Abstract

Abstract:

This article complicates two commonsense assumptions about early American anthropology as a professionalizing discipline. The first is that Asia in general and Korea in particular were peripheral to the projects and players that we have come to regard as canonical. The second is that a professionalizing anthropology eschewed the amateur ethnographic work of missionaries. C. C. Vinton’s collecting efforts in early twentieth-century Korea complicate the origin story of our discipline. It would be difficult to find a more canonical figure than Franz Boas, usually regarded as the founding father of American anthropology. Less known are Boas’s efforts to establish an anthropology of Asia with New York City as a scholarly hub. As I have described elsewhere, Boas’s Asia project emphasized China. But it did not stop there; Korea was very much on his screen when he recruited Vinton to collect for the American Museum of Natural History. Boas’s attempts to systematically enlist missionaries have been described by Erin Hasinoff; apart from Vinton, they were largely unsuccessful. Vinton’s story offers an intersection between two failed and now largely forgotten projects and a relatively successful collecting venture by a particular missionary who worked in Korea under Boas’s direction.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1665
Print ISSN
0731-1613
Pages
pp. 423-448
Launched on MUSE
2016-11-19
Open Access
No
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