The Things of Others: Ethnographies, Histories, and Other Artefacts


The Things of Others: Ethnographies, Histories, and Other Artefacts deals with the things mainly, but not only, mobilized by anthropologists in order to produce knowledge about the African American, the Afro-Brazilian and the Afro-Cuban during the 1930s. However, the book's goal is not to dig up evidence of the creation of an epistemology of knowledge and its transnational connections. The research on which this book is based suggests that the artefacts created in fieldwork, offices, libraries, laboratories, museums, and other places and experiences – beyond the important fact that these places and situations involved actors other than the anthropologists themselves – have been different things during their troubled existence. The book seeks to make these differences apparent, highlighting rather than concealing the relationships between partial modes of making and being ‘Afro’ as a subject of science. If the artefacts created in a variety of situations have been different things, we should ask what sort of things they were and how the actors involved in their creation sought to make them meaningful. The book foregrounds these discontinuous and ever-changing contours.

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Olívia Maria Gomes da Cunha is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the Museu Nacional, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Her research focuses the production of textual and visual artefacts, archives, and modernist ethnographies. She also has been carrying on research on the Cottica Ndyuka in Eastern Suriname.
“Few, if any, have spanned the entirety of this midcentury intellectual output and critically analyzed it with a consistent methodological approach. This book does so, and what emerges, over the course of 668 pages, is a concurrent excavation and questioning of AfroLatin America as a category of analysis.” - Alejandra Bronfman, SUNY Albany, Hispanic American Historical Review, Vol. 102.1 (2022).
List of Ilustrations

Introduction: In/Out of Archives

Part 1: Memorabilia

1 Unrestricted Gifts

2 Becoming Brujo

3 On Laundresses, Sergeants, and Assistants: the Arts of the Forgetting

4 Janus

Part 2: Mobile Objects

5 Tracings

6 Paper Voyages

Part 3: Remakings

7 Ruth’s Books: Creating Additional Lives

8 Many Words Do Not Fill a Basket

9 Transformed Things

Archives and Acronyms

Anthropologists, historians, social scientists, archivists, librarians, practitioners of STS, and all interested in the history of the modernist anthropology; all those who use their hands to manipulate paper objects amassed in archives and collections.
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