The HRAF as Radical Text?

Peer Reviewed

Essay Excerpt

What if I were to tell you of a bold experiment in anthropological writing in which ethnographies are chopped up and then jumbled together so that from page to page even the type faces change (like thirty something). Page 93 from a French physical anthropologist's 1899 study of cranial dimensions of natives of the Toba tribal group follows page 51 from a 1968 study of Toban religious beliefs by a Mennonite missionary/anthropologist, which follows 12 of an American culture and personality theorist's 1974 paper on children's doll play among the Toba. A series of numbers and dots running down the margins gives you the option of sequencing your reading in a variety of ways, including the usual beginning to end. Would it matter if I told you that the idea for this radical text was developed not in 1987 by a Nobel-prize winning Argentinian novelist, but instead in 1937 by an American behavioral scientist searching for a unified theory of human behavior? (Tobin, 473)

About the Author

Joseph Tobin in a professor at the University of Chicago.

"I define myself professionally as an educational anthropologist and an early childhood education specialist. My education was interdisciplinary, with coursework in anthropology, sociology, and child development and a Ph.D. from the Committee on Human Development at the University of Chicago and a post-doctoral fellowship at the East-West Center in Honolulu. My principal doctoral mentors were Robert A LeVine (who is an emeritus professor at the Harvard Graduates School of Education) and Takeo Doi (a Japanese psychoanalyst, most famous for his work on Japanese ethnopsychiatry).  

My job title is The Elizabeth Garrard Hall Professor of Early Childhood Education at the University of Georgia. I joined the faculty at UGA in 2011. Before that I taught for many years at the University of Arizona University and the University of Hawai`i and for a year at the University of New Hampshire. I have been a visiting professor at the University of Chicago and the University of Paris."

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