4. A View from the West: The Institute of Social Science and the Amazon
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99 4 A View from the West The Institute of Social Science and the Amazon In this chapter I focus on the significance of frontier in the history of social anthropology, especially fieldwork in the Amazon supported by the Institute of Social Science (iss) of the University of California at Berkeley(ucb).Iunderstandthatsubventionsforscholarlyresearchin the western part of the United States resonate in the scientific field of moving-frontiertheories.isssupportedprojectson“economicandculturalboundaries ,”relocatingtothesocialdomaintheformerbiological metaphor of botanical germination. This institute supported projects that went beyond domestic U.S. issues, embracing social problems in other countries such as Mexico and the Brazilian Amazon. During the interwar years, the social sciences emerged as a legitimate field of knowledge in the United States because entrepreneurs employed social engineering and applied social sciences as a way of seeking economic alternatives and gaining greater social control. Thus, new scientific hierarchies were established and new demarcations of competence were made as a means of fulfilling this goal. Curt Uckel (1882–1945), a German-born travel explorer who arrived in Brazil in 1903, specialized in Brazilian indigenous knowledge, collecting their artifacts for European museums and collaborating with representatives of Brazilian Indigenous state policy. He naturalized himself in 1921 as a Brazilian with the name Curt Nimuendajú, the name the Apopokuva-Guarani Indians gave him when they adopted him in 1906 during his sojourn among them. However, his ethnography , improved by the dialogue with his Berkeley mentor, Robert Lowie, produced boundary objects that later led to the revision of concepts such as acculturation, social change, and cultural areas. He received iss grants that helped defray his travel expenses. In reports Priscila Faulhaber 100 Priscila Faulhaber he was classified as Lowie’s assistant without actually being affiliated with the icb. Boundary Objects Boundary objects are objects having “different meanings in different socialworlds,”buttheirstructureis“commonenoughtomorethanone worldtomakethemrecognizablemeansoftranslation”(StarandGriesemer1989 :393).Theircreationandmanagementdevelopandmaintain coherence across intersecting social worlds. Thus, boundary objects appear together with the delimitation of different unities of observation ,implyingcontrastorcondensationbetweendifferentworldviews. This formulation led to demarcating boundaries between scientific fields,establishedindisputesformonopolizingprofessionalauthority and control over resources by a group of scientists who also used this control to exclude others. However, historical constraints imply that these delimitations vary according to specific contexts, thus making such boundaries ambiguous and flexible (Gieryn 1983). The scientific field demarcates what it denominates as properly scientific, separating this from the unstructured spheres that escape understanding and academic control; these spheres are thus thrown into the margins of a structured production of knowledge. Thesocialdivisionoflaborbetweenarmchairinquiryandfieldwork is in the core of the production of anthropological knowledge. Recognizedasafieldscience ,thisdisciplinewaseventuallyembeddedbycolonialist routes (Kuklick and Kohler 1996; Kuklick 2008). Even though interactingwiththeirsubjectsofresearchduringethnographicencounter , traveling explorers perhaps inadvertently prepared the terrain for social control even after colonial times. I deal here with the relationship between the iss and Nimuendajú’s field research in the Amazon. While sociocultural anthropology configured itself as a field of knowledge ,LowieadvisedNimuendajú’sethnographicresearch,helpinghim revise his travel writings into the academically recognized structure of publishable monographs. Boundaryobjectsinvolveantinomiesbetweentheoreticalandempirical science, objective and subjective, limited and unbound (Gieryn 1983). Moreover, boundary objects of knowledge such as Amazonian A View from the West 101 peoples and their artifacts have supported the break of the idea of culturalauthenticity (Clifford1988).Intheirbordercharacter,theyshowed themselvesasastrongmeansofdiscussingandreformulatingconcepts. Even though these objects and concepts had appeared as strange particularities produced in unstructured political and scientific fields, the goal was clearly the organization of domains of knowledge articulated within power systems. Anthropology in the Interwar Years and the issn After moving to the United States, Franz Boas became entangled with themuseumfield’sconstraints(Jacknis1996).Boashadconstructedhis historic-cultural approach as an alternative to evolutionary schemes, and he sought autonomy in the field of scholarly research and academic training (Stocking 1976). Although he had trained as a geographer , his intellectual trajectory in German thought led him to avoid biological determinism. Looking for particular anthropological evidences , Boas emphasized historical individuality in cultural contexts usinganapproachthatfavoredthehistoricalreconstructionofhuman variability. He believed that methodological unity between particular disciplines could provide documentation for such reconstruction. Boas and his students, including his Berkeley disciples, sought information about indigenous cultures in an as yet incompletely analyzed cultural area. Conquest and colonization of indigenous territories had changedAmericanindigenouscultures.ThisledBoasandhisdisciples to consider the “acculturation” problem. George W. Stocking Jr. (1976) analyzes the transformations in U.S. anthropologythatoccurredafterphilanthropicagenciesbegantosupport academic programs. In 1923 Rockefeller Foundation Social Sciences Programs began to finance the Social Science Research Council (ssrc).In1924thessrcdefinedinterracialrelationshipsandscientific aspects of human migration among its main fields of knowledge. Philanthropic financing acquired an “interested” character, incorporating, together with the intervention of social scientists (and anthropologists ), inquiries into sociocultural...


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