19 de febrero de 2016

Sites of Invention: Latin America and the Global Making of Historical and Anthropological Knowledge

Type: Call for Papers
Date: April 15, 2016
Location: United Kingdom
Subject Fields: Anthropology, Atlantic History / Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Latin American and Caribbean History / Studies, World History / Studies

Conference and Workshop, 9-10 June 2016, University of London
Convenors: Mark Thurner (University of London), Tristan Platt (University of St Andrews), Guillermo Zermeño (El Colegio de México)
Confirmed Speakers: Serge Gruzinski, François Hartog, Elías Palti, Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra

There is strong evidence to suggest that from the sixteenth century forward the region now known as ‘Latin America’ has served not merely as an object of ‘Western’ knowledge but as a locus or site of knowledge production.  This is particularly true of historical and anthropological knowledge.  Notwithstanding, most histories of anthropology and history ignore the region, assigning ancient origins to the Greeks (thus Herodotus would be ‘the father’ both of history and anthropology) and modern origins to such ‘father’ figures as Vico or Ranke in the case of the discipline of history, and Tylor or Boas for anthropology.  What happens to standard ‘Western’ genealogies of history and anthropology when the ‘Latin American’ archive of knowledge production is duly considered?

Early colonial figures such as Inca Garcilaso de la Vega and Bernardino de Sahagún have been seen as ‘fathers’ of history and anthropology in Peru and Mexico, in part because they developed critical exegetical methods for reading native oral traditions and texts otherwise ignored or misread by Old World chroniclers. Why are they ignored in global genealogies of history and anthropology?  Similar things could be said of the many clerics and native chiefs who compiled dictionaries of native languages, wrote histories, and drew maps.  In the eighteenth century, colonial figures such as Pedro de Peralta and José Hipólito Unanue in Peru and Lorenzo Boturini in Mexico developed lines of historical and anthropological thought that challenged the universal claims of a new European philosophical historicism that today is routinely identified with ‘The Enlightenment.’  What happens to the global history of knowledge when such colonial figures are critically inserted in the entangled genealogies of history, anthropology, and archaeology?  Is it possible that the interdisciplinary projects of ‘historical anthropology’ or ‘anthropological history,’ or indeed of ‘historical archaeology’ or ‘ethnohistory’ are only the most recent academic manifestations of a deeper ‘Latin American’ tradition?

Similarly, in the nineteenth century national and local anthropologies and historiographies emerge in the region, often linked to communities, municipalities, museums and universities. In what ways if any did these anthropologies and historiographies differ from their European counterparts?  Are ‘national history’ and ‘national anthropology’ Latin American inventions?  Is ‘local history’ or ‘microhistory’ a Latin American invention?  Finally, in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries many countries in the region came to host departments, laboratories, national institutes, and think tanks of historical and anthropological research, most with applied or public missions.  To what extent were these developments linked to wider discourses of ‘race’ or mestizaje and indigenismo in the region?  Are ‘applied anthropology’ and ‘public history’ Latin American inventions?  Are ‘native history’ and ‘native anthropology’ also Latin American creations?

Similarly, throughout the modern or post-independence period we see the emergence in many parts of Latin America of a vital public sphere or ‘culture of history’ wherein existential questions of identity, rights, and heritage occupy centre stage in local and national debates, political projects and social movements.  Figures such as O’Gorman in Mexico or Basadre in Peru became key referents in such debates.  To what extent have historical and anthropological consciousness and concerns become part and parcel of national, popular, and ethnic discourse, claims to rights and land, schooling, public life, and political discourse?  Is Latin America unusual in this regard? Are historical and anthropological sensitivities and archives particularly well-developed or useful in the region?

Finally, in what ways have all such ventures in historical and anthropological knowledge been entangled in the multi-sited, global invention of anthropology and history at large?  May we imagine a global history of history and anthropology that grants the Latin American archive a prominent position in its own heterogeneous genealogy?

We seek papers that critically explore these and related questions.  We are particularly interested in papers that make critiques, connections, or comparisons with European or ‘Western’ genealogies of history and anthropology.  ILAS intends to publish an edited volume with a selection of conference papers. 

Please submit title and 200-word abstract plus a 2-page CV by April 15, 2016 to Mark Thurner at mark.thurner@sas.ac.uk