A New History of Anthropology by Henrika Kuklick

By Henrika Kuklick

A brand new historical past of Anthropology collects unique writings from pre-eminent students to create a cosmopolitan yet obtainable consultant to the improvement of the sector.

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Powell was able to amass a database for understanding the American Indian by eliciting information from (usually unpaid) amateurs who were in contact with Indians, supplementing their labors with fieldwork by his permanent staff. The Bureau was the first American institution to assemble a team of paid anthropological researchers. The work of the Bureau centered on the continental United States, consistent with the Smithsonian’s mission to acquire and disseminate knowledge useful to the American people.

Herder’s writings, and the Romantic currents in anthropology that followed, contained difficulties that would haunt the study of culture throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. One of his starting assumptions was a basic distinction between vital and lifeless cultures. Herder emphasized the environmental conditioning of culture: he attributed both physical and cultural differences among peoples to their climate, topography, and other natural conditions. There was no room in his thinking for fruitful interaction between cultures or for the consequences of migration; each culture was nurtured and strengthened by its deep connection to the soil.

They are meek and mild; they have no creed but are acutely intelligent; they speak among themselves a common tongue. In other words they are ripe for Christianization – indeed, already inclined toward conversion (Columbus 1968: 192 –7). Columbus’s world bears the firm stamp of textual authority. The people who inhabit it are shaped by their relationship to it (Grafton with Shefford and Siraisi 1992); within a biblical and theological scheme of things, they have been assigned a place as unformed, intelligent beings who will readily play their part in the divine drama of universal spread of the true faith (Flint 1992).

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