Project AbstractIn 1897, anthropologist Franz Boas published his major monograph, The Social Organization and the Secret Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians, a synthesis of his first decade of research on the Northwest Coast and one of the first holistic ethnographies based on field work. The text brought together data on Kwakwaka’wakw social structure with art and material culture, detailed narratives in the Kwak’wala language, photographs taken in situ in British Columbia and at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, transcribed songs, eye-witness description of ceremonial performances, and extensive contributions from Boas’s indigenous collaborator George Hunt. Yet the report remained incomplete and fractured, and archival materials relevant to its origins and afterlives are scattered all over the world. This material includes original field notes by Boas and Hunt, museum collections records, original photographic negatives, and wax cylinder recordings of music. The goal of this collaborative project is to produce an annotated, critical digital edition that will reunite the archival material with the original text and with the indigenous families whose cultural heritage is represented. This will be an unprecedented effort within anthropology and the humanities, promising new ways of using digital media to link together disparate archives, museums, textual repositories, and contemporary Native communities in order to produce a critical historiography of the book as well as to recuperate long dormant ethnographic records.
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Project Team

Coordinators/EditorsAaron Glass (Bard Graduate Center)Judith Berman (University of Victoria)
Additional Core Research TeamAndy Everson (Artist and Community Researcher, Comox, BC)Rainer Hatoum (Independent Scholar, Berlin, Germany)Ira Jacknis (Hearst Museum, University of California Berkeley)Barbara Taranto (Independent Technical Architect, New York/Tel Aviv)
Advisory BoardMatthew Bokovoy (University of Nebraska Press)Stan Hunt (Hunt family representative, Alert Bay, BC)Dean Irvine (Dalhousie University)Peter Jacobs (University of Victoria)David Jaffee (Bard Graduate Center)Kimon Keramidas (New York University)Barbara Mathé (American Museum of Natural History)Gina Rappaport (National Anthropological Archives) Adam Werle (University of Victoria)

Project Prototype

View an interactive prototype of the final digital edition website. This is a working mock-up based on known research materials, provisional annotations, and planned functionality at this stage (prior to the extensive Native community consultations that will be a main component of the project). Only some features of the final digital edition are dynamically represented here (interactive functions are indicated by a *), but it provides a model for the further development of the research project and the design of the final product.(NOTE: This prototype is optimized for viewing in Google Chrome)