This article is a part of Overlooked, a sequence of obituaries about outstanding folks whose deaths, starting in 1851, went unreported in The Times.
In 1952, the anthropologist Ethel Lindgren decided that will change the face of the Scottish Highlands for many years to come back: She imported a herd of reindeer. Reindeer, whereas native to Britain, had not been seen there because the twelfth century, once they have been hunted to extinction.
Lindgren made the case to authorities officers that the animals have been vital sources of meat and fur. And with the looming risk of a battle with the Soviet Union, she mentioned, the reindeer may very well be helpful in navy transport.
But her motivations have been additionally romantic: It could be, she wrote in a letter, an opportunity “to see against the Scottish skyline a very beautiful animal.”
She began by importing seven reindeer — two bulls and 5 cows — on a Swedish ship, the Sarek. They have been quarantined for almost a month at Edinburgh Zoo earlier than being launched within the Cairngorms, a mountain vary within the Highlands, the place their progress was monitored. The local weather was favorable; in actual fact, the distinctive subarctic qualities of the Cairngorms make it the one place left in Britain that would assist the animals. More reindeer have been imported within the years that adopted; their progeny nonetheless roam the Highlands at this time.
Lindgren is finest remembered for her reindeer experiment, however she made many contributions to the sector of anthropology in a protracted profession that has largely been misplaced to historical past.
Ethel John Lindgren was born on Jan. 1, 1905, in Evanston, Ill., to an American mom and a Swedish American father. She was 11 when her father, John R. Lindgren, the founding father of the State Bank of Chicago, died. He gave most of his fortune to charitable establishments however left his daughter an annuity to supply for her training and, ultimately, her fieldwork.
As a younger lady, Ethel would watch trains whistle previous her hometown and dream of touring east. The alternative got here after her mom, Ethel Roe Lindgren, a pianist, married Henry Eichhorn, an ethnomusicologist and composer identified for incorporating devices he collected on his visits to China and Japan. At 17, the youthful Ethel took a yr off from her education at Miss Lee’s School in Boston and traveled east along with her mom and stepfather.
On the Great Wall in Kalgan, China (now Zhangjiakou), overlooking Mongolia, she gazed over the expanse of “dun-coloured land continuing to the horizon” and was awed by “a great feeling of serenity, of eternity,” she wrote in her diary. The expertise impressed on her a hard and fast goal: One day, she would return.
An unprecedented variety of girls entered anthropology throughout the interval between the world wars. While some argued that fieldwork was too harmful for girls, the anthropologist Lyn Schumaker wrote in a chapter of “A New History of Anthropology” (2008), edited by Henrika Kuklick, that they have been thought to own lots of the qualities — “sympathy, tact, adaptability” — important for fruitful fieldwork.
It was round this time that Lindgren entered Newnham College, University of Cambridge, the place she studied Chinese and social science. She then earned a analysis fellowship and a Ph.D., additionally from Cambridge. Five years of fieldwork in Manchuria fashioned the idea of her thesis.
Its topic was shamanism among the many Reindeer Tungus, a collective of reindeer-herding peoples Indigenous to sub-Arctic Asia and higher identified at this time because the Evenki. A towering 6 toes 2 inches tall, with cropped purple hair and a fearsome self-confidence, Lindgren minimize a formidable determine alongside the Evenki, who known as her “mangus,” or “giant.”
She introduced alongside the person who would grow to be her first husband, Oscar Mamen, a Norwegian adventurer and salesman working in Mongolia. He provided safety and technical help by carrying her cameras and taking pictures.
Together they produced an infinite, and enormously priceless, trove of over 8,000 pictures and 300 movies. These are among the many solely current photographic information of the standard Solon and Manchu cultures, earlier than life modified with the takeover of Chinese Communism.
Lindgren was 24 in 1929 when she and different expatriates have been ousted from Manchuria by the looming Soviet risk. She was crushed. She wrote to a pal: “Behind and above and beyond I see only the barren hills and, at night, the stars against a metallic disk of sky outlined by the round hole in the top of the felt yurt — and in my soul are tears.”
Back in England, Lindgren and Mamen married and had a son, John. But they quickly divorced.
In 1938, she turned the primary lady to be appointed editor in chief of The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, a pre-eminent publication within the self-discipline. By the time she stepped down in 1948, her 11-year tenure had supported the publication by way of wartime shortages and cost-saving measures.
Lindgren’s scholarly pursuits included the methodologies of fieldwork, social psychology, shamanism, human-animal relations and materials tradition. She believed fieldworkers’ psychological profiles might influence their interpretation of information and urged researchers to bear psychological coaching to focus on their biases, lengthy earlier than such reflexivity was commonplace within the social sciences.
In 1949, she took up a lectureship within the division of anthropology and archaeology at Cambridge, however she was terminated two years later as a result of the subjects she coated — her focus was on Central Asia and Northern Europe — have been deemed much less priceless to colonial cadets than studying about East Africa, India and the Middle East. She by no means returned to academia.
Lindgren was naturalized in 1940. She channeled her aptitude as a social scientist towards tireless warfare service — first on the Ministry of Information, then as liaison officer for the Royal Institute of International Affairs.
Peace, Lindgren wrote in a letter, may very well be achieved by way of a “blending of cultures.” The simple coexistence of Cossacks, a Slavic folks, and Evenki was prepared proof that “the interchange of cultural traits is a very important background for intergroup friendships.”
She had event to check this speculation in 1939, when the Bureau of Indian Affairs within the United States requested her to report on the feasibility of the Alaska resettlement mission, a largely forgotten try beneath the Roosevelt administration’s New Deal to relocate Jewish refugees to Alaska, the place federal immigration quotas didn’t apply. Her interviews with locals revealed that far-reaching antisemitism had not spared Alaska. For this and different causes, the plan by no means materialized.
In 1947, Lindgren was married a second time, to Mikel Utsi; it was a long-lasting love in center age that allowed for her most vital legacy.
She met Utsi, a reindeer breeder, whereas in Swedish Lapland to review the Sami, one other Indigenous reindeer-herding folks.
On a scenic prepare experience with Lindgren and her son, Utsi first set eyes on the rolling panorama of the Cairngorms and observed its similarities to his homeland. He exclaimed, “There must be reindeer moss here!,” referring to the favored pasture among the many animals.
Today there are 150 reindeer who roam freely over 10,000 acres within the Highlands. They are noticed by the Cairngorm Reindeer Company, an academic heart that Lindgren and Utsi based. The herd celebrated its seventieth anniversary final yr.
Lindgren and Utsi lived between the Cairngorms and Cambridge, the place she was a founding fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, established on the University of Cambridge in 1965. They remained collectively till Utsi died in 1979.
Lindgren was the secretary of the Reindeer Council of the United Kingdom and the Reindeer Company till her demise, on March 23, 1988. She was 83. Since then, the herd has been managed by Tilly Smith, the one feminine herder in Britain, and her husband, Alan.