This biography of the Polish British anthropologist Maria Czaplicka (1884-1921) is also a cultural study of the dynamics of the anthropological collective presented from a researcher-centric perspective. Czaplicka, together with Bronislaw Malinowski, studied anthropology in London and later at Oxford, then she headed the Yenisei Expedition to Siberia (1914-15) and was the first female lecturer of anthropology at Oxford. She was an engaged feminist and an expert on political issues in Northern Asia and Eastern Europe. But this remarkable woman's career was cut short by suicide. Like many women anthropologists of the time, Czaplicka journeyed through various academic institutions, and her legacy has been dispersed and her field materials lost.
Grazyna Kubica covers the major events in Czaplicka's life and provides contextual knowledge about the intellectual formation in which Czaplicka grew up, including the Warsaw radical intelligentsia and the contemporary anthropology of which she became a part. Kubica also presents a critical analysis of Czaplicka's scientific and literary works, related to the issues of gender, shamanism, and race. Kubica shows how Czaplicka's sense of agency and subjectivity enriched and shaped the practice of anthropology and sheds light on how scientific knowledge arises and is produced.