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Recording angels of a tragically divided society

20 Jun 2017 - 10:30
Ellen Hellmann addresses a meeting

The Times Literary Supplement has hailed Professor Andrew Banks's new book, Pioneers of the Field: South Africa's Women Anthropologists, for evoking 'that remarkable cohort with insight and empathy: career women in a patriarchal world, social critics in a conservative setting, liberals among racists, recording angels of a tragically divided society.' Professor Banks will share his research at Winter School 2017.

Similar sentiments are expressed by Nancy Jacobs in Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa. Jacobs says:

In this history of six women, Andrew Bank tells the story of
South African anthropology as a house that Winifred Tucker
Hoernlé built. She is the mother figure of a school and the chapters
about the others – Monica Hunter Wilson, Ellen Kaumheimer
Hellman, Audrey Richards, Hilda Beeman Kuper and
Eileen Jenson Krige – all begin with epigraphs acknowledging
their debt to her. Four of these women came to maturity in
South African universities as Hoernlé’s ‘intellectual daughters’,
while Richards, who spent only three years in South Africa, was
the heir to Hoernlé’s maternal role. In this narrative of a matrilineage,
male anthropologists – Bronislaw Malinowski, A.R.
Radcliffe-Brown, Isaac Schapera, Godfrey Wilson and Max
Gluckman – figure as ancillary characters. (King Sobhuza II of
Swaziland also puts in a cameo appearance.) By telling a story
that centres on these women, Bank makes a new argument
about South African anthropology; that it was exceptionally
committed to collaboration and fieldwork. Showing us their
personal commitment, professional effort and political convictions,
he contends that they bequeathed to the field a humanist
legacy, as yet unrecognized. Read more here.