Wolf, Eric R., 1923-1999

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Anthropologist; professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan and the City University of New York.

From the description of Eric R. Wolf papers, 1946-1999. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 85778527

From the description of Eric R. Wolf videotape. 1987. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 51215262

From the description of Eric R. Wolf papers, 1946-1999. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 77805374

Anthropologist Eric Wolf is known for having brought a historical perspective into the field of anthropology, integrating also prehistory, ethnohistory, and ethnology into his writings. He explored the topics of ethnicity and ecology, and his book, Peasants (1966), established the topic as one for international and interdisciplinary research.

Born in Vienna in 1923, Eric Wolf grew up in the midst of radical changes throughout Europe. In 1933, his family moved to the Sudetenland, where his father was a manager for a textile factory and where interethnic conflict had been exacerbated by the rise of Nazism. In 1938, after the German army occupied Austria, Wolf was sent to England, where he was rounded up in 1940 and sent to an internment camp near Liverpool. In 1940, the Wolf family escaped from England to the United States, settling in Queens, New York.

After serving in the U.S. Army's Tenth Mountain Division in World War II, Wolf graduated from Queens College in 1946 and entered the Ph.D. program at Columbia University that fall. There, Wolf and his cohort -- including, Sidney Mintz, Morton Fried, Elman Service, Stanley Diamond, Daniel McCall, Robert Manners, Rufus Mathewson, and John Murra -- formed the Mundial Upheaval Society, a group interested in expanding the boundaries of anthropology, and with many of whom he maintained contact over his lifetime.

Wolf received his doctorate from Columbia in 1951, and after a number of short teaching appointments, including positions at the University of Illinois, the University of Virginia, Yale University, and the University of Chicago, Wolf taught in the University of Michigan's Anthropology Department from 1961 to 1971, where he served as chair for two years. He left the University of Michigan for the City University of New York's Graduate Center, where he taught until his retirement in 1992.

As students, Wolf and Sidney Mintz conducted fieldwork Puerto Rico as part of Julian Steward's Puerto Rico Project, the beginning of a lifelong friendship. Also during his graduate school years, Wolf worked on Ruth Benedict's Research in Contemporary Cultures Project, interviewing Austrians in the New York City area.

In the 1950s, Wolf received several research grants, allowing him to conduct fieldwork in Mexico, resulting in the publication of his first book, Sons of the Shaking Earth, in 1959. In the 1960s, Wolf and his student John W. Cole conducted fieldwork in the Italian alpine towns of St. Felix and Tret, leading to the publication of The Hidden Frontier: Ecology and Ethnicity in an Alpine Valley in 1974.

Other noteworthy books written by Wolf include Europe and the People without History (1982), and Envisioning Power: Ideologies of Dominance and Crisis (1999).

As a lecturer, Wolf was in demand throughout his lifetime. He received a number of awards, including a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" in 1990, and a number of honorary degrees.

Wolf passed away on March 6, 1999 at age 76. At the time of his death, he had just completed Pathways of Power: Building an Anthropology of the Modern World, which was published in 2001.

From the guide to the Eric R. Wolf papers, 1939-2011, (Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Wolf, Eric R., 1923-1999. Eric R. Wolf papers, 1946-1999. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Anthony F. C. Wallace Papers, 1920-2000 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf House, Floyd Nelson, 1893-1975. Papers of Floyd Nelson House [manuscript], 1919-1974. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Records of the Puerto Rico Study, Bulk, 1948-1949, 1943-1951 New York University. Archives.
creatorOf Wolf, Eric R., 1923-1999. Eric R. Wolf videotape. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Records of, New Perspectives on Caribbean Studies: Toward the 21st Century and Prospects for Caribbean Basin Integration, (Conference held at Hunter College, CUNY, August 28-September 1, 1984), Bulk, 1984, 1979-2008 New York University. Archives.
referencedIn News and Information Services (University of Michigan) photograph series D (faculty and staff portraits), 1946-2006, 1950-1990 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Steward, Julian Haynes 1902-1972. Records of the Puerto Rico Study 1943-1951 (bulk 1948-1949). New York University. Archives.
referencedIn Records of the U.S. Information Agency. 1900 - 2003. Audio Recordings of the "Forum" Radio Program. 1940 - 1983. ANTHROPOLOGY: DR. ERIC R. WOLF: THE STUDY OF EVOLUTION
creatorOf Wolf, Eric R., 1923-1999. Eric R. Wolf papers, 1946-1999. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn News and Information Services (University of Michigan) Faculty and Staff Files, 1944-2005, 1960-1995 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf Eric R. Wolf papers, 1939-2011 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith City University of New York corporateBody
associatedWith Ghani, Ashraf. person
associatedWith Ghani, Ashraf. person
associatedWith House, Floyd Nelson, 1893-1975. person
associatedWith Steward, Julian Haynes 1902-1972. person
associatedWith University of Michigan corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Dept. of Anthropology. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Dept. of Anthropology. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. Dept. of Anthropology. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. News and Information Services corporateBody
associatedWith Wallace, Anthony F. C., 1923- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
United States
Subject
Anthropology--Study and teaching
Anthropologists
Anthropologists--United States
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1923-02-01

Death 1999-03-06

Americans

English

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