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The 1904 Anthropology Days and Olympic Games

Sport, Race, and American Imperialism

Susan Brownell

One of the more problematic sport spectacles in American history took place at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, which included the third modern Olympic Games. Associated with the Games was a curious event known as Anthropology Days organized by William J. McGee and James Sullivan, at that time the leading figures in American anthropology and sports, respectively. McGee recruited Natives who were participating in the fair’s ethnic displays to compete in sports events, with the “scientific” goal of measuring the physical prowess of “savages” as compared with “civilized men.” This interdisciplinary collection of essays assesses the ideas about race, imperialism, and Western civilization manifested in the 1904 World’s Fair and Olympic Games and shows how they are still relevant.

A turning point in both the history of the Olympics and the development of modern anthropology, these games expressed the conflict between the Old World emphasis on culture and New World emphasis on utilitarianism. Marked by Franz Boas’s paper at the Scientific Congress, the events in St. Louis witnessed the beginning of the shift in anthropological research from nineteenth-century evolutionary racial models to the cultural relativist paradigm that is now a cornerstone of modern American anthropology. Racist pseudoscience nonetheless reappears to this day in the realm of sports.

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The 9/11 Generation

Youth, Rights, and Solidarity in the War on Terror

Sunaina Marr Maira

Since the attacks of 9/11, the banner of national security has led to intense monitoring of the politics of Muslim and Arab Americans. Young people from these communities have come of age in a time when the question of political engagement is both urgent and fraught.

In The 9/11 Generation, Sunaina Marr Maira uses extensive ethnography to understand the meaning of political subjecthood and mobilization for Arab, South Asian, and Afghan American youth. Maira explores how young people from communities targeted in the War on Terror engage with the “political,” forging coalitions based on new racial and ethnic categories, even while they are under constant scrutiny and surveillance, and organizing around notions of civil rights and human rights. The 9/11 Generation explores the possibilities and pitfalls of rights-based organizing at a moment when the vocabulary of rights and democracy has been used to justify imperial interventions, such as the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Maira further reconsiders political solidarity in cross-racial and interfaith alliances at a time when U.S. nationalism is understood as not just multicultural but also post-racial. Throughout, she weaves stories of post-9/11 youth activism through key debates about neoliberal democracy, the “radicalization” of Muslim youth, gender, and humanitarianism.

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Abandoned in the Heartland

Work, Family, and Living in East St. Louis

Jennifer Hamer

Urban poverty, along with all of its poignant manifestations, is moving from city centers to working-class and industrial suburbs in contemporary America. Nowhere is this more evident than in East St. Louis, Illinois. Once a thriving manufacturing and transportation center, East St. Louis is now known for its unemployment, crime, and collapsing infrastructure. Abandoned in the Heartland takes us into the lives of East St. Louis’s predominantly African American residents to find out what has happened since industry abandoned the city, and jobs, quality schools, and city services disappeared, leaving people isolated and imperiled. Jennifer Hamer introduces men who search for meaning and opportunity in dead-end jobs, women who often take on caretaking responsibilities until well into old age, and parents who have the impossible task of protecting their children in this dangerous, and literally toxic, environment. Illustrated with historical and contemporary photographs showing how the city has changed over time, this book, full of stories of courage and fortitude, offers a powerful vision of the transformed circumstances of life in one American suburb.

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Aberrations of Mourning

Laurence A. Rickels

Aberrations of Mourning, originally published in 1988, is the long unavailable first book in Laurence A. Rickels’s “unmourning” trilogy, followed by The Case of California and Nazi Psychoanalysis.

Rickels studies mourning and melancholia within and around psychoanalysis, analyzing the writings of such thinkers as Freud, Nietzsche, Lessing, Heinse, Artaud, Keller, Stifter, Kafka, and Kraus. Rickels maintains that we must shift the way we read literature, philosophy, and psychoanalysis to go beyond traditional Oedipal structures.

Aberrations of Mourning argues that the idea of the crypt has had a surprisingly potent influence on psychoanalysis, and Rickels shows how society’s disturbed relationship with death and dying, our inability to let go of loved ones, has resulted in technology to form more and more crypts for the dead by preserving them—both physically and psychologically—in new ways.

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Abject Relations

Everyday Worlds of Anorexia

Megan Warin

Abject Relations presents an alternative approach to anorexia, long considered the epitome of a Western obsession with individualism, beauty, self-control, and autonomy. Through detailed ethnographic investigations, Megan Warin looks at the heart of what it means to live with anorexia on a daily basis. Participants describe difficulties with social relatedness, not being at home in their body, and feeling disgusting and worthless. For them, anorexia becomes a seductive and empowering practice that cleanses bodies of shame and guilt, becomes a friend and support, and allows them to forge new social relations.

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Above the Clouds

Status Culture of the Modern Japanese Nobility

Takie Sugiyama Lebra

This latest work from Japanese-born anthropologist Takie Sugiyama Lebra is the first ethnographic study of the modern Japanese aristocracy. Established as a class at the beginning of the Meiji period, the kazoku ranked directly below the emperor and his family. Officially dissolved in 1947, this group of social elites is still generally perceived as nobility. Lebra gained entry into this tightly knit circle and conducted more than one hundred interviews with its members. She has woven together a reconstructive ethnography from their life histories to create an intimate portrait of a remote and archaic world.

As Lebra explores the culture of the kazoku, she places each subject in its historical context. She analyzes the evolution of status boundaries and the indispensable role played by outsiders.

But this book is not simply about the elite. It is also about commoners and how each stratum mirrors the other. Revealing previously unobserved complexities in Japanese society, it also sheds light on the universal problem of social stratification.

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The Accidental Playground

Brooklyn Waterfront Narratives of the Undesigned and Unplanned

Daniel Campo

The Accidental Playground explores the remarkable landscape created by individuals and small groups who occupied and rebuilt an abandoned Brooklyn waterfront in Williamsburg. Without formal authority, capital, professional assistance, grand vision, consensus, or coordination with each other, these "vernacular" builders transformed a vacated waterfront railroad yard into a unique setting for recreation and creative endeavor. With the Manhattan skyline as its backdrop, the collapsing piers, eroded bulkhead, and remaining building foundations of the former Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal (BEDT) became the raw materials for various forms of waterside leisure and social spaces. Lacking predetermined rules governing its use, this waterfront evolved into the home turf for unusual and sometimes spectacular recreational, social, and creative subcultures. These included skateboarders who built a short-lived, but nationally renowned skatepark; a twenty-five-piece "public" marching band, fire performance troupes, and a variety of artists, photographers, and filmmakers. At the same time the site also served basic recreational needs of local residents. Collapsing piers became great places to catch fish, sunbathe, or take in the Manhattan skyline; the foundation of a demolished warehouse became an ideal place to practice music or skateboard; rubble-strewn earth became a compelling setting for film and fashion shoots; broken bulkhead became a beach; and thick patches of weeds dotted by ailanthus trees became a jungle. Drawing on a rich mix of documentary strategies including observation, ethnography, photography, and first-person narrative, Daniel Campo probes this accidental playground, allowing those who created it to share and examine their own narratives, perspectives, and conflicts. The multiple constituencies of this Williamsburg waterfront were surprisingly diverse, their stories colorful and provocative. When taken together, Campo argues, they suggest a radical reimagining of urban public space, the waterfront, and the practices by which they are created and maintained. The Accidental Playground, which treats readers to an utterly compelling story, is an exciting and distinctive contribution to the growing literature on the unplanned and the undesigned spaces and activities in cities today.

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Account of the Fables and Rites of the Incas

By Cristóbal de Molina

Based on eyewitness accounts of rituals conducted at the height of Inca rule, this is a key document that provides an unparalleled account of the prayers and religious celebrations of the Inca in a context of rapidly changing cultural practices.

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Accounting for Violence

Marketing Memory in Latin America

Edited by Ksenija Bilbija and Leigh A. Payne

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Acorns and Bitter Roots

Starch Grain Research in the Prehistoric Eastern Woodlands

Written by Timothy C. Messner

People regularly use plants for a wide range of utilitarian, spiritual, pharmacological, and dietary purposes throughout the world. Scholarly understanding of the nature of these uses in prehistory is particularly limited by the poor preservation of plant resources in the archaeological record. In the last two decades, researchers in the South Pacific and in Central and South America have developed microscopic starch grain analysis, a technique for overcoming the limitations of poorly preserved plant material.
 
In Acorns and Bitter Roots, Timothy C. Messner establishes starch grain analysis in the temperate climates of eastern North America using the Delaware River Watershed as a case study for furthering scholarly understanding of the relationship between native people and their biophysical environment in the Woodland Period. Messner’s analysis is based on extensive reviews of the literature on early historic and prehistoric native plant use and the collation of all available archaeobotanical data, a review of which also guided the author in selecting contemporary botanical specimens to identify and in interpreting starch residues recovered from ancient plant-processing technologies. The evidence presented here sheds light on many local ecological and cultural developments as ancient people shifted their subsistence focus from estuarine to riverine settings. These archaeobotanical datasets, Messner argues, illuminate both the conscious and unintentional translocal movement of ideas and ecologies throughout the Eastern Woodlands.

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