The Bennington Papers

The Bennington Papers

Kenneth M. Kensinger

The Bennington PapersTo honor the memory of Kenneth M. Kensinger, SALSA presents this portal to the life and work of the legendary ethnographer. With the kind permission of Bennington College, we offer selected issues of two series of publications that Kensinger edited, which we name as The Bennington Papers: Working Papers on South American Indians (WPSAI) and South American Indian Studies (SAIS)(See The Bennington Meetings, from which these papers came out.)

The idea to reissue Working Papers on South American Indians and South American Indian Studies on this website arose out of discussions that occurred on the SALSA email list following the passing of Kenneth Kensinger in May 2010. During this period of mourning, many people suggested we honor Ken Kensinger’s memory through our website, and that reissuing WPSAI and SAIS could be an important way to do so. Newly elected president-elect Jonathan D. Hill organized the scanning of extant print issues and requested authorization from Bennington College and from individual issue editors for the project. We thank Bennington College for this kind permission. We also thank Carolina Izquierdo, who provided several issues from her personal collection so that they could be scanned for this website.

These papers were derived from what Kensinger called the Lowland South America Symposia (aka Bennington Meetings), which began in 1971 and extended until 1996. In the introduction to the first issue of Working Papers on South American Indians (1979), Ken explains the aim of these publications:

“With this symposium, ‘Social Correlates of Kin Terminology’, we are initiating a new series, “Working Papers on South American Indians” (WPSAI). The decision to start such a project grew out of a conviction that an urgent need exists for the rapid dissemination between specialists of new data, theoretical perspectives, symposia, etc. without the normal impedimenta of journal and book publication. It is our belief that any increase in the flow of communications between persons interested in South American Indians can be beneficial to our common and individual scholarly pursuits. Furthermore, it is our conviction that results of the vastly increased research among the aboriginal groups of South America have serious implications for theory in general comparable to the impact of research and publication in Australia, Africa, South Asia, Oceania and New Guinea of earlier decades.

The initial impetus for WPSAI was to provide a reliable outlet for the annual Lowland South America symposium now approaching its eighth year. Of the previous six sessions this is the first to be published. The 1973 symposium on marriage practices is about to go to press [in fact Kensinger published them in Marriage Practices in Lowland South America  (University of Illinois Press, 1984)], the symposium on leaders and leadership organized by Waud Kracke will appear shortly as part of the Yearbook of Symbolic Anthropology II [the papers of this symposium were published in South American Indian Studies 1, August 1993],  and the 1978 symposium is being prepared for publication by Thomas Gregor, its organizer. The 1971, 1975, 1976 and the second 1977 symposium languish for the most part as original manuscript and mimeographed or dittoed prints in our files. We hope that some of these will become future numbers in this series.”

We hope that the materials published on this portal will highlight the outstanding contributions made by Ken Kensinger, with the support of Bennington College, in the field of lowland South American Studies. We hope further that these materials will highlight the many ways Ken inspired and encouraged other scholars to work in and write about lowland South America.

Ken Kensinger“My greatest debt is to the Cashinahua who took me into their hearts and homes and patiently, kindly, and gently instructed me in the way ‘real people’ ought to live.”
—Ken Kensinger, 1995

“Haskaken, nukun haibu KENSINGER nuticia(kaka) nun ninkaa, nun nui haidaxinaki, el dia 16 de mayo de 2010 anudan ixinkendan.”
—Tufí Torres Silva, 2010