Empires, Nations, and Natives

Anthropology and State-Making

Empires, Nations, and Natives

Book Pages: 344 Illustrations: 11 illus. Published: September 2005

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Latin American Studies, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

Empires, Nations, and Natives is a groundbreaking comparative analysis of the interplay between the practice of anthropology and the politics of empires and nation-states in the colonial and postcolonial worlds. It brings together essays that demonstrate how the production of social-science knowledge about the “other” has been inextricably linked to the crafting of government policies. Subverting established boundaries between national and imperial anthropologies, the contributors explore the role of anthropology in the shifting categorizations of race in southern Africa, the identification of Indians in Brazil, the implementation of development plans in Africa and Latin America, the construction of Mexican and Portuguese nationalism, the genesis of “national character” studies in the United States during World War II, the modernizing efforts of the French colonial administration in Africa, and postcolonial architecture.

The contributors—social and cultural anthropologists from the Americas and Europe—report on both historical and contemporary processes. Moving beyond controversies that cast the relationship between scholarship and politics in binary terms of complicity or autonomy, they bring into focus a dynamic process in which states, anthropological knowledge, and population groups themselves are mutually constructed. Such a reflexive endeavor is an essential contribution to a critical anthropological understanding of a changing world.

Contributors: Alban Bensa, Marcio Goldman, Adam Kuper, Benoît de L’Estoile, Claudio Lomnitz, David Mills, Federico Neiburg, João Pacheco de Oliveira, Jorge Pantaleón, Omar Ribeiro Thomaz, Lygia Sigaud, Antonio Carlos de Souza Lima, Florence Weber


“Even if specialists in these areas will have already read many of the essays in their original form, the collection is a useful addition to the scholarship on the history of anthropology.” — H. Glenn Penny, Canadian Journal of History

“[R]epresents a rich source of information for those interested in the transformation of anthropology, its ethical and political dimensions and the role anthropology played in the construction of states.” — Ovidiu Cristian Norocel, Social Anthropology

“[T]his volume is an important contribution to contemporary debates over the part anthropology plays in the public sphere of nation-states. Its broad range highlights the international connections between empires and nation-states as well as between imperial and national anthropologies. It is a necessary reference for those interested in the intellectual and political history of our discipline from an anthropological perspective, for those interested in the anthropology of knowledge, and for those engaged in the critique of the postcolonial forms of neo-colonialism.” — Steffan Igor Ayora-Diaz, Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology

"This volume makes a valuable contribution to the still emerging history of anthropology's entanglement with colonialism. . . . Anthropologists and historians interested in the history of the discipline, especially outside its European and North American centres, in colonial and postcolonial studies, and in Latin American studies, will find it a worthwhile read." — Amy Ninetto, Anthropological Forum

Empires, Nations, and Natives is a refreshing collection, notable for the quality and depth of research into different ‘national anthropologies’ in Europe, the Americas, and South Africa, and for the ability of the authors and editors to bring out the linkages among such intellectual traditions. The book provokes important reflections on questions of empire, colonialism, cultural difference, democratic government, and the possibilities and constraints of the nation-state.” — Frederick Cooper, New York University and author of Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge, History

Empires, Nations, and Natives reflects an original conception of the ethnography of politics, attending imaginatively to the ethnographic and theoretical contexts in which anthropology sometimes enters (and sometimes eludes) the fields of political identity, agency, and change. It is also a valuable critical supplement to state theory.” — Carol Greenhouse, Princeton University and coeditor of Ethnography in Unstable Places: Everyday Lives in Contexts of Dramatic Political Change


Availability: In stock
Price: $28.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Benoît de L'Estoile teaches social anthropology at the École Normale Supérieure and at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, both in Paris.

Federico Neiburg teaches social anthropology at the Museu Nacional, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

Lygia Sigaud teaches social anthropology at the Museu Nacional, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: Anthropology and the Government of “Natives,” a Comparative Approach / Benoît de L’Estoile, Federico Neiburg, and Lygia Sigaud 1

Rationalizing Colonial Domination? Anthropology and Native Policy in French-Ruled Africa / Benoît de L’Estoile 30

“The Good-Hearted Portuguese People”: Anthropology of Nation, Anthropology of Empire / Omar Ribeiro Thomaz 58

Vichy France and the End of Scientific Folklore (1937–1954) / Florence Weber 88

From Nation to Empire: War and National Character Studies in the United States / Federico Neiburg and Marcio Goldman 108

Anthropology at the End of Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Colonial Social Sciences Research Council, 1944–1962 / David Mills 135

Bordering on Anthropology: Dialectics of a National Tradition in Mexico / Claudio Lomnitz 167

Indigenism in Brazil: The International Migration of State Policies / Antonio Carlos de Souza Lima 197

The Anthropologist as Expert: Brazilian Ethnology between Indianism and Indigenism / João Pacheco de Oliveira 223

Anthropology, Development, and Nongovernmental Organizations in Latin America / Jorge F. Pantaleón 248

The Ethnologist and the Architect: A Postcolonial Experiment in the French Pacific / Alban Bensa 263

“Today We Have Naming of Parts”: The Work of Anthropologists in Southern Africa / Adam Kuper 277

References 301

Contributors 327

Index 331
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3617-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3628-0
Publicity material