Patrons of the Human Experience: A History of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, 1941–2016

Susan Lindee, Joanna Radin
2016 Current Anthropology  
The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research has played a critical but little-understodd role in the development of the social and biological sciences after 1941. For anthropology particularly, its programs have often helped redefine scholarly priorities and research trajectories. Its grants to doctoral students have functioned as an important early sign of scholarly legitimacy, a mark of belonging to the profession. The foundation's history also reflects general transformations in
more » ... ientific partronage as new landscapes of federal, military, and private funding re-configured opportunities in the social sciences. In this account we track the evolution of the foundation in tandem with the evolution of anthropology during a period of dramatic change after 1941, looking at the Second World War context from which the foundation emerged and the ideas and experiences of those who played a key role in this history. We examine the long-term influence of a philanthropic foundation on the postwar emergence of an internationally oriented anthropology from a tiny, almost clubby discipline with a few key institutions and leaders to a mahor academic and scientific enterprise with sometimes revolutionary ideas about evolution, human biology, race, culture, power, gender, and social order. The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research has played a critical but little-understood role in the development of the social and biological sciences since 1941. For anthropology particularly, its programs have often helped redefine scholarly priorities and research trajectories. Its grants to doctoral students have functioned as an important early sign of scholarly legitimacy, a mark of belonging to the profession. The foundation's history also reflects general transformations in scientific patronage as new landscapes of federal, military, and private funding reconfigured opportunities in the social sciences. In this account we track the evolution of the foundation in tandem with the evolution of anthropology during a period of dramatic change after 1941, looking at the Second World War context from which the foundation emerged and the ideas and experiences of those who played a key role in this history. We examine the long-term influence of a philanthropic foundation on the postwar emergence of an internationally oriented anthropology from a tiny, almost clubby discipline with a few key institutions and leaders to a major academic and scientific enterprise with sometimes revolutionary ideas about evolution, human biology, race, culture, power, gender, and social order.
doi:10.1086/687926 fatcat:mhrpyjauufemzlrzvjjl7z3s5y