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SEMINAR: ‘Memoirs .. serve as excellent types’: C.R. Browne and the Ethnographical Survey of Ireland – Excluded Ancestor and Invisible Genealogy in the History of Anthropology

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‘Memoirs .. serve as excellent types’: C.R. Browne and the Ethnographical Survey of Ireland – Excluded Ancestor and Invisible Genealogy in the History of Anthropology Other events...

At various times in the 1890s and early 1900s the reports of Charles Robert Browne’s ethnographic studies undertaken in the West of Ireland were described as exemplary ethnography. Yet the Ethnographical Survey of Ireland on which Browne worked is largely forgotten in anthropology and if remembered, seen as only preliminary to the main business of AC Haddon’s anthropological career and a mere adjunct to the Ethnographic Survey of the United Kingdom. When it is discussed, typically only the initial work of Haddon and Browne on Aran is mentioned or the ongoing role of Haddon in the enterprise exaggerated.

In this paper I explore the anthropological career of Charles Robert Browne, the only person to list his occupation in the 1901 census of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland as ‘anthropologists’, albeit alongside his other profession: ‘general practitioner’. I argue, on the one hand, that the Ethnographical Survey of Ireland is part of an invisible genealogy in the development of modern professional anthropology, with Browne an excluded ancestor and, on the other, that the survey was part of an Imperial Science project that ultimately failed to take root in Ireland as the country moved to Independence.


Dr Edward M. McDonald is the principal of Ethnosciences (2003-present) and formerly Managing Director and principal anthropologist of McDonald, Hales and Associates (1988-2003).Dr McDonald is currently the President of the Anthropological Society of Western Australia (ASWA).

He has 44 years’ experience as an applied anthropologist. His areas of research include Aboriginal and youth homelessness and housing programs, service delivery and client processing in welfare organisations, evaluations of group foster care and day care and of work organisation in a heavy industrial setting, in addition to a major community study in Inner City Perth. Dr McDonald’s article on the ethnography of Indigenous archaeology will be published shortly in Cooney, Gilhooly, Kelly & Mallía-Guest (eds.) Cultures of Stone: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Materiality of Stone. He has a continuing interest in the history of anthropology, with a primary focus on the ethnography of Daisy Bates and on the work Charles Robert Browne and the Ethnographic Survey of Ireland (1891-1903).
Speaker(s) Dr Edward McDonald, Principal Anthropologist at Ethnosciences
Location Social Sciences Building Room 2203
Contact Dorinda 't Hart <[email protected]>
Start Fri, 13 Mar 2020 14:30
End Fri, 13 Mar 2020 15:30
Submitted by Karen Eichorn <[email protected]>
Last Updated Tue, 10 Mar 2020 10:35
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