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Scholar, Activist, Humanist: A Portrait of Eric Wolf (the Charlottesville Years 1955‑1958)

Jeffrey L. Hantman

University of Virginia

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Hantman, Jeffrey L., 2023. “Scholar, Activist, Humanist: A Portrait of Eric Wolf (the Charlottesville Years 1955‑1958)”, in Bérose - Encyclopédie internationale des histoires de l'anthropologie, Paris.

URL Bérose : article2894.html

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Résumé  : Cet article s’intéresse à un chapitre peu connu de la carrière d’Eric Wolf en tant qu’activiste alors qu’il était jeune professeur à l’université de Virginie à Charlottesville, dans les années 1950. Wolf s’est élevé contre le racisme dans une perspective anthropologique alors qu’il travaillait dans un environnement suprémaciste blanc au sein de l’université d’État de Virginie et de son gouvernement. Sensible à la valeur de l’interdisciplinarité, Wolf rejoignit les quelques professeurs de l’université qui prirent la décision, alors dangereuse, de donner des conférences publiques sur la race et l’inégalité dans le Sud. L’exposition précoce de Wolf aux tensions régionales dans le Sud des États-Unis, enracinées dans les inégalités fondées sur la classe et la race, et le débat sur le retrait apparent de l’anthropologie de l’activisme constituent le contexte de ses actions à Charlottesville pendant trois ans. L’article s’appuie sur les brèves mentions de Wolf relatives à son séjour à Charlottesville dans des entretiens publiés, mais surtout sur la correspondance avec son ami intime, Sidney Mintz. Il s’agit donc d’une biographie de Wolf, d’un commentaire sur l’activisme anthropologique dans les années 1950 et sur les efforts uniques de Wolf en Virginie, qui annoncent son engagement politique bien connu lorsqu’il enseigna plus tard à l’Université du Michigan et au Lehman College (CUNY) de New York.

Eric R. Wolf (1923–1999) remains an important and original influence in anthropology. [1] His interest in history and power, infused with significant elements of both Marxian and Boasian theory, shaped many major regional and comparative ethnographic studies and global overviews that he published throughout the second half of the twentieth century. Born in Vienna, Wolf was a refugee from Nazi-occupied Europe who emigrated to the United States in 1939. He discovered anthropology while earning his BA at Queens College. He received his PhD from Columbia University in 1951 as a student of Julian Steward, but perhaps more importantly a part of the oft-noted graduate student cohort at Columbia that included Stanley Diamond, Sidney Mintz, Eleanor Leacock, Morton Fried, and Robert Manners, among others. Wolf’s experiences in Nazi-occupied Europe and his later capacious grasp of anthropological, sociological, historical, and Marxist/materialist perspectives gained while student and professor in the U.S. gave him a particularly unique voice.
Wolf’s earliest field research and publications focused on peasant villages in Puerto Rico and Mexico, and in the Alps of South Tyrol in Northwest Italy. His global and comparative books—from Peasants (1966) to his discipline-transforming treatise Europe and the People Without History (1982)—are classics of anthropological theories of culture in the interplay of power and history. Jane Schneider described Wolf as “a leader in revolutionizing anthropology after World War II, propelling its engagement with wider processes of state formation and capitalist and colonial expansion.” [2] Colleagues and students honored Wolf before and after his death by expanding the themes of his work. Most critiques of his landmark achievement, Europe and the People Without History (EPWH), respectfully ‘stretch out’ on the original themes and contexts of EPWH with more nuanced studies of indigenous perspectives on societies affected by European expansion. [3] Wolf was the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, the MacArthur Award, and was a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.
Amidst this record of scholarship, Wolf earned a deserved reputation as an activist anthropologist and it is that aspect of his life that I focus on in this essay. [4], Wolf’s career has been described as “the exemplar of an anthropology which is radically engaged with the world beyond the academy” in its systemic merger of global and local histories and anthropological subjects. [5] Most famously, in the 1960s Wolf publicly protested the Vietnam War and co-organized the first campus ‘teach-in’ with Marshall Sahlins and others at the University of Michigan in 1965. In 1970, Wolf openly criticized some anthropologists and the American Anthropological Association for what he perceived as their complicity in counterinsurgency operations in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War and the hesitancy of the American Anthropological Association to see such efforts as violating anthropological ethics. Moving to Lehman College (CUNY) in New York City, Wolf would cement his ideas of an anthropology of rigid scholarship and activism, leaving a legacy pridefully attested to by his former students. [6]
In this essay I focus on the scholar-humanist by describing a previously unpublished early chapter in Eric Wolf’s career as an anthropologist and activist when he lived in Charlottesville, Virginia and taught in his first full faculty position at the University of Virginia (UVa) in Charlottesville between 1955 and 1958. I describe Wolf’s actions in the tinderbox of race relations and politics there in the late 1950s. Those events are rarely touched on in Wolf’s autobiographical writing, interviews and biographic reviews. They are, however, prominent in the active correspondence he maintained with his closest friend and research colleague in those years, Sidney Mintz and letters to his father in New York. [7] To establish a context for these letters, I first review Wolf’s early life in Europe prior to World War II and his emigration and education in the United States in 1940. I consider the influence, or the lack of influence, of Wolf’s undergraduate and graduate advisors, Hortense Powdermaker and Julian Steward, regarding activism in anthropology. I then focus on Wolf’s actions in the hostile context of Charlottesville, UVa and the South to add what I believe is a significant chapter in Wolf’s life as a scholar-activist. While a new and young professor in Charlottesville in the 1950s, Wolf courageously challenged white supremacist, state-endorsed racist policies in Charlottesville and at UVa.
Wolf’s activism described in this essay provides a window not only into the life of this remarkable scholar, but into the history of engagement and activism in anthropology generally. Wolf’s public efforts took place in the cycle of anthropology’s history when engaged scholarship was discouraged or when engagement meant bringing a false ‘scientific and objective’ perspective that undercut Boasian anthropology regarding race, racism, and indigenous legal concerns. His activism was also practiced during the U.S.’s most virulent time of opposition to Communism, then uncritically equated with Marxist theory. Any action in Charlottesville would have been a courageous act given the immigrant, pro-integrationist, New Yorker, and Jewish socialist labels inevitably attached to him. The administration at UVA, from a powerful and long-term dean of liberal arts to the administrations of several University presidents, openly agreed with that position and yet Wolf and a few colleagues continued to give a voice to anthropological perspectives on race and racism. [8]

Fig. 1.
Eric R. Wolf, ca. 1961-1971
University of Michigan Faculty History Project, The Millennium Project, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.

Eric Wolf Before Charlottesville

A brief history of Eric Wolf’s life before 1955 will inevitably leave out important influences, but here I will focus on events that help to put his time in Charlottesville in context. Wolf was born in Vienna in 1923 and raised in a secular Jewish family. His family moved to Sudetenland where his father managed a factory. Wolf recalls the virulent antisemitism of his childhood. Events and symbols he witnessed in a trip he took to Munich as a teenager left an indelible mark, as he witnessed Nazi parades, swastikas, and the denigration of non-Aryan art in museum exhibits. His parents sent him to a ‘safe haven’ boarding school in England for two years during the Nazi occupation when Wolf was 15 years old. But, with war with Germany approaching, England ordered potential ‘enemy aliens’ (Germans, Austrians, socialists, Jews) such as Wolf to an internment camp near Liverpool in 1938.
Intellectuals in that camp organized lectures, and Wolf recalls being drawn to grand-scale ideas in the social sciences by the lectures of sociologist Norbert Elias. Elias was interested in long-term regional social dynamics that referenced regional phenomena and state-formation. Elias’s The Civilizing Process, published in 1939, would likely have been the ideas that most influenced Wolf. [9]
Wolf was only 15 or 16 when he heard Elias speak at the internment camp near Liverpool. Wolf would later agree that Elias’ ideas were important to him in 1940, and then throughout his scholarly career. Elias’s idea that individuals are born into an already established network of people such that the person is a social phenomenon was “an extremely revelatory experience.” [10] Elias’s early work conveyed the scale of study that would come to define Wolf’s work in anthropology, that is that beyond the individual, and acknowledging that terms such as society, culture, and civilization are historically determined. The foundational ideas in Elias would later be seen in Wolf’s interest in regional studies, history and power relations.

The Highlander School

The Wolf family was able to emigrate to New York City (Jackson Heights, Queens) in 1940. In the summer of 1941, only recently settled in Queens, Wolf hitchhiked to Tennessee to attend a four-week program at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee. The Highlander Folk School was a leftist, unionist and civil rights-committed school based on a long-standing European model of folk schools. The program that Wolf enrolled in was one that by its title emphasized reforestation within the timber-cutting economy, but the Highlander School made no pretense that all programs also included general education in the dynamics of labor and labor-organizing. During the 1930s and 1940s, the school gained prominence, or notoriety, for its involvement in unionizing textile, timber, and mine workers throughout the region and the well-known leftist leaders that came to Tennessee to lecture at Highlander. [11] In a 1987 interview, Wolf recalled :

[T]he Highlander Folk School, the experience of eastern Tennessee . . . allowed one to see something of the underbelly of the South in ways that I had never, ever imagined. This was just after the New Deal effort to better economic circumstances through farm administration aid, and the TVA [Tennessee Valley Authority] that had been built, and so on. / But you could still see that the people were terribly poor and oppressed. [12]

Wolf almost certainly knew that the FBI was monitoring the Highlander School, its roster of guest speakers and attendees. The school’s directors knew of, and openly mocked, the FBI for their surveillance. Wolf would also have learned quickly of the local Tennesseans who feared the presence of the ‘Communist cell’ in their midst and threatened violence if necessary. In the summer that Wolf made his way to the Highlander School, a report was filed by the FBI office regarding hostile relations between the school and factions in Grundy County, Tennessee, where it was based. One detailed letter in FBI files opened under an older FOIA request, among many other similar unsolicited letters, reads :

Mr. C. H. Kilby of the Tennessee Consolidated Coal Company… has been extremely interested in getting the Highlander Folk School out of Grundy County because of the trouble they have been stirring up there among the WPA [Works Projects Administration – a U.S. federal economic relief program created in 1935] employees and the bugwood (pulpwood) cutters... He has organized a committee of local residents of the better class which call themselves the Grundy County Crusaders whose sole purpose is to combat the Highlander Folk School and its teachings. The antagonism that each of these groups feels for the other has reached such a point that there was danger of open confrontation between them during November of 1940 and it was feared for a time that local citizens would burn the Highlander Folk School building. [13]

The Highlander School provided Wolf with insights into a regional social structure and history he had barely seen firsthand. In a letter to Sidney Mintz in 1957, he described the South as clinging to a late 19th century narrative of itself as a victimized region. [14] The racism and the violence that sprang from the post-Civil War years of direct Northern influence on the defeated South was clear ninety years after the end of the Civil War.
Wolf was better prepared for his later living and teaching in Virginia than someone less sophisticated in understanding regional cultures and histories would have been. Wolf pointed to the lessons learned at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee as an influence on his ability to grasp race- and class-based relations of power and inequality in the South. He brought his understandings of power, inequality, deep history, internal colonialism, slavery, and peasantry with him from the school to Charlottesville and UVa. [15] One seemingly small story bears telling in this regard. In a tribute to Wolf after his death, Juan-Vicente Palerm recalled staying with the Wolf family in Charlottesville in the summer of 1957. Palerm, son of Wolf’s close friend and research colleague Ángel Palerm, was then a teenager living near Washington DC with his family. The major historical tourist attraction in Charlottesville was Thomas Jefferson’s home of Monticello and Wolf escorted Juan-Vicente Palerm there. Palerm remembered the unique ‘tour’ given to him by Eric Wolf. In this ‘tour,’ Wolf emphasized that Monticello was a plantation, and he emphasized the means of production (agricultural tools) and the cabins of the enslaved. With much less emphasis, Palerm recalled, Wolf showed him the elegant palace [Jefferson’s home] on the hilltop. [16] Wolf’s tour presaged contemporary attempts by the interpreters of Monticello to present a more enlightened, inclusive and honest history by more than fifty years.

Queens College, Hortense Powdermaker and Discovering Anthropology

After high school, Wolf entered Queens College but withdrew to serve in the U.S. Army Mountain Ski Division in Italy during WWII. On his return to New York, he earned his BA in 1946, majoring in sociology and anthropology. He was introduced to anthropology by Hortense Powdermaker, an American anthropologist who had earned her PhD under Malinowski at the London School of Economics with a dissertation based on fieldwork in New Guinea. Powdermaker had conducted community-based ethnography in Mississippi, examining relations within and between White and Black populations in a town now known to have been a stronghold of the Ku Klux Klan and the place where the racist and violent White Citizens Council was formed. Powdermaker published After Freedom : A Cultural Study in the Deep South in 1939 and several subsequent essays on race in the American South. She also published a much-acclaimed high school text on race and race relations adopted by the New York City school system. [17] It is not clear that any of those had a specific influence on Wolf but he held Powdermaker in high esteem, writing her obituary for American Anthropologist in 1971. [18]
The turns that Powdermaker took during her lifetime involved a deep commitment to, and then withdrawal from, a life of progressive social activism. Powdermaker developed interests in socialism at Goucher College in the 1920s. After Goucher, she moved to New York and took a position with the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. Powdermaker described Amalgamated as one of “a pocket of militant unions developed in the industrial centers of New York and Chicago …” [19] It was after three years as an organizer, having gained insights she described as of value to a future anthropologist, that she decided to seek a PhD at the London School of Economics (LSE). After her fieldwork in New Guinea, she returned to the U.S. and worked at the Human Relations Area Files and with Edward Sapir. Sapir encouraged her to conduct community-based fieldwork in Mississippi in the 1930s. [20]
Ten years later, when Wolf was enrolled in her classes, Powdermaker did not teach labor union organizing or the effects of her field research in her undergraduate classes at Queens College. In her 1966 text and memoir, Stranger and Friend : The Way of An Anthropologist, Powdermaker is strident in describing the appropriate role of the anthropologist as “detached” and “primarily not interested in helping his informants, although he may do so inadvertently. His motivation is to secure data.” [21] Writing her obituary in 1971, Wolf used the terms “detached” and “objective” to describe her approach to field methods but noted neither results nor insights from her research in the South in that appreciative obituary. [22] That noted, Powdermaker’s text for a unit of high school study was adopted widely in New York City and might have had as much of an impact by a public anthropologist in New York as the work of Boas. Her high school text was about race relations and prejudice and sought to teach students how to recognize and reduce their own and others’ prejudices. [23] Although highly critical of her terminology and concepts of race and purity of race, Ashley Montagu reviewed the text in American Anthropologist and wrote that Powdermaker had performed her task well and concluded that the booklet served its purpose well. [24]

Columbia University and Julian Steward

Wolf went to graduate school in anthropology at Columbia University where he was part of a famed graduate cohort of the late 1940s/early 1950s, working under the loose supervision of Ruth Benedict and Julian Steward. Columbia was still regrouping after the 1942 death of Boas and the impact of World War II, and Wolf recalled it to be in a difficult stage. The new graduate students, many WWII veterans attending university on the GI Bill, met as a study group they self-titled the Mundial Upheaval Society. Wolf recalled the unofficial membership included these fellow students : Morton Fried, Elman Service, Stanley Diamond, Sidney Mintz, Daniel McCall, and Bob Manners. John Murra would occasionally stop by when he was in New York. All in the group were heavily influenced by Marx ; some had been Communist Party members, but Wolf recalled that they did not all follow a party line. [25]
Despite a long association that extended from Columbia to accepting a research associate position at Illinois when Steward moved there in 1953, Wolf often spoke harshly of Steward in contemporary correspondence and in interviews conducted 30 years later. Wolf did not believe that Steward had read Marx, or if he had, he was not influenced by Marxist thought in his teaching or political activity. Wolf’s published recollections, correspondence with Sidney Mintz, and Virginia Kerns’ (comprehensive) and Robert Murphy’s (personal) biographies of Steward confirm that Steward had no interest in Marxism and, at least at that time, both he and Mintz had little respect for Steward. Kerns wrote that Steward was not “inclined toward activism” and, as told to her by Robert Murphy, Steward was ‘repelled by ideology’ (including Marxism). [26]
Steward’s acceptance of an invitation to provide expert testimony in 1950 Indian Claims Commission hearings became a crushing disappointment to many of his students and colleagues, as Steward eventually testified on behalf of the government and questioned Indian claims as an anthropological expert. The basis of his abandoning support for Indian claims, both for land and sovereign status, was the common one of that era that held that acculturation and Western influences had made Indian oral history impossible to evaluate. Steward defended his testimony as objective and scientific, “uncompromised by personal, political, or other interest.” [27] Wolf and Mintz believed Steward was acting against the interests of American Indians, “without regard to the bleak history of federal policies and practices toward Indians and Indian lands.” [28] Wolf completed his PhD at Columbia in 1951, published as a lengthy chapter in a multi-authored book documenting Steward’s regional, multi-community study of Puerto Rico, and then joined Steward at the University of Illinois as a research associate.

Eric Wolf : First Anthropologist at the University of Virginia, 1955

Wolf was hired in his first full faculty position by the University of Virginia in 1955. Rather shockingly, he was the first cultural anthropologist hired in a tenure-track position at the University of Virginia. Until the mid-1950s, UVa and the state of Virginia had not been open to a social science approach that administrators labelled disdainfully as “sentimentalist.” The dean of arts and sciences at UVa from 1934 to 1953, biologist Ivey Lewis, had an inordinately long, powerful and destructive role in curriculum and faculty hiring over that span. Lewis knew of Boas and anthropology but used the terms “Boasian” and “sentimentalist” as equivalent pejoratives in his correspondence. He vowed not to hire any faculty who subscribed to such ‘weak’ thinking. This half-century delay in hiring an anthropologist at UVa reflects more than the thinking of one long-term dean. UVa presidents strongly supported eugenics research, teaching and policy in the University’s Medical School and College and encouraged the regressive and authoritarian leadership of Dean Ivey Lewis. Lewis retired in 1953, just prior to Wolf’s hire. However, in the years of Wolf’s tenure at Virginia, University president Colgate W. Darden Jr. (1947–1959) tolerated the hire of Wolf but supported state policies of segregation and states’ rights, white supremacy and hereditarianism in the college. [29]
Eric Wolf accepted an offer to join UVa’s Sociology and Anthropology Department and arrived in Charlottesville with his first wife Katia in 1955. They rented a house for two years and then purchased a small single-family home in Charlottesville after the birth of their first child. Wolf developed friendships with two sociologists engaged in community studies in Virginia concerned with race and inequality. [30]
Concerning the students and intellectual atmosphere at Virginia, Wolf recalled :

I was the only anthropologist, in a very different setting. Urbana was very big and drew high school graduates from everywhere in the state. Virginia was much more aristocratic, Southern, more limited. I think that move was very good for me, partly because it got me out from under Steward’s aegis, to do my own thing, but also because, I think, there may not have been more than 12 people using the library ; it was a very good place to sit down and work on my own materials. [31]

However, University activists opposing state based systemic racism that included the rejection of the momentous 1954 Supreme Court ruling requiring the integration of public schools, were few in number when Wolf arrived at UVa. Those few who spoke against segregation, and the state’s decision to close public schools in Charlottesville rather than open them to African-American students, was decidedly not supported by a university administration aligned with formalized state policy and, itself not open to admitting African-American students or faculty. Jewish faculty were very few in number, never more than three or four at one time since the 1920s. [32]
In a 1987 interview Ashraf Ghani remarked to Wolf that the word ‘system’ had a distinct place in Wolf’s work, beginning about the time he came to Virginia. Ghani asked if the understanding of systems related to his experience at the University of Virginia. Wolf’s response gives testimony to his lifelong interest in interdisciplinary influences on his anthropology, as he replied at some length :

Well, I hadn’t thought about it in those terms, but it very well might. At Virginia I met Arthur Bachrach, who was in the psychology department. They were going to form a study group on cybernetics and systems theory, and I was invited to join them, and we would read things and then discuss them, and that was also, of course, the point when the concept of information entered the social sciences, and where you could think of relationships having an information component that would act as a governing or a steering mechanism. The whole thing gets a bit mechanical at this point, and also much too cohesive. But I still think of it as a very fruitful way to organize one’s research ; it’s a research strategy that really pays off when you’re looking for relationships. It may not be ultimately the explanatory mode that you want, but on the artisan level of how one orders data and thinks about them and looks for connections, that it is a very useful way of doing things.” [33]

The University’s Institute of Social Science Research, in place since 1926 to model the research centers supported by the Rockefeller Fund at Chicago, Yale, and the University of North Carolina, was small but still active at Virginia in 1955. The Institute funded a season of fieldwork and two summers of writing for Wolf. [34] This funding allowed him to complete the deep historical and interdisciplinary classic study of Mexico, Sons of the Shaking Earth in 1959. Anthony Marcus wrote that Sons of the Shaking Earth was :

the definitive historical portrait of the birth of modern Mexico … explains the rise of the Aztec state in pre-Hispanic Mexico, the creation of Spanish America and the cultural processes that led to the Mexican Revolution. Though he never mentioned Marx in the bibliographies of Sons of the Shaking Earth … since the mid-1950s Eric Wolf had been creating the foundations for a Marxist anthropology concerned with the growth of capitalism, the spread of imperialism and the struggle for human liberation. [35]

Sons of the Shaking Earth is still widely read for the clear manner in which it highlights how Mexico’s historically diverse ’nuclear’ areas were integrated into the modern nation-state. [36] Wolf emphasized those points himself, writing retrospectively in 1999 :

How groups and social segments are drawn into a nation – economically, socially, politically, and in the realm of ideas – was then, and remains for me now, a problem to be explored. My first book, Sons of the Shaking Earth, attempted to depict the historical trajectory of Mexico as a succession of the different ways in which quite varied groups and units were brought into relationship with one another at different phases over time. Each phase, and the integrative processes that characterized it, had ramifying effects on what was to follow. I see much of my work as efforts to amplify this perspective – to think about how different aggregates and organizations of people, operating on diverse territorial and institutional levels, are drawn into more extensive units, only to be then reshuffled and repositioned into alternative arrangements at some later moment in history. [37]

The University of Virginia was a place where Wolf could do his own research and writing, and he did that laying a deep foundation for the scholarship he would produce throughout the rest of his career as well as where he would demonstrate his humanist-activist commitments.

Wolf’s Anthropology of Race and Anti-Segregation Activism in Charlottesville : 1955–1958

Wolf’s time at UVa and living in Charlottesville coincided with the violent aftermath of the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka decision requiring school integration across the Unitd States. Virginia Senator Harry F. Byrd called for “massive resistance” to the Supreme Court’s ruling and Governor Lindsay Almond responded by closing any public school ordered to integrate. One of the first localities to enact the state policy of massive resistance was the city of Charlottesville, as local Black parents attempted to enroll their children in an elementary school. Nearby UVa students at that time were supportive of segregation in the majority and were largely oblivious to the political turmoil in Charlottesville. As for faculty involvement, a noted local civil rights activist observed that not one member of the UVa faculty opposed segregation publicly in newspapers, courtrooms or Virginia’s state committee hearings on school integration that took place in 1954 and 1955 (p. 194). [38]
It was a violent and dangerous time in Charlottesville. Virginia’s race and class relations and record of anti-Semitism had to be a consideration for Wolf, a Jewish refugee in the US, and a Northerner in a Southern university, city and state that were dominated by a commitment to the Lost Cause of the Confederacy. Charlottesville had an active chapter of the White Citizens’ Council of whom Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “they must be held responsible for all of the terror, the mob rule, and brutal murders that have encompassed the South over the last several years.” [39] The White Citizens’ Council chapter in Charlottesville was headed by John Kasper, a Ku Klux Klan member who took a militant stand against racial integration during the civil rights movement. At least four cross-burnings took place in Charlottesville between 1955 and 1959, and violent threats were made to stores, restaurants, churches, and homes of pro-integrationists. White supremacists painted swastikas on the largest lecture hall at the University of Virginia, on the city’s synagogue and on a private home owned by a Jewish family. An Episcopal church and Presbyterian church adjacent to UVa were defaced with Nazi symbols and threatened as they allowed meetings of pro-integrationists. [40] A Washington Post columnist wrote a story on September 22, 1958, whose text accurately reflected the pithy headline “University Remote from School [Integration] Furor.” [41]
Eric Wolf did not publish on what he experienced in Charlottesville between 1955 and 1958, but his correspondence offers more than a glimpse into those years. In his letters, one can see Wolf’s efforts to bring an anthropological perspective to racial and class tensions in Charlottesville. As the person who hired Wolf to join the faculty at UVa in a joint sociology/anthropology department, Floyd House, realized before him, UVa was not a welcoming place to base a program of opposition to white supremacy and white supremacists. [42] However, along with a very few other faculty, Wolf (and his first wife, Katia) allied with pro-integrationist groups organized in Charlottesville and on several recorded occasions he brought an anthropological perspective to race and class tensions in his local public talks.
Wolf’s correspondence offers insight into what he saw and experienced in Charlottesville and his individual and collective action between 1955 and 1958. At the University of Virginia and in the town of Charlottesville, Wolf offered public lectures on race and provided at least six formal lectures on race to the UVa Medical School. Wolf taught anthropology classes as per usual in the college. When he delivered the lectures in the medical school, he reversed a four-decade path of influence and disciplinary hierarchy at UVa where eugenics dominated long into the 20th century. He prioritized a Boasian perspective rather than the medical school anatomist/eugenicist’s perspective on biology of racial difference. The content of some of his public lectures were summarized in the daily newspaper of Charlottesville. [43]
Almost immediately upon moving to Charlottesville, Wolf and Katia joined the Charlottesville-based Council on Human Relations, an organization formed in 1956 to work for improved race relations in the area. [44]
Only three other publicly active anti-segregationist faculty are noted by Wolf : Lambert Molyneaux, a colleague in sociology and anthropology, David Cole Wilson, professor of neurology in the University Hospital, and psychologist Arthur Bachrach. Molyneaux joined Wolf in publicly debating a member of the arch-segregationist group Defenders of State Sovereignty in Charlottesville in July 1955. At a public lecture on November 16, 1956, Wolf spoke on the topic of “Modern Races Being Part of the Same Species,” shockingly still a necessary topic to outline. He also joined with Bachrach and Wilson to lecture, each from their own disciplinary perspectives, to fight race-based prejudice and segregation. [45] Sidney Mintz, who visited Wolf in Charlottesville on more than one occasion, wrote to Wolf in 1957 and asked where things were going, as it “sounds as if plenty of trouble is ahead.” Wolf responded, characteristically linking past and present :

The other day a letter even appeared in the local newspaper calling for secession. And while no one in his right mind would advocate this policy, the shadow of the Reconstruction Period is still heavily present in most people’s minds. The present government of the state seems wholly committed to outright defiance of the Supreme Court. … All in all a mess.’ [46]

The local media reported on the Council on Human Relations meetings and the contents of their talks. The Charlottesville Daily Progress summarized one of Wolf’s talks entitled “Modern Races Are Variations of the Same Species.” From the newspaper account, Wolf stated that “many scientific tests have been devised to measure the mental differences between the races, but, to date no such differences in innate psychological traits have been discovered. Results of these tests indicate that mental ability is more related to environment and personal experience than to race.” The next day a letter published on the editorial page of the Charlottesville Daily Progress expressed shock at what was being said at the Council on Human Relations meetings. The letter stated, “I only hope this [letter] will warn some of the people of Charlottesville of what is going on to undermine the white race.” The author of the letter encouraged white citizens to follow who spoke at these meetings and who attended, “to see who is stabbing you in the back. Let’s find out who our enemies are.” [47]
John Bell Williams, a powerful member of the House of Representatives from Mississippi and a national spokesman in support of segregation, came to Charlottesville in August 1957. He attracted 1200 people to the still segregated Lane High School. [48] The Richmond News Leader editorial page blamed the NAACP and Jewish agitators for stoking the fear of violence that preceded and accompanied Williams’ speech, sponsored by the Defenders of State Sovereignty and Individual Liberty. Wolf attended the meeting and took these alarming notes, sent to his father in August 1957 :

Sunday night I went to a meeting of the Defenders of State Sovereignty and Individual Liberty, the names by which the local White Citizens Councils are known. I went just to listen and look at the audience. The meeting was called to protest integration in the schools and filled the auditorium at Lane High School with well above 1,000 people. Not just poor whites, but the middle-class backbone of the town or so it seemed to me. The speeches were properly inflammatory, the main speaker being [Rep.] John Bell Williams of Mississippi who combined his considerable talent of a southern folksy storyteller with the bombast of a courtroom lawyer. [49]

Williams inferred that state-tolerated violence and the threat of violence was at a level high enough in Mississippi to deter speech in support of civil rights and school desegregation, and Virginians should take note. Wolf concluded the letter to his father with the observation that “there is a lot of this sort of thing going on and—I am afraid—will go on in the future.” [50]
The Council on Human Relations continued to hold a series of lectures and panel discussions on race relations. Wolf delivered a paper to the Council entitled “History of Race Prejudice” and, according to Katia Wolf, provided the lecture with particular reference to the South. She wrote to Eric’s father : “The other night Eric gave a talk to the Human Relation Council on the “History of Race Prejudice” with particular reference to the South. The talk went very well and was received with enthusiasm. I am sending you the clippings from the local paper.” In March 1958 the Wolfs participated in a public panel discussion entitled “When Desegregation Comes to Charlottesville.” [51]
In those same years, 1955–1958, Wolf not only wrote Sons of the Shaking Earth, but also published several articles in major journals co-authored with Sidney Mintz and Ángel Palerm. He was a scholar-activist in this most dangerous environment and time, and at a precarious moment in his emerging distinguished career. In 1959, Wolf accepted a visiting appointment at the University of Chicago although he secured a promise from the dean at UVa that he could return if he desired after the leave. [52] That would not happen as he moved on to the University of Michigan and then to CUNY–Lehman until his death in 1999.

Linking Philosophy and Action : From Virginia to Southeast Asia

Eric Wolf’s engagement in anti-segregation, anti-white supremacy efforts described here took place in the tinder box of Charlottesville racial tensions and state support of white supremacist ideologies. As activist colleague Lambert Molyneaux explained to a Washington Post writer questioning the lack of engagement by UVa students, faculty and administrators in fighting segregation, being ‘labelled’ a sociologist/anthropologist from UVa was to be labelled with a “smear word” and not get the hearing that most University professors were usually granted in the small university city. [53] The explicit physical and career danger Eric Wolf faced in taking an activist role in Charlottesville would have been a deterrent. Add to this that Wolf’s anthropological mentors might easily have turned him away from a career as a scholar-activist.
But Wolf went his own way, unsupported by the conservative and racist university that hired him and with few colleagues or students there in mutual public action or support. In several obituaries for Wolf, his colleagues noted independently that, as John Gledhill wrote : “Wolf was a leader, not a follower, and a role model for what an academic should be.” [54] This leadership was in view in his public opposition to segregation and white supremacy in Charlottesville which he took on within his first year at UVa. Jane Schneider echoed Gledhill’s sentiment as she described Wolf as a principled and politically engaged scholar, who was, for many, the anthropologist who rendered anthropology relevant to contemporary history, who made this history intelligible, and who exemplified how one could combine moral with intellectual commitments.
Wolf was given credit by many for writing this oft-repeated phrase in his 1964 introductory text : ‘Anthropology is the most scientific of humanities, the most humanistic of sciences.’ The label of humanist comes up time and again from those who knew him as a colleague and as a teacher, as in the words of Jane Schneider that he was a magnanimous humanist. The program he and colleagues built at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York was “an in-gathering of anthropology’s most important leftists” and a center of student activism. Three former PhD students recalled that (in the 1980s) “We took seminars with a scholar whose life work embodied the intersection of politics, scholarship, and activism.” In this essay, I have illustrated Wolf’s commitment to all those dimensions of Anthropology and he had not wavered from his time at Columbia in the early 1950s to his role as Distinguished Professor at Lehman College (CUNY) until his death in 1999. Josiah McC. Heyman wrote that Wolf defied any single label and is best remembered for the framework he modelled for the field of ethical-political-humanism.
Wolf in Charlottesville provides an alternative narrative for a time that is typically portrayed as one of low to no political engagement by anthropologists, or worse, the use of anthropology in collaboration with the U.S. military or serving as ‘objective scientists’ in Indian claims hearings, for example. [55] Of course, he has been widely noted as a co-creator with Marshall Sahlins and other Michigan faculty for organizing anti-Vietnam war protests (coined “teach-ins” by Sahlins) at the University of Michigan. Those protests were organized over the strong threats of the Michigan administration and state politicians not to strike or walk out of class in protest (hence, the decision to “teach in” rather than “walk out”). [56]
Aram Yengoyan, writing to Sidney Mintz in 1967 about the Michigan protests said that Wolf was “on the ground floor,” interviewed on TV and the press ; one might say he was the public face and voice of those leading the protest. Subsequently, Jacobson and Wolf’s 1970 uncovering of anthropologists’ collaboration with the military during the U.S. bombing of Thailand, published in the New York Review of Books, remains a ‘case study’ that has anchored the history and teaching of ethics in anthropology discussed in the American Anthropological Association and anthropology texts. [57]

Fig. 2.
Eric Wolf, center left, being interviewed by television reporter about the University of Michigan ‘teach-in’ protest against the Vietnam War, March 1965.

Eric Wolf’s career as a scholar-activist offers a comment on a long-standing cycle of debate in anthropology—that is, the extent to which anthropologists have been engaged in ethics and in the politics of the communities they study increasingly in a collaborative manner. Activism and engagement on behalf of community interests has spread across all subdisciplines of anthropology in recent decades and ‘public anthropology has become an umbrella term for a range of engagement, from individual to collective action. [58] Sidney Mintz was asked in a videotaped interview who had the greatest influence on his research career. Mintz considered Karl Marx and early Russian Marxist theorist, Georgi Plekhanov. But, he concluded, Eric Wolf had been his greatest influence because of his understanding of “the relation between philosophy and action ….” [59] That link between philosophy and action framed his brief time in Charlottesville and I have sought in this essay to add this chapter to what has been written about Wolf’s career, underscoring his personal ethics and courage.

Postscript, Charlottesville 2017

The young man who had been a refugee from Nazi-occupied Europe sought in his last years to use his commitment to comparative study in anthropology to seek some explanation for the rise, violence and spread of National Socialism. [60] We find that explicitly stated in Wolf’s introduction to his last book, Envisioning Power :
This inquiry focuses on the ideas that guided the paroxysm of events. The German catastrophe was of course the vortex of other catastrophes : Jewish, French, Gypsy, Polish and Russian, to name but a few way stations on the descent into hell. What the National Socialists wrought is, without a doubt, a cause of moral outrage, but outrage is not enough. It is vital that we gain an analytic purchase on what transpired, precisely because it embodied a possibility for humankind, and what was humanly possible can happen again. [61]

“Charlottesville” is today a trope for the current surge in threatened and real violence of alt-right, white supremacist and antisemitic groups uniting in public displays and on the internet, a surge encouraged by the former president of the United States. “Charlottesville” refers as well to the resistance those Nazi groups were met with in Charlottesville and by the community including faculty, staff and students on the UVa campus in August 2017. The confused and tepid response to the violence by city, state and university administrators, and police, and Donald Trump’s statement that there were ‘good and bad people on both sides’ will not soon, if ever, be forgotten.
Those days of six years ago were traumatic to Charlottesville and the nation. The real local effect was to cause UVa and the city to confront the legacy of its Jim Crow past and continuing racism and segregation. Many Black residents after the violence and the inaction of the police to protect counter-protestors responded with reference to the centuries of violence and oppression their community had suffered, for which there had been no local or national outrage. And, as Eric Wolf witnessed and spoke out against in the 1950s, not only was there no local or national outrage directed against the systemic racism of the time, but the state had encouraged or malevolently ignored the effects of that ongoing racism. Superintendent of schools, Dr. Rosa Atkins, told the New York Times, “I don’t think the hate groups selected our community by chance. [62] University of Virginia president Teresa Sullivan advised students, faculty, and staff to avoid the Nazi demonstration. Many followed that advice, while others responded with a counter-protest and eventual legal aid.
There is no direct legacy that links Wolf’s actions in the 1950s to the counter-protests of 2017. The present here is very different than the past and the present in the 1950s was disturbingly (and by design) tragically very different than Anthropology of its own time. However, that anthropological scholar-activism, public anthropology and humanism have become widely accepted in the discipline, from faculty to undergraduate students, and are a value of our academic community, was apparent in the 2017 Anthropology department and University that Wolf had been so isolated in during the late 1950s. In 2017, University of Virginia students, including many Anthropology graduate students, were among the counter protesters. [63] Anthropology professor Ira Bashkow published an essay critical of former UVa President Sullivan’s inaction in a 2017 issue of Sapiens. [64] A book of essays by UVa faculty and community members and published by the University of Virginia Press is entitled Charlottesville 2017 : The Legacy of Race and Inequity. [65] The authors in the volume invoke deep local race history of white supremacy by the city and the university as the very source of the continuing Jim Crow ideology that still looms large today in the city that Nazis marched in.

Fig. 3.
2022 exhibit of artifacts from University of Virginia student, faculty, staff and community response to Nazi/White supremacist march in Charlottesville, 2017.
University of Virginia Library, Special Collections Exhibit, “No Unity Without Justice : Student and Community Organizing During the 2017 Summer of Hate.” Photo by Stacey Evans, UVA Library,

One can only imagine how distraught Eric Wolf would have been on seeing the Nazi swastika flag and the torch-carrying white supremacists march across the university campus and into the city of Charlottesville. Yet, he had predicted that possibility and might have been heartened to see faculty and students opposing the white supremacists and publicly bemoaning the state’s slow and ineffective response. I believe he would have understood that continuing tensions in Charlottesville are not about National Socialism and its acceptance in certain parts of the United States. Wolf would have understood, as many do today, that the tensions in Charlottesville are about a more local and specific history of power and inequality : the continuing legacy of racism that Wolf had written to Mintz about in 1958 ; the shock of most white students and faculty finding they had little power to control the poorly organized lethal Nazi sympathizers ; the shock of that same group that they could not rely on the power of the state—from the university to the police to the governor’s office—to protect them and confront the Nazis ; and the shock of that same group to the predominant response of African American residents in Charlottesville that said ‘this is the violence we face here, and have faced here, everyday’, and THAT is the inequality, the violence and the limited access to power that we must confront more directly and work to change.
Wolf spoke to that issue as a public anthropologist in the 1950s at a time when public anthropology is considered to have been in decline, when there were not many public anthropologists in the discipline and only four UVa faculty across all disciplines and the university hospital and law school, that joined him. It is a moment early in his career as scholar-activist that deserves attention in his remarkable life.


I am indebted to the staff of the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan where the papers of Eric Wolf are archived. I thank Sydel Silverman (posthumously) for organizing and archiving Wolf’s papers there so thoroughly. I also thank the staff of the Sheridan Library Special Collections at Johns Hopkins Library where the papers of Sidney Mintz are archived and the staff of the Albert Small Special Collections at the University of Virginia where the papers of Floyd Nelson House are archived. I am grateful to Ambra Marzocchi, doctoral candidate in Classics at Johns Hopkins University. Her outstanding archival research skills and intellectual curiosity provided me with access to a wider swath of the Sidney Mintz correspondence files at Johns Hopkins University than I initially thought possible. Fred Damon, Glenn Stone, James Igoe, Adria LaViolette, Paul Shackel, Barbara Little and Gary Feinman also encouraged me through the interest they expressed in earlier drafts of this work and their interest in the career of Eric Wolf and anthropological activism. Conversation with Jarod Roll encouraged me to look more closely at the Highlander School experience for Eric Wolf. Above all, I thank Ira Bashkow for the invaluable advice he offered as a scholar of anthropological theory and history, as a critical reader of earlier drafts, and advice that led to reorganizing and expanding the structure and contents of this essay.

Archival Sources

Eric Wolf papers, Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan.

Sidney Mintz papers, Sheridan Library Special Collections, Johns Hopkins University.

FBI files

Floyd Nelson House Papers, 1919-1974, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library.

FBI files, Highlander Folk School, Part 2 of 19, Agent notes, October 31, 1941.

Selected Bibliography

Gledhill, John. 1999. “Eric Wolf : An Appreciation.” Critique of Anthropology 19 : 202–208.

Hancock, Robert L.A. 2011. “Eric Wolf and the Structural Power of Theory,” Histories of Anthropology Annual, 7 : 191–215. Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press.

Heyman, Josiah McC. 2005. “Eric Wolf’s Ethical-political Humanism, and Beyond,” Critique of Anthropology 25 : 13–25.

Heyman, Josiah McC. 2012. “Eric R. Wolf,” Oxford Bibliographies in Anthropology, John L. Jackson, ed. New York : Oxford University Press.

Kottak, Conrad Phillip. 2012. “Eric Robert Wolf, 1923-1999 : A Biographical Memoir.” Washington, DC : National Academy of Sciences.

Schneider, Jane and Rayna Rapp. 1995. “Works by Eric R. Wolf,” in Articulating Hidden Histories : Exploring the Influence of Eric R. Wolf, ed. by Jane Schneider and Rayna Rapp, pp. 351–356. Berkeley : University of California Press.

Wolf, Eric R. 1999. Envisioning Power : Ideologies of Dominance and Crisis. Berkeley : University of California Press. (with contributions by Sydel Silverman and Aram Yengoyan)

Wolf, Eric R. 2001. “Introduction : An Intellectual Biography,” In : Pathways of Power : Building an Anthropology of the Modern World, ed. by Eric R. Wolf, Sydel Silverman, and Aram Yengoyan. Berkeley : University of California Press.

Wolf, 2001, Eric R. Pathways of Power : Building an Anthropology of the Modern World, ed. by Eric R. Wolf, Sydel Silverman, and Aram Yengoyan. Berkeley : University of California Press.

References Cited

Arndt, Grant. 2019. “Rediscovering Nancy Ostreich Lurie’s Activist Anthropology,” American Anthropologist 121:725-728

Bashkow, Ira. 2017. “Three Lessons I Learned From Charlottesville,” Sapiens, Oct. 13, 2017.

Boyle, Sarah Patton. 1962. The Desegregated Heart : A Virginian’s Stand in Time of Transition, Charlottesville : University of Virginia Press.

Carson, Clayborne, et al. 1978. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Desegregation and the Future,” in The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., vol. 3, Birth of a New Age, Dec. 1955–Dec 1956, Berkeley : University of California Press.

Ely, Carol, Jeffrey L. Hantman & Phyllis Leffler. 1994. To Seek the Peace of the City, Exhibit catalog

Elias, Norbert. 1978 [1939]. The Civilizing Process, English translation by Edmund Jephcott, New York : Urizen Books.

Friedman, Jonathan. 1987. “Interview with Eric Wolf,” Current Anthropology 28:107–18.

Ghani, Ashraf. 1987. “A Conversation with Eric Wolf,” American Ethnologist 14 : 346–367.

Gledhill, John. 1999. “Eric Wolf : An Appreciation,” Critique of Anthropology 19 : 202–208.

Glen, John M. 1996. Highlander : No Ordinary School, Knoxville : University of Tennessee Press.

Green, Erica L. & Annie Waldman. 2018. “You Are Still Black : Charlottesville’s Racial Divide Hinders Students,” New York Times, Oct. 16, 2018.

Hancock, Robert L.A. 2011. “Eric Wolf and the Structural Power of Theory,” Histories of Anthropology Annual, 7 : 191-215, Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press.

Hantman, Jeffrey L. 2019.“Eugenicists, Sentimentalists, Activists : Social Theory at the University of Virginia, 1926-1960”. Magazine of Albemarle County History 76-77:71–100.

Highlander Folkschool 25th Anniversary,

Horton, Myles & Paulo Friere. 1990. We Make the Road by Walking, Philadelphia : Temple University Press.

Jorgensen, Joseph G. & Eric R. Wolf. 1970. “Anthropologists on the warpath in Thailand.” New York Review of Books, November 19, 26–35

Kerns, Virginia. 2007. Scenes from the High Desert : Julian Steward’s Life and Theory, Champagne Urbana : University of Illinois Press.

Leffler, Phyllis. 2018. “Insiders or Outsiders : Charlottesville’s Jews, White Supremacy and Antisemitism,” Southern Jewish History 21 (2018) : 61–120.

Little, Barbara & Paul Shackel. 2014. Archaeology, Heritage, and Civic Engagement : Working toward the Public Good, New York : Routledge.

MacClancy, Jeremy (ed.). 2002. Exotic No More : Anthropology on the Front Lines, Chicago : University of Chicago Press.

King, Jr., Martin Luther. 1956. “Desegregation and the Future,” in The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., 1978, ed. Clayborne Carson et al., vol. 3, Birth of a New Age, Dec. 1955–Dec 1956, Berkeley : University of California Press,), p. 475.

McBea, Susanna. 1958. “University Remote from School Furor,” Washington Post, City Life, September 22, p. B1.

McC. Heyman Josiah. 2005. “Eric Wolf’s Ethical-political Humanism, and Beyond,” Critique of Anthropology 25 : 13–25.

McC. Heyman, Josiah. 2010. “Activism in Anthropology : Exploring the Present Through Eric R. Wolf’s Vietnam-era Work,” Anthropology 34 : 287–293.

Marcus, Anthony. 1989. “Eric Wolf Obituary,” Solidarity.

McCaffrey, Katherine T., Christine Kovic & Charles R. Menzies. 2020. “On Strike : Student Activism, CUNY, and Engaged Anthropology,” Transforming Anthropology, 28 : 170–183.

Montagu, Ashley. 1945. “Review of Probing Our Prejudices,” American Anthropologist 47 : 451

Nelson, Louis & Claudrena Harold (eds.). 2018. Charlottesville 2017 : The Legacy of Race and

Inequity, Charlottesville : University of Virginia Press.

Palerm, Juan-Vicente. 2014. “Recordando a Eric Wolf,” Desacatos 46 : 179–186.

Powdermaker, Hortense. 1944. Probing Our Prejudices : A Unit for High School Students, New York ; London : Harper & Brothers.

Powdermaker, Hortense. 1939. After Freedom : A Cultural Study in the Deep South. New York : Viking.

Powdermaker, Hortense. 1966. Stranger and Friend : The Way of an Anthropologist, New York : Norton and Co.

Price, David. 2016. Cold War Anthropology : The CIA, the Pentagon, and the Growth of Dual Use Anthropology, Durham : Duke University Press.

Reining, Conrad C. 1962. “A Lost Period of Applied Anthropology”, American Anthropologist 64 : 593-600.

Rosenthal, H.D. 1980. Their Day in Court : A History of the Indian Claims Commission, New York : Garland Publishing.

Ryang, Sonia. 2010. Sidney Mintz Interview. ?v=qF_moabBbDA

Scheper-Hughes, Nancy. 1995. “The Primacy of the Ethical Propositions for a Militant Anthropology. Current Anthropology 36 : 409–420.

Schneider, Jane. 1999. “Obituary : Eric Robert Wolf,” American Anthropologist 101 : 395–399.

Schneider, Jane & Rayna Rapp. 1995. Articulating Hidden Histories : Exploring the Influence of Eric R. Wolf, University of California Press, 1995.

Silverman, Sydel (ed.). 1981. Totems and Teachers : Perspectives on the History of Anthropology, New York : Columbia University Press.

Steward, Julian. 1948. “Comments on the Statement of Human Rights,” American Anthropologist 50 : 351–352.

Sutton, Imre (ed). 1985. Irredeemable America : The Indians Estate and Land Claims, Alburquerque : University of New Mexico Press.

Wolf, Eric R. 1971. “Hortense Powdermaker 1900-1970,” American Anthropologist 73 : 783–786.

Wolf, Eric R. 1999. Envisioning Power : Ideologies of Dominance and Crisis. Berkeley : University of California Press.

Wolf, Eric R. 2001. “Introduction : An Intellectual Biography,” In : Pathways of Power : Building an Anthropology of the Modern World, ed. by Eric R. Wolf, Sydel Silverman, and Aram Yengoyan, Berkeley : University of California Press.

[1The title and perspective of this paper was particularly inspired by papers by Josiah Heyman (2005), Jane Schneider (1999) and Robert L.A. Hancock (2011).

[2Schneider and Rapp (1995).

[3Hancock (2011).

[4Marcus (1989) ; Schneider and Rapp (1995).

[5Schneider (1999) ; Heyman (2010).

[6McCaffrey et al. (2020).

[7Wolf’s correspondence and papers were reviewed at the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan. Additional correspondence between Wolf and Mintz were reviewed in the Sidney Mintz papers at Johns Hopkins University.

[8Hantman (2018).

[9Elias 1978 (1939).

[10Friedman (1987)

[11Highlander Folkschool 25th Anniversary, ; see also Glen (1996) and Horton and Friere (1990).

[12Friedman (1987).

[13FBI files, Highlander Folk School, Part 2 of 19, Agent notes, October 31, 1941.

[14Eric Wolf to Sidney Mintz, 1957, Eric R. Wolf Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan–Ann Arbor.

[15Ghani (1987) : 352.

[16Palerm 2014 : 180-181.

[17Powdermaker 1944

[18Powdermaker 1939 ; Wolf 1971.

[19Powdermaker 1966 : 25.

[20Powdermaker 1966 : 131.

[21Powdermaker 1966 : 295-296.

[22Wolf 1971.

[23Powdermaker 1944.

[24Montagu 1945 : 451.

[25Friedman 1987 : 107-18.

[26Kerns 2007 : 164-165 ; also see Murphy 1981 : 171-208 ; Julian Steward 1948.

[27Kerns, 2007 : 164–165 ; H.D. Rosenthal, 1980 : 124.

[28Kerns 2007 ; Ghani 1987. See also Hancock 2011 : 191–215, for a critique of how Wolf’s merger of Marx and Steward ‘constrains his conceptualization of indigenous peoples and their encounters with capitalism.’

[29On the University of Virginia’s opposition to Boasian ‘sentimentalists,’ see Hantman,2018 ; for Steward and Wolf joint move to Illinois, see Kerns 2007:264, 265, 286.

[30These were Sociology Department Chair Floyd Nelson House, a PhD graduate of the formerly joint Sociology and Anthropology Department at the University of Chicago and Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Lambert Molyneaux

[31Friedman 1987.

[32Ely, Hantman and Leffler, 1994.

[33Ghani 1987 : 362.

[34Wolf is not specific as to the exact site or community visited ; the summer fieldwork he refers to likely focused on aerial photographic and ground study of evidence for ancient irrigation systems near Teotihuacan, 50 km northeast of Mexico City, a collaborative research he published in the later 1950s with Ángel Palerm and Pedro Armillas. This research involved ’ground-truth’ examinations following study of aerial photographs.

[35Marcus 1989.

[36Schneider 1999 ; Marcus 1989.

[37Wolf 1999 : 12.

[38Boyle 1962 : 194. Note that the time frame reference is to the years immediately preceding Wolf’s arrival at UVa.

[39Carson et al. 1978 :,475.

[40Leffler 2018 ; Boyle 1962.

[41McBea 1958 : B1.

[42Papers of Floyd House, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia.

[43On Wolf lectures, see Hantman,2018 ; Eric Wolf papers, University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library ; Charlottesville Daily Progress, Nov. 16, 1956.

[44Letter to Eric Wolf’s father, Eric Wolf Papers ; Hantman 2018.

[45Course Syllabi, Eric R. Wolf Papers, box 8.

[4646 Eric Wolf to Sidney Mintz, 1957, Eric R. Wolf Papers, box 2, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan–Ann Arbor.

[47Letter to Editor, “Your Right to Say It,” Charlottesville Daily Progress, November 17, 1956.

[48Patton 1962.

[49Eric Wolf to his father, 1957, Eric R. Wolf Papers, box 4, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library.

[50Eric Wolf to his father, 1957, Eric R. Wolf Papers, box 4.

[51The exact date of the “History of Race Prejudice” talk is unknown, but the year was 1956. Katia Wolf letter to Eric Wolf’s father, Eric R. Wolf Papers at the University of Michigan Arbor.

[52Eric R. Wolf Papers at the University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library on approved leave.

[53McBea 1955 : B1

[54Gledhill 1999.

[55Price 2016 ; Sutton 1985.

[56Oral History Project, University of Michigan In the 1960s,

[57Letter from Aram Yengoyan to Sidney Mintz, March 21, 1965, Sidney Mintz Papers, Johns Hopkins University ; Jorgensen and Wolf 1970, November 19, 26–35 ; see

[58Arndt 2019 ; Little & Shackel 2014 ; MacClancy 2002 ; Scheper-Hughes 1995.

[59Ryang Sonia 2010

[60Schneider 1999.

[61Wolf 1999 : 197.

[62Atkins quoted in Green & Waldman 2018.

[63University of Virginia Anthropology graduate students and faculty had previously been, and remain, leading voices of the living wage campaign for University of Virginia staff.

[64Bashkow 2017.

[65Nelson & Harold 2018.