Readers Are Saying