EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010


Imaginative women: theoretical and methodological contributions of founding grandmothers of European anthropology

Location Rowan Room 1
Date and Start Time 27 Aug, 2010 at 11:30


Laura Assmuth (University of Eastern Finland) email
Marja-Liisa Honkasalo (University of Turku. Finland) email
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Long Abstract

An important body of research by early generations of female anthropologists from around Europe remains very little known. The problem is threefold: due to their gender, many early female anthropologists faced serious difficulties and hindrances in their academic careers and publishing in their home countries; and second, the language barrier effectively closed doors from international renown to non-English language authors. Third, anthropology as an academic discipline did not exist in many European countries before 1970's, and several women faced extraordinary problems with their attempts to establish or to entry to the new field of inquiry.The body of work of such authors as Clara Gallini, Hilma Granqvist, Marja-Liisa Swantz and many others has therefore unfortunately remained on the sidelines of modern anthropology. Our workshop proposes to shed light on the theoretical and methodological contributions of early women anthropologists by inviting papers that deal with one or more aspects of the following:

- career difficulties, sidelining, silencing

- resilience, strategies

- differences between generations

- national differences

- biographical aspects

- intertwining of the personal and academic: double burden

- methodological nationalism

We especially encourage papers based on interviews with founding grandmothers of anthropology who are still alive.

Discussant: Pia Karlsson Minganti

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.


Hilma Granqvist, a posthumously appointed grandmother of new anthropology in Finland

Author: Ulla Vuorela (University of Tampere)  email
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Long Abstract

Hilma Granqvist (1890-1972) is one of the pioneers in Palestine studies and one of the few internationally known Finnish anthropologists of the 1930s. Her achievements have been given recognition in the histories of Middle Eastern gender studies as well in the history of Finnish anthropology. The fact that she was never given an official position in the university and could not train her own "school" in the Finnish academia makes her position as a "grandmother" of new anthropology in Finland a posthumous one. In my paper I will address the intersectionality of many levels that led to her rejection and the ways in which she was able to persevere in authoring the volumes on the village of Artas in Palestine on which her fame rests.

The unfinished life and work of Marianne Schmidl (1890-1942)

Author: Katja Geisenhainer (University of Vienna, Austria)  email
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Long Abstract

Marianne Schmidl is an important female anthropologist of the early generations. Unfortunately it is not any longer possible to interview her. She was born in 1890 in Berchtesgaden/Germany, grew up in Vienna and first studied mathematics then ethnology. Her teachers were M. Haberland, R. Pöch and M. Hoernes and others. She was also in contact with the exponents of the Viennese School of Cultural History. In 1915 Schmidl was the first woman in Austria who received a doctorate in ethnology. Since 1916 she worked in German museums (Berlin, Weimar, Stuttgart) for several years. Regardless of all these qualifications and despite positive evaluations from leading ethnologists of the time, she was unable to find professional position in an ethnological institution for two reasons: she was a woman and many of her ancestors were Jewish. She therefore had to continue her ethnological studies - besides working for the National Library in Vienna, where she was employed until 1938. Schmidl, who did not marry or have children of her own, spent almost all her free time travelling for her studies. She wrote articles about the Schopen in Bulgaria and about the history of Africa. However, her main interest was basket-making in Africa. For these studies she received financial support from the "Staatlich-Saechsisches Forschungsinstitut fuer Voelkerkunde". In 1939 the director of this research institute forced Schmidl to hand in her unfinished manuscript. For this reason she was not able to complete this work before her deportation and death in 1942.

Autoethnography, folklore and national emancipation: 'the temptation of experience' in the work of Kata Jajnčerova

Author: Sanja Potkonjak (University of Zagreb)  email
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Long Abstract

The paper explores the work of one of the first Croatian women's ethnographer Kata Jajnčerova. Though a women of the last century and a peasant women of limited education destined to become the ethnographic first sight witness, Kata Jajnčerova stands as a cornerstone in nativistic teleologies of nation formation as well as scholarly exemplar of an early self-explanatory "native" ethnographic correspondent. The aim of the paper is to frame the obsessive topics and presumptuous techniques of Jajnčerova's authority. The paper focuses on the mechanisms by which a native subject wishes for and construct the emancipation of the folk from the epistemic obliteration by dominant political narratives - both by introducing the idea of voicing the experience and by solidifying a narrative to become a written testimony of the folk.

Through analysis of Kata Janjčerova's texts I am questioning the significance of the 'temptation of experience' for the establishment of 'reliable' cultural writings on Croatian rural life from the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. By placing Kata Janjčerova in early Croatian ethnography in which this unique woman's text served as a witness of women's experience of life in a rural community, I am trying to emphasize the context of production of knowledge on nation and culture in which even women's writings functioned primarily as political negotiators between stronger and weaker historical subjects.

'Mama Maendelo': a look into the life work of Finnish anthropologist Marja-Liisa Swantz

Author: Susanne Ådahl (University of Turku)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper, based on a (work)life history interview with anthropologist Marja-Liisa Swantz, a pioneer in Finnish anthropology, looks at the theoretical and methodological contributions she has made to the development of anthropology in Finland and beyond. It particularly looks at how her positioning as a woman in the field has shaped her views and research interests and her outlook on the future of Finnish and global anthropology. Her applied perspective on anthropological practice and pioneering approach in the use of the participatory method has been shaped by her particular biography as a missionary, development practitioner and academic. The basis of the interview is broadly structured around these questions; How are we best to use anthropology in the contemporary world? What are the broader societal contributions of anthropology to our understanding of contemporary society? Is there such as thing as a particularly Finnish and woman's perspective to the development of anthropology?

Pioneers of the field: women in Soviet Siberian studies

Authors: Marina Hakkarainen (University of Eastern Finland)  email
Elena Lyarskaya (European University at St Petersburg)  email
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Long Abstract

While contemporary discussion about the legacy of Soviet anthropology is going on, one has to recall the women-pioneers in the field of Siberian studies in the USSR. Soviet Siberian studies were connected with the research tradition that originated from cooperation of Russian and American scholars (Boas, Bogoras, etc.). Many women started their research careers as Bogoras' students and heirs of the tradition. They were the first generations of professional anthropologists and women who went to Siberia to do their fieldwork. They participated on a par with men both in fundamental studies and in applied projects. They made a valuable contribution to the methodology and practices of Soviet anthropological studies. Among them there were G.Vasilevich,V.Cincius, E.Prokofieva, L. Khomich, etc. Was their female position significant in their studies? Did they add a female point of view into their work? Or did they want to follow "a hard male line"? Our presentation will answer these questions.

Clara Gallini: a career spanning six decades of Italian anthropology

Authors: Laura Assmuth (University of Eastern Finland)  email
Marja-Liisa Honkasalo (University of Turku. Finland)  email
Arjun Vinodrai  email
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Long Abstract

One of the founding grandmothers of European anthropology is Clara Gallini, who started her admirable career in the early fifties. Clara Gallini has been one of the first female anthropologists in leading positions in the Italian academia. She has also been a founding figure in the elaboration of Italian ethnology, and a close colleague to Ernesto de Martino. After the premature death of de Martino she has treasured, edited and published the de Martinian life work and heritage. Even though Gallini's breakthrough in Italian anthropology was connected with Ernesto de Martino's work, she considers as her main works books on pilgrimage, ritual and healing published in 1983 and 1996, independently of de Martinian influence. Clara Gallini has also been successful in establishing and consolidating fieldwork in Southern Italy, especially in Sardinia.

Throughout her career, Clara Gallini has been actively engaged politically. She has brought her anthropological knowledge into the Italian public life in the form of a feminist agenda and constant social criticism, most recently against racism and xenophobia.

The paper is based on an interview made by the authors this year.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.