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Making little Margaret Meads: Subjectification and discourses of anthropology in social studies education

Mark Helmsing Michigan State University
Abstract
This historical study adopts a genealogical method to trace certain regimes of truth in the field of social studies education that have regulated particular discourses from anthropology on race, ethnicity, and culture lodged within social studies curriculum to construct the subject of student-as-socialscientist. The study begins with considering contemporary discourses of learning about other cultures with anthropology found in the recently revised National Standards for Social Studies. These are compared with how the classifying scheme of anthropologist Honigmann (1959) was received and reinscribed as a disciplinary pedagogical practice in Joyce’s influenctial social studies methods textbook, New Strategies for Social Education. The study then examines this mode of subjectification in anthropology school textbooks and anthropology curriculum projects from the “New Social Studies” movement to examine how anthropologists engaged in teaching about the Other. What is teachable about the Other becomes questioned when considered against the assumptions and dividing practices found in the spaces where anthropology has been (dis)placed in social studies education.

In his 1944 Presidential Address to the National Council of the Social Studies, I. James Quillen, a professor of education at Stanford University, cautiously advised his audience assembled in Cleveland, Ohio for the annual conference that the work of social studies educators was imperative if “everlasting peace” were to be achieved for the Western world . Quillen outlined specific features that the curricular content comprising the field of social studies education needed to adopt in order to meet the aims of the nascent area within social studies termed “intercultural relations” . Among his recommendations for the field to promote among teachers were recommendations for students to understand that “behavior is, in large part, culturally determined”, “culture is inherited after birth”, and “the enrichment of modern culture rests on the accomplishments of people of all races” (Quillen, 1945, 12). His other recommendations contained words and phrases emblematic of the desire progressive educators had in the 1930s and 1940s to meliorate society and improve the world, wording such as “brotherhood”, “respect for essential dignity”, “equal opportunity”, and “all mankind.” Yet Quillen’s most remarkable suggestion asserted, “all people belong to some minority group and the persecution of one endangers the security and welfare of all.” Quillen’s address provides a snapshot of the field of social studies education as it was positioned to inculcate America’s youth with values and attitudes to support and diffuse democracy throughout the country and around the world, a curricular orientation long associated with the contested history of social studies education . But within two decades of Quillen’s address, the field of social studies education had shifted its attention away from making future citizens fixated upon democracy through reflection on social issues and decision making and, instead, towards making future social scientists capable of replicating research for personal

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these curriculum projects. my project aims to join the recent consideration of anthropology’s inclusion in social education in the 20th century by suggesting the discursive regime of the social studies field at that time both illustrates and complexifies the relationship anthropological discourse has with the competing aims and purposes of social studies education to fashion disciplined bodies that become citizens committed to upholding the characteristics of the project of democracy. in social studies education they are collectively referred to as “the New Social Studies” . The study begins with considering contemporary discourses of learning about other cultures with anthropology found in the recently revised National Standards for Social Studies. nor does it attempt to present a chronological survey of the historical developments associated with these projects embedded in a larger narrative of the scope and purposes of social studies education in the United States. These are compared with how the classifying scheme of anthropologist Honigmann (1959) was received and reinscribed as a disciplinary pedagogical practice in Joyce’s influenctial social studies methods textbook. What is teachable about the Other becomes questioned when considered against the assumptions and dividing practices found in the spaces where anthropology has been (dis)placed in social studies education. ethnicity. which has changed throughout time. Existing in schools in the 1960s and 1970s. A discussion of Foucault’s project as he described in his second and 2 . and culture lodged within social studies curriculum to construct the subject of student-as-socialscientist. New Strategies for Social Education. natural scientists and social scientists stepped out of their university offices and into public school classrooms to effect a specific kind of educational experience for students and teachers that would create a highly intelligent citizenry expertly informed in scientific thought to defend the United States from technological advances abroad while simultaneously securing enough talent to propel the technological power of the United States into the future . The study then examines this mode of subjectification in anthropology school textbooks and anthropology curriculum projects from the “New Social Studies” movement to examine how anthropologists engaged in teaching about the Other. Historicizing the subject of social studies education In this section I plan to theorize aspects of social studies education that account for creating an educated subject by using Foucault’s four-part framework of analyzing how social studies has historically fashioned its subject. however. The curricular products of these endeavors vary amongst school subjects. I intend to present findings from a historical study that adopts a genealogical method to trace certain regimes of truth in the field of social studies education that have regulated particular discourses from anthropology on race. Rather. Such scholarship already exists.intellectual and social purposes by being fluent in the language and practices of empirical. directed and created by university professors and sponsored by influential government agencies and private foundations. entrenched “grammar” of curriculum and instruction in social studies . Positioned to defend the youth of America from the domestic influence of Communism. This paper does not consider the merits or limitations of the New Social Studies movement. the projects were considered a failure both immediately after their funding expired by educationists as well as today by historians of education who fault the projects and the curricular Frankensteins who gave life to them for failing to consider social and political pressures that prevent lasting changes to the dense. positivist social science disciplines .

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