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Maria Czaplicka

Gender, Shamanism, Race

Grazyna Kubica

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 11/2020
Pages: 630
Subject: Biography and Autobiography
eBook ISBN: 9781496223173


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 (1914–15) 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.  


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.  


"Grazyna 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  

"Grazyna 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