Wordtrade LogoWordtrade.com
Social Science


Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



After Collapse: The Regeneration of Complex Societies edited by Glenn M. Schwartz, John J. Nichols (University of Arizona Press) From the Euphrates Valley to the southern Peruvian Andes, early complex societies have risen and fallen, but in some cases they have also been reborn. Prior archaeological investigation of these societies has focused primarily on emergence and collapse. After Collapse: The Regeneration of Complex Societies is the first book-length work to examine the question of how and why early complex urban societies have reappeared after periods of decentralization and collapse. More

Class Questions: Feminist Answers by Joan Acker (Gender Lens Series: AltaMira Press) (Paperback) Class questions is an urgent task at the beginning of the twenty-first cen­tury as global, national, and local inequalities escalate. Yet conventional conceptualizations of class are inadequate to the task because they illumi­nate the economic experiences of white men more clearly than those of white women or people of color. In this book, Joan Acker sounds the call for a return to questions of class while she deftly articulates a carefully reasoned resolution to the conceptualization problem. Acker proposes that we see class and capitalism as fundamentally gendered and racialized and powerfully shaped in work organizations. More

Delimiting Anthropology: Occasional Inquiries and Reflections by George W., Jr. Stocking (University of Wisconsin Press) makes available sixteen essays from the influential career of George W. Stocking, Jr., the world's preeminent historian of anthropology. The essays are grouped in four quartets, echoing the major phases of Stocking's own research over four decades. In his introductory comments he places each essay in the context of his entire body of work.

The first quartet focuses on the work of Franz Boas and the emergence of "Boasian Culturalism." In the second set of essays Stocking addresses the careers of three British "evolutionaries"-Lord Kames; Sir E. B. Tylor; and Sir James G. Frazer-tracking the development of cultural evolutionary thought from its origins in the Scottish Enlightenment through its early twentieth-century afterglow in Frazer's The Golden Bough.

The third group of essays looks at institutions and national traditions, including British ethnography exemplified in the fieldwork manual Notes and Queries; the humanistic Parisian Société d'Ethnographie; the early tension at the Laboratory of Anthropology in Santa Fe between aspiring local amateur anthropologists and professionals from Eastern universities; and the history of ethnographic museums in the European tradition. In closing, Stocking offers reflections on major tendencies in anthropology from the eighteenth century to the present.

Social History of Anthropology in the United States by Thomas C. Patterson (Berg) In part due to the recent Panorama controversy, which has rocked anthropology to its very core, there is renewed interest in the discipline's history and intellectual roots, especially amongst anthropologists themselves. The cutting edge of anthropological research today is a product of earlier questions and answers, previous ambitions, preoccupations and adventures, stretching back one hundred years or more. This book is the first comprehensive history of American anthropology.

Anthropology as a discipline has always developed in a close relationship with other social sciences, but this relationship has rarely been scrutinized. How has anthropology been linked to colonial, commercial and territorial expansion in the States? How have the changing forms of race, power, ethnic identity and politics shaped the questions anthropologists ask, both past and present? This book details and explains the complex interplay of forces and conditions that have made anthropology in America what it is today. Furthermore, the authors explore how anthropologists themselves have contributed and propagated powerful images and ideas about the different cultures and societies that make up our world.

Author Summary:

Chapter 1 examines the development of anthropology in the New Republic from the time of the Revolutionary War to the end of Reconstruction. It argues that anthro­pological information was used to shed light on pressing issues ‑ forging a national identity, territorial expansion, and justifying slavery. The ethnographic, linguistic, and antiquarian descriptions of travelers, missionaries, settlers, and officials in the Indian territories buttressed claims of American exceptionalism, and allegations of racial differences were used to justify slavery and the removal of native peoples from their homelands. Jefferson and others in the American Philosophical Society studied Indian languages to discover their interrelations and connections with Old World peoples. The complex nineteenth‑century discourse about race involved a number of issues: Was humankind a single species? Was there a hierarchy of races? Should the races intermingle or be separated? Were culture and biology fixed and immutable? In the 1870s, anthropologists became increasingly concerned with the development of civilization in general and of American Indian societies in particular. Local and national organizations such as the American Ethnological Society and the Smithsonian Institution were founded and published the results of anthropolog­ical inquiries.

Chapter 2 explores American anthropology in the Liberal Age, 1879‑1929. The discipline was professionalized in the late nineteenth century ‑ a time of intense discrimination against people of color, immigrants, women, and the poor. The dis­cipline's center of gravity shifted in the early 1900s from the federal government (the Bureau of Ethnology and the National Museum) which was concerned mainly with Indian tribes in the West, to universities (Columbia, Harvard, University of California Berkeley at first) that offered advanced degrees and controlled profess­ional certification. Their graduates were employed by the federal government, new colleges, and museums established by philanthropists after c. 1880. A struggle over the identity and direction of the field developed in the early 1900s between cultural determinists, eugenicists, and those who emphasized the biological bases of human diversity; it was played out in the National Research Council's Committee on Anthro­pology and was partially resolved in the 1920s. A number of anthropologists from the time of James Mooney, Franz Boas, Ruth Benedict, and William Jones onward were either members of stigmatized groups (immigrants, women, and American Indians), critics of the class structure and policies of American society, or both.

Chapter 3 deals with the United States during the Depression and the Second World War,1929‑1945. Many anthropologists were employed by New Deal agencies during the Depression and by wartime agencies that valued their holistic understanding of other cultures. Archaeological projects provided employment for thousands of men and women during the Depression. National Research Council and Social Science Research Council (SSRC) initiatives fueled interdisciplinary studies of the psychological consequences of acculturation and assimilation from the late 1920s onwards. Anthropologists were prominent in the formation of area studies programs in the 1930s. As war approached, explorations of the intersection of culture and personality were replaced by the national‑character studies later used by the military. During this period, anthropologists challenged dominant racialist and eugenicist discourses in American society, and Black anthropologists employed outside the profession confronted Myrdal's American Dilemma. New philanthropies ‑ such as the SSRC ‑ promoted the vision of an interdisciplinary social science that would solve the world's ills.

Chapter 4 examines the expansion and transformation of anthropology in the United States during the period of sustained economic growth following the Second World War. Anthropology was reorganized in the late 1940s to exploit federal research funding and opportunities created by the GI Bill of Rights and the expansion of higher education. Working‑class individuals entered the profession in large numbers and participated in its internationalization. Optimistic assessments about American hegemony and the sustained growth of its industries rekindled interest in theories of cultural evolution. Ideologies of anticommunism at home and national liberation movements abroad fueled the development of modernization theory and the construction of a Cold War anthropology underwritten by the Ford and Rockefeller foundations and the Fulbright program. Anthropological inquiry shifted from the study of tribal to that of peasant communities, and even to that of whole nations. The political center of the profession split in the late 1960s over the involvement of U.S. anthropologists in Pentagon‑funded counter‑insurgency research in Southeast Asia and local‑level politics in Latin America. For a time, a significant portion of U.S. society realized that other cultures were different and that it was no longer possible to pretend that human history could be understood exclusively from the perspective of the West. As anthropologists grappled with the concerns of decolonization and the Black civil rights and women's movements, Marxist perspectives reappeared after being forced underground in the 1950s.

Chapter 5 surveys the transformation of the profession since the mid‑1970s. Economic restructuring, privatization, and declining support for higher education formed the backdrop for this change. U.S. anthropologists increasingly viewed the world in terms of a global system in which their own society was linked to those of their traditional subjects by an increasingly internationalized economy, immigration, tourism, consumption, and media. Foundations, think tanks, and the World Bank promoted neoliberal theory and projects through research support and fellowships. In the wake of the neoliberal assault on the social sciences, there was a hardening of theoretical divisions within the discipline. Some retreated from analyses of social class structures and organized resistance movements into self‑reflexivity and idealist perspectives associated with postmodernism. Others gravitated toward cultural studies with its emphases on texts, styles, and discourse analysis. Still others embraced uncritically the idea that we live in a global post‑industrial, capitalist society increasingly composed of individuals who no longer belong to communities that are capable of organized political action. In spite of this apparent fragmentation of approaches, American anthropologists continue to address issues of import to the wider society. The study sheds light on the social history of anthropology in the United States. Unlike internalist accounts of the field, it situates that history in the changing social, cultural, and political economic circumstances of U.S. society as a whole. It considers the historical conditions that have permitted the existence of the discipline as well as the circumstances in which anthropological knowledge has been produced. It shows that the contradictions in the knowledge produced by U.S. anthropologists refract divisions in the wider society.

Headline 3

insert content here