Alex Jerome Golub
Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationHawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, U. of
Grant numberGr. 10463
Approve DateApril 6, 2023
Project TitleGolub, Alex (Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, U. of) "Biography of Marshall Sahlins"
Marshall Sahlins is generally considered (with Clifford Geertz) to be the most influential American anthropologist of the post-World War II era. This project will conduct research for a book-length biography of Sahlins. Sahlins lived to be ninety and was a dominant theoretical force in anthropology for four decades. He began his career on the academic left, but later earned a reputation for conservatism for opposing what he called ‘postcolonialism’ and ‘postmodernism’. Given his longevity and influence, Sahlins’s story is in some sense anthropology’s story, and a biography of him is the perfect location to examine anthropology’s relationship to power structures inside and outside the academy. This project does not seek to pass moral judgment on Sahlins. Rather, its central research question is: How can we write a biography which gives readers the information necessary to take their own stances on anthropology’s past? Archival research will be conducted in Michigan, Chicago, Columbia, Hawai’i, and Fiji. I will also interview Sahlins’s friends, students, and colleagues. In Fiji, I will visit Moala, where Sahlins conducted fieldwork. This project aims to contribute to the History of Anthropology as a subdiscipline, and to debates about what constitutes an ethical and responsible anthropology.