Accueil
Encyclopédie internationale
des histoires de l’anthropologie

Early Ethnographers in the Long Nineteenth Century: Call for References

Han F. Vermeulen

Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle (Saale)

Fabiana Dimpflmeier

Università “Gabriele d’Annunzio” di Chieti – Pescara

Maria Beatrice Di Brizio

Centro di ricerca Mobilità Diversità Inclusione sociale (MODI)-Università di Bologna

2024
Pour citer cet article

Vermeulen, Han F., Fabiana Dimpflmeier & Maria Beatrice Di Brizio, 2024. “Early Ethnographers in the Long Nineteenth Century: Call for References”, in Bérose - Encyclopédie internationale des histoires de l'anthropologie, Paris.

URL Bérose : article3312.html

Télécharger en pdf

Projet de recherche transnational et interdisciplinaire (mars 2024-décembre 2026) – coordonné par Han F. Vermeulen (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology), Fabiana Dimpflmeier (Gabriele d’Annunzio University of Chieti-Pescara), et Maria Beatrice Di Brizio (Centro di ricerca Mobilità Diversità Inclusione sociale (MODI)-Università di Bologna) – soutenu par History of Anthropology Review (HAR), History of Anthropology Network (HOAN), et Bérose - Encyclopédie internationale des histoires de l’anthropologie

Project Statement

This project focuses on ethnographic accounts from the Long Nineteenth Century, either based on fieldwork or borrowing their descriptive and comparative data on “peoples and nations” from first-hand reports by travellers and other in situ observers. Adopting a widely inclusive transnational perspective, this project explores European and extra-European intellectual traditions and envisages early ethnographic studies as a fundamental part of the history of anthropology and ethnography.

Call for Bibliographical References : Early Ethnographers in the Long Nineteenth Century

In Primitive Culture, Edward B. Tylor recognized the crucial role of ethnographers, providing the empirical basis for the generalizations and historical reconstructions produced by a “science of culture” and vouchsafing the credibility of its data. While Primitive Culture (1871) envisaged the “ethnographer’s business” as comparative and classificatory research work, mainly conducted from one’s own office, other essays paid tribute to in situ observers of modern populations (Tylor 1884). After Tylor, Alfred Cort Haddon credited missionaries, early explorers, travellers, and colonial officers, for their fieldwork contributions to the growth of ethnography, “the foundation on which the science of ethnology has been and is being laboriously built” (Haddon, 2d ed. 1934 : 103).

Notwithstanding its early acknowledgment, ethnographic research – either field-based or performed in the library – has long been neglected by historians of anthropology. Thus, the three editions of Haddon’s History of Anthropology (1910, 1934, 1949) focus on the theoretical development of the discipline, giving limited attention to collectors of ethnographic material. The same may be said of most narratives on the history of anthropology, such as Marvin Harris’s The Rise of Anthropological Theory (1968) or T. H. Eriksen and F. S. Nielsen’s A History of Anthropology (2d ed. 2013).

A significant departure from this historiographical posture was made by James Urry (1973) and George W. Stocking Jr., who worked on the history of fieldwork (Stocking 1983), on the ethnographic data of British nineteenth-century ethnology (Stocking 1987), on fieldwork-based anthropology before and after World War I (Stocking 1995), and on the very notion of ethnography (Stocking 1971, 1984). More recently, Efram Sera-Shriar (2011, 2013, 2015) and Han F. Vermeulen (2015) have drawn attention to eighteenth- and nineteenth-century ethnographies, while specialists exploring the history of colonial anthropology and the development of area studies have highlighted the relevance of pre-Malinowskian ethnographies based on fieldwork (Sibeud 2002 ; Gardner & Kenny 2016). Their significance for the disciplinary development of anthropology has been recognized by scholarly encyclopaedias and reviews, notably BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology and the History of Anthropology Review (see the dossiers on early ethnographers in the section “Anthropologists and Ethnographers” of BEROSE, and articles on the history of ethnography in HAR ).

Building on this new historiographical sensitivity to ethnography, Frederico Delgado Rosa and Han F. Vermeulen (2022a–c) prepared a selective bibliography of 365 ethnographic accounts, dating from the period ca. 1870–ca. 1922 – that is, recorded during the fifty years preceding the publication of Bronislaw Malinowski’s Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922). Produced by 220 authors belonging to various national research traditions and written in English, or in languages other than English, these accounts were fieldwork-based monographs “on a single group or various groups within a relatively circumscribed cultural region” and “compilations of oral texts, or corpora inscriptionum” (Vermeulen and Rosa 2022 : 476).

In order to complement and enlarge Rosa and Vermeulen’s bibliography of the period 1870–1922, we propose to prepare a bibliography of ethnographic works written or published in the Long Nineteenth Century (1789–1914). While this period partly overlaps with that of Rosa and Vermeulen, it expands their timeframe and adopts their transnational perspective. Accordingly, we will consider works written by English- and non-English-speaking authors from the most diverse national research traditions, and include works resulting from their authors’ empirical research in the field, either at home or abroad, both overseas and in Europe. Moreover, since the history of the term ethnography reveals that equating ethnography with fieldwork leads to a marginalization of “other kinds of Völker-Beschreibung (description of peoples and nations), from statistical questionnaires to armchair compilations” (Vermeulen and Rosa 2022 : 476), we also take into account library studies, whose descriptive and comparative data on “peoples and nations” were culled from first-hand reports by travellers and other categories of in situ observers.

Such a vast bibliographical endeavour, aiming at a comprehensive but inevitably selective charter of the Ethnographic Archive, may best be envisaged as a collaborative project. We therefore launch a Call for References to invite researchers to share references of ethnographic accounts recorded during the Long Nineteenth Century, either based on first-hand observation or compiled by so-called “armchair anthropologists”, deriving their empirical data from published and/or manuscript sources. All contributions will be credited in the list of contributors associated with the final version of our bibliography. The underlying assumption of this collective and collaborative pursuit will be that early ethnographies, though long neglected and sidelined, are “a fundamental part of the history of ethnography and anthropology” (Vermeulen and Rosa 2022 : 476).

Coordinated by Han F. Vermeulen, Fabiana Dimpflmeier, and Maria Beatrice Di Brizio and supported by the History of Anthropology Network (HOAN), the History of Anthropology Review (HAR) and BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, the research project “Early Ethnographers in the Long Nineteenth Century” will cover a three-year period ending in 2026 and will result in the publication of a selected bibliography of ethnographic accounts and a special issue or an edited volume collating the results.

Divided into four phases, the project is designed as follows :

  • A Call for References will be issued in March 2024, followed by a Call for Papers in May 2024 ;
  • A Conference will be held on 6 December 2024 to present and discuss case studies ;
  • A Workshop will be organized in September 2025 to present and discuss papers ;
  • The papers will be included in a special issue or an edited volume to be published in 2026.

The result will be a vital contribution to the history of anthropology and to studies of the Ethnographic Archive. As part of the first phase of the project, we invite the international community of the histories of anthropologies to present bibliographical references from the Ethnographic Archive dating back to the Long Nineteenth Century, providing perspectives on early ethnographers from European and extra-European traditions, both abroad and at home.

Please submit your bibliographical entries to : early.etnographers@gmail.com. The Call for References will be open until 31 December 2024.

Style examples of entries :

Book :
Haddon, Alfred Cort 1910. History of Anthropology. London : Watt’s & Co.

Article in journal :
Tylor, Edward Burnett 1884. “How the Problems of American Anthropology Present Themselves to the English Mind.” Science, vol. 4, pp. 545–551.

Article in book :
Stocking, George Ward, Jr. 1983. “The Ethnographer’s Magic : Fieldwork in British Anthropology from Tylor to Malinowski.” In George Ward Stocking, Jr. (ed.) The Ethnographer’s Magic : Essays on Ethnographic Fieldwork. Madison, WI : University of Wisconsin Press, pp. 70–120.

References Cited

Eriksen, Thomas Hylland and Finn Sivert Nielsen. 2013. A History of Anthropology. 2d ed. London : Pluto Press (1st ed. 2001).

Gardner, Helen and Robert Kenny. 2016. “Before the Field : Colonial Anthropology Reassessed.” Oceania, vol. 86, issue 3, pp. 218–224.

Haddon, Alfred Cort. 1910. History of Anthropology. London : Watt’s & Co (2d rev. ed. 1934 ; 3rd impression 1949).

Harris, Marvin. 1968. The Rise of Anthropological Theory : A History of Theories of Culture. London : Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Malinowski, Bronislaw Kaspar. 1922. Argonauts of the Western Pacific : An Account of Native Enterprise and Adventure in the Archipelagoes of Melanesian New Guinea. Preface by Sir James George Frazer. London : George Routledge & Sons.

Rosa, Frederico Delgado and Han F. Vermeulen (eds.). 2022a. Ethnographers Before Malinowski : Pioneers of Anthropological Fieldwork, 1870-1922. Foreword by Thomas Hylland Eriksen. New York/Oxford : Berghahn Books (EASA Series 44).

Rosa, Frederico Delgado and Han F. Vermeulen. 2022b.“Online Interactive Archive : Ethnographic Monographs before Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1870-1922)” in History of Anthropology Review 46 (2022), Online 21 November 2022 : https://histanthro.org/bibliography/ethnographic-monographs/ [introducing an expandable research bibliography of 365 monographs by 220 ethnographers working in the fifty years preceding the publication of Malinowski’s classic monograph, 1870–1922.]

Rosa, Frederico Delgado and Han F. Vermeulen. 2022c. “Opening the Archive : Selected Bibliography of Ethnographic Accounts, ca. 1870-1922” in BEROSE International Encyclopaedia of the Histories of Anthropology, Paris. 31 pp. Online 23 November 2022. https://www.berose.fr/article2716.html

Sera-Shriar, Efram. 2011. “Observing ‘Man’ in situ : Edward Burnett Tylor’s Travels through Mexico.” History of Anthropology Newsletter, vol. 38, no. 2, pp. 3–8.

Sera-Shriar, Efram. 2013. The Making of British Anthropology, 1813-1871. London : Pickering & Chatto.

Sera-Shriar, Efram. 2015. “Arctic Observers : Richard King, Monogenism and the Historicisation of Inuit through Travel Narratives.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, vol. 51, pp. 23–31.

Sibeud, Emmanuelle. 2002. Une Science impériale pour l’Afrique ? La construction des savoirs africanistes en France, 1878-1930. Paris : Éditions de l’EHESS.

Stocking, George Ward, Jr. (ed.). 1971. “What’s in a Name ? The Origins of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 1837-1871.” Man (n.s.) vol. 6, issue 3 : 369–390.

Stocking, George Ward, Jr. 1983. “The Ethnographer’s Magic : Fieldwork in British Anthropology from Tylor to Malinowski.” In George Ward Stocking Jr. (ed.) The Ethnographer’s Magic : Essays on Ethnographic Fieldwork. Madison, WI : University of Wisconsin Press, pp. 70–120.

Stocking, George Ward, Jr. 1984. “Qu’est-ce qui est en jeu dans un nom ? (‘What’s in a Name ?’ II). La ‘Société d’Ethnographie’ et l’historiographie de l’‘anthropologie’ en France.” In : Britta Rupp-Eisenreich (ed.) Histoires de l’Anthropologie (XVIe-XIXe siècles). Paris : Klincksieck, pp. 421–431.

Stocking, George Ward, Jr. 1987. Victorian Anthropology. New York : The Free Press.

Stocking, George Ward, Jr. 1995. After Tylor : British Social Anthropology, 1888-1951. Madison : University of Wisconsin Press.

Tylor, Edward Burnett. 1871. Primitive Culture : Researches into the Development of Mythology, Philosophy, Religion, Art, and Custom. 2 vols. London : John Murray. German translation 1873.

Tylor, Edward Burnett. 1884. “How the Problems of American Anthropology Present Themselves to the English Mind.” Science, vol. 4, pp. 545–551.

Urry, James. 1973. “Notes and Queries on Anthropology and the Development of Field Methods in British Anthropology, 1870-1920”. Proceedings of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, issue 1972, pp. 45–57.

Vermeulen, Han F. 2015. Before Boas : The Genesis of Ethnography and Ethnology in the German Enlightenment. Lincoln and London, NE : University of Nebraska Press (Critical Studies in the History of Anthropology).

Vermeulen, Han F. and Frederico Delgado Rosa. 2022. “Appendix. Selected Bibliography of Ethnographic Accounts, ca. 1870-1922.” In : Frederico Delgado Rosa and Han F. Vermeulen (eds.) Ethnographers Before Malinowski : Pioneers of Anthropological Fieldwork, 1870-1922. New York/Oxford : Berghahn Books, pp. 474–501.