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Africanizing Anthropology Fieldwork, Networks, and the Making of Cultural Knowledge in Central Africa by Lyn Schumaker

Africanizing Anthropology Fieldwork, Networks, and the Making of Cultural Knowledge in Central Africa


Africanizing Anthropology Fieldwork, Networks, and the Making of Cultural Knowledge in Central Africa by Lyn Schumaker

Africanizing Anthropology tells the story of the anthropological fieldwork centered at the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) during the mid-twentieth century. Focusing on collaborative processes rather than on the activity of individual researchers, Lyn Schumaker gives the assistants and informants of anthropologists a central role in the making of anthropological knowledge. Schumaker shows how local conditions and local ideas about culture and history, as well as previous experience of outsiders' interest, shape local people's responses to anthropological fieldwork and help them, in turn, to influence the construction of knowledge about their societies and lives. Bringing to the fore a wide range of actors-missionaries, administrators, settlers, the families of anthropologists-Schumaker emphasizes the daily practices of researchers, demonstrating how these are as centrally implicated in the making of anthropological knowlege as the discipline's methods. Selecting a prominent group of anthropologists-The Manchester School-she reveals how they achieved the advances in theory and method that made them famous in the 1950s and 1960s. This book makes important contributions to anthropology, African history, and the history of science.


This is one of those rare books that is capable of shaping basic understandings among several disparate audiences at the same time-among anthropologists, for whom it will be a revelation about the role of research assistants in shaping the discipline, among historians of science, who will gain important new insights about colonialism and the field sciences, and among historians, who will see anthropology and history in a new light. Schumaker addresses familiar issues concerning anthropology and colonialism, and replaces pious generalizations with textured descriptions based on excellent sources. -Steven Feierman, University of Pennsylvania Schumaker's work, which takes a completely different approach to the study of anthropology, is by far the most revealing account I have ever read, not only of the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute but of anthropology in Africa. Both highly innovative and extremely convincing, it sets new standards for Southern African intellectual history. -Terence Ranger, University of Zimbabwe

About the Author

Lyn Schumaker is Wellcome Research Lecturer at the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, University of Manchester.

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Book Info

Publication date

12th July 2001


Lyn Schumaker

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Duke University Press


392 pages


Regional studies



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