Vital Topics Forum

Voicing the Ancestors is a genre for recovering, reinterpreting, and sharing work from the past in service of present-day theory and practice. But since it was started to honor the memory of a scholar who is often remembered as having opposed just such projects as “presentism,” explanation is needed. I provide that explanation in my essay about Stocking’s early criticism of presentism, its forgotten historical context, and his later changes of mind. Then, Carolyn Rouse brings to light Claude Lévi-Strauss’s surprisingly pertinent 1952 booklet on Race and History and explains why he was right that the concepts of race and progress must be debunked conjointly. Grant Arndt recovers in the backstory to Nancy Lurie’s theory of Indigenous activism an often-forgotten tradition of collaborative activist anthropology in Native North America. Arzoo Osanloo finds in an unlikely text by Robert Redfield a powerful old-yet-new understanding of the problem with employing legal means of redress for crimes like gender violence that bring shame upon victims. And Rena Lederman describes a remarkable collection of texts assembled by Mary Douglas that Douglas herself loved and that conveys a counterintuitive message about the sources of people’s moral judgments that is hard to swallow for anyone, but especially for many twenty-first-century undergraduates.

Introduction: History of Anthropology That Is Designed to Inspire
Ira Bashkow

On History for the Present: Revisiting George Stocking’s Influential Rejection of “Presentism”
Ira Bashkow

Claude Lévi-Strauss’s Contribution to the Race Question: Race and History
Carolyn M. Rouse

Rediscovering Nancy Oestreich Lurie’s Activist Anthropology
Grant Arndt

The Law Knows No Shame: Robert Redfield’s “Primitive Law” and the Persistence of Honor in Contemporary Societies
Arzoo Osanloo

“My Favorite Book!”: Voicing Mary Douglas for Twenty-First-Century Conversations
Rena Lederman

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