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The Limits of Multiculturalism: Interrogating the Origins of American Anthropology

Scott Michaelsen
Copyright Date: 1999
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    The Limits of Multiculturalism
    Book Description:

    In the early nineteenth century, the profession of American anthropology emerged as European Americans began to make a living by studying the “Indian.” Less well known are the AmerIndians who, at that time, were writing and publishing ethnographic accounts of their own people. By bringing to the fore this literature of autoethnography and revealing its role in the forming of anthropology as we know it, this book searches out-and shakes-the foundations of American cultural studies, asserting the importance of the Indian voices to the discipline.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8975-0
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xxviii)

    IfThe Limits of Multiculturalismbegins anywhere, it begins with the commonplace in cultural studies that “we” are still too much like ourselves, that “we” have a need or a duty to hear the voices of those “other” than ourselves who share this world with “us.” The presumption is that the West’s white male has played out his chances, reached his disastrous-to-dull limit, whether conceptualized as modernity or rationality in general, or, in somewhat more petite formulations, as instrumental reason or agglomerating capitalism. Attempts to cross this limit, for some time now, have been made in an array of disciplines:...

  5. Prolegomenon Groundwork: The Limits Of Multiculturalism
    (pp. 1-32)

    Long before multiculturalism and before the thought that is modern diversity theory, before anthropology’s time of crisis, and, indeed, even during the years of its professionalization in the midnineteenth century, auto-anthropology, or anthropology written by the discipline’s ostensible “subjects,” mounted a series of challenges to anthropology. Occasionally, and even increasingly, such a challenge took the form of “anti-anthropology,” or a call for anthropologists to cease and desist. One of the earliest of these calls came from James Africanus Horton, a staff assistant surgeon at Netley, in Sierra Leone, where Horton was born. Horton publishedWest African Countries and Peoplesin...

  6. 1. Positions, Ex-positions, Dis-Positions
    (pp. 33-58)

    How do “we” get to Amerindia, as such, to Amerindia without “whites,” to a space or time of Amerindian voices separate and distinct from colonialism? There is, finally,only one way:Daniel K. Richter’s magisterial history of early Iroquois politics and identity,The Ordeal of the Longhouse(1992), moves from the deep past (approximately A.D. 1000) forward: “The story perhap best begins in the beginning,” reads the first line of the text (8). Richter is able to accomplish this feat through the process that historians call “ ‘upstreaming,’ that is, the interpretation of historical sources in light of ethnological and...

  7. 2. Destructuring Whiteness: Color, Animality, Hierarchy
    (pp. 59-83)

    The study of “whiteness” is one of the most significant developments in “race” and ethnic studies over the course of the last few years, rivaled only, perhaps, by the rise of “border studies.” An impressive body of literature has developed with the explicit aim of exposing the contours of American white identity and working toward the development of nonvirulent forms of whiteness, or even the elimination of whiteness as such.¹ As one example, Noel Ignatiev’s journalRace Traitoruses as its motto: “Treason to whiteness is loyalty to humanity.”² But in the first place what is “whiteness”—and “white,” the...

  8. 3. Amerindian Voice(s) in Ethnography
    (pp. 84-106)

    Lewis Henry Morgan and Ely Samuel Parker are linked together at what many historians of anthropology consider to be the foundational moment for modern American ethnography: Morgan’sLeague of the Ho-de’-no-sau-nee, Iroquois(1851).¹ The joint production of this text is carefully foregrounded by the white Morgan, whose dedication indicates his “obligations” to Parker, a Seneca Indian, and describes the book’s contents as the “fruit of our joint researches” (vi). The book’s preface reiterates this debt to Parker’s “invaluable assistance during the whole progress of the research, and for a share of the materials,” and for his “intelligence, and accurate knowledge...

  9. 4. Methodists and Method: Conversion and Representation
    (pp. 107-138)

    In surveying the relatively small field of auto-anthropology in the antebellum era, it is one of the larger surprises that not one but two Canadian-Amerindian Methodist ministers, George Copway (Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh) and Peter Jones (Kahkewaquonaby), wrote book-length anthropologies of their own tribe, the Ojibwa, at century’s midpoint: Copway’sThe Traditional History and Characteristic Sketches of the Ojibway Nation(1850) and Jones’sHistory of the Ojibway Indians(1861). Jones was twenty years Copway’s senior and one of his most important mentors within Methodism; Copway worked for Jones and admired him, and Jones aided Copway’s career in significant ways.¹

    Though Jones’s and Copway’s...

  10. 5. Borders of Anthropology, History, and Science
    (pp. 139-163)

    Not accounted for to this point is the prominence of the word “history” in the texts of the nineteenth-century Amerindian auto-anthropologists: Cusick’sSketches of the Ancient History of the Six Nations,Parker’s unfinished “History... of the Iroquois Confederacy, or the Nations of Indians,” Copway’sThe Traditional History and Characteristic Sketches of the Ojibway Nation,Jones’sHistory of the Ojibway Indians,Apess’sEulogy on King Philip.In very broad terms, a historicist inclination in these texts resists the emergence of what was understood as a decidedly nonhistorical, anthropological science. McGrane notes of nineteenth-century white anthropology in general that it “constituted a...

  11. Coda Anthropology and Archaeo-Logicality
    (pp. 164-188)

    American archaeology’s “golden age,” its celebrated origin, is the 1840s historical-philosophical investigation into the Mayan ruins of Spanish America, and anthropology’s “who” question haunted all of the published accounts.¹ The value of the works written by two crucial travelers to the Central American ruins—John Lloyd Stephens and Benjamin Moore Norman—is of a different order from the value of those examined in the previous five chapters. Apparently there is no 1840s Amerindian countertext that one might put in conversation with the founding documents of archaeology in the Americas.² So here, in this coda toThe Limits of Multiculturalism,multiple...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 189-220)
  13. References
    (pp. 221-238)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 239-246)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 247-247)