The George J. Klima collection documents his field work, published works, and professional activities from 1953-2014 and primarily deal with his work studying cattle herding and kinship among the Barabaig in northern Tanzania. The collection consists of camera original film and sound recordings, photographs, field notes, and publications (text and audiovisual). Also included are correspondence; teaching and adminstrative materials from his time as a professor at the State University of New York at Albany (SUNY Albany); and personal audiovisual recordings including experimental films.
Scope and Contents:
The George J. Klima collection documents his field work in Tanzania with the Barabaig, publications stemming from that field work, and other professional activities over the period 1953-2014 and undated. The collection consists of camera original film and sound recordings, photographs, field notes, correspondence, publications, research and teaching materials, and personal audiovisual recordings.
Film and audio materials include documentation of Barabaig rituals and everyday life, with a particular emphasis on cattle herding and markets. 35mm color slides include a notable selection of portraits of Barabaig women. Field notes provide some context to these materials, but stand on their own as resources on Barabaig kinship, language, and culture. The collection also includes copies of all of Klima's published Barabaig writings and films, including film scripts, along with correspondence with publishers and field informants.
Of note among the general anthropological research materials are a series of taped live lectures by noted anthropologists and artists, including Margaret Mead, Edmund Carpenter, and Marvin Harris, among others; these recordings often include audience questions and informal discussion with the lecturer. Also included in this collection are a selection of published material by others on the Barabaig; teaching films, slides, correspondence and administrative materials from his time as a professor at the State University of New York at Albany (SUNY Albany); and personal audiovisual materials including experimental films.
The George J. Klima collection is arranged in 3 series: Series 1: Barabaig field work, 1953-1998, undated; Series 2: Barabaig publications, 1955-2014, undated; Series 3: Other professional activities, 1952-1993, undated.
Biographical / Historical:
George J. Klima was a cultural anthropologist known for his work on the Barabaig, a nomadic cattle-herding tribe in northern Tanzania, upon whom he published both written and visual ethnographies. Klima was an associate professor in the Anthropology Department at the State University of New York at Albany (SUNY Albany) from 1968 through his retirement, circa 1992, upon which he served as associate professor emeritus until circa 2014.
Born on July 29, 1922, in New York City, Klima served in the United States Navy from 1942-1945 before earning a bachelor's degree in Psychology and Anthropology from Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York (1952). He then conducted anthropological fieldwork among the Barabaig over two periods, April 1955 through November 1956 and May 1958 through October 1959. In 1965, Klima earned a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) with studies in social anthropology and linguistics. His dissertation, entitled "Kinship, Property, and Jural Relations Among the Barabaig," drew on this fieldwork, as did his two major publications: The Barabaig: East African Cattle-Herders (book, 1970) and Barabaig (film, 1979).
Prior to joining the faculty at SUNY Albany, Klima taught and lectured at UCLA, the University of Southern California, and California State College at Los Angeles. Among other subjects, Klima taught ethnographic filmmaking. He described the process of filmmaking as "teleological," in that short- and long-term filming goals inform the very nature of the filmmaking process; his own filmmaking prioritized the capture of "visual fieldnotes" above sequences intended to educate a broader audience (Klima, "Filmmaking as Teleological Process").
Klima died in December 2016 in Lewes, Delaware.
Sources consulted: The George J. Klima collection, National Anthropological Film Collection, Smithsonian Institution; Klima, George J. "Filmmaking as Teleological Process." In Anthropological Filmmaking: Anthropological Perspectives on the Production of Film and Video for General Public Audiences, edited by Jack R. Rollwagen, 223-235. Harwood Academic Publishers: New York, 1988.
1922 July 29 -- Born in New York, New York.
1942-1945 -- United States Navy
1952 -- Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Anthropology, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York
1955-1959 -- Anthropological fieldwork among the Barabaig, April 1955-November 1956, May 1958-October 1959
1960-1961 -- Graduate assistant and instructor, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York
1962-1963 -- Instructor, California State College at Long Beach
1962-1966 -- Reader (1962) and lecturer (1966) at University of California at Los Angeles
1963-1968 -- Assistant Professor, California State College at Los Angeles
1964-1967 -- Lecturer (1964-1965, 1966-1967) at University of Southern California
1965 -- Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology with studies in social anthropology and linguistics, University of California at Los Angeles
1968-circa 1992 -- Associate Professor, State University of New York at Albany
circa 1992-circa 2014 -- Associate Professor Emeritus, Associate Professor, State University of New York at Albany
2016 December -- Died in Lewes, Delaware.
This collection was donated to the National Anthropological Film Collection (formerly the Human Studies Film Archives) by George J. Klima's daughter, Lynn Lemyre, in 2017.
The George J. Klima collection is open for research. Please contact the archives for information on availability of access copies of audiovisual recordings. Original audiovisual material in the National Anthropological Film Collection may not be played.
The George J. Klima collection, National Anthropological Film Collection, Smithsonian Institution.