Scope and Contents note
This collection contains the professional papers of Ivan Karp, documenting his work as an anthropologist, professor, and museum curator. The materials include his research on the Iteso of Kenya; his work at Emory University and the Smithsonian Institution; his reviews of manuscripts and books; recommendations that he wrote for his colleagues and students; his published articles and papers presented at conferences; and his project files on various topics including museum studies, African philosophy, public scholarship, agency and personhood, and the history of social anthropology.
Karp’s Iteso research files span from the late 1960s to the 1990s. These materials consist of his field notes, in both paper and digital form; household surveys; photographs; sound recordings; maps; grant proposals; bibliographic research; correspondence; notes and drafts of his dissertation; and his other writings. A great deal of the field materials was collected by his field assistants, particularly Steven Omuse. Some field materials were also collected by Karp’s first wife, Patricia.
His Smithsonian files are electronic and contain little documentation regarding his administrative work. There are, however, some materials relating to the planning of exhibits at NMNH and a proposal to establish a program focusing on the African continent and the African Diaspora. There is also a memo with Karp’s response to questions from a House Subcommittee regarding the National African American Museum and complaints about the NMNH Africa Hall. Other associated materials include his research and papers on museums and exhibits. While there are no files pertaining to the first two museum conferences he organized, a folder titled “Bellagio” contains documentation for the conference and associated workshops on museums and globalization that he organized while at Emory.
Karp’s files from Emory are also in digital form and more substantive than his Smithsonian materials. They document his work on the different committees he chaired and programs he directed and founded, including the Center for the Study of Public Scholarship. His Emory files also include his comments on students’ dissertations, papers, and proposals.
The digital files also document Karp’s other areas of interests, particularly African philosophy; concepts of identity, personhood, and agency; and the relationships between international development and personhood. His work on African philosophy largely consists of files from a number of collaborative projects with Kenyan philosopher Dismas Masolo, including the 1993 conference in Nairobi they organized and the associated volume they edited,
African Philosophy as Cultural Inquiry
(2000). There are a few files of research on the Luo people. His research on development and personhood focuses on Africa, particularly on Kenya, and includes his papers, notes, and reference sources, which also exist in paper form. There are also files of obituaries and memorials of Karp from numerous publications and events.
Other materials in Karp's collection include his doctorate diploma, his Master’s thesis, family photos, and a wedding album from his first marriage.