Watson, James B. (James Bennett), 1918-2009 Search this
52.5 Linear feet (123 boxes)
47 sound recordings
Papua New Guinea
Mato Grosso (Brazil : State)
Papua New Guinea -- Social life and customs
This collection contains the professional papers of cultural anthropologist James B. Watson, and documents his fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, Brazil, and Del Norte, Co., as well as his teaching career at the University of Washington. Included are field notes, lecture notes, correspondence, maps, photographs, books, articles, journals, grant proposals, surveys, data punch cards, conference materials, and sound recordings.
Scope and Contents:
This collection is comprised of the professional papers of James B. Watson, the bulk of which relate to his research and academic work on the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. The series are Research, Writings, Correspondence, Professional Activities, University Files, Biographical Files, Maps, Photographs, and Sound Recordings.
The Research series contains Watson's research on Hopi food classification systems in Arizona, Cayua acculturation in Brazil, social stratification between English-speaking and Spanish-speaking residents of Del Norte, Co., numerous research projects in Papua New Guinea, and gift exchange theories.
The Arizona, Hopi Food Classification Systems subseries consists of his research among the Hopi in Arizona, primarily on their food classication systems. Included are field notes and reports.
The Mato Grosso, Brazil and Cayua Acculturation subseries consists of research materials conducted while Watson was working as an assistant professor in Sao Paulo. Included are field notes, bibliographies, a journal, and a language notebook primarily regarding his research on culture change among the Cayua.
The Del Norte, Colorado Surveys subseries contains material related to research conducted in the summers of 1949 and 1950 as part of a study on social stratification between English-speaking and Spanish-speaking residents of Del Norte. Included are datasets from several community surveys on education, occupations, business, and cultural attitudes, along with research notes and background materials.
The Papua New Guinea subseries consists of research materials on the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Included are field notes, language materials, bibliographies, grant documents and research proposals, genealogy data, long reports and patrol reports, data punch cards, and TAT (thematic apperception test) protocols. There is material from several research projects including the Committee on New Guinea Studies (CONGS), the Kainantu Blood Group Study, and the New Guinea Religions Project. Watson's wife, Virginia Drew Watson, also has research material in this series. Language documentation include lexicons and notes about Agarabi, Auyana, Awa, Tairora, Gadsup, and Tok Pisin.
The subsubseries Micro-evolution Studies Project (MES) consists of related Papua New Guinea research as part of this multi-year project. Material included is correspondence, financial documents, memorandums and planning documents, grant proposals, language files, and work papers.
The Gift Exchange Theories subseries consists of Watson's research on gift exchange theories, primarily as they relate to small autonomous peoples. The material consists of research notes, paper ideas, bibliographies, and grant applications.
The Other Research subseries consists of papers and research that are not easily catagorized. Included are subject files on perception, notes and critiques of Marshal Sahlins's Stone Age Economics, and a research project by Watson studying innovation in high school social studies curriculum.
The Writings series primarily consists of journal articles produced over the duration of his career. Included are research notes, drafts, and some correspondence. A print copy is included where possible. There is significant material related to his book Tairora Culture, including chapter drafts, outlines, and reader comments. The writings by others are primarily annotated copies of articles, rare and small print-run items, or manuscripts by others sent to Watson for comment.
The Correspondence series contains professional and personal correspondence with Watson's colleagues and contemporaries in the field, including J. David Cole, Terence Hays, Paula Brown-Glick, Richard Lieban, Howard P. McKaughan, Harold Nelson, Kerry Pataki-Schweizer, Kenneth E. Read, Sterling Robbins, and Roy Wagner. Topics include his academic career, student dissertations, research grants and fellowships, and research related to Papua New Guinea, and in particular the Micro-evolution Studies project.
The Professional Activities series primarily consists of conference notes, papers, presentations, and symposium documents. Included are materials for the American Anthropological Association, the Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania, the Pacific Sciences Conference, as well as symposiums held at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. Some of the files are related to specific symposiums Watson attended or helped to organize, the bulk of which are related to Papua New Guinea. Also included are Watson's lecture notes, and materials related to the United Nations West Irian Development Plan
The University Files series contains material related to Watson's academic career. The bulk of the files are course materials from the classes he taught at the Univesity of Washington, which include lecture notes, syllabi, exams, and student papers. Other materials includes student dissertation files and some of Watson's course work from the University of Chicago.
The Biographical Files series includes numerous editions of his curriculum vitae and bibliographies.
The Maps series contains maps used in Watson's research, which includes Brazil; Del Norte, Co.; and Papua New Guinea. The bulk are maps of Papua New Guinea, and include published maps, annotated maps, hand-drawn maps, patrol reports, and linguistic maps.
The Photographs series contains photographs of Watson's fieldwork and professional career. The bulk of his fieldwork photographs are from Del Norte, Co. and Papua New Guinea. The Del Norte photographs include aerial images along with photographs of residents, houses, and cultural activities. The photographs from Papua New Guinea include images of a taro garden, a woman before and at her marriage ceremony, and images of tools found at an excavation site near the Wahgi Valley.
The sound recordings contain seven identified recordings made in the Papua New Guinea Eastern Highlands, Kainantu District during James and Virginia Watson's first trip, 1954-1955. Also included are 31 recordings of lectures and classes by James Watson and others, two recordings of popular music, and six reels recorded at the Pacific Science Congress in Tokyo in 1966. The remaining 23 uncataloged recordings are unidentified or partially identified.
Please see individual series descriptions in the finding aid for additional information.
This collection is arranged in 9 series:
Series1: Research, 1933-1993
Series 2: Writings, 1904-1995
Series 3: Correspondence, 1933-1994
Series 4: Professional Activities, 1944-1998
Series 5: University Files, 1939-1991
Series 6: Biographical Files, 1941-1991
Series 7: Maps, circa 1920s-1970
Series 8: Photographs, circa 1942-1977
Series 9: Sound Recordings, 1954-1984
James B. Watson (1918-2009) was a cultural anthropologist and university professor. He is primarily known for his ethnographic studies of the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, with a concentration on acculturation. He taught at the University of Washington, was the prinicipal investigator for the Micro-evolution Studies project (MES), and the author of numerous journal articles and books.
Watson was born in Chicago, Ill., and raised in Bangor, Maine. He studied anthropology at the University of Chicago, earning his B.A. in 1941; his M.A. in 1945; and his Ph.D. in 1948. Fred Eggan acted as his advisor while he was pursuing his doctorate. He began his teaching career as an assistant professor at the Escala Livre de Sociologia e Politica, Sao Paulo (1944-1945); Beloit College (1945-1946); University of Oklahoma (1946-1947); and as an associate professor at Washington University in St. Louis (1947-1955). He then became a full professor of anthropology at the University of Washington (1955-1987), where he spent the majority of his career.
His ethnographic research began with his fieldwork among the Hopi in Arizona in 1942. He researched Hopi food classification systems, which would become the subject of his master's thesis. Watson would next study the effects of acculturation among the Cayua people in Mato Grosso, Brazil in 1943-1945. This research would become the basis of his dissertation, later to be published as Cayua Culture Change: A Study in Acculturation and Methodology. His wife, anthropologist Virginia Drew Watson, accompanied him and conducted her own research. While at Washington University, he directed fieldwork in the summers of 1949 and 1950 in Del Norte, Co., conducting several community surveys on education, occupations, business, and cultural attitudes. These surveys were part of a larger study on social stratification between English-speaking and Spanish-speaking residents of Del Norte.
Watson is most noted for his work in the Papua New Guinea Highlands, where he was one of the first generation of Highland ethnographers. Along with Virginia Drew Watson, he studied the Kainantu peoples of the Eastern Highlands including the Tairora, the Gadsup, the Auyana, and the Awa. He was involved in several research projects, including the Committee on New Guinea Studies (CONGS), The Kainantu Blood Group Study, and the New Guinea Religions Project.
He was also the principal investigator for the Micro-evolution Studies project (1959-1968) where he directed a team of researchers examining the interconnections of the Kainantu peoples from the perspectives of ethnography, linguistics, archaeology, and physical anthropology. Other MES researchers include Kenneth E. Read, Robert A. Littlewood, Howard McKaughan, Kerry J. Pataki-Schweizer, and Sterling Robbins. This research on Papua New Guinea is best described in his book Tairora Culture: Contingency and Pragmatism (1983).
He was professionally active, attending and organizing sessions at annual meetings for the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and the Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania (ASAO). He also organized symposiums at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. Additionally, he served as a consultant to the United Nations on their West Irian Development Plan in 1967. Watson retired from teaching in 1987, but continued to publish and remain involved in AAA and ASAO. He died in 2009.
1999 Westermark, George. ASAO Honorary Fellow: James B. Watson. Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania Newsletter 104: 21
1918 -- Born on August 10 in Chicago, Illinois
1941 -- B.A. in anthropology, University of Chicago Lecturer, University of Chicago
1941-1942 -- Fieldwork: Hopi
1943 -- Married Virgina Drew Fieldwork: Mato Grosso, Brazil
1943-1945 -- Fieldwork: Brazil
1944-1945 -- Assistant Professor, Escala Livre de Sociologia e Politica, Sao Paulo, Brazil
1945 -- M.A. in anthropology, University of Chicago
1945-1946 -- Assistant Professor, Beloit College
1946-1947 -- Assistant Professor, University of Oklahoma
1947-1955 -- Associate Professor, Washington University in St. Louis
1948 -- Ph.D. in anthropology, University of Chicago
1949-1950 -- Director, Washington University summer field project
1949-1950 -- Fieldwork: Del Norte, Colorado
1953-1955 -- Fieldwork: Eastern Highlands, Papua New Guinea
1955-1987 -- Professor of Anthropology, University of Washington
1959 -- Fieldwork: Papua New Guinea and Netherlands New Guinea
1959-1968 -- Principal Investigator, New Guinea Micro-evolution Studies Project
1963-1964 -- Fieldwork: Eastern Highlands, Papua New Guinea
1966-1967 -- Senior Specialist, Institute of Advanced Projects, East-West Center
1967 -- Consultant for United Nations Development Programme, West Irian
1967 -- Fieldwork: West Irian (Indonesia)
1987 -- Retired from teaching at University of Washington
2009 -- Died on November 12
The National Anthropological Archives also holds the papers of Virginia D. Watson.
Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD holds the Micro-evolution Project Papers, MSS 436.
These papers were donated to the National Anthropological Archives by James Watson's daughter, Anne Watson, in 2003.
Some research proposals not authored by Watson are restricted until 2083.