Glimpses into My Own Black Box: An Exercise in Self-Deconstruction

Paperback | November 18, 2010

byGeorge W. Stocking

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George W. Stocking, Jr., has spent a professional lifetime exploring the history of anthropology, and his findings have shaped anthropologists’ understanding of their field for two generations. Through his meticulous research, Stocking has shown how such forces as politics, race, institutional affiliations, and personal relationships have influenced the discipline from its beginnings. In this autobiography, he turns his attention to a subject closer to home but no less challenging. Looking into his own “black box,” he dissects his upbringing, his politics, even his motivations in writing about himself. The result is a book systematically, at times brutally, self-questioning.
    An interesting question, Stocking says, is one that arouses just the right amount of anxiety. But that very anxiety may be the ultimate source of Stocking’s remarkable intellectual energy and output. In the first two sections of the book, he traces the intersecting vectors of his professional and personal lives. The book concludes with a coda, “Octogenarian Afterthoughts,” that offers glimpses of his life after retirement, when advancing age, cancer, and depression changed the tenor of his reflections about both his life and his work.
    This book is the twelfth and final volume of the influential History of Anthropology series.

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George W. Stocking, Jr., has spent a professional lifetime exploring the history of anthropology, and his findings have shaped anthropologists’ understanding of their field for two generations. Through his meticulous research, Stocking has shown how such forces as politics, race, institutional affiliations, and personal relationships h...

George W. Stocking, Jr., is the Stein-Freiler Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. He is the author of many books, including Victorian Anthropology; After Tylor: British Social Anthropology, 1888–1951; Delimiting Anthropology, and The Ethnographer's Magic. He founded t...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:168 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:November 18, 2010Publisher:University Of Wisconsin PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0299249840

ISBN - 13:9780299249847

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Table of Contents

Part I: Autobiographical Recollections


My Life under Surveillance


From the Lincoln School to Harvard College: 1944-45


Pascal's Wager and Communist Politics at Harvard: 1945-49


Divergent Family Histories within a Wasp Tradition: 1630-1949


Imagining a Future Together: Summer 1949


Life in the Working Class during the McCarthy Era: 1949-56


American Civilization, Positivist Historiography and Political Disillusion at the University of Pennsylvania: 1956-60


Political Conflict, Cultural Turmoil, Marital Breakup and Historicist Historiography at the University of California, Berkeley, 1960-68


Tenure without a Book: Essays Toward a New History of Anthropology,1962-68


From History to Anthropology at the University of Chicago: 1968-74


Blocked Projects, False Starts, and Miscast Roles: The Misadventures of an Interdisciplinary Hybrid: 1974-82.


Disciplinary Marginality as a Condition of Productive Scholarship: 1982-86


From Academic Striver to Disciplinary Doyen: 1987-93


Conversations across a Widening Generation Gap: 1993-96


Biography in an Autobiographical Context: 1996-2006



Part II: Historiographical Reflections


Inside an Historian's Study: The "Micro-technology" of a "Botfom Up" Historicism


Intellectual Topographies, Concentric Models, Enduring Biases: Some Limitations of a Professed Historicism


Interesting Questions and Blocked Researches: On Anxiety and Method in the Historiography of Anthropology


Revelatory Moments Unexplored: The Mead/Freeman Controversy and the Amplification of Anxiety in Present History


From the Big Picture to the Biographical Vignette: The Ulterior Historiographical Motives of an Aging Old Historicist


The Problematic Character of Influence: The "Gate-Keeper" and The "New" History of Anthropology


Doing "Good Work": Thoughts on the Craft of One Historian



Part III: Octogenarian Afterthoughts "Fragments Shored Against My Ruins"


Further Steps Down a Pyramid of Deterioration


Conjuring a Readership: Yet Another Try at Influence


Refocussing Historicism: "Handling the Rich Complexities of the Lives of Others"


Office in a Storeroom: Trashing the Icons of a Scholarly Life


Becoming an Octogenarian and Accentuating the Positive


The Audacity of Hope and the Politics of Mr. In-Between


Notes from the Edge of the Abyss: The Serenity Prayer and Pascal's Wager


A Coda: Penelope's Shroud, Zeno's Paradox and the Closure of the Black Box


Acknowledgments


References Cited

Editorial Reviews

“At times, this is a disturbing book, the work of a brilliant scholar with a singular vision. The book exemplifies his perfectionist determination to create analytical concepts and historical framings that meet his own historiographical standards. His adoption of the term ‘self-deconstruction’ in the subtitle is but one example. Initially one is discomforted by this Derridean reworking. Two hundred and thirteen unflinching pages later, one is left in no doubt that this is the right term.”—David Mills, The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute