Talk:History of anthropology

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Brief History of Anthropology including the prominent personalities of this science.

This article does not serve its subject well at all.

There is no mention of key anthropological concepts and debates. Most of the important figures in anthropological history are missing.

Some of the things that ought to be included or referenced:

Frazer (Golden Bough) ought to be mentioned as a founder of comparative anthropology and Edward Burnett Tylor for cross-cultural analysis Functionalism: Radcliffe-Brown, Malinowski Culture and Personality: Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, Cora Dubois

Franz Boas and the American School -- "participant observation" -- dissemination v. independent invention to explain similarities in culture (and material culture)

The Manchester School of Thought -- conflict within social systems: Max Gluckman, Victor Turner

Ecological anthropology: Leslie White

Claude Levi-Strauss: structuralism

Edward Sapir

Paul Radin

MArshall Sahlins

Vine Deloria

Kroeber and acculturation

Not complete, of course

Some internet resources that might help:

I'd classify this article as it stands as a stub, and a problematic one at that. 03:43, 15 April 2007 (UTC)Lucy Kemnitzer,

Good outline, let's talk[edit]

This is a good outline of the main currents; we could add more. I'd suggest that we might separate the current scope of the main Anthropology article and this History of Anthropology article, as I've been attempting to do. Previously the two seemed to have substantial overlap, and the Anthropology article was almost entirely about 19th-century scientific racism/polygenism/colonialism, with almost no discussion of actual modern anthropology. I can see a few ways that we might want to take this. One would be to have this page deal in more detail with 1800 up to 1980s/1990s or so, while Anthropology only covers enough to give a broad overview. Another would be to split off some of the very early material, or the scientfic racism/colonialism article into a third article, while expanding the list proposed here on the talk page into a fairly good coverage of sociocultural anthropology c. 1890-1980s. Yet another option would be to have this History of Anthropology page itself mainly give an overview, while expanding the topics listed here into individual entires (which they probably all deserve eventually; some already have them, such as Levi-Strauss). Thoughts? Anyone able to contribute to this? Mccajor 23:59, 30 April 2007 (UTC)

Muslim antecedents of anthropology[edit]

User:Jagged 85 has added a section on Muslim antecedents of anthropology. However, it is not clear from the new section what exactly these medieval Muslim scholars did that constitutes an antecedent to modern anthropology. A number of earlier scholars wrote about other peoples. For example, Herodotus (484 BCE–ca. 425 BCE) is sometimes called the "father of anthropology" as well as the "father of history", as the first writer in the Western tradition to attempt a comparative description of various peoples and their customs; similarly, the Roman historian Tacitus (ca. 56 – ca. 117 CE) is our source for knowledge of the customs and social organization of many peoples of northwestern Europe, and has matched up well with the archaeological record. I suspect there are likely similar scholars in medieval or ancient China, India, Japan, etc. It would be interesting to know more about the Muslim scholars cited, if the current entry could be expanded, and whether their writings had any sort of historical connection with modern anthropology. If they have not had any particular connection to modern anthropology, then perhaps it would be more appropriate to put them in a section or separate article along the lines of "Comparative studies of culture in the pre-modern period". On the other hand, if they have contributed to or have been taken up by anthropologists or sociologists in the modern Muslim world, perhaps Jagged 85 could add a new section on "Anthropology in the Muslim World" or something along those lines. I am also a bit concerned at present that the tone is rather uncritical. The first article cited, for instance, is commentary by an anthropological historian, in the context of discussing whether an objective anthropology is compatible with Islam, and citing these two medieval Muslim scholars as evidence that it is possible to practice comparative study of cultures without compromising one's faith in Islam or one's objectivity. Fine and good, but for this section to frame the material adequately really requires far more treatment than is currently present. I am going to edit it a bit to frame it somewhat, but it would be good if Jagged 85 or some other interested party followed up with Akbar's later book to address some of these issues. Mccajor 20:47, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

I agree with most of your points. I was just stating a few passages from the cited articles, and was thinking about expanding it later on when I have more time. I provided a few sources, just in case other editors might want to expand it in the mean time. For now, I agree with your last edit. The section could do with some more explaining, but I think it might also be a good idea to get some references for the other parts of the article as well. Jagged 85 21:32, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. I'll be interested to see it as it develops. Mccajor 22:36, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

Hi, I am unfamiliar with how to use the talk pages, but I have deleted the "Anthropology and the Muslim World" bit because it does not belong in this article whatsoever for the reasons described above. To be fair, one would then have to launch "Anthropology in the Classical World" ,"Anthropology and the Christian World", "Anthropology and the Pagan World" etc. This article is about the discipline of anthropology, not individuals across time and space who utilized some of the tools of something that is now a formalized discipline. When we talk about the history of physics for example, we dont cite the hundreds of amateur physicists who "did physics." We trace a history of individuals who contributed to the body of knowledge that created the discipline of "physics" today. If Einstein's science never made it to the public realm, physics would be fundamentally different. If Al-Beruni never existed, anthropology would be the same. (PhD Student at the University of Chicago) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:07, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

article of concern[edit]

would people who watch this page please review the article, Early infanticidal childrearing, which makes many claims about anthropology and about non-Western societies? I was once involved in a flame-war with another editor, and it would be inappropriate for me to do a speedy delete or nominate the page for deletion. More important, I think others need to comment on it. I engaged in a detailed exchange recently with one other editor here, on the talk page; you may wish to review the discussion but it is getting involuted and I ask that you comment separately. Thanks, Slrubenstein | Talk 12:33, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

Merging some of the material that's on the page for Anthropology[edit]

...and talking about what to do with the very separate histories of cultural anthropology and biological anthropology, etc., etc. This article needs to merge the subject matter that's on the Anthropology page and be linked back to it. History of bio, linguistics and archaeology needs to be worked on here.Levalley (talk) 23:03, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

Magnus Hundt and Ott Casmann missing in article[edit]

Together with German Otto Casmann philosopher Magnus Hundt is regarded as the founder of modern anthropology since they invented and popularized the term anthropology. (talk) 11:30, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

Nope. Inventing the term does not mean founding the discipline. Kant also claimed to do anthropology. Really he just did geography combined with racist musing about people from different countries. I have yet to read a work on the history of anthropology that dedicates more than a line to either Hundt or Casmann. ·maunus · snunɐɯ· 03:49, 12 March 2015 (UTC)


The following sentence appears twice: At the same time, the Romantic reaction to the Enlightenment produced thinkers such as Herder and later Wilhelm Dilthey whose work formed the basis for the culture concept which is central to the discipline.Kdammers (talk) 03:31, 12 March 2015 (UTC)

unidentified reference[edit]

Footnote (nr. 2?) has a reference to a work by two authors (somebody and Murph) for which no further informaiton is given. Kdammers (talk) 03:39, 12 March 2015 (UTC)

Ive supplied the title of Erickson and Murphy's book.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 03:48, 12 March 2015 (UTC)

The problem[edit]

I see we have not been too happy with the article as it now stands. After a month or so of trying to find the problem with these anthropology articles and an extensive exchange with Maunus I think I am at the point where I can say what it probably is. I cleaned up Theories of religion to find that basically two points of view were being presented, which some theorists were calling structural and functional. The structural were your ordinary evolutionists but the functional were those who felt they had to explain the existence of the topic in society. Thus we have among them Durkheim, Marx, etc. I feel that is a valid distinction. You can see it all over anthropology. Now, the structuralists are happy to tolerate the functionalists, but not vice versa. We get decade after decade of vituperation against the other branch. I think the reason is pretty clear: what we term the cold war. Now it is ended, where do we go from here? The functionalists among us are pushing functionaist views, and that is the problem as the others see it. The chief theorist selected for this article is Harris. He warns you right up front in his first chapter that the ordinry reader is going to find his work strange. And yet here he is, representative of all anthropology in this article and some others. I can make that clearer: the tradition to which he writes is Morgan, Durkheim, Engels, Marx, etc. Nowadays the group is rejecting metaphysics and adopting phenomenology instead, which is the reason for the strange terms. You don't abstract anymore and nothing exists, instead wonderful new terms apply that few others understand. That is the reason for all this magical hoopla on Wikipedia, something like the chants of the old-time necromancers: abracadabra, etc. It also the reason why you cannot connect with anthropology here.

Well, I think balance needs to be restored. I've worked my way through to the point of checking their references. Some are very good. At worst they are overcondense, stress the incomprehensible, and misrepresent their sources. Just as it is a lot of work to read Harris, it is even more work to try to explain all the terms used. Yet, I feel it must be done. I'm not anti-functionalist. I got no intention or REMOVING functionalism and references to it. I just want to make sure what they are saying is clear, accurate, and presented with balancing points of view. So, Maunus, I am sorry I mistook you for a creationist opposed to all evolution. I don't know what you are really, except that you favor functionalism. That doesn't mean that I can't work with you. I was going to get on to the functionalists. I used to be one. I guess I regard them as being Icarian, flying too high for man. Their wings keep melting off. God spreads confusion among these neo-Babelists trying to explain rationality with the "materialist conception of history." What economic foundation does the total destruction of a society in a religious war have? Well, let's not get started, this is not for discussion of the subject. I will say that I oppose the automatic condemnation of any sources I bring up. No, you don't get to pick all the sources yourself. So, I will be picking slowly through all. One thing I see right away. Harris is termed an empiricist. But, he attacks empiricism as manipulable according to the ideology of the manipulator. In the very first chapter I read of the work cited he espouses an economic basis for the development of society (like Marx before him) and criticises the anthropologists for abandoning that! OK. I learned a lot from my discussions with you and I expect to learn more. I can work thing out. But, try not to strip me of sources, hey? To do that officially you must argue that the source is not credible, notable, or authoritatve. As far as their being no cultural or physical anthropolgy is concerned, that is a pretty wild view and I see we already have had some response. But we could spend more time on this discussion than on the articles so I think I will stop now. You will see slow changes to the articles. I will move Broca to his article. The picture for anthropology, are you sure that is the right one? It is Leonardo you know, and he is not very modern. I will look at your other pictures when I feel like it.Botteville (talk) 18:03, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

I dont "favor functionalism". You don't know anything about me. And you don't seem to know much about anthropology either Botteville. I'be happy to point you to some books you can read.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 18:17, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
I thought we weren't going to get personal, maunus? But it is all right, I didn't think you were able to refrain. People are people after all. I don't expect you to be better than you are. What you mean is, you don't want me to get personal. Well! Naturally I would like it best if I got respect, cooperation and understanding on here, but that isn't human. It takes great self-restraint, far beyond most people's capabilities. I knew it would end this way before it even started. Nevertheless you had something significant to say and i listened. Thank you. No response is necessary or desired. I got involved in this on two counts: page design. We need good-looking articles. Accuracy and NPOV. The latter is what many of these articles lack in large measure. Also, in general, we aren't trying to be secretive, like Aristotle, so we don't want articles comprehensible only to anthropologists I will continue to work toward those two goals. I'm sure I can learn a lot. That is what WP is about, all of us learning a lot. The authorities today are specialists, no doubt. But, they usually publish in technical journals. I got nothing else significant to say, really. Oh, the box issue has come up again. Further developments with the code. You can't expect we'd be the only voices here. Ciao.Botteville (talk)

Harris and the Greeks[edit]

I was previously too hasty about Harris. I like Harris. We don't say very much about him however; in fact, not enough to say anything much at all. Too condense. It seems as though the three sentences are unrelated and when you have finished all you have is a big question mark. It needs a little expansion. The ref on that is not very good. No page numbers. Bad format. I probably will stick with this until the refs are well-formatted and accurate, which is basically a follow-up task. If I can keep your writing I will.Botteville (talk) 09:11, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

Persistent problems passage[edit]

This is manifestly non-encyclopedic but I put it here just in case.

"He first formulated some of the persistent problems of anthropology.-ref- Harris, 1968, op cit. pp. 8-52; Leaf 1970, op cit. pp. 1-13; Erickson and Murphy, A History of Anthropological Theory, 2003, pp. 21-25 -/ref"

He didn't do any such thing nor does Harris say he does. Harris mentions Herodotus a few times with regard to his ethnic information and that is all. In general attempts to see implied stages of civilization in Herodotus are strictly etic. He had nothing to say, not even the three ages of song and story. He does do a lot in the line of ethnology. For Leaf, what Leaf is that? That section of Erickson and Murphy is about Marx and does not mention Herodotus.

I bring this up because the main weakness of the content is its practically sole reliance on Harris. The editors (no doubt some time ago) just filled in here with fluff and phony references. It's demeaning. Harris is great, I like Harris, as far as he goes. He isn't the spokeman for the entire huge field of anthropology. I can add some material from more people, which I am in the process of doing. We don't have to be brilliant, dazzling and obscure here. We aren't trying to impress the professors and get an A. A basic diet of meat and potatos will do.Botteville (talk) 08:21, 6 April 2015 (UTC)