Adam Fulton Johnson
William Y. and Nettie K. Adams Summer Scholar
Ethnographic Fieldwork and the Politics of Documentation: Early US Anthropology among Southwestern Indian Groups, 1870-1900
Anthropologists in the Southwestern United States, 1870‐1900, often found themselves in the “field” among indigenous people without a notion of what constituted ethnographic “fieldwork.” Following naturalist science, these proto‐anthropologists relied on copious documentation of Southwestern Indian language and culture. Having dealt with Hispanic state craft and Catholic missionization for centuries, Southwestern Indian groups, in turn, responded in a multitude of ways to these documenting practices. In many instances, Indian communities purposefully complicated seemingly straightforward activities as taking a picture of Indians at work, sketching a sacred dance, or writing down vocabularies. Johnson’s doctoral dissertation asserts that in the late nineteenth-century Southwest, encounters between Indian communities and Anglo ethnographers were conditioned not by theoretical training or institutional affiliation, but by fieldwork experiences that included negotiation over the technologies and practices of information gathering. Juxtaposing the practical assumptions of anthropologists and historical experiences of various Indian communities, Johnson explores the politics of documentation in the late nineteenth‐century US Southwest.
Affiliation at time of award:
Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of History, University of Michigan