Opening The Story Box: Reflections on George Hunt and Franz Boas

New York célèbre la rencontre entre l’anthropologie et l’art des Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw 

The Story Box: Franz Boas, George Hunt and the Making of Anthropology

Bard Graduate Center Gallery, New York, NY/USA

February 14 – July 7, 2019

 » The Story Box: Franz Boas, George Hunt and the Making of Anthropology explores the hidden histories and complex legacies of one of the most influential books in the field of anthropology, Franz Boas’s The Social Organization and the Secret Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians (1897). Groundbreaking in its holistic detail, this portrait of a Native North American society was the result of Boas’s fieldwork among the Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw of British Columbia and a collaboration with his Indigenous research partner, George Hunt. Drawing on a Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw metaphor, Boas imagined his book as a storage box for “laws and stories,” preserving them for science in case the culture vanished under colonial impact.

In fact, the book fails to address three important aspects of its making: Canada’s assimilation policy, which outlawed potlatch ceremonies; the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, where Boas and Hunt conducted much of their fieldwork; and Hunt’s status as a full co-author. In the early 1920s, Hunt took it upon himself to correct and expand the book, in part by reconnecting hereditary treasures to the families to whom they belong. Hundreds of pages of unpublished revisions were consigned to archives after Boas’s death, examples of which have been reunited with the book for the first time.

The exhibition—with designs by artist Corrine Hunt, a great-granddaughter of George Hunt—features ceremonial objects as well as rare archival photographs, manuscripts, and drawings that shed new light on the book and advance understanding of the ongoing cultural traditions it documents. « 

The Story Box

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