Anthropology and Radical Humanism

On today’s episode, we’re joined by Jack Glazier to discuss his book, Anthropology and Radical Humanism: Native and African American Narratives and the Myth of Race.

Anthropology and Radical Humanism is based on the work of the famed ethnographer of the Winnebago, Paul Radin. During his three-year appointment at Fisk University in the late 1920s, Radin and a graduate student, Andrew Polk Watson, collected autobiographies and religious conversion narratives from elderly African Americans. Their texts represent the first systematic record of slavery as told by former slaves. Radin regarded each narrative as the unimpeachable self-representation of a unique, thoughtful individual, precisely the perspective marking his earlier Winnebago work. As a radical humanist, Radin was an outspoken critic of racial explanations of human affairs then pervading not only popular thinking but also historical and sociological scholarship, placing him in the vanguard of anti-racist scholarship. Utilizing this material and other archival and published sources, Jack Glazier revisits the Radin-Watson collection and sets Paul Radin’s findings within the broader context of his discipline, African American culture, and Radin’s career-defining work among the Winnebago.

Jack Glazier is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Oberlin College and former president of the Central States Anthropological Society. He is a fellow of the American Anthropological Association and the Royal Anthropological Institute. His previous books include Been Coming through Some Hard Times: Race, History, and Memory in Western Kentucky and Dispersing the Ghetto: The Relocation of Jewish Immigrants across America.

Anthropology and Radical Humanism: Native and African American Narratives and the Myth of Race, is available at and other fine booksellers. You can connect with the press on Facebook and @msupress on twitter, where you can also find me @kurtmilb.

The MSU Press podcast is a joint production of MSU Press and the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University. Thanks to Daniel Trego, Madiha Ghous, Donté Smith, Kylene Cave, and the team at MSU Press, especially Elise Jajuga and Julie Reaume, for helping to produce this podcast. Our theme music is “Coffee” by Cambo. 

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