Edward M. Bruner Papers, 1859-2017
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Brief Description:

Edward M. Bruner (1924- ), University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, is a pioneering figure in the field of anthropology. He is especially known for his later research and writing on tourism but he began his academic career studying the Mandan and Hidatsa on the Fort Berthold Reservation and the Batak in Sumatra. He was also a renowned photographer and won several competitions with his photography.

The papers of Edward M. Bruner consist of audiotapes, bibliographies, books, brochures, correspondence, course outlines, documents, genealogies, handbooks, manuals, maps, memoirs, newspaper clippings, manuscripts, newsletters, notes, notices, oral histories, papers, pamphlets, photographs, publications, reports, slides, syllabi, and transcripts relating to his years as an undergraduate and graduate student; his teaching career at Yale University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; his research on the Batak, Indonesia, narrative, Native Americans, New Salem, and tourism; his trips overseas; and the Department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The series also includes transcripts of interviews conducted by Elaine Bruner regarding Batak child rearing practices in the early 1960s and which were never published.

The collection is arranged into 8 series: Series 1, Personal Materials, 1943-2017, organized alphabetically by subject. Series 2, Correspondence, 1942-2016, divided into Personal Correspondence and General Correspondence and organized chronologically thereunder. Series 3, Course Materials, 1954-98, organized by course number; classes Bruner taught at Yale are listed first. Series 4, Conferences, Talks, and Interviews, 1958-2012, organized chronologically. Series 5, University of Illinois Materials, 1963-2015, organized alphabetically by subject. Series 6, Research Materials, 1859-2009, organized into six groups: Batak Materials, Indonesia Materials, Narrative Research Materials, Native American Materials, New Salem Materials, and Tourism Research Materials. Within these groups, subjects are arranged alphabetically. Series 7, Slides, 1957-96, organized alphabetically by subject. Series 8, Published Writings, 1952-2014, organized chronologically.

Related material include the Doris Duke Indian Oral History Program Archives, where Edward M. Bruner was director.

Held at:
University of Illinois Archives
19 Library
1408 W. Gregory Dr.
Urbana, IL 61820
Phone: (217) 333-0798
Fax: (217) 333-2868
Email: illiarch [at] illinois.edu
Record Series Number: 15/2/29
Created by: Bruner, Edward M.
Volume: 34.3 cubic feet
Acquired: 03/02/2017.
More information is available at https://files.archon.library.illinois.edu/uasfa/1502029.pdf
Arrangement:

Arranged into 8 series:

Series 1, Personal Materials, 1943-2017, organized alphabetically by subject.

Series 2, Correspondence, 1942-2016, divided into Personal Correspondence and General Correspondence and organized chronologically thereunder. Related correspondence can be found in the Doris Duke Indian Oral History Program Archives.

Series 3, Course Materials, 1954-98, organized by course number; classes Bruner taught at Yale are listed first.

Series 4, Conferences, Talks, and Interviews, 1958-2012, organized chronologically.

Series 5, University of Illinois Materials, 1963-2015, organized alphabetically by subject.

Series 6, Research Materials, 1859-2009, organized into six groups: (1) Batak Materials includes a dictionary written by linguist Herman Van Der Tuuk in 1861 that was given to Bruner by W. Hutagalung; (2) Indonesia Materials; (3) Narrative Research Materials; (4) Native American Materials; (5) New Salem Materials; and (6) Tourism Research Materials. Within these groups, subjects are arranged alphabetically. Also included are correspondence, histories, and genealogies relating to the Walker family (Fort Berthold).

Series 7, Slides, 1957-96, organized alphabetically by subject.

Series 8, Published Writings, 1952-2014, organized chronologically.

Biographical Note for Bruner, Edward M. :

Edward M. Bruner (1924- ), University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, is a pioneering figure in the field of anthropology. He is especially known for his research and writing on tourism but he began his academic career studying the Mandan and Hidatsa on the Fort Berthold Reservation and the Batak in Sumatra.

Detailed Biography:

Born in 1924, Edward M. Bruner grew up in New York City on the Upper West Side.  Bruner attended Stuyvesant High School and then went on to Ohio State University where he became an engineering major.  In 1947 he transferred to Columbia University to finish his engineering studies.  At Columbia he took an anthropology class and was so excited by the subject that he decided to become an anthropologist.

After receiving an M.A. at Ohio State, Bruner won admission to the University of Chicago, an international leader in the field of anthropology.  While there, he did field research on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, studying kinship change in the Mandan-Hidatsa community.  Bruner discovered that the American kinship system had not replaced the old Mandan-Hidatsa system; instead, the two systems existed side-by-side.

He obtained his Ph.D. from Chicago in 1954 and accepted a job as an assistant professor of anthropology at Yale University.  At Yale Bruner began studying the Toba Batak, ethnic peoples of North Sumatra.  He and his wife Elaine spent the year of 1957-58 in a Batak village.  It was an experience that they would never forget.  Elaine became fluent in the Batak language and was even adopted as a daughter by a local clan.  In the late-1960s and early-1970s, the couple returned to Sumatra to continue their studies on social change and urban migration.  In 1997 Bruner and his wife visited Sumatra one more time.

Denied tenure at Yale, Bruner obtained a professorship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1961 after a year as a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Palo Alto.  The UIUC anthropology department had made a name for itself with such notable figures as Julian Steward, Joseph Casagrande, and Oscar Lewis, and Bruner found a welcome home here.  He proved to be an excellent and innovative teacher; his Personal Anthropology class, introduced in 1978, was one of the first of its kind.  He also found time to serve as director of the Doris Duke American Indian Oral History Project.

Around 1980 Bruner took a postmodernist turn after attending a reading group at UIUC.  Bruner came to view culture as something that was always in the process of being constructed and re-constructed.  He liked to say that we all enter society in the middle.  The books he co-edited with Victor Turner during this period, Text, Play, and Story (1984) and The Anthropology of Experience (1986), demonstrated how postmodern theories could be applied in anthropological practice.  During the late-1980s, a heated conflict developed between the old-school so-called scientific anthropologists and the postmodernists.  Wading into this debate, Bruner urged moderation and argued that both sides could learn from the other.

A 1983-84 stint as the leader of a study abroad program focused the attention of Bruner on the subject of tourism, an area of research largely neglected by anthropologists up to that point.  Subsequently studying tourist performances in Kenya, Ghana, New Salem, Illinois, Masada, Bali, and a Jakarta theme park, Bruner summed up his research in his well-received 2005 book, Culture on Tour.  Bruner disputed the notion of tourist performances as somehow being authentic cultural representations, a notion favored by the tourist industry.  For Bruner, these performances were newly created cultural constructions.

In 2005 the American Anthropological Association devoted a session at its annual meeting to the work of Edward M. Bruner.  Since 1994 Bruner has been an emeritus professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  He is an accomplished photographer who has well documented many of his trips abroad

Subject Index
Anthropology Department
Cultural Anthropology
Faculty Papers
Indians of North America -- Music
Music -- Indonesia
New Salem State Park
Tourism
Related Materials: Doris Duke Indian Oral History Program Archives