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The locus of this masters thesis, 'Political Mavens: Ruth Underhill, Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin, Gene Weltfish, Ella Deloria, and the Politics of Culture,' centers on how female anthropologists shaped political discourses in the twentieth century. The anthropologist has long been considered the handmaiden of imperialism, made most apparent in Vine Deloria's Custer Died for Your Sins (1969). Although partially true, my work seeks to complicate this association by examining how the publications and careers of four female anthropologists demonstrate both their ties to colonialism, and, in the case of Gene Weltfish and Ella Deloria, their scholarly attempts to critique the colonialist state or defend Native American communities. Inspired by the work of Catherine Lavender and Frederick Hoxie, my thesis investigates both the process of editorial translation that occurs during the development of ethnographic publications at a local level, and also the political implications of their ethnographies as productions of knowledge that influenced decisions in Washington, D.C. Their writings are evaluated in tandem with their careers as academicians, activists, and/or agents of the state.

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Scharff, Virginia

Second Committee Member

Connell-Szasz, Margaret

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