Maria Czaplicka


Maria Czaplicka

Gender, Shamanism, Race

Grażyna Kubica
Translated by Ben Koschalka

Critical Studies in the History of Anthropology Series

618 pages
69 photographs, 4 illustrations, 1 map, 2 tables, index


November 2020


$85.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
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November 2020


$85.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

November 2020


$85.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

This biography of the Polish British anthropologist Maria Czaplicka (1884–1921) is also a cultural study of the dynamics of the anthropological collective presented from a researcher-centric perspective. Czaplicka, together with Bronisław Malinowski, studied anthropology in London and later at Oxford, then she headed the Yenisei Expedition to Siberia (191415) and was the first female lecturer of anthropology at Oxford. She was an engaged feminist and an expert on political issues in Northern Asia and Eastern Europe. But this remarkable woman’s career was cut short by suicide. Like many women anthropologists of the time, Czaplicka journeyed through various academic institutions, and her legacy has been dispersed and her field materials lost.

Grażyna Kubica covers the major events in Czaplicka’s life and provides contextual knowledge about the intellectual formation in which Czaplicka grew up, including the Warsaw radical intelligentsia and the contemporary anthropology of which she became a part. Kubica also presents a critical analysis of Czaplicka’s scientific and literary works, related to the issues of gender, shamanism, and race. Kubica shows how Czaplicka’s sense of agency and subjectivity enriched and shaped the practice of anthropology and sheds light on how scientific knowledge arises and is produced.


Author Bio

Grażyna Kubica is an associate professor of social anthropology in the Institute of Sociology, Jagiellonian University, Kraków. She coedited the volume Malinowski between Two Worlds: The Polish Roots of an Anthropological Tradition. Ben Koschalka is a British translator specializing in academic as well as literary texts. He lives and works in Kraków, Poland.


"Grażyna Kubica has written a book significant in size and rich in material. . . . Written in a clear, convincing style, it engages the reader from the start. It will be of interest not only to cultural anthropologists but also to readers interested in the humanities and feminism. This book is an outstanding scholarly achievement."—Ewa Dzurak, Polish Review

"Where Kubica's book makes the most unique contribution is in its discussion of Czaplicka's Polish background–both her academic affiliation with the Polish Radical Intelligentsia in chapter 4 and more uniquely still, in the discussion of her literary outputs in chapter 6–both contexts offer a fresh perspective on the international and interdisciplinary nature of the emerging discipline of Anthropology and Kubica is perfectly placed to tease out the nuances of political, national, and academic influences that shaped this new science."—Jaanika Vider, Anthropos

“Grażyna Kubica examines Maria Czaplicka’s unfinished scientific legacy in this page-turner history of anthropology during wartime Britain. One review of Czaplicka’s account of her 1915 Siberian expedition proclaimed that she ‘could not be dull if she tried.’ Kubica offers a full and fitting tribute to Czaplicka’s indomitable spirit, her contributions to continuing debates, and the meaning of a truncated life in anthropology.”—Sally Cole, professor of sociology and anthropology at Concordia College and author of Ruth Landes: A Life in Anthropology

“Grażyna Kubica has provided us with an excellent study that combines a feminist social history with biographical research and directs our attention at an enigmatic figure standing at a critical juncture in the history of anthropology. In this lively and well-researched portrait of Czaplicka, an early transnational actor in the study of Siberia and beyond, Kubika has taken an important step toward providing an inclusive genealogy of our discipline.”—Peter Schweitzer, professor of social and cultural anthropology at the University of Vienna

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Series Editors’ Introduction
Introduction: Women in Anthropology, Biographies in Academia
1. History of Anthropology as a Contemporary Research Field
2. The Anthropological Biography as a New Genre of Historical Writing
3. Why Her, Why Me, and Methods of Research and Sources Review
4. The Warsaw Radical Intelligentsia at the End of the Long Nineteenth Century
5. Maria Czaplicka’s Family Background and Polish Youth
6. Love, a Novel, and Poetry in Zakopane
7. Female Anthropologists in the British Association for the Advancement of Science
8. Women in the Royal Anthropological Institute, Folklore Society, and Royal Geographical Society
9. London Studies and the Beginnings of Czaplicka’s English Career
10. Robert Marett and Anthropological Research on Religion
11. The Ups and Downs of Anthropological Racial Discourse
12. The Oxford School of Anthropology and Work on Aboriginal Siberia
13. Preparations for the Siberian Expedition and Its Participants
14. Summer on the Yenisei and Everyday Fieldwork
15. Winter in the Tundra and the Results of the Expedition
16. Czaplicka’s Shamanism in Theory and Practice
17. Deconstructing the Concept of “Arctic Hysteria”
18. Shamans and the Discourse of the Third Sex
19. The Intrepid Traveler Returns
20. Physical Anthropology and the Concept of Race in Czaplicka’s Research
21. My Siberian Year as a Work of Literary Ethnographic Writing
22. Feeling at Home at Lady Margaret Hall and a New Life as an Oxford University Lecturer
23. A Trip Home and the Situation in Polish Ethnology
24. An Anthropologist Engaged in the Public Debate
25. America and Disillusionment
26. Another Visit to Poland, Work in Bristol, and a Tragic Decision
27. Research on Shamanism after Czaplicka and the Response to Her Work
28. “Through Arctic Siberia with My Camera,” or Biographies of Maria Czaplicka’s Field Photographs
29. Life after Life
Conclusion: Czaplicka as a Person and the Social Processes in Her Life

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