The University of Wisconsin Press

Autobiography / Anthropology


Glimpses into My Own Black Box
An Exercise in Self-Deconstruction
George W. Stocking, Jr.

History of Anthropology (VOLUME TWELVE)
Richard Handler, Series Editor

“An absorbing human story in itself that gradually takes on an air of well-deserved inevitability.”
—Robert McCormick Adams, secretary emeritus, Smithsonian Institution

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 that is 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.

“HoA will evolve, as scientific paradigms are wont to do, but Stocking has challenged his successors and protégés in articulating his legacy as autobiography. This is a crucial document in the history of HoA.”
—Regna Darnell, The Journal of Anthropological Research Fall 2011

This book is the twelfth and final volume of the influential History of Anthropology series.

George W. Stocking, Jr.George W. Stocking, Jr. (1928–2013) was the Stein-Freiler Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. He was the author of many books, including Victorian Anthropology; After Tylor: British Social Anthropology, 1888–1951; The Ethnographer’s Magic; and Delimiting Anthropology. He founded the History of Anthropology series published by the University of Wisconsin Press and edited its first eight volumes.

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November 2010

LC: 2010012966 GN
168 pp.   6 x 9   30 b/w illus.

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Paper $24.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-24984-7
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“George Stocking’s scholarship, by rooting anthropological ideas in complex historical conjunctures, has had a major impact across the humanities and social sciences. His new book takes us behind the scenes of erudition to reveal a process of ceaseless, unsparing personal inquiry. A rigorous, deeply felt, courageous performance.”
—James Clifford, University of California, Santa Cruz


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