Anthropology, History, and Memory in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Memoriam Michel Izard. Introduction
The special issue explores the manifold relations between history, memory, and anthropological research. Explicitly or not, history has always been a particular reference for anthropological research. First of all, anthropologists most often deal with the past not only when attempting to reconstruct past events and conditions, but rather to look at social change, innovation, and transformation, enabling then to position their findings in larger theoretical perspectives: from (neo-)evolutionism, the Vienna School, (Neo-)Marxism to globalization theories. Evolutionists (from the classics of the nineteenth century to contemporary ‘neoevolutionists’) are, for example, enthusiastic about the prospects of the two disciplines' union and view anthropology actually as a study of cultural history. On the contrary, anthropologists of different relativistic schools are more or less skeptical in their views on the usefulness of history for anthropological research as a study of contemporary cultures. For example, such a powerful figure as Malinowski argued that what he called conjectural history can give anthropology very little, if anything at all. Postmodernist Anthropology in fact, takes this postulate for granted.