Anthropology in Britain
Whereas Boas picked his opponents to pieces through attention to detail, in Britain modern anthropology was formed by rejecting historical reconstruction in the name of a science of society that focused on analyzing how societies held together in the present.
The two most important names in this tradition were Alfred Reginald Radcliffe-Brown and Bronislaw Malinowski, both of
whom released seminal works in 1922. Radcliffe-Brown's initial fieldwork in the Andaman Islands was carried out in the old style, but after reading Emile Durkheim he published an account of his research (entitled simply The Andaman Islanders) which drew heavily on the French sociologist. Over time he developed an approach known as structure-functionalism, which focused on how institutions in societies worked to balance out or create an equilibirum in the social system to keep it functioning harmoniously. Malinowski, on the other hand, advocated an unhyphenated 'functionalism' which examined how society functioned to meet individual needs. Malinowski is best known not for his theory, however, but for his detailed ethnography and advances in methodology. His classic Argonauts of the Western Pacific advocated getting 'the native's point of view' and an approach to field work that became standard in the field.
Malinowksi and Radcliffe-Brown's success stem from the fact that they, like Boas, actively trained students and aggresively built up institutions which furthered their programmatic ambitions. This was particularly the case with Radcliffe-Brown, who spread his agenda for 'Social Anthropology' by teaching at universities across the Commonwealth. From the late 1930s until the post-war period a string of monographs and edited volumes appeared which cemented the paradigm of British Social Anthropology. Famous ethnographies include The Nuer by Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard and The Dynamics of Clanship Among the Tallensi by Meyer Fortes, while well known edited volumes include African Systems of Kinship and Marriage and African Political Systems.
Anthropology in France
Anthropology in France has a less clear genealogy than the British and American traditions. Most commentators consider Marcel Mauss to be the founder of the French anthropological tradition. Mauss was a member of Durkheim's Annee Sociologique group, and while Durkheim and other examined the state of modern societies, Mauss and his collaborators (such as Henri Hubert and Robert Hertz) drew on ethnography and philology to analyze societies which were not as 'differentiated' as European nation states. In particular, Mauss's Essay on the Gift was to prove of enduring relevance in anthropological studies of exchange and reciprocity.
Throughout the interwar years, French interest in anthropology often dovetailed with wider cultural movements such as surrealism and primitivism which drew on ethnography for inspiration. Marcel Griaule and Michel Leiris are examples of people who combined anthropology with the French avant-garde.
Above all, however, it was Claude Levi-Strauss who helped institutionalize anthropology in France. In addition to the enormous influence his structuralism exerted across multiple disciplines, Levi-Strauss established ties with American and British anthropologists. At the same time he established centers and labratories within France to provide an institutional context within anthropology while training influential students such as Maurice Godelier and Francoise Heritier who would prove influential in the world of French anthropology.
Anthropology After World War Two
Before WWII British 'social anthropology' and American 'cultural anthropology' were still distinct traditions. It was after the war that the two would blend to create a 'sociocultural' anthropology.
In the 1950s and mid 1960s anthropology tended increasingly to model itself after the natural sciences. Some such as Llyd Fallers and Clifford Geertz focused on processes on modernization by which newly independent states could develop. Others, such as Julian Steward and Leslie White focused on how societies evolve and fit their ecological niche - an approach popularized by Marvin Harris. Economic Anthropology as influenced by Karl Polanyi and practiced by Marshall Sahlins and Greg Dalton focused on how traditional economics ignored cultural and social factors. In England, British Social Anthropology's paradigm began to fragment as Max Gluckman and Peter Worsley experimented with Marxism and authors such as Rodney Needham and Edmund Leach incorporated Levi-Strauss's structuralism into their work.
Structuralism also influenced a number of development in 1960s and 1970s, including cognitive anthropology and componential analysis. Authors such as David Schneider, Clifford Geertz, and Marshall Sahlins developed a more fleshed out concept of culture as a web or meaning or signification which proved very popular. In keeping with the times, much of anthropology became politicized through its opposition to the Vietnam War and the Algerian War of Independence and the authors of volumes such as Reinventing Anthropology worried about its relevance and Marxism became more and more popular in the discipline.
In the 1980s issues of power, such as those examined in Eric Wolf's Europe and the People Without History - were central to the discipline. Books like Anthropology and the Colonial Equality pondered anthropology's ties to colonial inequality, while the immense popularity of authors such as Antonio Gramsci and Michel Foucault moved issues of power and hegemony into the spotlight. Gender and sexuality became a popular topic, as did the relationship between history and anthropology, influenced by Marshall Sahlins (again) who drew on Levi-Strauss and Fernand Braudel to examine the relationship between cultural structure and individual agency.
In the late 1980s and 1990s authors such as George Marcus and James Clifford pondered ethnographic authority and how and why anthropological knowledge was possible and authoritative. This was part of a more general trend of postmodernism that was popular. Currently anthropology focuses on globalization, medicine and biotechnology, indigenous rights, and the anthropology of Europe.
Anthropological fields and subfields
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