Authors Meet Critics

Authors Meet Critics: “The Unnaming of Kroeber Hall,” Andrew Garrett

Recorded on January 19, 2024, this “Authors Meet Critics” panel centered on the book, The Unnaming of Kroeber Hall: Language, Memory, and Indigenous California, by Andrew Garrett, Professor of Linguistics and the Nadine M. Tang and Bruce L. Smith Professor of Cross-Cultural Social Sciences in the Department of Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley.

Professor Garrett was joined in conversation by James Clifford, Professor Emeritus at UC Santa Cruz; William Hanks, Berkeley Distinguished Chair Professor in Linguistic Anthropology; and Julian Lang (Karuk/Wiyot), a storyteller, poet, artist, graphic designer, and writer, and author of “Ararapikva: Karuk Indian Literature from Northwest California.” Leanne Hinton, Professor Emerita of Linguistics at UC Berkeley, moderated the panel. The event was co-sponsored by the UC Berkeley Department of Anthropology, Department of Linguistics, Department of Ethnic Studies, Joseph A. Myers Center for Research on Native American Issues, and Native American Studies. 

About the Book

In January 2021, at a time when many institutions were reevaluating fraught histories, the University of California removed anthropologist and linguist Alfred Kroeber’s name from a building on its Berkeley campus. Critics accused Kroeber of racist and dehumanizing practices that harmed Indigenous people; university leaders repudiated his values. In “The Unnaming of Kroeber Hall,” Andrew Garrett examines Kroeber’s work in the early twentieth century and his legacy today, asking how a vigorous opponent of racism and advocate for Indigenous rights in his own era became a symbol of his university’s failed relationships with Native communities. Garrett argues that Kroeber’s most important work has been overlooked: his collaborations with Indigenous people throughout California to record their languages and stories. “The Unnaming of Kroeber Hall” offers new perspectives on the early practice of anthropology and linguistics and on its significance today and in the future. Kroeber’s documentation was broader and more collaborative and multifaceted than is usually recognized. As a result, the records Indigenous people created while working with him are relevant throughout California as communities revive languages, names, songs, and stories. Garrett asks readers to consider these legacies, arguing that the University of California chose to reject critical self-examination when it unnamed Kroeber Hall.


Watch the panel above or on YouTube, or listen to it as a podcast below, or on Google Podcasts or Apple Podcasts.


[VOICEOVER] The Matrix Podcast is a presentation of Social Science Matrix, an interdisciplinary research center at the University of California, Berkeley.

[MARION FOURCADE] Thank you very much for coming here. Such a great crowd. Actually, we have two separate small screens in the next room and one in the lobby because there’s too many people. So this is very exciting.

My name is Marion Fourcade. I am the director of Social Science Matrix. And of course, it’s always very exciting to start a new semester of events. But today is particularly exciting, not only because we have an amazing panel but also because we have in our midst Berkeley’s Social Science Matrix former director, Williams Hanks. And so that’s very special because of course, we wouldn’t be here without him and none of this would be possible. He was the person who really got Matrix off the ground and turned it into what I’m trying to pursue today.

So I also want to take a brief moment– you won’t hear me, but I want to take a brief moment to thank another Matrix stalwart, our postdoc, Julia Sizek. So not only has Julia put together this wonderful panel and indeed, she has put together much of our spring programming, but she will actually introduce all of our subsequent events this term as I go to the East Coast next week for the remainder of the semester. So Julia, you will– if you come back to Matrix, you will see Julia a lot.

So the topic of today’s discussion hits very close to home. Our presenter and discussants will address the politics of unnaming buildings on campus. We are meeting today in a building that is known as the Social Sciences Building, but it used to be called, of course, Barrows Hall. And sometimes, some of us still make the mistake of referring to this building as Barrows Hall.

Andrew Garrett, a professor of linguistics here at Berkeley, has written about another building on this campus that has been unnamed, what is now known as the Anthropology and Art Practice Building, but was formerly Kroeber Hall.

So in this new book, Garrett writes about not only the politics of unnaming but considers other questions about how to think about the legacies of controversial figures, including people like Kroeber, whose work has largely been forgotten within the discipline of anthropology. And so he offers a look into Kroeber’s life just up the road here, actually, on Arch Street, and what his work with Indigenous people throughout the state did, both then and now.

We would also like to thank our co-sponsors who helped our esteemed discussants reach this campus. The Joseph A. Myer Center for Native American Studies, the Department of Ethnic Studies, the Department of Linguistics, and the Department of Anthropology.

As always, I will mention a few upcoming events. Next month, we will have a Matrix on point. These are our signature thematic panels that one will be about the intersection between biometric identification, surveillance, and privacy. And in March, we will have another– our next Author Meets Critic in this series will be on Terracene by Salar Mameni.

So without further ado, I would like to introduce our moderator, Leanne Hinton. So Leanne Hinton is Professor Emerita of Linguistics here at Berkeley. Her recent research has focused on language revitalization of Native American languages. She strongly supports interdisciplinary approaches to linguistics and linguistic research that relates to community needs and interests as well as to theory.

Though retired, she remains active in research and consulting. Awards include the Lannan Foundation’s Cultural Freedom Award, the Linguistic Society of America’s Language, Linguistics and the Public Award, the Hubert Howe Bancroft award presented by the Bancroft Library, Berkeley’s– and the Honored One award presented by the Association of Tribal Archives and Libraries.

So without further ado, I’ll now turn it over to Leanne. Thank you very much for being here, everybody.

[LEANNE HINTON] Thank you. Is this on? Yeah. Good.

I have a few brief words to say just before introducing our panelists. I was not in favor of unnaming Kroeber Hall. Of the other four scholars whose names had been stripped from our buildings, Moses, Lecomte, and Boldt for their unclear and damaging views on racism and white supremacy, and for Barrows for his condescending and insulting justifications of the colonization of the Philippines.

Kroeber was not a racist. He was not a white supremacist. Those– although those were claimed about him. In fact, he had many deep and respectful friendships with Native Americans. He was a mentor to native scholars and an advocate for Indigenous rights. Moreover, his giant legacy of cultural documentation has become important to many Native Americans today.

I felt that Kroeber was being pilloried by the various charges against him. And Andrew agrees with this. As he writes on page four of his book, “The specific claims about Kroeber’s work offered in support of unnaming Kroeber Hall, accepted by many at Berkeley and beyond, are erroneous or unsubstantiated.”

But Andrew convincingly wrote in his own letter of support for the unnaming and in his book that the unnaming should take place anyway, that it was Kroeber’s era of anthropology that not the sins of a particular anthropologist that the unnaming was really about. As he writes one more time, “That name brought pain to those who should feel welcome. In the 21st century, an edifice with anthropological tenants need not take its name from an era of extractive patronizing academic attitudes toward native people.”

So I want to thank Andrew for this truly insightful book that helps us to a deeper understanding of Kroger’s own life and contributions, and at the same time, delves into the university’s own, and I’ll do one more quote, “Foundational ongoing systemic contributions to the displacement and erasure of Indigenous people,” and perhaps, make some of us take a closer look at our own legacies as well.

And now on to our panelists. I’m going to just introduce them all. First, Andrew Garrett. He’s a professor of linguistics and the Nadine M. Tang and Bruce L. Smith professor of cross-cultural social sciences in the Department of Linguistics, where he directs the California Language Archive. His research and teaching are in historical linguistics, especially Indo-European historical linguistics and in language documentation and revitalization, especially involving Indigenous California languages.

From the Linguistic Society of America, he’s received the Best Paper in Language Award 2015 for ancestry-constrained phylogenetic analysis supports the Indo-European step hypothesis, co-authored with three students. And he also has the Kenneth L. Hale award in 2023 for outstanding work on the documentation of a particular language or family of languages that is endangered or no longer spoken. In 2001, he has collaborated with the Yurok tribe on the documentation and revitalization of the Yurok language, preparing a short pedagogical grammar, basic Yurok, in 2014.

William F. Hanks studies the history and ethnography of Yucatan Mexico and Yucatec Maya language and culture, including early modern Spain and Spanish as a necessary step towards understanding the colonial formation of Yucatan and New Spain. He examines the organization and dynamics of routine language use, semantics, pragmatics, interactional sociolinguistics, and the social foundation of speech practices. He has studied ritual practice, comparative shamanism, and the relation between religion and health care in rural Mexico. His most recent work concerns the colonial history of Yucatan and New Spain, with a special emphasis on missionization and the emergence of colonial discourse genres.

And at the end of the table, Julie– Julian Lang, Wiyot/Karuk, is a storyteller, poet, artist, graphic designer, and a writer. He’s a first language speaker of Karuk and a tribal scholar. Julian is the chairman of the Karuk Language Committee, director and founder of the Institute of Native Knowledge, and the author of Ararapikva, Karuk Indian Literature from Northwest California. He currently teaches elementary and high school Karuk language classes, and is a longtime master speaker in the master apprentice program, and a board member for the Advocates of Indigenous California Language Survival.

And then back one from Julian is James Clifford, a Professor Emerita at UC Santa Cruz. He’s the author of books that explore the intersections of anthropology, literature, and art. The predicament of culture, 1988 routes, 19– routes, meaning R-O-U-T-E-S, 1997, and returns, becoming Indigenous in the 21st century, 2013. In the latter work, he writes at some length about Kroeber, Ishi, and the colonial legacies of ethnography museums.

So we begin with Andrew.

[ANDREW GARRETT] I have notes. I’ll try not to read them, but I’ll read them so we’ll see how this works. Does this work? Yeah. It’s really exciting to be here with four of my intellectual heroes. And I am looking forward to hearing what you guys have to say.

I am a linguist engaged with California languages, both as they are spoken today and as they have been recorded over 125 years in documents that currently– documents and sound recordings that currently sit in archives. A figure in whose intellectual shadow, I, therefore, unavoidably work is the Berkeley anthropologist and linguist, Alfred Kroeber, whose nachlass I have used probably every week for 20 or 25 years.

In 1960, the year of Kroeber’s death, a new campus building housing the anthropology and art practice departments and the anthropology museum was named after him. 60 years later, on July 1, 2020, an anonymous proposal to remove his name from that building was submitted to the Chancellor’s Office. The building was officially unnamed, as you all know, on January 26, 2021, so almost three years ago.

My book is not about whether Kroeber Hall should have been unnamed or not. If that’s what you want to learn about, you can ask, but that is not what the book is about. I do think it was good to change the name, as Leanne mentioned, for what it’s worth, but that is not the point of the book.

The proposal to unname Kroeber Hall and a lot of the discussion around the unnaming included assessments of Kroeber’s work that did not match my own sense of what was important in that work. I wrote the book to grapple with this dissonance and try to understand his legacies. So it is specifically about Berkeley and California, and more generally, it’s about the history of academic relationships, especially on the part of linguists and anthropologists with Indigenous people. It’s also about the work of scholars and scientists embedded in an extractive colonial system.

The book has two main arguments. And maybe I’ll point a little bit to the chapters in which they sit, or maybe I won’t because the correlation is imperfect. One of the arguments is parochial about Berkeley, specifically, about the actual unnaming of Kroeber Hall. That sits mostly in chapter 10, Institutional Elisions.

In that chapter, I document how a campus review process did not do any assessment of the proposals charges against Kroeber. The chancellor then presented the charges in the proposal as if they were the judgment of the review committee. And how they wound up widely disseminated in the media as campus judgment. By looking at the context of these choices, I try to account for this canonization of false facts, a phrase that McConkie taught me.

A second argument, and I think, more interesting, ultimately, because it’s less parochial, is about the legacy of Kroeber and his colleagues and proteges. He, himself, was opaque, often, as to his motivations and what he thought was important. So I sometimes use his daughter, Ursula Le Guin’s anthropological fiction to read his work.

I have some examples to show, potentially. I, sometimes, use Ursula Le Guin’s anthropological fiction, she has a lot of anthropological fiction, in order to read the motivations of her father and to understand why he did what he did. I argue that what is most important today about what he did do is the documentation of Indigenous languages and stories, and making space for many dozens of Indigenous people to tell and write their own stories, stories of all kinds, creation stories, anecdotes about daily life, stories about genocide, stories about food, stories– anecdotes, conversations, all kinds of stories, dozens and dozens of people told these in thousands of pages.

In the discourse around Kroeber and Kroeber Hall, Indigenous languages and stories were elided. This is partly a consequence, I guess, of the separation between anthropology and linguistics that happened in the academy over many years. At a certain time, they were more closely connected. And the linguistic side of his work could be seen as part of the oeuvre. Nowadays, languages belongs to linguistics and so that work is ignored.

A small example– a small example is a book of quote unquote, “Reading Lessons” made for the famous Yahi man called Ishi. This is what– they’re called Reading Lessons by– either by Theodora Kroeber, his widow, or by the catalogers in the library. These are actually writing lessons made in an attempt to teach Ishi to write his language, presumably, in the hope that he might want to write down stories or life experiences.

You can tell that they are writing lessons, not reading lessons because each page consists of a set of transcribed words that end with the same syllable. The syllable is underlined, so on the left page it’s “Hi,” the middle page, it’s “Na,” the right hand page, it’s “Si” “Si” to retroflex S.

If you were trying to teach somebody how to write Hi, you would not teach them to write H-I. That is not spell “He” in English. If you’re trying to teach them how to write “See,” you might teach them S-E-E or maybe S-E-A or something. You would not teach them to write S-I. So this would have been a really, really ineffective way of teaching him to read English, but Kroeber was very interested in helping people to learn to write their languages, and that is, obviously, what this actually was.

The book– this book this booklet. It has been interpreted as an instrument of Americanization when it was apparently actually meant to facilitate Ishi telling the stories that everybody says he loved to tell. So this is just a small example of the way in which– the way in which specifics got misinterpreted and the story recording aspect of Kroeber’s career has been lost.

In several of the book chapters, I document Kroeber’s networks of connections with Indigenous people and communities in and near California for recording their stories and languages. An example of this network of Indigenous intellectuals, which Nan already alluded to, is Gilbert Natches, this person in the middle. An artist and musician from a prominent Cui-ui Dicutta Paiute family whom Kroeber taught to– how to write his language, the language that called Paiute or Northern Paiute, taught how to write his language in 1913 and 1914. He was probably the first writer in his language. He made sound recordings of dozens of songs and stories. He created a large corpus of written stories and language information.

Natchez published a paper or a short monograph of stories in the language that’s shown at the top left. But most of what he did with Kroeber remains in manuscripts and sound recordings, like these that you can’t really see very clearly. This thing on the left is an illustration of plant parts, labeled with the names. And these names are not all recorded in subsequent literature.

The middle slide is a list– part of a long set of pages and pages in his vocabulary, is a list of non-traditional words, words for introduced technological objects, not all of which are listed in the massive Northern Paiute dictionary that was published a few years ago.

And the thing on the right is his– not just his hand transcript of a conversation that he recorded between him and a cat in which he says– in effect, he says, hey, kitty, don’t you want some food? Don’t you want some food? Here, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty. And then he sings the meowing of the cat. So he has this really awesome, rich, diverse set of recordings that he also transcribed.

In their language work today the Pyramid Lake Paiute– Pyramid Lake language program works actively with Natchez’s material. And they have expressed appreciation for what he was able to do in this quote that I put here. This is not rare. This is typical. Throughout California, the documentation created by Indigenous people working with Kroeber and his immediate circle of students and younger colleagues is the basis for cultural and linguistic reclamation.

I am also interested in how documentation acquires a renewed political life. Language can be a key piece of political activism. So throughout California, we see linguistic knowledge reclaimed from archives for Indigenous self-insertion. The name of a mountain range– that’s the top example here. The name of a mountain range was reclaimed from Kroeber’s 1902 Wiyot language notes with blue like bob for the purpose of pushing back successfully against an industrial development project in Humboldt County. And so the picture on the right shows a banner. Protect Tsakiyuwit. That name was recovered from the notes that you see on the left.

The words for people, “Muwekma” and for their language, [? Lisjan, ?] those words– I’ve lost my place, sorry, those words in the Indigenous language of the East Bay first recorded in 1904 by Kroeber at the Verona Rancheria are central for two of the political entities of Indigenous people of the East Bay.

Like all of us, Kroeber was a mixture. He was an extractive researcher who could often be paternalistic, as Leanne mentioned. He had some unappealingly Victorian attitudes. And he was committed like so many people, unfortunately, were. At the time, he was committed to the idea grounded in essentialist nationalism, the idea of vanishment, which was the hugest of possible mistakes.

But throughout his career, he advocated for Indigenous land and cultural rights, more than most people in his field. And he was a vocal opponent of the eugenic and evolutionary thinking that often dominated the discourse of the time.

My book’s first chapter has, as its epigraph, a quote from Ursula Le Guin’s 2006 book, Voices. That’s here. Because her fictional character, Auric Castro, described very well what also mattered, in my opinion, in her father’s work, finding what other makers made, speaking it, printing it, recovering it from neglect or oblivion, relighting the light of the word, “This is the chief work of my life.” My main argument in the book is that the chief work of Kroeber’s life, we can now see in retrospect, was to record Indigenous stories and languages and to find ways for Indigenous people to tell their stories and that it matters very much today that he did that. So that’s the book.

[BILL HANKS] Andrew Garrett has done us all an immense service by writing this book. And my first word to him is thank you. The care, craft, and empirical heft of the book are everywhere evident. It is dense with information and anyone would learn from reading it. I certainly learned a lot.

We learn so much about Kroeber, about research in his time, and about Indigenous people and individual persons with whom Kroeber maintained, sometimes, long and dimensional relationships. On these grounds alone, the book takes its place among the best work in the history of our field, in my opinion. And I dare say, with his background, quite likely, only Andrew could have written this book.

It is also a courageous book and one that required meticulous care with the authorial voice and how it positioned itself in relation to the field of anthropology, to Kroeber and especially, to Indigenous peoples of California. I especially respect the care and circumspection the book expresses in the matter of moral ethical evaluation of Kroeber. Andrew is very careful to avoid the ever possible anachronism of critiquing Kroeber by criteria that simply were not in the discourse space he occupied, particularly, in the first decades of his career, which is upwards of 100 years from now.

Critique need not be anachronistic, of course, and I’m not suggesting it is, nor is it unwarranted, but it does raise productive questions. And this book is a valuable exemplar of how to tread fine lines.

Regarding vanishment, I wonder where the line is between a destructive ideology that presumes it to be natural that Indigenous people will cease to be versus an assessment of inevitability based on having considered with a sick heart, the scale, raw violence, and gluttonous self-interest of those who slaughtered, dispossessed Indigenous peoples of their lands, and put their children in schools where they were not allowed to speak their own languages.

Would it have been entirely unreasonable to assume that Indigenous peoples were under massive threat of destruction? What part of this vanishment thesis is due to that in addition to the projection that Andrew mentioned?

In here, I quote Andrew, “Boas and Kroeber wrote as if assimilation and vanishment were inevitable, but the extent to which they acted in concert with the settler state dispossession is another matter.” That’s typical of the care with which the voice is crafted. I think we all know what he’s saying.

I was intrigued by your argument, Andrew, that essentialism, historical particularism cum relativism, and vanishment form a tight cluster of assumptions. Of these, essentialism seems to me the least obvious. You suggest that essentialism erases history, but Kroeber was committed to history, and Boas might have been wary of historical explanations but he never denied history, to my knowledge.

When Boas told Kroeber in 1899– I’m quoting now Ira Jacknis, in 1899 to find, quote, “What is characteristic of the life and mode of thought of the Indian,” there is no temporal predicate in that statement. It doesn’t do anything about time. The Indian is a problem, but that’s a typification problem, not a temporal problem.

These three ideas, Boas and Kroeber shared, but whereas Boas was wary of historical reconstructions, Kroeber was committed to history as one of the core contexts of the Indigenous languages. I had not been aware of the importance of his work on the classification of the languages of California nor I’m ashamed to say of his work on noun incorporation, which is such an important feature in many American languages, including Yucatec Maya, the one I work on.

The 1911 exchange with Sapir in the American anthropologist, which I read, chasing out the references, is highly instructive and I recommend it. For those of you who might not have had a chance to read this book, let me give you a glimpse of the scope of Kroeber’s fieldwork and documentary contributions. 1,000-plus audio recordings of more than 40 different languages, the classification which was the standard in the discipline of his time, the unparalleled amount and scope of field work that Kroeber did, including bringing people with him for family vacations all summer as part of the family.

By way of concluding these incredibly terse remarks, 8 to 10 minutes is impossible. I want to say a couple of words on place names. This is an area in which Indigenous languages of California and elsewhere in North America are exceptionally rich. Kroeber’s junior colleague, T.T. Waterman, published in 1920 his Yurok geography, which also got and read from, which drew heavily on Kroeber’s fieldwork and cataloged with sometimes extended description over 1,000 place names.

The Yurok elder, Domingo Jack, observed, you guys, meaning, Kroeber’s people, claimed the land was not [NON-ENGLISH], owned– glossed, owned or cared for, whereas it is owned and cared for. Along the river, everything has a name. And the name is the proof that it is cared for.

As Andrew observes, such naming is a claim of sovereignty. We might say, for a place to have a name is a sign that it is cared for by those who quote, “own,” end quote, it, although, the verb here opens a can of worms regarding the nature of ownership, especially of land. Maybe it’s easier or more accurate to say, the people who belong to it.

He also demonstrates that toponyms are semantically dense descriptions of places, like what Sapir called compressed little word poems. Here are a couple. A place name. Where water backs up, that refers to a village at the mouth of a river. Where rock speaks, referring to a place with an overhanging rock which creates an echo when one speaks in its presence. Where– one of my favorites, where children sit, which refers to a boulder in the middle of a river, quote, “where some owls carried off some children and left them to sit.” The children eventually turned to stone.

One is reminded of the stunning research done by Keith Basso on place and toponyms in Western Apache. A classic example from the Apache would be, quote, “Water flows inward underneath a Cottonwood tree,” which refers to a place. This description refers to a very precise place on the land. But it is cast also from a very precise vantage point. You have to be standing in the right place to see the scene that is coded in the name.

The use of the name therefore projects the addressee into the prospective point, looking upon the place from just the right angle that also evokes ancestral events that happened there. In short, place names are an idiom of historical consciousness, the deep time, and the ground of reciprocal ownership or care between the people and the land. Maybe this could help us think of the unnaming of Kroeber Hall and the myriad renamings of place wrought upon the people of California.

[JULIAN LANG] Oh, OK. I was a little perplexed by the invite, but I’ve known Andrew long enough to know that he needed to throw a wrench in the deal too. There has to be some unexplainable thing happen.

Kroeber is a very strange phenomenon for Native peoples. And depending upon where you go in the state, there can be a very cold response to just his name in general that certain families have grown up with this idea that this was not a good– just what happened was not good and like you said, he got painted with a pretty wide brush with a lot of pretty bad things that did happen to Native peoples. So he was just included in that. He was, we call, a [INAUDIBLE] white man. And so there’s that, I guess, as well that we have a long history of people coming in really paternalistic, very uptight white men coming in and doing things with our people.

And I don’t know if you’ve ever been around a really uptight white man, but they’re not very fun. And so our life is not one about uptightness, necessarily. I am a grandfather. And so for me, I see how important our inter-relations with my family, with my community, with all of our people that it’s such an important– our cultural existence really is really engaging. I could see how if Kroeber comes into a community, I remember, what’s his name, Tim– Thomas Buckley when he came in, and a very tall guy, for those of you who knew him.

So he was too tall for– after the first trip to the Klamath River. So he was too tall, that’s all people knew him as. And here he was, showing all of this research and all of that. And oh, too tall. Here he comes. It’s like– and so it was he– you become a part of that community. And you don’t escape the descriptions that we would place on place, we also do on a person. So each person eventually becomes who they are within that community.

So Kroeber, there’s– I guess, there’s two stories. There’s one there’s historical view and perspective that says that debates on how good or how bad Kroeber was. And– but there’s also this other side, which is the life, I guess, of the community of our people and how we all fit in within that community, either as a outsider coming in or as an outsider coming in and trying to understand and appreciate what is happening within that community.

And so I guess towards that end, in a way, I’d like to introduce two students that are here. You guys– Can I get you guys to stand up? Yeah. And so they’re all descendants of people who worked with Kroeber. So these are great grand kids of Ellen Grant and the interpreter who worked not with Kroeber but with Bill Bright. So he was the– she was the interpreter for Bill Bright. And so in a way, that’s Kroeber.

And then next to them, there are two people in there, the granddaughters of Julius Derrick, and so who was another one of the language people that not Kroeber personally but his students. So that’s what I see, when I think of Kroeber, I think of all of the great opportunities that he had to come and be a part of our community and never did. So he would send people to come in and do work with folks. And that was– I can think of the Danish Uldall, the Danish linguist who came in and worked with all of these people in a little place called Quartz Valley and way back in the mountains and got these fantastic stories. And I guess, the process of– I guess, his need to keep sending people to our communities where the community, primarily, I’m speaking of.

So he was a very important percentage for the Karuk people. On the other hand, there’s other tribes that may not have that kind of a relationship with Kroeber or maybe he’s been painted that white brushes painted and he’s now included with a bunch of ne’er do wells, I guess, you could call them.


And anyway, yeah, I’m very conflicted about Kroeber because I think as an artist, my idea has been one, when I was here at Berkeley as an employee at the museum, I had all of the old school museum folks were the people I worked with. And they were all, I guess, dyed in the wool trobairitz or whatever from that generation. And it was a very almost like business. The idea of NAGPRA was just– I mean, unnaming of Kroeber was a problem, but NAGPRA, boy, that was– that really got him. The disgruntledness of it all.

And so anyway, but Kroeber, like I said, during my time here, I would always go to Kroeber Hall. And it just seemed so odd. Here I am, there’s Kroeber Hall. It’s like, I’m walking through the door and then there’s all of the stuff that’s the photographs and the recordings and all of this material that was something that was just unbelievable. And my little workstation, I had the– I think it was like, they would say, that’s the oldest chair in American Museum today from Egypt. And then over here where all the glass plates of all the famous– what was that book? The Almost Ancestors book, the photos of– Kroeber’s photos.

And– so I mean– I was surrounded by this primary source material and it was– I just felt– as a Native person, I guess, I don’t see this– the value of this particular thing, the way, say, an anthropologist might look and wonder about this thing. I feel– I can feel it like I have an– some sort of– some sort of an actual feeling that occurs that that person’s spirit is there still. I have to say that I really feel this and that– so working in the museum was always an odd thing, but it was really Kroeber’s legacy then fed my art as an artist. This stuff has to be returned.

So when I was doing all the research of all this material, including spending hours and hours and hours with Kroeber’s papers, trying to understand the person that wrote in such tiny little teeny letters, who was this person? I mean, anal retentive to the max, I would assume. And so– but the content of that was like so rich. In one sentence, I think, you were saying something about the Herzog movie and it was saying that– and the idea of these two eyes at the end of this movie, that was like– that was the thing that made it in a way, art, that it was– you’ll never forget that.

And so Kroeber stuff all of this work that he did with my tribe, especially, was very instrumental in a lot of my art, maybe not directly but definitely indirectly. And one in particular when I was really beginning as an artist was a picture of Ishi staring down. And I must have drawn that picture 50 times or more. And it was because the expression on his face was so incredibly intense. And I can never could figure out what was he looking at. And then later, I saw the full picture, the whole photograph, and it was him shipping– knapping arrowheads. So that intensity was so incredible, but that was–

So that was a whole part of my need to bring art into this transfer of the– this knowledge that happened in 1902 to 1930 or whatever and then bring it back to the community and try to find ways of doing that. And so that’s what my art was at that point was to return, say, the extracted.

And at that time, I remember when I first spent time in the survey, and Leanne had let me in to sit with the stuff because I was going through all of the stuff, and finding– removing the stack of paper and seeing the dust around where the paper had been sitting because nobody had moved the thing for like 10 years or something and nobody had ever looked at it. And so I’m going through this stuff and seeing the most important– one of my three most important things that– question that I’ve had about life and philosophy and all of that. And one was we have a plant called Kishwoof. And Kishwoof is a very important– it’s our best medicine, we call it– [NON-ENGLISH], our best medicine and–

So there’s, in this old stack of handwritten notes was this story that was way off in this direction. And then all of a sudden, the end was, And that’s why this is our best medicine. And so I had to somehow draw this connection between these two things.

But what ended up happening was it turned into a play, it turned into all kinds of different things in the language. So we were able to return the language, the iconography of the time, and including the songs, so many different things that we were able to reverse engineer Kroeber’s work, I guess, is what you would say, and return it back to its place within the community.

So– and I remember this one old hippie guy that lived in Orleans. We did a story about the Orleans maiden and how she turned into this mountain, Orleans Mountain, and where Ruby’s from, out back there. And the hippie said, wow, I’ll never look at that mountain again, say the same again. It’s like, now that mountain has become a person once again. Why that person is– why that mountain is so important? And why that’s one of the only spirits who didn’t have a partner? And the sadness of that and how that’s where all of our bad feelings go. So you– she takes your hurt and grief and all of that. And so now everybody gets to see and experience [NON-ENGLISH] for these men.

But Kroeber, I don’t know, Andrew. He was very– yeah, it’s a very interesting thing. I– like I said, I’m not coming– leaving this place, despising Kroeber. And on the other hand, I try to keep him at arm’s length, at least this far away.


Good idea.


But anyway, thank you.

[JAMES CLIFFORD] Thanks. Thanks. And thank you all for coming. I’m going to read this so I stay in my 10 minutes slot.

A few years back, I commented along with many others on the proposal to unname Kroeber Hall. And I was pretty critical of some of the claims made in the brief against the individual anthropologist, A. L. Kroeber. But in the end, I came to the same conclusion as Andrew Garrett, the symbolism of his name had become ineradicably painful for Native Californians and should be changed to recognize their cultural resilience and present agency.

My concluding paragraph, which I’m going to read, seems to me now like a liberal, wishful thinking, but despite my more pessimistic, better judgment, I’m doubling down. I wrote, “The current movement for changing names raises important questions about our differently positioned assessments of a shared, sometimes, ugly history. In conclusion, I’d like to urge that we not succumb to the blame games and scorched Earth moralism so prevalent in today’s political culture. I have recommended, as I did in my– above, an attitude, I called it critical generosity, especially with respect to ambiguous legacies like that of Kroeber and of cultural anthropology. This means in the current context, renaming Kroeber Hall in a way that honors native Californian resilience but that also finds ways to publicly recognize and understand the continuing contributions of that building’s former namesake and his changing discipline. This kind of thoughtful, informed critical commemoration would be especially appropriate in an educational institution.” End quote.

Whistling in the wind. A similar sentiment, I found, was expressed by others, by Kent Lightfoot in his very substantial contribution. And I noticed it too in Professor Ron Hendel’s critique of the similar unnaming of Barrow’s Hall, where we are now.

I’m not sure what we all had in mind concretely, some sort of exhibit or a public discussion, perhaps, or a teachable moment, recognizing the positive contributions of these colonial liberals whose failings are magnified in our current decolonial better judgment. We were asking our community for something more complex than either condemnation or celebration. I didn’t hold out much hope.

And Andrew Garrett has provided what I asked for, a thoughtful, informed critical commemoration of Kroeber’s life and work, including the legacies of his changing disciplines, anthropology and linguistics. How will Gareth’s complexifying book be read, if it is read? Well, it will be understood– it will be understood by some, mostly, but not only on the right as a defense of Kroeber against ignorant sanctimonious cancel culture. And by others largely on the left, it will be seen as yet another whitewashing of settler colonialism and a defense of paternalistic academic authority.

What I appreciate about the book is that it rules out conclusions such as these and tries for a complex realism, an attitude of both generous comprehension and critical historical distance. In his opening paragraphs, Garrett forthrightly acknowledges the dissonance, he calls it, the dissonance in which he finds himself. He writes throughout as an engaged participant, not as an objective outsider. I mean, he’s, after all, part of the tradition of Berkeley linguistics and working with California languages.

Working happily in the California Linguistic Archives at Berkeley, he’s brought up short by a Native language activist who tells him that she always feels sick on campus, conscious of all the ancestral remains stored in those boxes.

At the end of chapter 1, Garrett summarizes two contradictory versions of Kroeber’s legacy, one, a history of harm, the other, of generosity. One, a narrative of colonialist denial and paternalist dismissal, the other, a story of respect, collaboration in the preservation of heritage. His book, Garrett writes, is an attempt to understand the quote, “dissonance” between these narratives, both of which, he takes seriously.

It’s important to note that while he refutes particular claims, he doesn’t say that one narrative is true and the other, false. He allows different visions to cohabit uneasily in the book, not seeking to reconcile them or to find a balance. Throughout its 11 chapters, his book, in the words of my colleague, Donna Haraway, stays with the trouble. This willingness to explore the dissonance of irreconcilable stories is, to my current way of thinking, realism. History is ontologically excessive, multifarious, contested, a single smooth version is, well, ideology.

Kroeber emerges in a positive light to be sure the book leans that way, no doubt, too much for some, but it convincingly connects– corrects many errors and oversimplifications in the now widely accepted dismissive view of Kroeber. And his mistakes and omissions, as we now see them, are acknowledged directly throughout. For example, Kroeber’s cultural essentialism, with its avoidance of historical invention and change, is a recurring theme. This lack of analytic scholarly interest in real contemporary people is something Julian Lange has effectively stressed.

But the book is not only about an imperfect individual. Garrett shows how the name Kroeber today symbolizes the limits of colonial liberalism, the entitlements and omissions that accompany good intentions. And also looking beyond the man and his times, the name Kroeber also represents a tradition of research, collective and dialogical, whose consequences were and still are decolonizing.

As an academic, I appreciate the conclusion that research matters, often, beyond the intentions of the researcher. I even appreciate Garrett’s willingness to rub the noses of non-specialists in linguistic data and technical arguments that we can’t understand, though, I think, at times, he overdoes it. A little self-indulgent there, Andrew.

It’s good to make people– readers grapple with unfamiliar languages up close and to observe the detailed sustained labor by Kroeber, by his linguistic colleagues, and by his Indian collaborators like Robert Spot, Gilbert Matches, Von Dolores, and others that produces accurate descriptions and translations that anal compulsive dimension, which was shared by some of his quote unquote, “informants,” as Andrew tells us, getting it really exactly right.

Research matters in more than objective ways. Science, empiricism, documentation are built from facts, things made collaboratively in social relationships. Facts are subject to reinterpretation in new situations. Research is thus historical in the fullest sense, overdetermined and unfinished.

Garrett is the best work I know that grapples with the contradictions and unintended consequences of what was long called salvage anthropology and linguistics, now rebaptized as memory documentation. His approach rhymes with my own ongoing research in what I call, for lack of a new name, post ethnographic museums.

The colonial collections currently found all over Europe, North America, Australia, and other imperial metropoles. Times are changing there in those institutions. Human remains and cultural artifacts in these collections can no longer be considered the heritage of an abstract imperial mankind or a decontextualized science. Under pressure from former colonial subjects, activists, elders, artists, these specimens and treasures have been transformed into unfinished histories, stories, sources of knowledge reclaimed and made new. I love Gillian’s phrase, “Reverse engineering of Kroeber’s work.”

In these changing institutions, what was, even 10 years ago, unthinkable, the repatriation of museum treasures is now everywhere on the agenda for museum professionals, restitution imagined in diverse forms, scales, and relationships. I haven’t found– visiting these museums, I’ve not found any single politically virtuous pathway, but many specific entangled negotiations. Of course, there’s plenty of resistance to change, obstruction, unwillingness to relinquish the authority of universalism, the privilege of being at the end or the cutting edge of history.

But what I find in all this movement– what I find in all this is movement, history as process, inventive articulations of old and new, residual and emergent energies. I rediscover what Hegel called the cunning of reason and history, the surprises, what happens behind our backs for better and for worse. In a time of confusion and pessimism, when so many trends these days seem reactionary when liberal progress is anything but assured, the good news that accompanies the bad news of this indeterminacy can perhaps be found with Andrew Garrett’s help in Kroeber exemplary life, with all its contradictions.

1876 to 1960, Kroeber was born at a moment of triumphant imperialism. And he died as its hegemony was starting to unravel. He lived in a world structured by colonization, with its violence, assumptions of assimilation, and romantic archaisms. Within this horizon, I think we can still honor his lifelong commitment to what he believed was admirable and worth preserving in native Californian language and cultures. He thought these lifeways were doomed, but his work has contributed to their future.

[LEANNE HINTON] Thank you to all the panelists. And we are open now for questions. Yes.

[INAUDIBLE] [AUDIENCE MEMBER] anthropologist Oh. My name is Stan Farrar. I’m a Cal graduate. I didn’t study anthropology or linguistics. I’ve been gone for more than six decades. And I’m from Southern California. But I was interested in this subject because Caltech has unnamed Robert Millikan, without whom you can’t talk about Caltech, since he was one of the founders. They still accept that he got a Nobel Prize but otherwise, they’ve taken his name off buildings.

So I was fascinated by Professor Garrett’s book and the approach to it. And I think it’s an awesome piece of scholarship. But I think about all the intellectual firepower that went into that and it’s going to go into all the other books that are going to be written from here to eternity about people like Thomas Jefferson, because you resonate on vanishing.

Well, if there’s anybody– if there’s any president of the United States who thought the Indians were going to vanish and he was going to contribute to it, it was Thomas Jefferson. So if you want to focus on Kroeber’s really– I know we shouldn’t have skulls in the museum, don’t misunderstand me. But Kroeber is a pretty minor player in the scheme of things. We have big players in the scheme of things who, when the truth comes out, when the scholarship is produced, and it’s not all the pablum about cherry trees and crap like that, you’re going to find out that Thomas Jefferson wasn’t such a good guy after all, especially with Indians.

So where do we go with this? Do we just say, let’s use all the intellectual firepower to write all these books? Or do we just say, let’s take all the names off now and give them mathematical notations or whatever?


[ANDREW GARRETT] Yeah. I mean, I sometimes wondered whether the building that should be unnamed is California Hall. If we’re looking for a malefactor.


[AUDIENCE MEMBER] So as I’m outsider because I’m not growing up here, I’m not an American nor a Native American, so I’m still wrapping my head around what’s happening here about this unnaming thing. My– I have two basic questions about the claims made during the proposal of the unnaming.

The first question is that, I remember the second claim is something about Kroeber and his colleagues collected the remains of the Native Americans is completely wrong, is culturally wrong. So my question is, in the tradition, what did the Native Americans deal with the remains? This is my first question. It’s a very basic question.

The second question is that, so the third claims that something Kroeber dated back at that time is culturally extinct. And my question is, what was the reason of this statement? Is it to raise awareness of protection this culture or it’s just like his blind spots when he did his research? This is my second question.

And also, my third question is something– so no, the third thing is not a question, it’s just something came to my mind because– sorry, I’m a bit nervous. I’m not a native speaker so forgive me about that. So it’s– OK, I forget the third thing.

[ANDREW GARRETT] I think to answer the first question, certainly, what Indigenous people would not want is for people to be in museums. There are many different burial practices around California in the world but none of them included putting people in other people’s museums. So I think there’s no question about that.

With respect to– I mean, this relates to what– the other question relates to what you brought up, Bill, about the connection or the potential connection between essentialism and vanishment. My idea– my sense of that relationship was if you accept this– if essentialism– a sense of the relationship was if essentialism means you got to have features X, Y, and Z in order to be authentically whatever, Yurok or Ohlone or whatever, you’ve got to have features X, Y, Z, then since all cultures change, eventually, people don’t have X, Y, Z, and then they’re no longer– then they’re no longer that culture because those are quote unquote, “essential properties.”

So that’s the reason why I personally saw those two things as linked and that’s what enabled him to call cultures quote unquote, “extinct,” even though he knew perfectly well that there were lots of people around who belonged to those communities but they no longer, in his opinion, had the quote unquote, “essential properties” of those communities.

[BILL HANKS] Yeah, as a Mayanist who works in Yucatan, we call that the curse of the pyramid.


You’re either classic Maya or it’s all polyester.


I mean, it’s– and it’s deadly. It’s a deadly– it’s a real ideology that way.

ANDREW GARRETT] Yeah. And Kent has written really– Kent is somewhere here. But Kent Lightfoot has written really compellingly about this problem in California.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] I spent many wonderful afternoons with our late beloved colleague, Ira Jacknis, who had worked a lot in the archives, studying Kroeber. And I imagine he would be– have a lot to say if he were here today. But one thing I learned from him that there’s this– in the oral tradition of Kroeber around– when they opened up the building in 1959 that– a year before he passed away, that there’s two stories that Ira would tell me again and again. And I think it’s fair for me to share oral tradition, given that oral tradition is such an important part of this tradition.

And one, he would say is that Kroeber got stuck in the elevator that they still have problems with in that building. But the second thing he would say– Ira would say to me is that there was a sense that Kroeber was deeply uncomfortable about the building being named after him. And that might speak to Andrew’s thesis too about his desire to be somewhat anonymous in some of his research, that you shared with us at the beginning of your presentation.

I’m not sure if there’s any verification for that, that Kroeber felt that way, and of course, he would pass away the year after that. But I can’t help but think, and I was thinking this during the years of debate we had, that Kroeber, himself, might agree that his name had been removed from the building in the possibility that he would not have wanted his name to be there in the first place.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] This is a question for the whole panel. Considering that the namesake of this university was a Slaver, who wrote pamphlets in defense of the institution and has had his name removed from a library at Trinity College in Dublin, what lessons can come out of this whole unnaming Kroeber Hall for a question that seems to inevitably be coming for this university at large?

I wonder if I could ask a question about the paradoxes of temporal positionality. The point of view of Kroeber and company during the period we’re talking about was one of being advanced, being modern, being ahead of a culture that was vanishing, the cultures that were behind. And we obviously feel uncomfortable with that. And yet, we do it from a position which is, in fact, also that of temporal advance, that we are hundreds years after them, we are hundreds years more, somehow, enlightened. We have learned something that they did not know.

There was, of course, a famous argument by E. P. Thompson that we ought to avoid the enormous condescension of posterity, by which of course, he meant not taking the working class of Britain as some have simpler than ourselves. But there is also a potential for the enormous condescension of posterity towards figures even like Kroeber, that is to say, our own position of being quote, “advanced” needs, I think, to be at least relativized or at least qualified by the experience of their getting it wrong. That advance, however we define, is not sufficient to justify critical judgment, that we have to have other standards besides simply being further along in a process, which is not really progressive.

[ANDERW GARRETT] So my argument in the book is not as sophisticated as that because I’m only a linguist.


But hold your wallet. I mean, my argument is that what occupies that place, is not that people– not that people are doing that but that elites in the university are generally uncomfortable with the history of the university. And picking somebody to blame allows us to stop looking at Hearst and all the other people who are much quote unquote, “worse.”

So as I say near the end of the book, he winds up being the fall guy. And I quote Raymond Chandler as saying that, “Dead people are the best fall guys,” because there are people who are still living who are responsible for quite a lot of injury. And it’s much easier to pick a professor who’s long dead than to pick ancient patrons whose families are still– hello, internet, who’s families are still influential and living, people who are still colleagues or former colleagues.

[JAMES CLIFFORD] I’d like– Martin Jay’s question has brought me up short and made me start thinking because its logic would go so far as to say, don’t do– never unname anything from the standpoint of some– more advanced knowledge, some postcolonial consciousness or whatever it might be, some sort of virtue that’s associated with an advanced– but–

And so then, well, do I agree with that? I mean, well, no, there are certain things that I think really do deserve unnaming, and then there’s those that are debatable, and then there are those that really don’t. And so I think, OK, we’re talking now about– when I say debatable, we’re talking about a context where there are actually substantial discussions and also where the process takes enough time so that people can reflect.

We have, in Santa Cruz, an argument going on about unnaming our community college, Cabrillo College, because Cabrillo, who it’s named after, was a conquistador, and he did some bad things like pretty much everybody else in his time. And the process got very fraught with many letters to the editor. And it’s now been sort of put on hold. And there’s a way that the community is thinking about it together. And that seems to me right, however it turns out.

And the distinction, I guess, I might make between the abstract, dismissive, we know better attitudes of some sort of politically advanced view that sweepingly strips away lots of names, this one seems different in a sense because at least in my– working myself around to thinking that unnaming was OK, it really does have to do with a very specific local history and a community, the local history of the settler colonial institution of Berkeley in California in relation to the dispossessed populations who didn’t go away and are now back. It’s a local story and it involves local communities in a way that some of the more sweeping dismissive ones don’t.

And in my feeling, I guess, my feeling that unnaming in that context, that is a learning or a teachable moment of a certain kind, potentially. And I don’t think this one– and I think Andrew’s last chapter is devastating in the way that the casual and self-serving way that the university rubber stamped this one covered its ass, basically, in this process.

But I do think, overall, unnaming Kroeber Hall to make Berkeley a more welcoming place for Native people who have a long relationship with Berkeley, a fraught relationship. That kind of naming, I guess, I can go for. And so I guess that’s my– as far as I got thinking through your very far-reaching question.

[BILL HANKS] Can I add just a simple minded one sentence? It’s, what I hear is a thread in a number of the comments that what I keep thinking about is the effect of unnaming on the unnamer, not on the unnamed but on the unnamer. And there’s almost a reflexive sense that, I think, goes to something that you were alluding to– well, more than alluding to, which is that if I condemn from a position that I consider better, I’m better.

And the unnaming lets the unnamer off the hook, even when it’s not as bankrupt as the one– as the last chapter that you demonstrate. And I think that’s– I think that’s a very dangerous move that is– and I feel it hovers like an atmosphere around a lot of the discourse which condemns because I’m good enough to condemn, because I’m 100 years later, and I’m– like you said, you need different independent reasons for doing it, not just because we know better.

We know better.

Yeah. Because we don’t know better, actually. And we need to do much more than change names. That can only be a beginning. We’ve got to get that stuff out of the museums. We’ve got to– we need to do something constructive.

I mean, I also entirely support the unnaming. If it’s an open wound, take the name away. The rest of the arguments fall away in my mind in significance because they’re too dubious and they’re too– they reposition the one doing the critique. But if these are– but if it’s an open wound, be done with it. And I really like the suggestion that Kroeber might have liked that.

Yeah. Yeah.

So I’m sorry. I’m done.

[LEANNE HINTON] Go until about 10 after.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] Hi. My question is, just looking forward, you’re still training graduate students. You have postdocs in your groups and labs. How is this moment going to impact the next generation of scholars in your fields? And do you think it’s going to diminish the academic courage or the ability of people to consider studying groups that they’re not a part of? I’m just really curious about how you think this unnaming of Kroeber Hall and really the erasure of his legacy on campus, although, it is very complex and painful, how it will impact your scholarship moving forward?

[ANDREW GARRETT] Scholar students, I mean, I think it’s quite different in different fields in linguistics. I mean, the Kroeber Hall business itself, I think, doesn’t have any particular impact. That’s just like a small perturbation or whatever. But in general, the challenge of how to reconfigure the field of linguistics so that we are respectful– so that we include Indigenous people and we are respectful in our relations with Indigenous people so that this will not happen to us in 100 years, that’s an interesting challenge.

And linguists have been– linguists are behind– I don’t know, it’s always– the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. It seems to me that linguists are behind anthropologists in that respect that anthropologists have been thinking about this harder for a longer time and maybe have gotten themselves into a bit of paralysis. But they have been thinking about it longer and harder than linguists have.

In the last– the very last chapter of the book, I do talk about a few ways in which linguists, I think, don’t take to heart some of what I think are the lessons of the Kroeber story, but some do, and things are changing. It’s not a very helpful answer, maybe, but that’s what I got.

[BILL HANKS] The kind of fieldwork people do today is entirely different. One of the themes in Andrew’s book is about moving away from the textual collection. It’s not that people move away from textual or textuality, it’s a move toward pragmatics and interaction. It’s a positive move, not a– and it generates a lot of stuff.

But there’s a lot more– there’s a lot more care with how one interacts with– I mean, many of the most offensive practices that are reduced in relation to Kroeber, people just simply don’t do that. I’m not saying they’ve got it right. I mean, it’s like, when things go off the rails, you avoid that particular one, you’re going to have another problem, probably. So it becomes a process.

What there is that Andrew alluded to and Jim certainly knows because he’s been a very, very important shaper of this, I don’t know of any field as given to self-critique and self-immolation.


No, I mean it, though. I mean–

But the result could be paralyzing.

Yeah. Well, when you’re on fire, it’s paralyzing.


And so it’s a– I would say, it’s like a constant struggle. So I’m a– I have a background in both fields. And I’m very into arguing from evidence, it’s just the way I’m– was trained and wired. And the self-critique is important but at the end of the day, I want to learn about the world and I want to engage the world outside myself and my own shortcomings.

And I think that’s– I mean, this is not an answer more than a extended reflection, but it’s really– it doesn’t end this issue. And it doesn’t– I mean, I’ll just put a place marker for a different discussion because it’ll take too long, but as a Mayanist, we have many analogs of what we’re talking about here. We have the killing fields of the 1980s in Guatemala and the emergence of the Pan-Maya movement out of the ashes of that. We have the Rigoberta Menchu stole ballyhoo and all kinds of displacement of Maya people, and 500 years of colonialism.

So this is– it’s– I would say that I think the problem for an anthropologist is ubiquitous. It doesn’t matter where you work. Anybody who works in the Americas anywhere knows that they’re working in the shadow of Holocaust, almost. Well, Holocaust. And so your– and you don’t get it– you don’t figure it out and get a solution and go forward. So I think with working with, say, PhD people who are really getting into the field and so forth, it’s just– it’s a matter of problem by problem, trying to think your way around it. So that’s not a particularly convincing answer but that’s what I would say.

[LEANNE HINTON] Thank you. So you can go– there’s two more questions, then let’s just not anybody else raise their hand.

[AUDIENCE MEMBER] I just want to preface my question with a quick perspective. I transferred from community college. And I was like, wow, I get to go where Kroeber and Ishi were. And I get to be studying anthropology. It’s such a historic place. And I graduated in 2013. And I had a wonderful time here. And I always recommend anthropology to everyone.

And so years later, I’m sitting at home in quarantine, saying they’re going to rip Kroeber off the Hall, his name. And I’m reading the reasons. And I’m largely unconvinced by these reasons, even though I understand Kroeber is controversial. And I’m thinking, what’s happening over there. And I couldn’t find any answers or anybody having any discussions because it did look, from where I was sitting, removed from the university, very reactive and the politics of the moment. And I was like, how did Kroeber become the bad guy?

But coming here today, I’ve been looking for answers. And finding your book and finding this talk, I just want to say that every answer that everyone– every statement everyone gave, I found brilliant and made me feel what I was missing, like, oh, here’s the discussion. So I want to thank you all for that.

And my question is in thinking of how we can get out of this, what does the panel think of maybe something like a name like Ishi Kroeber Hall? I know it sounds silly, but maybe we’re honoring a time and not a person, this history. I mean, anything’s better than anthropology and art. I mean, come on.


Anyway, that was just my question. Thank you.

[BILL HANKS] Call it Building 53. Put us in a Quonset hut.

[LEANNE HINTON] I just want to look forward a little bit because the newest buildings have– that have been named, they’re not named after people who’ve done stuff at all. They’re named after donors.


And they just– yeah, no, I mean, they just– the Meredith Morgan Eye Center, where I get my eyes done, is no longer Meredith Morgan– he was a beloved dean for three decades. And it’s just been renamed after a donor. And they pushed his statue into the corner too.

So I guess, what’s to keep– we have such high standards for who they’re named after, but I mean, take any donor that gives money, they slap their name on a building. So– well, they’ll be taken off when we can ask them, what have you done for us lately?


OK, everybody. Thank you, panelists, for a wonderful panel discussion. And thank you, Andrew Garrett.


[VOICEOVER] Thank you for listening. For more information about Social Science Matrix, please visit

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