Lewis Henry Morgan

Ed. Małgorzata Rygielska, Jakub Dziewit


About issue:

Lewis Henry Morgan in United States is considered to be one of the “founding fathers” of anthropology, understood as study of man and his culture. This name is given to Morgan not only by a longtime scholar of his works, Elisabeth Tooker, not only by the author of his recent biography, Daniel Moses, or by Polish translator of League of the Ho-de’-no-sau-nee or Iroquois, Bartosz Hlebowicz. It also appears in many encyclopedias and text-books on history of anthropology, ethnology and history of social theory. Morgan is considered to be the precursor of American fieldwork, as well as – along with Tylor – one of the most important representatives of the nineteenth-century evolutionary anthropology. Also appreciated for his analysis of kinship – George Pater Murdock stated even that it was “most original and brilliant, concrete achievement in the history of anthropology”. Believing that we were able to maintain distance (at least in some manner) to this almost mythical tale of a forefather – not the first nonetheless and not the last in history of anthropological theory – we invite you to read and study articles included in this compilation.


Content / Summary:


Małgorzata Rygielska, Predemptim progrediensis… Lucretius and Morgan

In this article author uses a comparative method in its philological variant in order to point out significant similarities between the thoughts of Lucretius and Morgan in scope of taking human cultural development as a whole. She juxtaposes “catalog of inventions” and other descriptions included in Lucretius’ book V De rerum natura with “ethical periods” distinguished by Lewis Henry Morgan in Ancient society. Apart from the criterion of their distinction and research objectives, indicated by the author of The League of Iroquois there are important concepts of slow, gradual development and progress, as well as the problem of the scale of mind and reason, as a factor allowing for both human and cultural development. Taken under consideration here, were both direct references to the philosophical treatise as well as similarities, which required reconstruction on basis of meticulous study of both the ancient and nineteenth-century texts.

Keywords: Lewis H. Morgan, Lucretius, evolutionism, culture, cultural anthropology, history of ideas


Ewa Kosowska, Social development as a cultural idea. Significance of the notion of property in Lewis H. Morgan’s conception

Released in 1877 classical work by Lewis Henry Morgan Ancient Society took on the problem of reconstructing human history according to the benchmarks of XVIII and XIX century science. Reading of this work from a perspective of over a hundred years allows posing a few important questions, regarding philosophical and methodological determinants of Morgan’s theses. His work, strongly embedded in the context of scientific thought of that time, proved to be one of the most popular anthropological works of its era. At the same time it became a source of cultural ideas, which to this day provide the matrix of perception of contemporary multicultural world by a Western Man.

Keywords: social development, notion of property, cultural ideas, multiculturalism, Ancient Society


Anna Gomóła, At the beginning there was wonder. Young Krzywicki reads Morgan

Article reconstructs chosen context and editions of Polish translation Lewis Henry Morgan’s Ancient Society. Aleksandra Bąkowska’s translation was first published in 1887, printed in “Prawda” magazine, which senior editor at the time was Aleksander Świętochowski. It was edited by Ludwik Krzywicki, who knew Morgan’s work since estimated 1883. He got closely acquainted with it due to Frederic Engels’ Der Ursprung der Familie, des Privateigenthums und des Staats. Im Anschluss an Lewis H. Morgan’s Forschungen (1884) – Krzywicki translated and published this book (under alias J.F. Wolski) in 1885 and entitled it Początki cywilizacyi. Na zasadzie i jako uzupełnienie badań Lewisa H. MorganaBeginnings of civilization. Investigation and reinvigoration of work by Lewis H. Morgan (in Poland Engels’ work is better known as Pochodzenie rodziny, własności prywatnej i państwa. W związku z badaniami Lewisa H. Morgana – Origins of family, private property and the State. Investigation into the works of Lewis H. Morgan – which is the title of the book’s latter translation). From 1885, in his scientific research, Krzywicki references Morgan more often. In articles one can find crystallized idea of Morgan as a field researcher, who spent forty years among Native Americans, thus making him able to create a masterpiece that undermined achievements of cabinet anthropology. Morgan is portrayed as the one who revolutionized science. Also, Krzywicki, taking in Engels’ conviction that Morgans work is deliberately omitted, feels obliged to propagate it and defend it from criticism. Only in Krzywicki’s writings from the nineties we find fragments that show his detachment from Morgans’ conclusions.

Keywords: Ancient Society, translation, Ludwik Krzywicki, Lewis Henry Morgan


Jakub Jakubaszek, Dimensions of social services. Deliberations on the margin of Polish translation of Lewis H. Morgan’s Ancient Society (1887)

Polish edition of L.H. Morgan’s Ancient Society issued by “Prawda” was released in 1887, in the time, when positivist social program bare its deficiencies, which gave voice to a new cultural formation. Its members were characterized by democratic, folk, socialist as well as cultural and social activism. One of its members was Aleksandra Bąkowska, landlady, founder of a village school in Gołotczyzna, propagator of women’s movement, translator of works by Edward Burnett Tylor and Lewis Henry Morgan. This article discusses the origins of her activism as well as her attitude and work activity , for which the background constitutes the Polish translation and reception of Ancient Society.

Keywords: Lewis H. Morgan, Aleksandra Bąkowska, civil service, Ancient Society, translation


Anna Zaczkowska, “One, who became the Bridge”. Influence of Lewis H. Morgan on Russian anthropology

This article looks on how Lewis H. Morgan’s theory influenced the development of Russian anthropological thought. Morgan (indirectly, yet significantly) was one of the reasons for creation of socially active school of anthropology in the U.S.S.R. Author outlines anthropological historicism in Russian communist period. She shows how political ideologies molded research categories in the U.S.S.R.

Keywords: Lewis H. Morgan, Russian ethnography, Russian anthropology, Ancient Society


Adam Pisarek, Noh-yeh, that means mother. League of the Iroquois as an archive for discourse on kinship

This article refers to a process of development of basic research tools regarding kinship – a field of scientific reflection “discovered” by Lewis Henry Morgan. Author examines the continuity of conceptual instruments used to systematize knowledge in the area of studied anthropological discourse. He seeks out hidden instances which ensure order and consistency of said discourse even if some of provided axioms or the whole theory are refuted. The starting point of analysis is a table of kinship terminology listed by Morgan in one of footnotes to The League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee or Iroquois. It appears that, written in it, are both specific logic of lexical lists, as well as a diagram of rooted tree. Merging those two models led the author of Systems of consanguinity and affinity of the human family to discovery of a “new instrument in ethnology”.

Keywords: kinship studies, invention of kinship, Lewis Henry Morgan, League of the Iroquois


Kamila Gęsikowska, Legendary literature in League of the Iroqouis by Lewis H. Morgan. A cause for discourse

This article attempts to analyse the therm legendary literature which appears in Lewis Henry Morgan’s League of the Ho-de’-no-sau-nee or Iroquois. Author considers individual elements forming the legendary literature: fables, legends and historical traditions and their meaning for operation of the Iroquois culture according to Morgan. The scheme obtained as result of the analysis illustrates the mutual position of those elements towards each other and their function in the Iroquois imagery.

Keywords: Lewis Henry Morgan, evolutionism, legendary literature


Zuzanna Orzeł, Savage? The image of Native Americans in League of the Iroquois by Lewis H. Morgan

This article focuses on the issue of image of Iroquois people in Lewis Henry Morgan’s monograph League of Iroquois. Author takes under consideration the way of depicting Native Americans created by the anthropologist, and the method of its receiving by contemporary Polish readers, not necessarily scientifically connected with anthropology. Outlining the context of existing in XIX century scientific ideas of evolutionism the author creates a background for analysis of Morgan’s theories and his image of Iroquois, which the anthropologist creates in his monograph, at the same time trying to answer the question: what was the anthropologist attitude towards representatives of studied culture, as well as how the image of Iroquois shown in the monograph is presented nowadays.

Keywords: savage, image of Native Americans, cultural evolutionism, Lewis Henry Morgan


Małgorzata Laburda, Morgan as a ethnographer, analysis of Iroquois ornamentation

In this article author attempts to analyze and interpret depiction of Native American ornamentation as works of material culture presented in The League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee or Iroquois monograph. On this basis she discusses Morgan’s approach to researching Native American craftsmanship. The purpose of this article is also the evaluation of ethnographic materials regarding selected elements of Iroquois material culture with a particular emphasis on depictions of ornamentation on functional objects. The subject of analysis also constitutes lithographs, which, when studying ornamentation, are a valuable ethnographic source.

Keywords: Lewis H. Morgan, The League of the Iroquois, Iroquois, ornamentation, craftsmanship, ethnography


Marek Pacukiewicz, Warp and weft in graphic art of Andrzej Łabuz

Graphics, on which Andrzej Łabuz depicts and morphs images of Native Americans as well as traces of their existence, such as plaids, inspire to rethink some of anthropological issues. Seeking only for esthetic forms or simplistic cultural cliches can easily stifle the ongoing intercultural dialog. Native American tradition recorded in depictions of faces and traces of objects is a warp enabling the artist conduction of the thread of imagery expression.

Keywords: Andrzej Łabuz, graphics, Native Americans, ethnocentrism, portrait


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