All posts tagged with history of anthropology

Quote: Fay Cooper-Cole on bones and races

2 minute read

In 1945, American Naturalist published a lecture by Fay Cooper-Cole on “Some problems of human racial development and migration”. Cooper-Cole had been a stud...

Quote: Darwin on human variation

2 minute read

There is much that could be said about Charles Darwin’s discussion of human races in Descent of Man. In Chapter 7 he embarked on a long discussion of whether...

Dilemma of the obstetrical dilemma

3 minute read

During the past few years, anthropologists have been questioning the long-held idea that human birth is uniquely risky for mothers and infants because of the...

Link: The discovery story of the LB1 skeleton

less than 1 minute read

Paige Madison pointed me today to her post from 2015 recounting the discovery of the LB1 skeleton, from Liang Bua, Flores: “The Moment the Hobbit was Discove...

Photo: An early Neandertal life rendering

less than 1 minute read

One of the earliest artist renderings of a Neanderthal (1887), published in a magazine called The Open Court, which was dedicated to the dialogue between rel...

Quote: Franz Boas the pinko

less than 1 minute read

Wilton Krogman, in a footnote to his review, “Fifty years of physical anthropology.”

Link: Skeletons of the mountain gorillas

less than 1 minute read

The NYCEP blog has a great post by Natalie O’Shea, who has been helping prepare the skeletal remains of gorillas who died natural deaths within the Rwanda Vo...

A retrospective on the Piltdown doubters

less than 1 minute read

Darren Naish has a very nice post about one aspect of the saga of Piltdown Man: the scientists who never believed that the jaw and calvaria of the specimen a...

Quote: Dreger on heretics

less than 1 minute read

Alice Dreger discusses her new book, Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science in The Scientist: “Stirring the Pot”.

Bernard Wood interviewed in Current Biology

1 minute read

A recent issue of Current Biology has a short interview with paleoanthropologist Bernard Wood: “Bernard Wood”. The interview covers his transition from a tra...

A visit to the world’s largest body farm

2 minute read

Vox writer Joseph Stromberg visited the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State University, and has written an in-depth description of his visit: “The sc...

Neandertals inside and outside humanity

1 minute read

The historian of science Lydia Pyne has published a couple of recent articles that detail interesting aspects of the history human evolution. The first is ab...

A Neanderthal memoir

2 minute read

Carl Zimmer reviews Svante Paabo’s new book, Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes, in the New York Times: “Missing Links”. Zimmer gives a balanced revi...

Popularity of hominin species names

2 minute read

I was curious about the use of Homo ergaster over time. It seems to me that fewer and fewer paleoanthropologists have been using it over the last few years. ...

Looking back on Mungo

1 minute read

In a recent article, the geologist Jim Bowler gives a retrospective on the 1974 discovery of the “Mungo Man” skeleton in Australia: “Mungo Man is a physical ...

What happened to Michael Rockefeller?

1 minute read

Smithsonian magazine has a long feature article by Carl Hoffman, about the 1961 disappearance of Michael Rockefeller: “What Really Happened to Michael Rockef...

Quote: Phillip Tobias on Sherwood Washburn

3 minute read

I have been reading through Phillip Tobias’ memoir, Into the Past, and ran across this passage about Sherwood Washburn. Washburn was a very influential figur...

The brains behind an exhibition

2 minute read

Sara Perry writing on Savage Minds, this time with an interesting historical story about the Wellcome Collection’s recent “Brains: Mind as Matter” exhibition...

Tim White featured on Science Friday

less than 1 minute read

Last week, Science Friday posted a great video interview with paleoanthropologist Tim White. The interview is part of their “Desktop Diaries” series, in whic...

Quote: Phillip Tobias on the study of race

less than 1 minute read

I was doing research on another topic, and ran across an obituary of Phillip Tobias that I hadn’t seen: “Phillip Tobias, SA’s great scientist and human being...

More on the reclamation proclamation

less than 1 minute read

Michael E. Smith comments on the Chagnon/Sahlins flap from the perspective of archaeology: “Chagnon, Sahlins, and science”:

Anthropology's Spinal Tap problem

2 minute read

The Thesis Whisperer brings up the topic of prolonged rudeness in academic culture: “Academic assholes and the circle of niceness”. When I write that it’s ti...

Sahlins and Chagnon

less than 1 minute read

Essential reading today for anthropologists: Serena Golden’s account of how Marshall Sahlins resigned from the National Academy of Sciences: “A Protest Resig...

Napoleon Chagnon profile

1 minute read

The New York Times has a very long and informative profile of Napoleon Chagnon, written by Emily Eakin: “Napoleon Chagnon, America’s Most Controversial Anthr...

Phrenology, race and history

less than 1 minute read

The movie Django Unchained includes a scene in which the antagonist (a rich, white, plantation owner) expounds on phrenology as a justification of slavery. J...

Hooton's complexity

5 minute read

Eugene Giles has an article in the new Yearbook of Physical Anthropology that will be of great historical interest to many in the field: “Two faces of Earnes...

Quote: Brub and the Boas Bowl

less than 1 minute read

Michael Brub writes in the Chronicle of Higher Education: “Why I Resigned the Paterno Chair”, with a discussion of academics versus athletics. I’m linking be...

Quote: Ashley-Montagu and his zingers

2 minute read

Ashley Montagu is a unique character from the history of anthropology. I ran across an essay of his yesterday, which I found entertaining for its many zinger...

"Asymmetrical characters"

1 minute read

In case you worry that paleoanthropology never casts off bad ideas, take a look at the intro to a review paper by Ernest Hooton in 1925 Hooton:asymmetrical:1...

Paleoanthropologist Phillip V. Tobias dies

less than 1 minute read

I want to pass along the news that Phillip Tobias, one of the world’s leading paleoanthropologists and anatomists, died earlier this week. The Gauteng Touris...

Quote: Geertz on the variable

less than 1 minute read

From Clifford Geertz’ 1965 essay, “The impact of the concept of culture on the concept of man” Geertz:1965:

Quote: Sapir on the slipshod

less than 1 minute read

From Edward Sapir’s response to Alfred Kroeber’s 1917 essay on “The Superorganic” Sapir:superorganic:1917:

Quote: Malinowski's Metropolis

1 minute read

Bronislaw Malinowski, in his 1936 article, “Culture as a determinant of behavior” Malinowski:determinant:1936:

Quote: Ruth Benedict on pugnacity

less than 1 minute read

From the classic anthropology text Patterns of Culture by Ruth Benedict Benedict:1934, a striking case of the “culture over nature” position:

New Peking Man report

1 minute read

The South African Journal of Science has a new article by Lee Berger, Wu Liu and Wu Xiujie, reporting on the mystery of the “Peking Man” fossils. The remains...

Random Scholar: "Plenty of genuine tails"

1 minute read

I was doing some research involving Aleš Hrdlička, and ran across this curious item published in Science in 1926 (“Human tails: a statement and correction”),...

Piltdown and Presapiens

5 minute read

Robin McKie has a feature article about the Piltdown hoax in the Observer today, that makes good reading for those who may not know the history of this case:...

Aleut origins and relationships

2 minute read

Michael Balter last week had a news article in Science reviewing archaeological and genetic research into the origins and relationships of Aleut populations ...

White on books

1 minute read

The Browser has up an interview with paleoanthropologist Tim White, focused around his choice of five books to recommend: (“Tim White on prehistoric man”). A...

Florida: Anthropologists not wanted

2 minute read

Last week I linked to my essay, “What’s wrong with anthropology?” My theme was that anthropology has been a failure over the past two decades at engaging wit...

What's wrong with anthropology?

2 minute read

Anthropologies is an online project organized by Ryan Anderson that brings together voices reflecting the state of the discipline today. The current volume h...

The great world CT-scanning tour

2 minute read

The international version of Der Spiegel is running an English-language profile of the traveling CT-scan project from Jean-Jacques Hublin and the Max-Planck ...

A Lucy remembrance

less than 1 minute read

The CNN medical blog (associated with Sanjay Gupta) is running a short piece by Don Johanson, which may be of interest: “‘Lucy’ discoverer: Why I study human...

Gould's "Unconscious Manipulation of Data"

7 minute read

OK, so I can’t say it’s not “brain science” because measuring skulls is as close to brain science as anthropology ever gets. But it just shouldn’t be that ha...

Narrow anthro

less than 1 minute read

Archaeologist (and blogger) Michael E. Smith writes some thoughts about “Why anthropology is too narrow an intellectual context for archaeology.”

AMNH Leakey-Johanson event

1 minute read

The American Museum of Natural History has arranged an event featuring Richard Leakey and Don Johanson, which is happening tomorrow evening: “Human Evolution...

Quote: Hrdlicka's blackboard

less than 1 minute read

Here’s a quote from Ales Hrdlicka’s report on “Lansing Man” – a skeleton found near Lansing, Kansas in 1902, which was proposed as extremely early evidence o...

Weidenreich and the Hittite Goddess

less than 1 minute read

By chance I ran across an 2009 post by Rachel Martin of NYU Museum Studies, which investigates a mystery related to one of my scientific heroes, Franz Weiden...

Dreger into Darkness

1 minute read

A reader pointed me to a new paper by Alice Dreger Dreger:2011, focusing on the “Darkness in El Dorado” scandal in the American Anthropological Association. ...

Going Draper

3 minute read

Last week, Nature ran a commentary by Adam Kuper and Jonathan Marks, titled, “Anthropologists unite!”

Boas goes low

3 minute read

While researching another question, I have been reviewing some Franz Boas. In 1936, American Anthropologist ran a piece by Alfred Kroeber which reviewed some...

Kerfufflists or kerfufflers?

less than 1 minute read

Anthropologist Hugh Gusterson writes about the #AAAfail controversy in the Chronicle of Higher Education, from his perspective as one of the board members wh...

Quote: Peter Wood on anthropology

less than 1 minute read

Peter Wood, in a review of Paul Shankman’s book, The Trashing of Margaret Mead: Anatomy of an Anthropological Controversy:

Anthropology in transition

3 minute read

My Wisconsin colleague Herb Lewis wrote a piece in 2005 about the development of anthropology across the 1960’s, as academics became more politically radical...

Morris Goodman obituary

less than 1 minute read

A reader forwards the news that Morris Goodman has died. Goodman was among the first to demonstrate molecular similarity between humans and chimpanzees; he b...

Heyerdahl hyperdiffusion

less than 1 minute read

Martin Rundkvist has been giving a series of lectures about pseudoarchaeologists. Today he writes about Thor Heyerdahl, setting his ideas into the mid-20th-c...

Mead off

1 minute read

Does anybody read Margaret Mead anymore?

An ape by any other name

4 minute read

As usual, I was looking for something else – this time in the writing of Henry Fairfield Osborn – and came across an interesting paper that he delivered as a...

Quote: Popular Science on 1929

less than 1 minute read

More from the Popular Science archive, in the January 1929 issue: “What the World Owes to 1929.” Writing the short “Anthropology” summary was Ales Hrdlička.

"They've learned nothing"

1 minute read

Charles C. Mann reports in this week’s Science about the American Anthropological Association’s revisitation of the sorry Darkness in El Dorado affair (“Chag...

Levi-Strauss, RIP

less than 1 minute read

Claude Lévi-Strauss has died, and the obituary tells me this:

Coon hunts the yeti

3 minute read

I was looking through Carleton Coon’s The Origin of Races, hunting down some old references to ABO variation in primates (more on that later).

Quote: Earnest Hooton on Piltdown

2 minute read

I’ve been flipping through Earnest Hooton’s Up From the Ape (1946 edition). It’s a remarkable book for many reasons. I’m almost transfixed by his discussion ...

Hesperopithecus

less than 1 minute read

Worth reading: Laelaps on “Hesperopithecus”, “The ‘Million-Dollar Pig’s Tooth Mystery’”.

Polly Wiessner profile

less than 1 minute read

The New York Times’ Claudia Dreifus interviews anthropologist Polly Wiessner, known for her pathbreaking work on Hxaro exchange among the !Kung and other soc...

Grover Krantz on exhibit

less than 1 minute read

Earlier this year, I pointed to a Washington Post profile of Grover Krantz. Now the Post follows up with the news that Grover’s skeleton is on exhibit. And h...

P. T. Barnum's gorilla

6 minute read

In the course of my research for the ape strength article, I ran across an old piece from The Atlantic Monthly, in which Alexander Young gives a long satire ...

Gorilla snippets from the 1800's

1 minute read

I’m skipping around the net doing some historical research today, and I’ve been running across stories that try to describe apes to the general public, aroun...

Ashley Montagu on recent evolution

7 minute read

Ashley Montagu was a British anthropologist, born under the name Israel Ehrenberg. He moved to the United States for work at Columbia for his Ph.D work, afte...

Kulturkreise of the Paleolithic Era

2 minute read

I’m reading through the English translation of The Culture Historical Method of Ethnology by Wilhelm Schmidt – one of the practitioners of the Vienna School ...

Julian Steward and the logic of diffusion

7 minute read

I’ve had a tremendous response to the last entry in the diffusion series, which discussed the treatment of cultural diffusion by the Boasian school. I really...

Robert Lowie on anthropology and psychology

7 minute read

It is hard to find a better discussion of how anthropology relates to culture than the first chapter of Robert Lowie’s 1917 book, Culture and Ethnology. For ...

Ten fossils

less than 1 minute read

MSNBC is featuring a tour of “ten fossils that evolved the tale of our origins.” You may find it interesting which ten they chose, and in any event it raises...

Sahlins on Leslie White

less than 1 minute read

Marshall Sahlins contributed a short three-paragraph reflection on Leslie White for the NY Times Magazine: