1 ... ANTHROPOLOGY, HISTORY AND THE ANNALES Charles TilQ University of Michigan March CRSO Working Paper //I73 Copies available through: Center for Research on Social Organization University of Michigan 330 Packard Street Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109
2 At first glance, antl~ropologints and liistorlans secm to have hccn made for each other. likely to thrive. Their romance was bound to occur. onc might think, and Aftcr all, both nnll~ropologlsts and liintorlnns tcnd to be fastidiotis aho~~t the particular, cvcn wlicn tlicy are hoping ro gencrnl lzc. Antliropologlsts and historians Prcqucntly hold 18p as nn ideal the form of ANTHROPOLOW, IIISTORY AND THE ANNALES analysis which Cltfford Ceertz, followlng Gilhcrt Rylc. calls "thick dcscrip- tion": the grnsplng and rendering of "... n multipllclty of complex con- ceptual structures, mnny of them sllpcrimposcd upon or knot~cd Into one nn- other, which are at once strange, irrcgr~lar, nnd 111rxpllclt... " (Cccrtz 1973: 10). Jn short, the interpretation of cr11 tures. That concern sets anthropologists nnd IiisLorinns off from mnsl ccono- mists, sociologtsts and other social nclentists. Etl~nogrophic 'ield wnrk resembles the historian's archlval research more than it docs the soclolo- gist's survey design or the economtst's natil~nal income accounting. The Pago-Pago Principlc (as Arnold Feldman once cnllcd it) t~nilcn tl~cm: Wl~cncvcr Charles Ti1l.y University OF Michigan October some social scientist hnzards a world-wide ~cnernlizntlon abot~t economlc dc- velopment or changing fertjlity pnttcrns, reported I'cldman, back row stands t~p and says. "But not In I'ngo-Pagol" somconc in the 'Tl~at somconc Is I lkcly to be an historian or an anthropologist. On closer inspection, we can dlscovcr posslhlc grounds for disscnnion between the inamorati. Ilintorians Lcncl to be cspccinlly concernml nhot~t fix- ing human actions in time, while hclng less cnnccrncd - o r amhlvnlcnl - about fixing them in space. In n gencrnllzntlon nhnr~t ciglitccnli~-ccnl~y America, an historian must be very t:nrcft~l to plrlcc Ll~c st:itcmcnt (nnd Its
3 doc~~mcntation) before, durine or after 1776; if information from Roston is not available, however, information from Providence or Hartford may well do turn has been especially visible among l~istoria~~s who liave wanted to build a rigorous. autonomous social history. a social history wl~ich was not a simple tl~e job. Anthropologists, on the other band, tend to be much attached to appendage to political or intellcclt~al history. Illstorla~~s of famlly struc- place, and somewhat more relaxed about fixing human actions in time. The ture. of popular movements, of peasant lifc and OF similar ~oplcs have "nntl~ropologicnl present" for a given village may well span a generation. Illstorinns tend to be hesitant or hostile when it comes to the use of cate- reached Loward anthropology for insights, metl~ods and cxptnnntions. Thc pat11 from social hlstory to anthropology 11:1s ~encrnl ly been in- gories which were not part of the period's own conceptual apparatus - for direct. No doubt the most important singlc innovation in the social history example, the application of the vocabulary of class to an era before the of the Last few decades was the widespread adoptlon of one form nr another mergence of that vocabulary. Anthropologists quite regi~larly apply analyt- of collective biography: the systematic accumulntlon of mr~lplple lifc his- lc frnmeworks which would be unfamiliar, incomprehensible, or even offen- tories, or fragments of life histories, in order to eggregale Lhcm Inln a sive, to the objects of their study: formal models of kinship, tracings of portrayal of the experience of the population as a wl~ole. lllstorlans of interpersonal influence, and so on. The historjan's greater anxiety about class structure have looked at the occ~~pationnl lives of hundreds of people situating Irumnn nffairs in time co11ld very well be the basis of serious mis- understanding and disagreemen t wilh anthropologists. in one city or another, then compounded tl~em Into rates of occ~~pntlonal mo- bility by class of origin, by rellginn, by race, by natlonnl background. by As the specialists in time, historians have more than one way of root- locality or by some other criterion. Demographic historians have brought ing their analyses in tlme. Let us consider only two alternatives: first, together multiple observations of Lndivldr~nl persons and events from I:cnstlses the simple attnclmcnt of each action to a particular time: second, the de- or vital records, linked the records together, and then r~sed the linked liberate analysis of change over time. In the first case, we carcfr~lly records to examine variations in fertility, morlnlity and nuptlallty. Ills- situate American reactions to Britain in 1765 before or after Britain's ef- forte to impose the Stamp Act, and rule out evjdence from after the Stamp Act repeal of 1766 as a tainted guide to American orientations in the pre- ~orians of popular movements have col l ected information about Ind lvldual participants, connected the vario~~q scraps of evidence conccrnlng the same indivicll~als with each other, then drawn from the connected scraps an anal yais vious year. In the second case, we purposefully reconstruct the process by of the movement's social composition. which American opposition to Britain crystallized, and tl~en developed into a In these and many other appl icatlons of col lcctivc hlogrnphy. the revolr~tionary clullenge. The second is more complex than the first, be- point is to move beyond the general Impresslrm or the wcl 1-cl~os~n cxnmple cause it includes the first, and adds the problem of establishing ca~~sal sequences. Ilistorians doing both the simple and thc complex rooting of analyses witl~out losing the ability to talk about what I~appened to the pvpulation as a whole. Although the approach of collect lvc hlogrnphy 1s not n~?ccssnrily incompatible with the usual procedures rif :~ntl~ropolo~lsts, Its Ioglc I~as in time liave recently turned to anthropology for idcas and approacllcs. The
4 - 5 - much more in common with the routlnes of demographers and sociolo~ists. In itself, then. we might have expected the adoption of collective hlography to draw l~intoriar~s nwny from anthropology rather than toward it. It is the IimiLs of collective biography as a source of satlsfylng s- planatlons of social action wl~ich have often driven historians toward a11111ro- pology. Take demograpl~ic Illstory as an example. The collective biography of vital events and population characteristics is a powerful way to rule out The socialist historians who began to thrive toward World War T (.Ic~II, Juarbs and Albert Mathiez are examples) added substance LO the nnalyals of popular movements. hut still worked malnly from the top down. Illstory from below becamc a general and influential modcl for the study or polrular protest and collective actjon with the work of Gcorgcs Lcfrl~vre from the 1920s onward; Lefebvre's Paysans du Nord made it clear that. t11c materials cxls~cd for a rich portrayal of routine social lifc and of ordinary people In somc- bad explanations. If it turns out, for example, that the chief difference thing like their own terms, nod for the linkl~ig of that portrayal WILII Rcller- bctwccr~ periods of rapid growth and of stagnation in the development of a particular clty is the rate at wl~ich migrants come and go, then any explana- tion of the city's growth nnd stagnation in terms of the resident population's al accounts of the French Revolution mid other majoc pollttcal cl~nngcs. In the 1950s, collective biography strict0 scnsu entered thc sccl~c wit11 Albert Soboul's reconstruction of the lifc and composltioii of Pnrlslan working- vigor is at least seriously incomplete. Yet the strength of colleclive biog- class neigl~borhoods during the early Revolutlon; RJcl~ard Cubh's treatment of raphy 1s not in supplying alternative explanations, but in specifying what is the revolutionary militias, George RudB's analyses of Llie participants ~ I I to be explnined. Historians who have specified what is to be explained via major revolutior~ary journ6es. and many other stud lcs along the same 1 inc ce- collectlve biography often find themselves turning to explanations stressing the immedtatc setting and organization of everyday life, or relying on some- mented the joint between collective biogmpl~y and French rcvolnllonary history. thing vaguely called "culture". That moves them back toward anthropology. Yet these authors and thclr successors soon discovcrcd Ll~c I lmlls of The evolution shows up clearly in the study of popular protest and collective biography: collective biogrnpl~y told them who was there and some- collectlve action. Let us stick to France, partly because the French and thing about how those who were there behaved, but collcctivc blogrnphy did frnncopl~iles l~ave ploneered in such studies, partly because this symposium not in itself provide compelling expl:~nations of the bel~avlor. 1n tl~c 1960s is trainlng attention on a great French historical school. Until early in and 1970s the successors turned increasingly Lo antliropology as a source of the twentieth century, the standard French approach to popular protest and explanatlono, insights and methods. Two broadly antl~ropologlcal styles of collcctive action was to infer the attitudes of ordln;~ry people - "the mob" to autl~ors on the right, "the people" to authors on the left - from general prlnclples or from the pronorlnccmcnts of spokesmen, self-appointed or othcr- work became prominent in the study of pop111ar protest a~ld collcctivc action. The flrst was the close analysis of Lhc cult~~ral m;~tcri:~ltr used or produce11 by historlcal actors: songs, sayings, iconography, forms nf rctrihullon, and wise, of ordinnry people. The attitudes then provided the explanations of so on. The second we might call "re~ros~ectivc etl~nr~grapl~~", tllr effort to collcctivc nctlot~. Michelet, despite his greater cntl~ustasm for The People, was no more sophisticated than Tnine in this regard. reconstitute a round of life from the best hlstorlcnl cqulvnlcnts of Llle cth- nograpller's observations, then to IISC the rcconstilu~cd routld of Life 11s n
5 context for the explanation of colleclive action. In America, Natalie Zemon structures as a means to the explanation of collectlve nctlon, n number of Dz~vis' sensitive portrayals of sixteenth-century French conflicts illustrate Freuch historiar~s have taken them up as worthy enterprises ln their owl that effort to give an anthropological tone to historical analysis. In right. Tlie lives of peasants and artisans, in pnrtlculnr, lmvc come In for France itself, Maurice Agr~lhon's treatments of nineteenth-century socia- anthropological scrutiny. Some of the inspirat loti f lowed cl trect 1 y from bil.ity and symbolism illustrate the richest outcomes of the anthropological Fecnand Braudel's program of Total History. One of the most I~nprcsslvc approacl~. In nlmost none of this work was the influence of academic aotliropology and influential examples is Emmnnucl Le Roy Ladnrie's vasl 1,ortralt nf the peasants of Languedoc from the fourteenth through tlie ei~htccntl~ centuries. very formal or very intrusive. The work nevertheless deserves to be called It follows the program of Totnl History in synthesizing observations on antl~ropological because, as compared with previous historical work, it stresses the reconstruction of a round of life bnd a body of meanings from climate, land forms, demographic changes, prices, ngricultl~rnl techt~ology. religious beliefs, popular movements and power s~ructures. It follows the the perspective of a participant observer on the ground. It also relies on lead of collective biography in building much of the annlysls on n masslvc the borrowing of insights from other ethnogrnphics, both historical and parcel-by-parcel reconslruction of the IISCU and ownership of the land over contemporary. That is where the Annales and its collaborators come in. Unti.1 the the centuries. dimensional. The resulting organization of the book is powerfully twn- The collective biography of tlie land provldes Lllc flrst di , popi~lnr protest and collective action occupied a very modest place in t11e pages of the Annales, and the historians most closely associated mension, the flucluations of prices, prodllction and popul:~tlon Ll~c second. In the squares of the two-dimensional grld 1.e Roy Laclurlc inserts with the Annnles played no more than a secondary role in such developments his retrospective ethnography. Otie stunning example Is his rcconslruction nn the introduction of collective biography into studies of the French Rev- of the 1580 Mardi Cras festivities io Romns, a smnll city near the ~l~&ic olution. But in the 1960s the increasingly catholic Annalcs became an im- south of Lyon. There, in a time of famlne, artisans and peasants "danced portnnt vchicl.e for studies of popular protest and collective action. That their revolt in tlie streets of the clty" before putting it Into opcrntion. was cspcclolly true of anthropologically-tinged studies of the subject. Jean Serve, a popular local. leader, donned a bearskin, placed hlmnclf on the The work of the American Natalie Davis and of the English E.P. Thompson first consular throne, declared price controls, and Led n series of 11lznrre ccrc- becnmc widely known to French audiences through the pages of the Annales. monial denunciations of the rich of Romans. The events liave come to be There was plenty of room for their French counterparts: Mona Ozouf, Michcl known as tlie Carnival of Romans. Tl~e rich struck back, mnrdcrtny, Serve nnd Vovelle nnd many others all found their places in the journal. The Annales, many of his companions. "Thus cndccl the Carnival of Romans," wrltes 1.c Roy it seems, helped promote this recent convergence of anthropology and history. Ladurie, "a failed attempt to invert the social ordcr: cverytl~infi wns put The people of the Annales helped in other ways as well. Instead of back in its proper place, and the domlnnnt classes, at bny for n wl~llc. employing retrospective ethnography and the sllstaioed analysis of symbolic landed back on their feet. To confirm that rctur~l to gond ordcr, the judges
6 had the effigy of Jean Serve, the rebel chief, hanged upside down, feet in inhabitants. The group had flxed on Ploz6vct, among other reasons, bc- the air and hcnd down" (LC Roy Ladurie 1966: I, 397). Small wonder that cause the recurrence of a genetically-based deformity (a diaplnced hip) s~~g- LC Roy Ladurie's reconstruction of the Carnival gave rise to a much-watched gested an endogamous genetic isolate. Originally, the team had cxcludcd televlsion drnmatizntion. HLs ahalysis exemplifies the application of history and historians from the inqulry. As the p~ojcct'wore on. Ll~cy re- Gccrtz' thick description to the distant past. cruited the historian Burguibre to write the general report of tl,clr find- A number of French historians have rollowed Le Roy Ladurie's lead, and others have arrived more or less independently at the same project of ings. Bretons de PlozBvet is the result. BurgulBre's assignment had three parts: flrst, to wr1t.c the 11Ist(1ry integrating ethnography into history. Eugen Weber's widely-praised Peasants -- lnto Frenclunen uses the local chroniclers, commentators and folklorists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as proxy ethnographers. Michel of the research project; second, to sum up nnd (whcrc posslhlc) to lntcernte the project's biversc findings; thlrd, to write the I~istory of ~loz6vct as a context for interpretation of the flndlngs. Ile found ft easier to do the Vovelle and Yves Castan have undertaken the close inspection of routine third than the second, easier to do the second than the flrst. Tl~e book he written materials and iconography for their symbolic content, and for the produced is full of valuable juxtapositions and insights. For examplc, we light they shed on the systems of meanings within which people lived out learn something important about the constant crcntlon and re-crention of their lives. Many other varieties of a broadly anthropological approach "tradition" in discovering that the great decorative coiffcs worn on the to historical subject matter have appeared in the last decade. Much of heads of Breton women were essentially n product of Lhc later nineleenth that work has been initiated, inspired, publicized or actually done by century. Burguibre raises important doubts ns to whetllcr the vill:~gc as historians closely associated with the Annales. I.et us consider just two samples of first-retrospective ethnography which have come from the milieu of the Annales: The first is ~ndr4? Burguihrc's Bretons de PlozBvet, the second Emmanucl Le Roy Ladurie's &- such played, or plays, a fundamental role in locnl endogamy or, by cxtcn- sion, in a variety of other soclal relations. But the point here is not to revlcw the varied res~~lts of the Inquiry. The lmportant thing for present purposes in the dlff ic111 ty Burgulbrc had In taillou, village occitan. Tn different ways, both books illustrate the devising an analytic framework which would be nt once adcq~~arc to the ~rlb- strengths nnd the limits of the recent alliance between history and anthro- ject matter, consistent with the objectlvcs of the lion-hlatorlnnn on the pology. project. and faithful to his I~lstorlcal calling. Burg111h1-c devotes some ~ndre Burguibre received one of the most flattering and challenging thoughtft~l. pages to that confrontation. Ilc points out the prcrl,l.cm of inte- nssignments a historian has received in some time. In 1962, a team of grating an inquiry which began orientcd to the idea thr~t the ulttmate and gcnctici.sts. anthropologists, demogrnphcrs, sociologists and other observ- constraining reality was jndividt~al and biologlcnl, which st1011 brrrugl~l i11 ers had descended on a Breton vlllagc. The vil.lap,e was Pl.oz6vet: the researchers who were convlnced that socl:~l structures 11:ld thclr owl 111s- famous Plod6met of Edgar Morln's Commune en France. It had nbout 3,800 tortes and consequer~ces, and which fixed Its attention on tl~osc aspects or
7 social reality which could be observed and measured directly. Burguihre gives the lie to the historians' frequent complnlnt that their sorlrccs do searched for an all-encompassing temporal framework, hut fillally settled for an old, effective historical device: he organized his account around tlie vi- not permit Ll~mn Lo reconstruct the vulgar details of everyday existence. The works of Le Roy Ladurie and of RurgcliEre give 11s envlnblc models cissltudes of the polltical elite, snd especially around the fate of a single. for the integration of historical and antl~ropologlcal conccrns. Yet they lnflucntlal family, the Le Balls. Thus in order to integrate his retrospec- do not really illustrate the convergence of history and ant1,ropology. Nor tive ethnography he had to reach outside the ethnographic framework. Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie's Montaillou remains more completely within the confines of retrospective ethnography, at the cost of ending up witllovt a do they display any major contribution of hlstorlans, or of the hlstorlnns most closely associated with the Annales, to the prnclicc of anll~ropology. The discipline of anthropology is far broader ellan etllnogrnpl~y. Tndeecl, general analytic framework. Lest those words sound deprecating, let nle say important segments of the profession consjder tlie standard forms of partlcl- at once that the book is a joy and a revelation. Montaillou, a small vil- pant observation to be relics of the past. Much of the current octlon in lage in the Pyrenees, was a hotbed of heresy in the late thirteenth century, anthropology conccrns the formal analysis of symbolic strrlcttlres. the 1111man- and the object of a searching inquiry by the Inquisition in the 1320s. The ization of hiology and ecology, the dcvclopmcnt of cvotutlnnnry models, tl~c i~~q~~isitor, the clever and persistent bishop Jacques Fournier, left bchlnd a transcript of his inquest which is full of direct qt~otations from his in- rigorous treatment of kinship, demography and household struct~~re. A l l these anthropological concerns have, to be sure, left traces In the pages of terviews with the villagers. the Annales. But they sre for the most part altcrnntlvcs to ctl~nogrnphy. What a source1 nographic field notes. 1.e Roy Lndurit treats it as a voluminous set of eth- llc adopts a simple and relatively conventional out- not additions to it. The portion of anthropology wlth wl~tch French and francophile historians have worked most effectively is only a small part of line for the report of findings: "ecology" "archeology" (that is, social relations). (that is, social geography), then Within the two major sections, the field, and in some regards a backwater. Furthermore, the influence of historical work - including thal of we find chapters on standard ethnograpl~ic topics: sexuality, courtship, the Annales - on anthropological practice has been sllght. Few anthropol- marriage. life-cycles, gathering places, Forms of solidarity, and so on. Le Roy Laclurie hrings the material into brilliant light by embedding chunks ogists know much history. fewer know much ahout I~lstoricnl research, and fewer still employ the historian's models, matcrl;~ls or inslgl~ts In thdr of the transcript in his text, by ingenious portrayals of the village's own work. The flow of influence between a~~tllropology and I~istory, ns principal characters (including tlie sexual adventures of the local priest, practicing disciplines, has been largely one-way. Under these circumstances, Pierre Clergue), by punctuating the description with unexpected but often to speak of convergence between the fields is an exa.qgeration. 'I'o speak OF revelatory references to distant times and cultures, by an agile play OF the influence of the Annales on this particular branch of Llie social scf- hypothesis, inference and speculation. The result may well be our most com- ences is wishful thinking. prchensive account of the daily life of a medleval village. Le Roy Ladurie
8 References Maurice Agul.hon 1966 Penitents ct francs-maqons de l'ancienne Provence. Paris: Yves-Marie Bcrcf Foyard Fete et rhvolte. Dcs mentaliths populaircs du XVIe nu XVIIIe hndr6 Burgu thrc Yvcs Castnn Ricliard Cobb sihcle. Paris: Hachette Bretons de Plozkvet. Paris: Flammarion Honni3tet6 et relations sociales en Languedoc ( ). Paris: Plon Les armfes rbvolutionnaires, instrument de la Terreur dans 1963 les dkpartements. Paris: Mouton. 2 vols. Notolie Zemon Davis 1975 Soclety and Culture in Early Modern France. Stanford: Clnudc Ga lgnebet StanEord Unlversity Press "Le combat de Carnaval et de Carsme de P. Bruegel (1559)", Annsles; Economies, Socj6tibs, Civilisations, 27: Emmanuel 1,e Roy Ladurie 1966 I.es paysans de Languedoc. Paris: SEWEN. 2 vols Montaillou, village occltnn, dc 1294?I Pz~rls: Collimard. Mona Ozouf 1971 "Le corthge et la ville. Les 1Linfratres pnrislcns dcs fetes rhvolutionnaircs", Annalcs; Economics, Soci6Lfs. Civilisations, 26: George Rudh 1959 The Crowd in tlic French Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Albert Soboul 1958 Les sans-culottes paris icns cn l'an IT. La Roclic-sur-Yon : Potlet. E.P. Thompson 1972 "'Rough Music': Le Charival-1 anglals", Antialcs; Economics. Socl&ths, Civilisations, 27: Michel Vovelle 1976 Les mhtamorpl~oses de la fete en Provencc dc 1750 $ Paris: AubierlFlammarion. Clifford Gccrtz 1973 The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books. Ceorgcs Lefcbvre 1924 Les Pnysans du Nord pendant la R6volution franqaise. Li1l.e: Robbe Etudes orlqanalses. Paris: Commjssion d'llistoire Economique 1963 et Sociale de la RQvolutlon. 2 vols.