Project Abstract

In 1897, anthropologist Franz Boas published his major monograph, The Social Organization and the Secret Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians, a synthesis of his first decade of research on the Northwest Coast and one of the first holistic ethnographies based on field work. The text brought together data on Kwakwaka’wakw social structure with art and material culture, detailed narratives in the Kwak’wala language, photographs taken in situ in British Columbia and at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, transcribed songs, eye-witness description of ceremonial performances, and extensive contributions from Boas’s indigenous collaborator George Hunt. Yet the report remained incomplete and fractured, and archival materials relevant to its origins and afterlives are scattered all over the world. This material includes original field notes by Boas and Hunt, museum collections records, original photographic negatives, and wax cylinder recordings of music. The goal of this collaborative project is to produce an annotated, critical digital edition that will reunite the archival material with the original text and with the indigenous families whose cultural heritage is represented. This will be an unprecedented effort within anthropology and the humanities, promising new ways of using digital media to link together disparate archives, museums, textual repositories, and contemporary Native communities in order to produce a critical historiography of the book as well as to recuperate long dormant ethnographic records.
Click here for a Detailed Project Description.

Project Team

Coordinators/Editors

Aaron Glass (Bard Graduate Center)
Judith Berman (University of Victoria)

Additional Core Research Team

Andy Everson (Artist and Community Researcher, Comox, BC)
Rainer Hatoum (Research Associate, Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany)
Corrine Hunt (Artist and BGC/U’mista Exhibit Designer, Vancouver, BC)
Ira Jacknis (Hearst Museum, University of California Berkeley)
Barbara Taranto (Independent Technical Architect, New York/Tel Aviv)

Advisory Board

Darcy Cullen (UBC Press)
Stan Hunt (Hunt family representative, Alert Bay, BC)
Dean Irvine (Dalhousie University)
Peter Jacobs (University of Victoria)
Kimon Keramidas (New York University)
Barbara Mathé (American Museum of Natural History)
Gina Rappaport (National Anthropological Archives)
Adam Werle (University of Victoria)

Project Prototype

View an interactive prototype of the final digital edition website. This is a working mock-up based on known research materials, provisional annotations, and planned functionality at this stage (prior to the extensive Native community consultations that will be a main component of the project). Only some features of the final digital edition are dynamically represented here (interactive functions are indicated by a *), but it provides a model for the further development of the research project and the design of the final product. (NOTE: This prototype is optimized for viewing in Google Chrome)
Prototype Media Credits
Texts and Figs. 5.5, 5.6 and 5.9; courtesy of the American Philosophical Society, Franz Boas Collection of Materials for American Linguistics (497.3 B63c: W1a.3 and 58).

Figs 5.1 and 5.4: Transformation Mask (IVA 1243) and its catalogue card; courtesy of the Ethnologisches Museum Berlin/U’mista Cultural Centre.

Fig. 5.3: Painting of transformation mask with Boas field notes (Z/43k); courtesy of the Anthropology Division, American Museum of Natural History.

Fig. 5.7: Transformation Mask (A17140); courtesy of the UBC Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, Canada. Photo by Kyla Bailey.

Fig. 5.8: Transformation Mask; courtesy of Chief Edwin Newman. Photo by Karen Duffek.

Pl. 15.1: Photograph by John H. Grabill from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition (93-1-10/100266.1.35), courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University.

Music clip: Wax cylinder track 4377.94 (AFC 14741:B23) of a Hamat’sa song performed by “Malete” (Malidi) or George Hunt, recorded by Benjamin Ives Gillman at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition; courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, and the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Video clip: Franz Boas film footage shot in Ft. Rupert, 1930; courtesy of the Burke Museum.

Publications
Aaron Glass and Judith Berman “The Distributed Text: An Annotated Digital Edition of Franz Boas’s Pioneering Ethnography.” Culture Vol. 6(1):18. 2012.[no-indent] Judith Berman and Aaron Glass “About the Back Cover.” Manoa Vol. 25(1), 2013. Special Issue: “Cascadia: The Life and Breath of the World.

Aaron Glass, Judith Berman, and Rainer Hatoum “Reassembling The Social Organization: Museums, Collaboration, and Digital Media in the Making and Remaking of Franz Boas’s 1897 Monograph.” Museum Worlds (In Press).
Conference Presentations
Aaron Glass and Judith Berman “The Distributed Text: Uniting Museums, Archives, and Indigenous Knowledge around Franz Boas’s 1897 Monograph.” (Presented at the session “Transcending Shifts and Frictions in the Museum ‘Apparatus,’” American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA: Nov. 14-18, 2012). [no-indent] Aaron Glass “The Distributed Text: A Critical Digital Edition of Franz Boas’s 1897 Monograph.” (Presented at After the Return: Digital Repatriation and the Circulation of Indigenous Knowledge, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC: Jan. 18-21, 2012)[no-indent] Judith Berman and Aaron Glass “Recuperating the Boasian Archive: A Collaborative Effort to Reunite Objects, Records, and Indigenous Knowledge.” (Presented at the invited session “Unsettling Records: Images and Objects,” Canadian Anthropology Society-La Société Canadienne d’Anthropologie Conference, Victoria, BC: May 8-11, 2013).[no-indent] Aaron Glass and Judith Berman “”Reassembling The Social Organization: Collaborative Ethnography and Digital Media in the Making and Remaking of Franz Boas’s 1897 Monograph.” (Presented at the session “Refamiliarizing The Estranged: Digital Representation of Indigenous Peoples Through Sharing, Collaboration, and Negotiation,” American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Denver, CO: Nov. 18-22, 2015). [no-indent] Rainer Hatoum, Aaron Glass and Judith Berman “”Reassembling The Social Organization: Museums, Collaboration, and Digital Media in the Making and Remaking of Franz Boas’s 1897 Monograph.” (Presented at the session “Re-visioning Material Anthropological Legacies for Cosmos-optimal Futures,”European Association of Social Anthropologists Conference, Milan, Italy:July 20-23, 2016).
History of Grants
The project received a grant from the School for Advanced Research to hold a team meeting on its Santa Fe campus in the 2016-2017 academic year.

2014 NEH Scholarly Editions and Translations Grant 2012 NEH Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant

Aaron Glass was selected for a three-month residency as a Getty Scholar at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles under its “Art and Anthropology” program for 2016-17, which he will use to research the role of the 1897 volume in the development of Boas’s theories of art.[no-indent] Rainer Hatoum received a 2013 Franklin Research Grant from the American Philosophical Society to conduct research on the Franz Boas Papers at the APS; and a 2015 DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) research position at the Goethe-University, Frankfurt a.M, to work on deciphering Boas’s obscure and idiosyncratic shorthand system.



Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Cooperating Institutions
American Folklife Center, Library of Congress
American Museum of Natural History
American Philosophical Society
Archive of Traditional Music, University of Indiana at Bloomington
Berliner Phonogramm-Archiv
Columbia University Libraries
Ethnologisches Museum Berlin
The Field Museum
National Anthropological Archive, Smithsonian Institution
National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
U’mista Cultural Centre
University of British Columbia Press