81693 - History of Anthropology (1) (LM)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2016/2017

Course contents

Lessons starting on March 20th, 2017

Hours and places:




Hidden Scholars : The margins of Women Anthropologists

The course presupposes having a good knowledge of the History of Anthropology. Therefore we suggest students, who do not have already studied the history of the discipline, to consult textbooks of Anthropology and especially the section regarding the birth of the discipline in the U.S.A (Louis Henry Morgan, Franz Boas, Ruth Benedict e Margaret Mead).

The course will focus on the American history of Anthropology which deals with the birth and the construction of Anthropology as a discipline. The founding father of the American anthropology was the German Franz Boas, an indefatigable worker, his field work was in the North-West Pacific coast among the kwakiutl natives. He was politically engaged in order to contest the theories of race and he trained many womens in this discipline. The course will be divided into three parts. The first will analyse the construction and the formation of American Anthropology as a discipline, the second will examine Franz Boas’ Anthropology from a theoretical and ethnographic perspective. The third part will explore the various reasons why women anthropologists and ethnographers did not enter into the history of the discipline. The reasons of such exclusion were due to the politics of the academic establishment and to gender prejudices. Such women are nowadays considered “ hidden scholars” since they were not allowed to take part in the discipline. In particular we will outline the biography and the work of Maltilda Cox Stevenson (1849-1915), Elsie Clews Parsons (1875-1941), Gladys Reichard (1893-1955), Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960).



1)nNancy Parezo, Hidden scholars: women anthropologists and the Native American Southwest, foreword by Nathalie F. S. and Richard B. Woodbury, Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press, 1993.

2) Ruth Behar, Deborah Gordon, Women Writing Culture, University of California Press, 1995. PART I, II, II. (p.1-339).

For students who have not dealt with the History of Anthropology are recommended these manuals

Ugo Fabietti, Storia dell'Antropologia, Bologna Zanichelli. Marvin Harris, L'evoluzione del pensiero antropologico: una storia della teoria della cultura, Bologna, Il Mulino, 1976.

Zelda Alice Franceschi, Storie di vita. Percorsi nella storia dell'antropologia americana, Bologna, Club, 2006 (chapter 2 and 3)

Teaching methods


Frontal lessons, in which discussion of new findings and publication will be stimulated, will be integrated by discussion sessions and speeches aimed to inform the students about the ongoing field researches.

Assessment methods

The final exam will be an oral discussion, with questions aimed to verify the student's knowledge of the themes discussed during frontal lessons (only for students that participated in classwork) as well as those treated in the program's texts.

The questions will deal with general themes, and in his answer the student should show his capacity to go into specific details.

Office hours

See the website of Zelda Alice Franceschi