Obituary: IRA JACKNIS (1952–2021)
Aaron Glass and Hadley Jensen
Bard Graduate Center
On September 29, 2021, museum anthropology’s international community lost one of its most stalwart contributors and enthusiasts when our dear friend Ira Jacknis passed away unexpectedly at his home in Oakland, California. Though generally a quiet and private person, Ira was an omnipresent fixture at professional conferences (especially those of the American Anthropological Association, Council for Museum Anthropology, Society for Visual Anthropology, and Native American Art Studies Association), where he would come to life in eager and animated conversation with fellow scholars around shared topics of research. As we spread news of his death to colleagues around the world, the spontaneous tributes that poured in spoke in converging terms of Ira’s distinctive qualities and character: his gentle kindness and warmth; his deep erudition and meticulous research on a wide range of topics, materials, and media; his collegiality and generosity with peers and students alike.
Although primarily trained as an anthropologist, Ira’s natural habitat was really the archive, from which he excavated the deeply entwined histories of art collections, museums, and anthropology itself. In our recently published obituary, we provide an overview of Ira’s life, education, employment, and research achievements, focusing on his vital contributions to the overlapping fields of museum anthropology, visual and media anthropology, the history of anthropology, and Indigenous North American arts. We close with some personal reflections from having worked closely with Ira on a couple of his final, long- term research projects, which we now have the honor and responsibility of seeing through to completion.
Read or download the complete obituary in Museum Anthropology 45(2), 2022: https://doi.org/10.1111/muan.12256
The following is a comprehensive list of Ira’s peer-reviewed publications as cited in the obituary (the print/PDF version features only the select bibliography of monographs):
1991 Objects of Myth and Memory: American Indian Art at The Brooklyn Museum, with Diana Fane and Lise M. Breen. Brooklyn and Seattle: The Brooklyn Museum and University of Washington Press.
1994 Getemono: Collecting the Folk Crafts of Old Japan, with Letters from Kyoto by Brian Shekeloff. Berkeley: Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology.
1995 Carving Traditions of Northwest California. Berkeley: Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology.
2002 The Storage Box of Tradition: Kwakiutl Art, Anthropologists, and Museums, 1881–1981. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.
2004 Food in California Indian Culture. Volume editor and author of the introduction (“Notes Toward a Culinary Anthropology of Native California,” 1–119). Berkeley: Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology.
2017 Collecting, Ordering, Governing: Anthropology, Museums, and Liberal Government, with Tony Bennett, Fiona Cameron, Nélia Dias, Ben Dibley, Rodney Harrison, and Conal McCarthy. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
1984 “Franz Boas and Photography.” Studies in Visual Communication 10(1):2–60.
1985 “Franz Boas and Exhibits: On the Limitations of the Museum Method of Anthropology.” In Objects and Others: Essays on Museums and Material Culture, edited by George W. Stocking, 75–111. History of Anthropology 3. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
1987 “The Picturesque and the Scientific: Franz Boas’s Plan for Anthropological Filmmaking.” Visual Anthropology 1(1):59–64.
1988 “Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson in Bali: Their Use of Photography and Film.” Cultural Anthropology3(2):160–177.
1990a “Authenticity and the Mungo Martin House, Victoria, B.C.: Visual and Verbal Sources.” Arctic Anthropology27(2):1–12.
1990b “James Mooney as an Ethnographic Photographer.” Visual Anthropology 3(2/3):179–212.
1991a “George Hunt, Collector of Indian Specimens.” In Chiefly Feasts: The Enduring Kwakiutl Potlatch, edited by Aldona Jonaitis, 177–224. New York and Seattle: American Museum of Natural History and University of Washington Press.
1991b “Northwest Coast Indian Culture and the World’s Columbian Exposition.” In The Spanish Borderlands in Pan-American Perspective, edited by David H. Thomas, 91–118. Columbian Consequences 3. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.
1991c Objects of Myth and Memory: American Indian Art at The Brooklyn Museum, with Diana Fane and Lise M. Breen. Brooklyn and Seattle: The Brooklyn Museum and University of Washington Press.
1992a “‘The Artist Himself”: The Salish Basketry Monograph and the Beginnings of a Boasian Paradigm.” In The Early Years of Native American Art History: The Politics of Scholarship and Collecting, edited by Janet Catherine Berlo, 134–61. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
1992b “George Hunt, Kwakiutl Photographer.” In Anthropology and Photography, 1860–1920, edited by Elizabeth Edwards, 143–51. New Haven: Yale University Press.
1993 “Alfred Kroeber as Museum Anthropologist.” Museum Anthropology 17(2):27–32.
1994 Getemono: Collecting the Folk Crafts of Old Japan. With Letters from Kyoto by Brian Shekeloff. Berkeley: Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology.
1995a “The Carver’s Art of the Indians of Northwestern California: An Exhibition at the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology.” American Indian Art Magazine 20(4):44–55.
1995b Carving Traditions of Northwest California. Berkeley: Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology.
1996a “The Ethnographic Object and the Object of Ethnology in the Early Career of Franz Boas.” In Volksgeist as Method and Ethic: Essays on Boasian Ethnography and the German Anthropological Tradition, edited by George Stocking, 185–214. History of Anthropology 8. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
1996b “Preface” and “Alfred Kroeber and the Photographic Representation of California Indians.” In “The Shadow Catcher: The Uses of Native American Photography,” edited by Ira Jacknis and Willow Powers, 1–14, 15–32. American Indian Culture and Research Journal, special issue, 20(3).
1996c “Repatriation as Social Drama: The Kwakiutl Indians of British Columbia, 1922–1980.” American Indian Quarterly 20(2):274–86. [Reprinted in Repatriation Reader: Who Owns American Indian Remains? Edited by Devon A. Mihesuah, 266–81. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000.]
1998 “Telling a Story about the Past: Fact and Fiction in Two Recent Films on the History of Anthropology.” American Anthropologist 100(2):502–9.
1999 “Patrons, Potters, and Painters: Phoebe Hearst’s Collections from the American Southwest.” In Collecting Native America, 1870–1960, edited by Shepard Krech, III, and Barbara A. Hail, 139–71. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.
2000a “A Museum Prehistory: Phoebe Hearst and the Founding of the Museum of Anthropology, 1891–1901.” In The University at the Turn of the Century, Then and Now, edited by Roberta J. Park and J. R. K. Kantor, 47–77. The Chronicle of the University of California 4. Berkeley.
2000b “Visualizing Kwakwaka’wakw Tradition: The Films of William Heick, 1951–1963.” In Ethnographic Eyes: In Memory of Douglas L. Cole, edited by Wendy C. Wickwire, 99–146. BC Studies (special issue) 125/126.
2002a “The Creation of Anthropological Archives: A California Case Study.” In Anthropology, History, and American Indians: Essays in Honor of William Curtis Sturtevant, edited by William L. Merrill and Ives Goddard, 211–20. Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology 44. Washington, DC.
2002b “The First Boasian: Alfred Kroeber and Franz Boas, 1896–1905.” American Anthropologist 104(2):520–32.
2002c The Storage Box of Tradition: Kwakiutl Art, Anthropologists, and Museums, 1881–1981. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.
2002d “Towards an Art History of Northwest Coast First Nations: A Review Essay of Recent Literature.” BC Studies135:47–48, 93–94, 137–38, 177–85.
2003a “Franz Boas and the Music of the Northwest Coast Indians.” In Constructing Cultures Then and Now: Celebrating Franz Boas and the Jesup North Pacific Expedition, edited by Laurel Kendall and Igor Krupnik, 105–22. Contributions to Circumpolar Anthropology 4. Washington, DC: Arctic Studies Center, Smithsonian Institution.
2003b “Yahi Culture in the Wax Museum: Ishi’s Sound Recordings.” In Ishi in Three Centuries, edited by Karl Kroeber and Clifton Kroeber, 235–74. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
2004a “Notes Toward a Culinary Anthropology of Native California.” In Food in California Indian Culture, edited by Ira Jacknis, 1–119. Berkeley: Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology.
2004b “The Lure of the Exotic: Ethnic Arts and the Design Department at UC Berkeley.” Chronicle of the University of California 6:37–73.
2004c “‘A Magic Place’: The Northwest Coast Indian Hall at the American Museum of Natural History.” In Coming to Shore: Northwest Coast Ethnology, Traditions, and Visions, edited by Marie Mauzé, Michael E. Harkin, and Sergei Kan, 221–50. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
2005a “A Berkeley Home for Textile Art and Scholarship, 1912–79.” In Appropriation, Acculturation, Transformation: Proceedings of the 9th Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America (CD-ROM), edited by Carol Bier, 183–92. Earleville, MD: Textile Society of America.
2005b “New Questions for Old Images: Recent Contributions to the History of Photography of Native Americans.” Current Anthropology 46(3):491–92.
2006a “Acorns and Manzanita Cider: In Search of the Original ‘California Cuisine.’” Chronicle of the University of California 8:64–86.
2006b “A New Thing? The NMAI in Historical and Institutional Perspective.” In “Special Issue: Critical Engagements with the National Museum of the American Indian,” Amy Lonetree, guest editor. American Indian Quarterly30(3/4):511–42.
2007 “Regional Surveys of Northwest Coast Native Art: A Review Essay.” BC Studies 155:129–36.
2008a “‘The Last Wild Indian in North America’: Changing Museum Representations of Ishi.” In Museums and Difference, edited by Daniel J. Sherman, 60–96. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
2008b “A New Thing? The National Museum of the American Indian in Historical and Institutional Perspective” (revised version). In The National Museum of the American Indian: Critical Conversations, edited by Amy Lonetree and Amanda J. Cobb, 3–42. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
2010 “Interior House Posts by Mungo Martin, Thunderbird Park.” In The Totem Pole: An Intercultural History, edited by Aldona Jonaitis and Aaron Glass, 173–74. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
2013 “From Explorers to Ethnographers, 1770–1870.” In Native Art of the Northwest Coast: A History of Changing Ideas, edited by Charlotte Townsend-Gault, Jennifer Kramer, and Ki-ke-in, 46–91. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.
2014a “A Chamber of Echoing Songs: Edward Curtis as a Musical Ethnographer.” In Return to the Land of the Head Hunters: Edward S. Curtis, the Kwakwaka’wakw, and the Making of Modern Cinema, edited by Brad Evans and Aaron Glass, 99–127. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
2014b “Looking at Culture: Visualizing Anthropology at a University Museum.” In Uncertain Images: Museums and the Work of Photographs, edited by Elizabeth Edwards and Sigrid Lien, 201–119. Farnham, England: Ashgate.
2014c “More than a Footnote or Bibliographic Entry: Mary Lois Kissell as an Innovator of Textile Study,” with Erin L. Hasinoff. Presented at the Textile Society of America 2014 Biennial Symposium, September 10–14, Los Angeles.
2015a “‘America Is Our Field’: Anthropological Regionalism at the American Museum of Natural History, 1895–1945.” Museums and Society 13(1):52–71.
2015b “In the Field/En Plein Air: The Art of Anthropological Display at the American Museum of Natural History, 1905–30.” In The Anthropology of Expeditions: Travel, Visualities, Afterlives, edited by Joshua A. Bell and Erin L. Hasinoff, 119–73. New York: Bard Graduate Center (distributed by the University of Chicago Press).
2016 “Refracting Images: Anthropological Display at the Chicago World’s Fair, 1893.” In Coming of Age in Chicago: The 1893 World’s Fair and the Coalescence of American Anthropology, edited by Curtis M. Hinsley and David R. Wilcox, eds., 261–336. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
2017a Collecting, Ordering, Governing: Anthropology, Museums, and Liberal Government, with Tony Bennett, Fiona Cameron, Nelia Dias, Ben Dibley, Rodney Harrison, and Conal McCarthy. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
2017b “From Site to Sight: A Second Look.” In From Site to Sight: Anthropology, Photography, and the Power of Imagery, thirtieth anniversary edition, by Melissa Banta and Curtis M. Hinsley, ix–xxix. Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum Press.
2019a “Anthropology, Art, and Folklore: Competing Visions of Museum Collecting in Early Twentieth-Century America.” Museum Worlds: Advances in Research 7:109–33.
2019b “Katharine Jenkins, Pioneering Scholar of Saltillo Sarapes.” In Katharine Drew Jenkins, An Analysis of the Saltillo Style in Mexican Sarapes, edited by Kathryn M. Wayne, 12–21. Chicago: McCormick Gallery and TMG Projects.
2019c “‘No Object without Its Story’: Franz Boas, George Hunt, and the Creation of a Native Material Anthropology.” In Disruptive Voices and the Singularity of Histories, edited by Regna Darnell and Frederic W. Gleach, 231–52. Histories of Anthropology 13. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
2019d “Review: A Natural History of Beer, by Rob DeSalle and Ian Tattersall.” Museum Worlds 7:314–15.
2022a “California,” with Carolyn Smith and Olivia Chilcote. In Handbook of North American Indians Vol. 1: Introduction, edited by Igor Krupnik, in press. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution.
2022b “The Handbook: A Retrospective,” with William Merrill and Joanna Cohan Scherer. In Handbook of North American Indians Vol. 1: Introduction, edited by Igor Krupnik, in press. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution.
2022c “The First Art of the First Americans at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.” West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture 29(1), in press.
2022d “The Navajo Textile Collection at the American Museum of Natural History.” In Shaped by the Loom: Weaving Worlds in the American Southwest, edited by Hadley W. Jensen. Digital publication to accompany the exhibition [URL forthcoming]. New York: Bard Graduate Center.
“Museum Collections as Cultural Samples: Documentation, Systematicity, and Authenticity.” In Joshua Bell and Jennifer Shannon, eds. Putting Theory and Things Together: Working with Museum Collections. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.
“Picture Worlds: Franz Boas and the Creation of Photographic Ethnography.” In Aaron Glass and Judith Berman, eds. Franz Boas and George Hunt, The Social Organization and the Secret Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians: A Critical Edition. Vancouver: UBC Press/RavenSpace.
Miniature Worlds: Model Dioramas at the Peabody Museum. Manuscript for a monograph [publisher TBD].